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Masters in Architecture in USA: Comprehensive Course Guide

Komal Yadav Komal Yadav
Study Abroad Expert

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 2020UniversityM.Arch Program DurationTotal Course Fees (in USD)
1Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)3.5 years187,075
5Harvard University2.5 years133,550
6University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley)2 – 3 years58,144
13Columbia University3 years177,000
15University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)3 years97,122
28Cornell University3.5 years197,925
29Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)2 – 3.5 years33,312
34University of Michigan, Ann Arbor3 years148,539
38University of Texas at Austin (UTA)2 years53,564
44University of Pennsylvania (UPenn)3 years166,698

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. 

CourseM. Arch 1M. Arch 2
Undergraduate QualificationPursued by individuals without an accredited undergraduate degree.M. Arch 2 is for students with an accredited undergraduate degree i.e. B. Arch.
Duration2 Year2 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 

Program Duration2 to 3.5 years
AgeNo age limit as such.
Eligibility50% in bachelors degree; GRE/GMAT test score
Annual Tuition Fees16,500 USD to 55,600 USD per year
Average Salary Offered110,000 USD per annum
Employment RolesDesign 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: 

UniversityMinimum GRE/GMAT ScoreEnglish Proficiency Requirement
Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyGRE requiredTOFEL: 90
Harvard UniversityGRE: 316TOEFL: 104;
IELTS: 7.5
UC BerkeleyGMAT: 715TOEFL: 80;
IELTS: 6.5
Columbia UniversityGMAT: 715TOEFL: 99;
IELTS: 6.5
Cornell UniversityGMAT: 697TOEFL: 100;
Georgia Institute of TechnologyGRE requiredTOEFL: 100
University of Michigan, Ann ArborGMAT: 708TOEFL: 90;
University of Texas at AustinGRE required

TOEFL: 90;


University of PennsylvaniaGMAT: 730TOEFL: 100;

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 itemCost (in USD)
Application fee80 – 150
Flight fare (one-way)700
VISA Fee170
SEVIS Fee200

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: 

CoastCityCost per month (in USD)
East CoastBoston and Miami1,500 – 3,000
Washington D.C., and New York City1,700 – 3,000
Atlanta1,200 – 2,200
Philadelphia800 – 1,300
West CoastLos Angeles1,500 – 2,500
San Francisco2,200 – 4,000
San Diego1,400 – 2,400
CentralNew Orleans1,100 – 2,000
Seattle1,500 – 2,500
North CentralChicago1,300 – 2,500
Detroit1,000 – 1,800
SouthDallas1,000 – 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: 

ScholarshipDetailsAmount (in USD)
Fulbright Foreign Student Program in USAApproximately 4000 foreign students receive this scholarship each year.1,000 – 2,500
Go Clean ScholarshipNo. of Scholarships offered is 13,500
BrokerFish International student scholarshipOffered by partner universities1,000 
ProNet David W. Lakamp AIA ScholarshipAwarded by American Institute of Architects (AIA)5000
Aga Khan ScholarshipAwarded to postgraduate students from developing countries50% tuition fee waiver
ASLA Student AwardAwarded to students of landscape architectureVaries
Jason Pettigrew Memorial ARE ScholarshipGiven by AIA National Associates CommitteeFull 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 ProfileAverage Salary in India (USD)Average Salary in USA (USD)
Design Architect686660714
Project Architect1034671763
Project Manager, Architect1137875056
Senior Project Architect1937894310
Landscape Architect617258631
Architect ( Not Landscape or Naval)762379,380
Urban Designer757260,132

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. 

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