Master of Architecture (MArch)

Photograph of the McEwen School of Architecture's student studio

Program Overview

The Master’s degree in Architecture (MArch) at the McEwen School of Architecture is unique in Canada. The program draws heavily upon the study of northern community needs coupled with an integrated approach to building systems for northern climates. Building with wood, design for climate change and digital fabrication are three areas of study for advanced graduate work, including a final design Thesis.

Whereas the mode of delivery and the structure of the undergraduate program is focused on instruction and teaching basic lessons that an architect requires (i.e. skill set), the graduate program has a different inflection. The MArch is much more driven by the student’s individual design research (agency), supported by graduate courses and professors who offer more advanced insight, including their own specialized research.

Photograph of the metal truss system in the McEwen School of Architecture

The program length is two-years, with continued focus on experiential learning through design-build and community-design projects. Design studio options include ‘Architecture and Craft,’ ‘Indigenous Design’ or ‘Community Building.’ Two terms are devoted to co-operative education, placing students in design related offices locally, nationally and internationally. Specialized research is presented through research seminars while professional practice is emphasized through co-operative education and an advanced course in architectural practice. Courses on fabrication further expose students to the relationship between architecture and industry through making. A design Thesis forms the spine of the second year. Design courses (including Thesis) and co-operative placements are offered in both French and English. Studios within the graduate program at the McEwen School of Architecture include:

  • Year 5: Craft, Community & Indigenous Design (choice of graduate studio)
  • Year 6: Thesis Research and Design (individual design)

Program Details

The pedagogical goal of the MArch program is to integrate theory/practice and thinking/making through all design projects. A slightly expanded version of the March 1 and MArch 2 plan of study follows:

M.Arch 1
The structure of the five-term MArch program begins with a mandatory Graduate Studio (ARCH 5505, ARCH 5515, or ARCH 5525) where students choose one of three options for the Fall semester:

  1. Community based design, continuing the working methods explored in the undergraduate program;
  2. Craft, which explores construction detailing, manual craft, or technologies including digital fabrication; or
  3. Indigenous Design, which explores indigenous issues in community design projects of a holistic nature.

The students also register to the following architecture lecture courses during the Fall semester to support independent graduate thinking, to prepare for upcoming research and thesis work, as well as look ahead to practical office experience, including the Internship process upon graduation:

  1. Architectural Practice (ARCH 5616)
  2. Architectural Theory (ARCH 5006)

The Winter and Spring/Summer semesters of the graduate program are spent immersed in various design disciplines and practices, with Graduate Co-op 1 and 2 (ARCH 5506 & 5606). During this time, students receive academic credit for their placements. As in the undergraduate co-op terms, both the employer and the student write an independent evaluation “report” outlining their experience. The invaluable lessons learned in practice then become folded into each student’s professional education through in-class presentations.

M.Arch 2
Although the second year of the graduate program technically begins with Co-op (ARCH 5606) during the Summer term, the second Fall term of the graduate program (MArch 2) begins with Design Research Studio 1 (ARCH 5555), where each student proposes her/his own independent (but supervised) final year of study. As in many programs, the Thesis work spans both Fall and Winter terms. While the fall Design Research Studio 1 course is spent in developing research methods, writing a proposal that defines a thesis topic. The second term’s Design Research Studio 2 focuses on the design of an architectural project.

The Fall and Winter semesters of the graduate program are also centred upon Material Culture(s) (ARCH-5086), Making 1 (ARCH-5306) and Making 2 (ARCH 5326). These are advanced courses that support the thesis investigation as well as allow a student to isolate a particular issue pertaining to making, fabrication, craft, etc. This issue can then be pursued and developed with one of the professors acting as a guide.  The Material Culture(s) course places an emphasis on Culture , allowing the study of material culture, ethnography, and socio-cultural meaning to become a platform for Indigenous or local design, as students develop their design thesis.

Master of Architecture (MArch)

Maîtrise en architecture (MArch)