Masters in Architecture in USA: Comprehensive Course Guide

    Masters in Architecture (MArch) in USA or M. Arch is a 2 to 3.5 year-long degree spanning around 4-6 semesters. This program is compulsory to get an architect license in USA if you do not pursue a 5 year BArch degree at the undergraduate level. 

    Why Study Masters in Architecture in USA?

    Here are a few reasons why you should pursue a Masters in Architecture in USA: 

    • 5-year BArch and the MArch are the only two courses recognized by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) of USA for granting architect licence. 
    • The workforce in the industry with BArch gets an average annual package of 56,900 USD whereas, with a MArch degree, the compensation is 110,000 USD per annum.
    • The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 8.4% employment growth for Architects between 2018-2028. 
    • The average annual salary of architects increased by 6.2% from 2017 to 2019, according to AIA Compensation Report. 
    Salary trend

    Top Universities for Masters in Architecture in USA

    According to QS News World University ranking for architecture, the following are the best universities for Masters in Architecture in USA: 

    QS Ranking 2020 University M.Arch Program Duration Total Course Fees (in USD) Brochure
    1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 3.5 years 187,075 Brochure
    5 Harvard University 2.5 years 133,550 Brochure
    6 University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) 2 – 3 years 58,144 Brochure
    13 Columbia University 3 years 177,000 Brochure
    15 University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) 3 years 97,122 Brochure
    28 Cornell University 3.5 years 197,925 -
    29 Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) 2 – 3.5 years 33,312 Brochure
    34 University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 3 years 148,539 Brochure
    38 University of Texas at Austin (UTA) 2 years 53,564 Brochure
    44 University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) 3 years 166,698 Brochure

    Types of Masters in Architecture in USA

    There are two types of Masters of Architecture degrees you can study in USA i.e. M. Arch I and M. Arch II. Both the courses reach towards professional excellence. 

    Course M. Arch 1 M. Arch 2
    Undergraduate Qualification Pursued by individuals without an accredited undergraduate degree. M. Arch 2 is for students with an accredited undergraduate degree i.e. B. Arch.
    Duration 2 Year 2 Year

    In the USA, only B.Arch is considered as an accredited architecture degree, not a BS or BA in Architecture. Some of the universities offering M.Arch 1 degree offer admission to students with a background in design, and others from all walks of life in general.

    Difference between M. Arch and Other Types of Masters in Architecture 

    Masters in Architecture is offered as M. Arch, Masters of Science (M.SC) or Masters of Arts (M.A) in the universities of USA. As one can expect, M.Sc. in Architecture degree offers a more research and technology-oriented focus while M.A in Architecture degrees are more art-focused and generally specialize in design.

    Masters in Architecture in USA Highlights 

    Degree Masters
    Program Duration 2 to 3.5 years
    Age No age limit as such.
    Eligibility 50% in bachelors degree; GRE/GMAT test score
    Annual Tuition Fees 16,500 USD to 55,600 USD per year
    Average Salary Offered 110,000 USD per annum
    Employment Roles Design Architect, Project Architect, Architect, Landscape Architect, Urban Designer, Senior Project Architect, Urban Planner etc.

    Admission Process of Masters in Architecture in USA

    A bachelors degree in architecture or related field and GRE/GMAT score is required to apply in USA universities for Masters in Architecture. 

    Admission Requirements for Masters in Architecture in USA

    The basic requirements for taking admissions in the program is listed below: 

    • Bachelor’s degree in Architecture of any field related to designing.
    • GRE/GMAT test scores
    • Proof of English proficiency
    • CV/ Resume
    • Letter of Recommendation
    • Statement of Purpose

    Note: In addition to this, several universities conduct their own entrance exam for Masters in Architecture in the USA. 

    Eligibility for Masters in Architecture in USA

    Minimum scores needed in tests required to study in USA are tabulated below: 

    University Minimum GRE/GMAT Score English Proficiency Requirement
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology GRE required TOFEL: 90
    Harvard University GRE: 316 TOEFL: 104;
    IELTS: 7.5
    UC Berkeley GMAT: 715 TOEFL: 80;
    IELTS: 6.5
    Columbia University GMAT: 715 TOEFL: 99;
    IELTS: 6.5
    UCLA GMAT: 713 TOEFL: 77;
    Cornell University GMAT: 697 TOEFL: 100;
    IELTS: 7
    Georgia Institute of Technology GRE required TOEFL: 100
    University of Michigan, Ann Arbor GMAT: 708 TOEFL: 90;
    University of Texas at Austin GRE required

    TOEFL: 90;

    IELTS: 7

    University of Pennsylvania GMAT: 730 TOEFL: 100;
    IELTS: 7

    Visa Process for International Students

    There are 3 types of visa options for international students going to the USA for studies. For a full-time student, mostly F1 visa is required. 

    Ideally, you should apply for a visa at least 3 months before the university degree program starts. Basic steps for getting an F-1 visa are as follows: 

    • Submit online visa application (DS-160).
    • Create an online profile, and pay the visa fee.
    • Then schedule two online appointments: one to a visa application centre in home country (to give biometrics), the other for an interview at the American embassy.
    • Attend a visa interview.

    Cost of Studying Masters in Architecture in USA

    Pursuing a Masters in Architecture in USA can cost you like crazy. The overall expense will include application fees, student visa fees, tuition fees, and cost of living in the USA. Detailed below are the major expenses required to study abroad

    Pre-Arrival Expenses

    The money you will be spending on your applications, exams and other processes before leaving for the USA are a part of your pre-departure or pre-arrival expense. 

    Expense item Cost (in USD)
    GRE 205
    TOEFL 170
    Application fee 80 – 150
    IELTS 250
    Flight fare (one-way) 700
    VISA Fee 170
    SEVIS Fee 200

    Tuition Fees for Masters in Architecture in USA

    The major expense post reaching the country will be experienced in the form of tuition fees. It ranges between 16,500 USD to 55,700 USD per annum for top universities in USA offering Masters in Architecture. 

    Tuition Fees

    Cost of Living in USA

    The United States is a heaven for students seeking higher education but it also has a potential high living cost that one needs to be aware of and plan accordingly. These costs include student housing in the USA, accommodation cost, food and supplies, etc. City-wise estimate of such expenses is provided below: 

    Coast City Cost per month (in USD)
    East Coast Boston and Miami 1,500 – 3,000
    Washington D.C., and New York City 1,700 – 3,000
    Atlanta 1,200 – 2,200
    Philadelphia 800 – 1,300
    West Coast Los Angeles 1,500 – 2,500
    San Francisco 2,200 – 4,000
    San Diego 1,400 – 2,400
    Central New Orleans 1,100 – 2,000
    Seattle 1,500 – 2,500
    North Central Chicago 1,300 – 2,500
    Detroit 1,000 – 1,800
    South Dallas 1,000 – 2,000

    Scholarships for Masters in Architecture in USA

    Pursuing a course in this country can be a bit expensive. However, many universities and institutes offer scholarships for international students in USA to ease financial worries of students. Scholarships and Grants offered from universities recorded to reach 25% in some schools. Although, among the top schools, a scholarship between 25%-50% is solely available in MIT where admission standards are very high. 

    Government and non-profit organization in one’s homeland is a place to investigate for grants too. In addition to universities, there are commissions and organizations that offers scholarship and financial aid to international students based on different criteria, like academic achievements, financial need, and extracurricular activities. 

    Some of the scholarships offered to students pursuing a Masters in Architecture in USA are: 

    Scholarship Details Amount (in USD)
    Fulbright Foreign Student Program in USA Approximately 4000 foreign students receive this scholarship each year. 1,000 – 2,500
    Go Clean Scholarship No. of Scholarships offered is 1 3,500
    BrokerFish International student scholarship Offered by partner universities 1,000 
    ProNet David W. Lakamp AIA Scholarship Awarded by American Institute of Architects (AIA) 5000
    Aga Khan Scholarship Awarded to postgraduate students from developing countries 50% tuition fee waiver
    ASLA Student Award Awarded to students of landscape architecture Varies
    Jason Pettigrew Memorial ARE Scholarship Given by AIA National Associates Committee Full cost of study

    For more scholarships in USA, click here

    Scope of Masters in Architecture in USA

    Students having a degree in Masters in Architecture in USA get hired in various areas as Department of Railways, National Institutes of Urban Affairs and Housing, National Building Organization, City Development Authorities, Central and State Public Work Departments, etc. 

    Top Paying Industries

    Postgraduate students in the field of architecture are offered a handsome amount. Given below is a table comparing the salaries offered to postgraduates in various roles in India and USA. Both the salaries are mentioned in USD to represent a comparison of the offers made. 

    Job Profile Average Salary in India (USD) Average Salary in USA (USD)
    Design Architect 6866 60714
    Project Architect 10346 71763
    Project Manager, Architect 11378 75056
    Senior Project Architect 19378 94310
    Landscape Architect 6172 58631
    Architect ( Not Landscape or Naval) 7623 79,380
    Urban Designer 7572 60,132

    The projected job growth for architects in USA is 8% till 2028 while the country’s average is only 5%. Thus, there will be plenty of jobs for graduates entering this field in the next few years. Also, many top universities offer Masters in Architecture in USA such as MIT and Harvard University. These are some of the best universities in the world. Thus, more number of international students are attracted towards the USA for pursuing Masters of Architecture program. 


    Ques. How do I apply for masters in architecture in the USA?

    Ans. Students must submit English proficiency, IELTS (6.5) or TOEFL (90) scores and entrance exam GRE results along with their Bachelor’s graduation certificate. GRE results are also accepted in the USA. 

    Ques. How long is the masters in architecture degree in USA? 

    Ans. The duration for masters of architecture in USA is around two to three years. 

    Ques. What are the top colleges offering masters in architecture in USA?

    Ans. Some of the top colleges offering masters in architecture in USA include Harvard University, MIT, Stanford university, Yale University, Cornell University, and others. These universities are not only ranking in USA for their higher education but are also ranking among the top world universities offering the program. 

    Ques. How much does a masters in architecture in USA cost?

    Ans. The average cost is roughly around 16,500 USD per annum to 55,600 USD per annum.The total cost for pursuing M.Arch in the USA varies depending on whether you are going to a public school or a private school. There’s also the cost of living to be considered.