Architectural Studies (BAS)

Program Overview

The McEwen School of Architecture (MSoA) undergraduate Bachelor of Architectural Studies (BAS) is a trully unique program in the Canadian academic landscape. Indeed, the MSoA is the only school to offer studio courses in both English and French and to revolve around a tricultural mandate, acknowleding and celebrating the founding nations (Indigenous nations, French and English). As the newest school of architecture in Canada (founded in 2013), the MSoA is an unfolding experiment that focuses on diverse cultures, the northern identity and landscape, designing for and with communities, and is founded upon pride of place. Moreover, the BAS program offers different experiences to students and a radical new approach to learning architecture in the aim of building a northern design culture, based on hands-on and experiential learning (such as design-builds, co-op, etc.), sustainability ethics and lessons from the north (such as sense of place, indigenous learnings, cultural identity, etc.). Scroll to Curriculum to learn more.

This program offers students an education that will train the hands as well as the imagination. It will groom students to become critical thinkers and problem solvers. It will train them to grow into creatively and technically strong designers, with the skills to craft, to build, and to make ideas into a reality. Moreover, it will prepare students to face the challenges of a changing world, to become sensitive leaders, agents of change, and to shift the way we design towards an innovative and responsible architecture that is geared towards the ideas of Place, Culture, and Life.

There are different ways of learning, different experiences that you’re going to have, and the kind of architects that will come out of that program will do different things. Ted Wilson — Master Lecturer, Architect

The study of architecture generally raises our awareness of the holistic and aesthetic nature of the design of the built environment. Architecture combines science and artistic creation, conciliating a large scope of issues (social, cultural, historical, economic, technical, environmental, legal, etc.) in the aim of generating creative design solutions to respond to the complex needs of occupants, communities, and of the environment. Architecture encompasses more than buildings, as it also includes public spaces and infrastructures and can extend to many other components of our living environment. It is the reflection of our identity, it preserves and highlights our landscapes, it improves the built environment of our cities and directly improves our quality of life. Indeed, architecture directly affects our comfort and health (buildings affect our state of physical, mental, and social well-being) and has huge environmental impacts which in turn also affects all forms of life. The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada describes architecture as social art and an artful science, a passion, a vocation, a calling…

Architecture is space structured for human needs - physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual. It is a transcendence of matter and space that will move and transform you. Étienne Gaboury — Architect

The prospective architecture students should be curious to acquire new knowledge as well as new skills and to strive to find innovative solutions through relentless iterative processes. They should be engaged with the arts (drawing, sculpture, photography, etc.) as well as science (geometry, physics, mathematics, etc.) and making (model making, woodworking, crafts, etc.). The architect-to-be should be a critical and analytical thinker with strong writing and communication skills. Students should thrive in a collaborative environment, showing leadership and listening abilities, but they should also be autonomous and responsible to efficiently manage time and expectations. Finally, the prospective students should have a passion for design and be devoted to making the world a better, more beautiful and sustainable place.

By completing the pre-professional BAS program, students will acquire the knowledge and skills required to move on to the next mandatory step on the path to becoming a licensed architect: a professional graduate program of architecture. The BAS degree can also lead to multiple job opportunities within or outside the field of architecture for those who do not aim to become a registered architect. Scroll to Career Opportunities to learn more.

Career Opportunities


The Bachelor of Architectural Studies (BAS) is an undergraduate and pre-professional program that is primarily geared to prepare students for professional studies in a graduate program: Master of Architecture (MArch.). The Master of Architecture program offered at the McEwen School of Architecture is a two year program, but students can get a graduate degree in architecture through any accredited school of architecture in Canada.

To become a licensed architect in Canada, you must register with your provincial regulatory body (such as the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) in Ontario or l’Ordre des architectes du Québec (OAQ) in Québec). To do this, it is mandatory to complete an internship and pass the Examination for Architects in Canada (ExAC) – expectations may vary depending on the province. However, it is important to know that only graduates of a professional degree (MArch.) can register for an internship and for the ExAC and thus eventually become a licensed architect.


Architecture students learn about much more than designing buildings. The undergraduate program is about critical thinking, solving problems, working with people, understanding the world and acquiring a broad range of highly transferable knowledge and skills (from drawing to making, from digital representation to communication, artistic and technical, etc.). Consequently, BAS graduates can expect multiple employment prospects in fields related to design and construction if they are not interested in pursuing graduate studies or becoming a licensed architect:

  • supporting the design and representation process in an architecture firm
  • urban planning and community development
  • interior and spatial designer
  • project manager in the construction industry
  • industrial designer
  • production designer
  • designer for the video game industry
  • etc.


The Bachelor of Architectural Studies (BAS) program spans over 4 years (eight 14-week Fall and Winter semesters of Design Studio, Architectural Lecture and Elective courses, plus two 14-week Spring/Summer semesters for Co-op courses). The program is delivered at the McEwen School of Architecture in downtown Sudbury, with electives delivered on the main Laurentian University campus. The McEwen School of Architecture is a state of the art new $30M facility comprised of four magnificent buildings surrounding a courtyard. To have a look at the School and facilities, follow the link below:

This program is built around a variety of important themes and ideas that students will be exposed to in the various courses, studios and life experiences in order to provide a unique and forward-thinking education. The goal is to provide the foundational knowledge and skills to develop creative thinkers and makers that will strive for responsible and beautiful designs rooted in the ideas of Place, Culture, and Life. This will make for a new generation of creative and responsive architects that can generate an architecture that is not only beautiful, innovative and thoughtful, but also acknowledges its responsibility to sustainably support and care for all forms of life (people, fauna, flora, etc.). These architects will also support the aspiration, identity and values of communities and their people in a multi-cultural, world and finally to respond to the uniqueness of place, landscape, and climate.

Flower-like diagram of the multiple MSoA curriculum values

The central themes and ideas (presented in the diagram above) are organized under three major categories of teachings that define the vision of the McEwen School of Architecture and its curriculum: hands-on and experiential learning, lessons from the North and sustainability ethics. Read more below to better understand how all this is folded into the curriculum and what you will be exposed to:


The McEwen School of Architecture proposes a unique approach to teaching design based, firstly, on hands-on learning. This means incorporating design-build projects in the curriculum to develop an intuitive way of building and designing that combines thinking, the eyes and the hands. Design-build exposes students to the challenge of not only imagining a design solution, but also concretely realizing the project, from the planning to the construction. This is rooted in the belief that design does not only happen at the drafting table while in a studio. Students should use their hands to develop their craft in order to learn through making. Students will thus have the opportunity to build an exciting portfolio of built projects as soon as they enter the first year of the program. The MSoA has an impressive workshop with a large range of tools and offers training and support thanks to specialized technologists to allow students to make their ideas become a reality.

The curriculum also focuses on technology and fabrication as a means to improve the craft and building skills of students. In addition to learning how to use traditional building tools, students will also learn how to master digital tools such as laser cutters, 3D printers and they will learn how to build electronics and electrical components. This leads to project opportunities such as designing and building your own lighting fixture, your own 3D printer, and so much more!

Experiential learning also means concretely designing projects in collaboration with communities, for communities. Once more, students will have the opportunity to leave the studio to be exposed to real community issues and projects. This will allow them to learn how to creatively integrate the aspirations and values of a community and its people into the design and prepare them for the concrete work of the architect with clients.

Incidentally, this is also reinforced by the fact that the curriculum offers a co-op program to build the students’ professional experience during their studies. This valuable experiential learning experience allows the development of new skills, but also facilitate the transition from school to work. Scroll to Co-op to learn more.


The curriculum embraces the resiliency of northern people, their cultures and the uniqueness of the northern landscape. Located in Northern Ontario, the MSoA is truly a school of the north. In that sense, the curriculum revolves around the idea that students should learn how to design in response to place, landscape, and climate by learning lessons from the north. This will firstly allow students to better understand and harness the sense of place. This means realizing architecture is part of a larger geography, ecology, and landscape in order to integrate these ideas to generate a design that is rooted in place and responds to its environment. To support these teaching students are taken out onto the land, experiencing the Northern Ontario landscape, canoeing, snowshoeing, etc. These are precious lessons that can be later applied to different places to generate unique designs.

Designing for a specific place also calls for a special sensitivity and appreciation for local materials. In Northern Ontario, this means exposing students to a wood culture. In a landscape dominated by forests, wood is a culturally significant material, but it is also a sustainable and renewable building material that is unquestionably the material of the future. Wood occupies a large place in the curriculum as students will learn the importance of prioritizing this material and how to work and design with wood through design studio projects (for ex.: designing tall wood buildings) and courses (for ex.: Wood Structures).

Place is also directly connected to cultural identity. This is about knowing who you are, where you are, the values, and connection to the place that shapes you. Culture can be local, but it also refers to a global heritage of ideas, skills, arts, learnings, etc. A truly responsible and sensitive designer should understand cultural sensitivities, diverse histories, and should know how to respect and draw from the culture of a place or a people to develop a design that is appropriate for that particular place. Students are thus exposed to the common cultural heritage (the millennia of architecture construction and design from all over the world) through a large scope of cultural and theoretical courses (for ex.: Sacred Places, Art & Architecture in Canada or Building Case Studies).

Celebrating cultural diversity in the Northern Ontario context also means acknowledging the multiple founding Nations living here. To this effect, the MSoA embraces a bilingual and tricultural approach, providing a further array of cultural and educational perspectives. This also means integrating Indigenous learning into the curriculum. These teaching are integrated in specific courses (for ex.: Indigenous Precedents), but they are also folded in a large number of other courses. This radical idea (the MSoA is the only school in the country with Indigenous faculty and elders on residence) allows students to embrace traditional ways of learning, or thinking and being into the world, to absorb attitudes about sustainability, materials, caring for the land, people, animals, etc. These teaching and values make for better designers, leaders and individuals, while reinforcing ideals of respect and inclusion.

All these lessons from the north reinforce the idea that architecture needs to respond to its environment by being deeply rooted in both its physical and cultural context. By learning from the north, students will be able to generate sensitive projects here and around the globe.


Finally, the curriculum offers a wide range of courses to expose students to environmental challenges and the important roles and responsibilities of architecture in a world in crisis (for ex.: Design for Climate Change, Architecture & Ecology, Building Systems). Students will learn how to design with energy conservation in mind in order to generate buildings that have smaller energy needs but that are also using energy more efficiently, by using principles of passive design, of bioclimatic design and by relying on clean and renewable energy sources.

Reducing the environmental impact of buildings is more complex than operational energy needs and consequently students will also learn about the ecological footprint and how to minimize the impact of buildings on resources consumption, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution due to materials embodied energy, mitigate the effects of building on the ecosystems, etc. Students will also learn about regenerative architecture: going one step further by designing projects that can also revitalize ecosystems by restoring the fauna, flora, renewing material sources, etc.

Mitigating climate change is only part of the equation and increasing the buildings’ resiliency is also crucial. Students will thus also learn how to adapt the way we design and build to allow people and communities to face more easily the challenges of increased heat waves, more extreme weather events, etc.

Along with environmental sustainability, MSoA places an equal importance on cultural and social sustainability where students will learn about the importance of designing with health and well-being in mind (for ex.: Cultural Sustainability). Buildings are designed first and foremost for people and these buildings are only viable and durable if people can identify to them and if they can inhabit them safely and comfortably.

These principles represent the sustainability ethics that students will learn about in the aim of forming a new generation of architects that will put all forms of life at the center of their peoccupations to change the world and protect our precious planet.

To view the work produced by students enrolled in the McEwen School of Architecture’s BAS program (including design-build projects, building projects, work produced in architecture lecture courses, etc.), follow the link below, or quickly browse the photo gallery below:


The Bachelor of Architectural Studies (BAS) is not a fully bilingual program. It is in fact a program with mandatory English courses and options in French.

The McEwen School of Architecture is the only architecture school outside Québec to offer courses in French. It is also the only school in the country to offer bilingual options and to have French and English students and faculty. This unique approach fosters a distinctive culture that reflects the cultural identity of Northern Ontario and sensitizes students to values dear to the MSoA: respect, inclusion and community.

All Architectural Lecture courses are taught in English, but all Design Studio courses and Electives can be taken either in French or English, which allows students to complete more than 50% of the 120 credits of the BAS program in French.

Students who have completed at least 15 credits in French throughout the BAS program (for ex.: 2 Design Studios and 1 elective) will earn a Certificate of Bilingualism upon graduation, a recognized acknowledgment of bilingual competency that is sought after by Ontario and Canadian employers. Specific requirements apply and interested students should contact the Undergraduate Coordinator to learn more.

Moreover, students who complete four (4) French Design Studios during their BAS are eligible to receive a Bilingualism Scholarship of $500 upon graduation (conditional to an overall B average in the program).

All students must be able to function in English to complete the program.


The McEwen School of Architecture undergraduate program requires the completion of 120 course credits over four years. It includes Design Studio courses (48 credits), Lecture courses (54 credits) and Electives (15 credits), which are further described below. It also includes Co-operative courses (3 credits), which are presented in the next sub-section. All our mandatory architecture courses are organized into 4 streams that reflect our program mission: Design, Culture, Technology and Professional Practice.

The MSoA offers students the benefit of smaller size classrooms, especially in Design Studios. Our students, faculty and staff are like one large family in a close-knit community. All this makes for a great atmosphere, student experience and intimate educational experience.


The curriculum is built around the idea that students will learn the fundamentals of architecture (theory, history, culture, representation, technology, structures, sustainability, ecology, etc.) through Architectural Lecture courses, but will acquire and develop their design skills by testing and applying all this knowledge to real design problems and projects in Design Studios. As a result, the entire curriculum revolves around the Design Studio courses. To this effect, students will have one studio course every semester of each year. The studio courses are worth more credits and require more time in class than any other course. The studio course is inspired by the ancient approach to learning architecture as an apprentice in an office, supervised by a mentor. In this way, students will have to design theoretical buildings or real design-build projects in close support with a studio instructor with whom they will meet on multiple occasion during a typical week. Each studio instructor is responsible for a group of +/- 14 students, which means each student benefits from a lot of face-to-face time and expert guidance. For each of the four years of the program, the Design Studios are organized under specific themes, each progressing naturally to the next as the scope and level of complexity increases.


In accordance with The Canadian Architecture Certification Board (CACB), responsible for assessing the educational qualifications of architecture graduates and for accrediting professional degree programs in architecture in Canada, the McEwen School of Architecture undergraduate curriculum includes general and professional studies, but also elective studies (15 elective credits to be completed in years 2, 3 and 4 of the program). These courses allow students to study in other fields of expertise of personal interest. This is extremely valuable as knowledge acquired related to other topics (social, scientific, technical, historical, etc.) will complement and reinforce the architectural education and increase critical thinking skills. Electives must be selected at the start of the year by the student from the range of Laurentian University programs, but the McEwen School of Architecture can recommend specific courses that are relevant to architecture to help students navigate their options. Though all architecture courses are taught at the McEwen School of Architecture (downtown Sudbury), almost all electives are taught on the Laurentian University campus (a short bus ride away).


The typical academic path for an undergraduate student consists, for each semester, of 1 design studio course, 1 to 3 architectural lecture courses and 0 to 2 electives, for a typical total of 4 courses/15 credits (except for the 8th and last semester – 3 courses/12 credits). Considering a design studio requires 10.5 hours in class per week and other courses require 3.0 hours in class per week, students are expected to spend 19.5 hours per week in class (not counting time for studying, working on assignments, etc.). As a pre-professional program, the BAS degree is structured in a specific way, year by year, to ensure the pedagogical content is sequenced by academic year and coordinated within each year. Some courses have specific prerequisites and all courses are interrelated and therefore courses cannot be taken out of sequence. Design studio courses must be successfully completed before being allowed to register for the following year of Design. All mandatory courses each year must be successfully completed to proceed in the program. To learn more about the typical path and the different courses that are offered at the different stages of the curriculum (description, stream, language, prerequisites and schedule), browse through the menus below – you can also download the PDF version of the program overview below.

In 2022-23, the MSoA launched a revised version of the BAS which aims at improving the curriculum to foster excellence. Until 2025-26, the MSoA will offer both the Original BAS (for those who joined the program in 2021-22 or earlier) as well as the Revised BAS (for those who joined the program in 2022-23 or later), at which point the Original BAS will be entirely phased out. This will improve the student experience and prepare them better than ever before to the Master of Architecture. An overview of the Original BAS courses/typical academic path can also be downloaded as a PDF further down below.


In keeping with our program mission, students will have the opportunity to work on projects related to Northern contexts in design studios, often in direct relationship with communities or local partners. Our approach is to act local, but to think global and in that sense the design studio curriculum is also built around the idea that field trips are important pedagogical learning tools. These trips are part of the hands-on experience and represent unique opportunities to go out to see and visit significant landscapes, sites, cities, historically important architecture, and great contemporary buildings. They provide an experience that complements and reinforces what is learned in school. They are also very impactful for nascent studio design as they develop creative and critical thinking, observation skills, personal architectural culture, cultural sensitivity, etc. This is why the McEwen School of Architecture offers, through each studio, multiple local day-trips (for example canoeing or visiting local buildings), but it also offers one major touch-stone field trip for each of the 4 years, starting from local city to local landscape, to out-of-province trip, to out-of-country trip:

  • 1st year – Toronto
  • 2nd year – Canadian Ecology Center (Mattawa)
  • 3rd year – Montreal
  • 4th year – Detroit and Chicago

For students who desire to expand their horizons and travel to other distant locations and experience different cultures and ways of approaching architecture, the McEwen School of Architecture also offers optional summer courses. For example, students can register to travel to Germany to take part in historical architecture renovation and revitalization or to Norway to take part in a design-build competition during the Bergen International Wood Festival.


Co-op (co-operative), a tripartite partnership between the student, the university, and an employer to integrate academic studies with practical experience, is an important part of our hands-on program. It is a learning method that enhances education with paid, relevant, technical work experience (while receiving academic credits), and launches the student’s architecture career. The benefits are numerous, especially for a professional program:

  • Refine existing strengths and develop new professional skills;
  • Integrate classroom learnings to relevant construction, architecture and design work, but also bring back to academic assignments the skills learned during co-op;
  • Gain valuable experience to improve the résumé/CV;
  • Develop a network of professional contacts;
  • Experience professional development and personal growth;
  • Develop a better understanding of the workplace, the required professional skills and career options;
  • Facilitate transition from school to work and finding a job after graduation.
Co-op really opened my eyes as to how many steps are involved in actually getting something built. When I went on my first co-op term, (...) I knew nothing about the tendering process or the documentation required for projects to be built. Now I’m much more comfortable with all of it. Caelan Mitchell — Charter Class Student

Students must complete two undergraduate co-op courses in order to obtain their Bachelor of Architectural Studies degree or move ahead in the program. The first placement happens after the second year in the program and must be in a workplace that is broadly related to the building and construction field. The second placement happens after the third year in the program and must be in an office which is more specifically related to architecture and design. Both placements normally happen in the spring semester (May, June and July).

The McEwen School of Architecture provides a Co-op Coordinator to assist students. The service provides skill development to facilitate the co-op and help secure employment (training in writing a résumé/CV and cover letter, interview preparation, coordination of the job application and interview, teaching workplace principles, explaining co-op obligations, continued training or support during the co-op, etc.).

Co-op placements must be paid jobs and must last at least 14 weeks. The jobs can be located anywhere (from local to national to international locations). Students also have to complete a written report for each work term, which are graded by the course professor and the Co-op Coordinator. To learn more about the guidelines and requirements for co-op, download the Co-op Handbook by clicking on the link below:

Policies and recommendations

All students entering the Bachelor of Architectural Studies (BAS) program are governed by academic regulations. It is the student’s responsibility to become familiar with these regulations. These are laid out in the “Academic Policies for the BAS Degree”, which can be downloaded by clicking on the link below:

For incoming students, some of the most relevant regulations and recommendations, excerpted from the Academic Policies and its appendix, are presented below:

  • To graduate with a BAS degree, a student must:
    1. satisfy all stated requirements for the BAS degree within 7 years of enrolling in the program;
    2. complete 120 credits, after no more than 162 credits attempts (all repeated and/or failed courses are included), with a minimum GPA of 3.5 (60%). Only courses taken at Laurentian University or its affiliated universities are included in the calculation of averages;
    3. complete all courses designated by the program as requiring a minimum grade with the specific minimum grade after no more than two attempts;
    4. complete the BAS program requirements, with a minimum overall GPA of 3.5 (60%) in all ARCH courses, including Design Studios and Co-op courses;
    5. be in “Good academic standing”.
  • Courses have specific prerequisites and are interrelated and therefore courses cannot be taken out of sequence. Design studio courses must be successfully completed before being allowed to register for the following year of Design. All mandatory courses in a given year must be successfully completed to proceed in the program.
  • Co-op courses, ARCH-0100 and ARCH-0300, must be successfully completed before the beginning of the third and fourth years, respectively. Students are responsible for completing co-op courses as outlined in the MSoA Co-op Handbook.
  • The BAS program does not accommodate part-time study or distance education. The Undergraduate Program Coordinator will consider requests for a course of study other than fifteen (15) credits per term on an individual basis.
  • A full-time student with an excellent academic record may, with the permission of the Undergraduate Program Coordinator, take a maximum 6 credit course overload during two semesters. The student must have had no failing grades on a minimum course load of 30 credits in the previous academic year.
  • Students must achieve an overall minimum GPA of 5.5 (70%) to be considered for the graduate Master of Architecture (MArch.) program (which is mandatory on the path to becoming a registered architect);
  • Students interested in completing a minor in a specific field of study (for ex.: Minor in Environment) should meet with the Undergraduate Coordinator as soon as the enter the program, before they register for electives;
  • It is strongly recommended that students not be employed for more than 12 hours/week due to the demands of a pre-professional program;
  • Due to the BAS program’s emphasis on extensive woodworking and other hands-on learning projects, students are encouraged to ensure that relevant immunizations are up-to-date, including but not limited to Tetanus immunization. Please consult with your health care provider for additional details.

Learn more about admissions in this program:

Architectural Studies (BAS)

Études d’architecture (BAS)