Master of Architecture Degree

Available via Distance Learning.

Units: 25-114
Courses: 8-37
Tuition: $2,800 – $12,950

Enroll by printable enrollment form

Concrete Chapel

Architecture Program Three

The Master of Architecture program (M.Arch) offers an advanced professional education in art, technology, and management of architecture. Those who graduate from this program with no professional license or extended work experience in the field may enter employment in architecture offices as a junior or intermediate drafting, design, or project management employee.

Those who qualify for this program:

  • Distance Learning students who have completed prerequisite Architecture programs at SFIA (Programs One and Two) or who hold a degree from a five-year architecture degree program will qualify for this degree program.
  • Graduates of four-year architecture programs and who have at least four years’ experience working in design, construction, or related professions will qualify for this degree program.
  • Licensed architects qualify.
  • Licensed engineers may qualify, depending on experience and areas of specialization.

Suggested Program

For students who need 114 units for completion, the suggested program is 6 semesters with 15 units average per semester (90 units) and 3 summer programs (6-9 units each) for a total of 114 units.

Degree Requirements

Option 1:

If you have graduated from a five-year professional architectural program, you’ll need to earn approximately 25 to 50 more units (2 to 4 semesters) for a Master of Architecture degree. The exact number of units required will be determined by a review of transcripts, work resumes, and previous work. (Anyone who has a license to practice architecture, regardless of prior educational background, would qualify at this level.)

Option 2:

If you have graduated with a four-year B.Arch, you’ll need to earn approximately 50 to 75 units (3 to 4 semesters). As above, the exact amount is determined by an examination of record and work.

Option 3:

If you have a degree in a discipline other than architecture or have achieved the equivalence of BA status in another discipline through education and/or work experience, you’ll need about 75 units. This will require approximately 6 semesters.

Option 4:

If you have some partial education and/or work experience related to architecture, we will evaluate your transcript(s) and confirm your resume of work experience to establish the approximate equivalent credit that can be allowed for your prior work. Work experience equivalency may be limited to 6 units of credit to be applied to the 100 or more required units. School credit will be based on equivalency with courses offered at SFIA. A 5 unit studio class at an accredited school, for example, would count as 5 units equivalency at SFIA.

If you have a degree or credit from a non-US architectural school, your status will be determined by the hours spent in your previous courses of study and work samples from each course.

Creative Resources

A 301
Visionary Creativity
3 units
Learn visionary creativity and its sources, from those who do it without compromise. Textbook: Evolutionary Architecture: Nature as a Basis for Design, by Eugene Tsui. Note: This book is out of print but available through used book dealers. Alternate textbook: Man Between Earth and Sky: A Symbolic Awareness of Architecture Through a Process of Creativity, by Louis Roberts.

A 302
History of Nature-Based Architecture
3 units
Nature-based, organic architecture has always been part of architectural history and culture. This course reviews the fundamentals of designing with nature and the architects who are the leaders in the field. Textbook: New Organic Architecture: The Breaking Wave, by David Pearson


A 303
Advanced Architectural Media & Composition
3 units
Computers are used to input and display building designs that are first drawn by hand. Hand drawing and rendering skills are as highly prized as ever, and this course demonstrates the best professional graphic techniques. Textbook: Marker Magic: The Rendering Problem Solver for Designers, by Richard M. McGarry

A 304
Modeling and Model Building
3 units
Although much architectural presentation drawing is now done on computer, many architects and clients prefer to see realistic, small-scale physical models, to better visualize how final building projects will actually look. This course shows the latest and best techniques of model building. Textbook: Architectural Models: Construction Techniques, by Wolfgang Knoll and Martin Hechinger

A 305
Construction Documents: Coordinated Drawings & Specifications
3 units
Old systems of creating construction documents are highly disorganized and inefficient. This course shows the latest and best techniques for planning, organizing, and creating working drawings and specifications.
Textbook: Working Drawing Format Handbook, by Fred Stitt

Building Design and Site Planning

A 306
Urban Ecology, Bioremediation, and Plantscaping
3 units
Cities are like very big buildings with very big problems to solve. This course reviews the ecological approach to urban design. Textbook: Sustainable Urban Design: An Environmental Approach, by Randall Thomas

A 307
Building Design and Planning, Advanced Level Part One
3 units
Poorly trained designers try to design buildings before they fully understand the needs of the people they’re designing for — and they sometimes present solutions before understanding the problems. This course reviews the essential points of design problem seeking, analysis, and solution. Includes a building design assignment as provided by SFIA. Textbook: Problem Seeking: An Architectural Programming Primer, by William Pena and Steven Parshall

A 308
Building Design and Planning, Advanced Level Part Two
3 units
To design a building means to meet the need of building users, owner, and administrator. This course shows how to identify and document all such needs as the prelude to successful building design. Includes a building design assignment as provided by SFIA. Textbook: Architectural Programming: Creative Techniques for Design Professionals, by Robert R. Kumlin

Construction and Engineering

A 309
Alternative Materials and Construction
3 units
The pallette of standard building materials is now being vastly enriched with the addition of materials used for green building. This course shows how to use the many new choices. Textbook: Alternative Construction: Contemporary Natural Building Methods, by Lynne Elizabeth

A 310
Alternative Structural Systems
3 units
There will be radical changes in building construction and engineering in the years to come. Here’s how to understand the thinking behind these changes. Textbook: Buckminster Fuller’s Universe: His Life and Work, by Lloyd Steven Sieden

A 311
Environmental and Ecological Design: Regional Planning
3 units
Oddly enough, ecological issues didn’t used to be a part of regional planning education. They are now, however, and this course reviews the best systems for landscape and ecological regional analysis. Textbook: Ecological Planning: A Comparative and Historical Synthesis, by Forster Ndubisi

Management and Finance

A 312
Real Estate Development and Finance
3 units
“Form follows finance.” Architecture is largely shaped by the requirements of real estate development. This course explains how development works, what’s most on clients’ minds, and why. Textbook: Architect as Developer, by John Portman * Note: This book is out of print but available through used book dealers or or: Green Development: Integrating Ecology and Real Estate, by Rocky Mountain Institute

A 320
Student-Initiated Independent Study and Thesis Project
Required, 6 units
A design or research project created by the student, to study any specialized area of architecture of personal interest. Can be a building design, a documented construction project, or an extensive report on any new development(s) in any aspect of architectural design or practice.