Master of Architecture

Apply design to the world's greatest challenges

students and faculty participate in final reviews of a material culture graduate studio in Parker Hall.

Material culture research studio, final review, Parker Hall. Photo by Alexander J. Becker

Are you motivated to apply design to the climate crisis, global health inequities, or inadequate housing? Are you eager to turn your ideas into material forms that support just, resilient, and enriching environments for all? Perhaps most importantly, do you want to imagine - and build - a better world? Our challenges are great now, and your expertise as next-generation world-makers is being called upon. 

At UB we prepare future architects who are nimble collaborators, skilled makers and enterprising problem solvers. We mobilize design solutions hand in hand with the communities we serve – realizing our ideas full scale in the cities and regions around us. Top-ranked in its research, UB’s architecture program is noted worldwide for its research in inclusive design, ecological practices such as climate resilient design, and sustainable housing solutions.

Mobilizing our disciplines on the current moment

As we grapple with an historic pandemic and embrace the Black Lives Matter movement, we acknowledge the relationship of place to public health and racial justice. The current moment is an opening for historic change and new possibilities for architects to shape a better world for all. See how our faculty and students are leading the global conversation and situating design toward a more healthy and just future. 

Choose your path

With three different tracks, UB's nationally accredited Master of Architecture offers a path into the profession for students from any academic background. 

2-yr MArch Research Studio Track

The second part of our 4+2 track, this degree path is intended for students who have completed their undergraduate studies in architecture.

2-yr MArch Synthesis and Integrated Studio Track

This course of study ensures students from international baccalaureate programs in architecture will meet NAAB standards for an accredited professional degree.

3.5-yr Program

A passion for design is the only pre-req for UB's extended MArch track. Students from any undergraduate background are welcome to apply.

Join a tradition of experimentation and activism in architecture at UB, and transform the world around you through design.

- Korydon Smith, professor and chair, architecture

Admissions Review Process

All M.Arch tracks follow a similar review process. Once your application is completed and submitted in Slate, a staff member in the School of Architecture and Planning is automatically notified. Staff members review applications for completeness and verify whether your application should be considered for in-state tuition (following New York State residency requirements). They also do a preliminary check for the number of studios taken and other preparatory coursework. For international applications, they translate the GPA to a four-point scale. Once the review is complete, staff notify the “NAAB faculty reviewer” through Slate, who verifies that you have applied to the correct track. This is done by a faculty member with experience in NAAB accreditation, core design studios, professional practice, and other core courses. Transcripts and portfolios determine if the applicant shows competency in the foundational coursework of architectural history, building technologies, and architectural design, thereby enabling students to complete the remaining requirements in two years (or if the 3.5-year program is appropriate). This faculty member also evaluates and scores the portfolio, reference letters, and personal statement based on quality, clarity, and depth. The application materials are then forwarded to a second faculty reviewer, who also evaluates and scores the portfolio, reference letters, and personal statement. Both faculty members also provide an admissions recommendation. The evaluations and admissions materials are then forwarded to the department chair for review and final determination of admission and scholarships. Admitted students are then eligible to apply for course waivers on a case-by-case basis. This process includes notifying the department of the intent to submit a waiver, followed by submitting documentation that demonstrates competency, review by a faculty member in that area, and a decision made by the Director of Graduate Studies.

Our Values

A core goal of the University at Buffalo is to promote diversity and a climate welcoming of a diverse faculty, staff, students, and community members. The Department of Architecture, in particular, is known for its research and teaching on equity, diversity, and inclusion in the built environment. Principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion are also instilled in the recruitment and application process, such as holistic processes that mitigate bias. Commensurate with US Supreme Court ruling No. 20–1199, race and other diversity factors do not factor into admissions decisions.

UB offers the only Master of Architecture in the State University of New York. Our NAAB-accredited Master of Architecture was recently re-accredited for the longest award possible, with distinction in research and comprehensive studio. 

NAAB logo.
Do you have an interest in affordable housing?

Access to quality affordable housing in cities across the U.S. has reached crisis proportions. UB's Affordable Housing Initiative engages industry and community partners in interdisciplinary research and design-build projects that advance prototypes for Buffalo and cities like it across the U.S., and our Advanced Graduate Certificate educates and trains aspiring and advancing professionals to be leaders in the design, policy-making, and development of affordable housing.

Design for and with our communities

Designing a more inclusive coffee value chain in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. © School of Architecture and Planning 2019, Photo by Korydon Smith.

Designing a more inclusive coffee value chain in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. © School of Architecture and Planning 2019, Photo by Korydon Smith

As a community-minded, socially-conscious community of architects and designers, we ground our work in the communities we serve, here and around the world. Such a place-based approach to teaching and research generates spaces and places that reflect the values and aspirations of a community and responds to the context of a site, culturally, historically, ecologically. Our commitment to creating just and inclusive spaces for all shapes the projects and inquires we pursue, the stakeholders we engage, the spatial interventions we propose, and the methods we employ.   

Our community engagements run wide and deep, stretching across decades and around the world, from Buffalo, to Toronto, to Uganda, Costa Rica, and Seoul, and cities across the U.S. From housing for refugees on Buffalo's East Side to workforce training in the construction-related arts, to spatial analyses of agriculture in the Global South, we seek to understand, celebrate and reimagine place through innovative, community-informed design.

The center of our community-based approach is Buffalo, a resurgent post-industrial city that has situated and inspired our work for more than 50 years. Its dynamic urban landscapes are characterized by a dualism of prosperity and inequity - world-class architecture, vibrant neighborhoods, and stark pockets of poverty and underdevelopment. Meanwhile, our expanding spheres of influence and impact have taken us to new locales around the world to complex inequities in health, development, climate justice and food access. The Black Lives Matter movement has also brought new visibility and urgency to our work in some of Buffalo's most distressed neighborhoods and to paradigm-shifting critiques of architecture and its relationship to systemic racism. 

Community projects in action

  • Community-as-classroom approach drives regeneration

    Leaders from UB, the Yale School of Architecture, and the Harvard Graduate School of Design gathered recently to consider how their programs shape the cities around them.

  • Buffalo silk mill reimagined as a haven for refugees

    Ghalia Ajouz and her classmates don’t see an abandoned silk mill on Buffalo’s East Side. They envision a rehabilitated building that serves as a vibrant temporary housing community for refugees who’ve been relocated to Buffalo.

  • Construction arts program transforms space and students

    The Society for the Advancement of Construction-Related Arts, founded by UB architecture professor Dennis Maher, will infuse the region's workforce with skilled craftspeople who can contribute to a range of construction jobs, including the the growing number of historic preservation projects happening throughout Buffalo.

  • Black Spaces Matter

    As the nation roils over its glaring inequities in racial justice, UB assistant professor of architecture Charles Davis II explores the historic connections of race and place in this contribution to the architectural history journal Aggregate.

Incubate your ideas in a nationally ranked hub for research

students teaching students.

Students work with leading practitioners and industry leaders on terra cotta facade development. Photo by Charles Wingfelder

Drawing upon the School's founding as a center for experimental research and socially-conscious design, we approach architecture as a force of innovation and action upon the world's greatest challenges. This combination of speculative design inquiry rooted in communities and practice setting generates work that is both relevant and boundary-pushing.

The Department of Architecture ranks #1 in research dollars awarded to faculty among our peers in the Association of American Universities, a group that includes Cornell University, Harvard GSD, and the University of Michigan. UB's architecture program also ranks #6 for book publications per faculty member, and #7 for % of faculty with an award.**

The MArch program at UB is distinguished by its intensive focus on research linked to complex global problems. Students in our program have the option to focus their study through five curricular research groups that pool faculty expertise and host issue-driven studios. Our faculty are highly collaborative thinkers and practitioners with diverse connections to industry, community and eight transdisciplinary centers that tap the disciplinary depth of UB, the most comprehensive public research university in the Northeast. Through studios and independent research students engage directly with ongoing research in terra cotta facade development, fabrication with thin-guage metal, climate resilient design for Great Lakes cities, and design for health equity in the Global South.

Featured research

  • Uganda Refugee Settlements

    Kory Smith, Lisa Vahapoğlu and collaborators from UB work to plan for sustainable communities for refugees in Uganda.

  • Adapting Buildings for a Changing Climate
    The climate is changing at an alarming rate and significantly disrupting weather patterns in New York and across the globe—causing heat waves, severe storms, sea level rise, and more. It is now more crucial than ever to continue to reduce greenhouse gases and actively combat the negative impacts caused by those emissions, which will continue to affect our environment for decades.
  • Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop
    The Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop (ACAW) is a hands-on research and development workshop for architects and facade engineers to explore the use of terra cotta in high-performance facade design.
  • The UB Affordable Housing Initiative
    Although the City of Buffalo has experienced a resurgence, it has inadequate high-quality housing that is affordable to a significant portion of its population. Like many cities, affordable housing in Buffalo has been heavily dependent on the availability of investments through low-income housing tax credits, the future availability of which is uncertain.

Turn inquiry into action, hands on and full scale

Fabrication Workshop.

The Fabrication Workshop supports inquiries in making for curricular and research projects. 

The study of architecture at UB is distinctly hands on and on-the-ground. An enterprising community of makers and doers, our faculty and students bring a spirit of activism to work that directly engages the physical, social and natural world around us. Design-builds and in-the-field research are common endeavors in the Department of Architecture, from landscape installations among the grain silos of Buffalo, to exploring vernacular architectural solutions in a rural Indian village, to working directly with architectural manufactuers on the factory floor.

Terra cotta elements in the foreground as students and industry partners work in the background, in the SMART Fabrication Factory.

Research under way in our SMART Fabrication Factory in Parker Hall.

Students can push their design research into models, prototypes and full-scale builds in the Fabrication Workshop, the hub our our thinking-through-making curriculum. A fully equipped high bay space, our shop is among the largest of any architectural school in the U.S. Equipped for fabrication of all types, the shop serves both as a space to execute coursework and a think-tank and makerspace for research on materials and fabrication. Also in Parker Hall, the SMART Fabrication Factory is a state-of-the-art collaborative research space for industry-engaged inquiries in digital craft and the heart of UB's research on Sustainable Manufacturing and Advanced Robotic Technologies. Industry partners have included Boston Valley Terra Cotta, Rigidized Metals, CEMEX, SOM, CannonDesign and  and have generated internationally award-winning research on facade systems and fabrication methods.

Full-scale Projects in action

  • Snap Interlock Module System
    Snap Interlock Module System (SIMS), developed by UB associate professor of architecture Jin Young Song, imagines a new system for building with steel in the 21st century construction industry. The prototype is the winner of the 2019 Forge Prize.
    Chris Romano’s project Light/Station transformed an abandoned gas mart into a striking 1,545-square-foot design studio, green room and conference facility for Buffalo-based Torn Space, a critically acclaimed, avant-garde theater company.
  • Cages
    The work in Cages explores the qualities of material boundaries and enclosing conditions that relate structure and skin, establishing critical connections between the natural and the artificial in the material experience.
  • Coffee as a pathway to peace

    Architecture professor Korydon Smith's efforts to build a more inclusive coffee value chain are supporting peace and economic opportunity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

From the studio: gallery of student work
  • Resilience Hub
    The junior studio followed the laufmaschine project (see page 128) by designing a Bicycle Institute / Resilience Hub / Community Center in Cleveland, Ohio. The site sits directly adjacent to the Superior Viaduct and the Lake Link bike trail. 
  • Elevator B
    Elevator B is a 22 -foot-tall, free-standing steel, glass and cypress tower that was raised in "Silo City," an area along the Buffalo River where several massive abandoned grain elevators are located. The bee colony that now inhabits the tower was living in the walls of a long unused outbuilding destined for rehabilitation.
  • Victorian Dreams
    Encompassing the period from about 1840-1900, Victorian architecture is characterized by a wide range of interpretations and re-combinations of distinctly different historical traditions. The evolution of Victorian architecture was spurred by many factors including the desire of building owners to create associations with past cultures and times, the role of builders (carpenters, masons, cabinetmakers, etc.) as designers, and the newly emergent technological capacities of industrial mass production.  
  • Senior citizen cooperative housing Masten Park
    These projects were part of a larger studio examining models for infill housing within two Buffalo neighborhoods, one of which was the Masten District.
The life of our school is spirited, vibrant and diverse

Meet our students: award-winning, community-minded

Student leadership organizations

Creating space for debate

Our annual public lecture series characterizes the inquisitve, inclusive culture at the School of Architecture and Planning. The 2020-21 lecture series is dedicated to the theme of racial justice. 

Bell tower.

We accept and review applications year round. We're ready to answer your questions and eager to help you explore your interest in real estate development.

Get an education with an outstanding ROI

With a total cost of study (in-state tuition and fees) of approximately $25,000, UB offers an unmatched, affordable graduate education with an outstanding ROI. Make a smart investment in your future – pursue an MArch at UB. 

Prepare for the future of practice

Students work on an ecological practices installation at Silo City.

A UB education prepares you in the fundamentals while cultivating experimental design sensibilities and critical problem-solving skills to redefine the future of our disciplines. Our graduates carry the qualities of next-generation leaders: grit, courage, enterprise, and collaboration. Adept problem-solvers who work nimbly across disciplines to tackle complex challenges, UB architecture graduates are leading some of the most emergent fields of practice in our profession.

The MArch program's in situ studios and applied research opportunities provide real-world experiences that built client relationships and see projects evolve from concept to construction. Many of our graduates have experience working in practice-based settings, from architecture firms to manufacturers to community organizations, through studio projects, thesis research, and internships. Students have taken their research in fields ranging from inclusive design to digital fabrication directly into practice for further industry development.     

Our network of Master of Architecture grads are leading innovative areas of practice as sole practitioners and leaders at global firms, fabrication engineers in manufacturing, founders of design think tanks, professors and scholars, artists, real estate developers, and advocates for refugee health and housing. Employers of our graduates include: CannonDesign, Gensler, SOM, Kohn Pederson Fox, SHoP Architects, Ralph Applebaum Architects, Boston Valley Terra Cotta and CEMEX.

Career resources at your fingertips

Our career development team is here to support you from portfolio development and internship searches to taking your first step into the profession. Meet with firms and employers, trek to New York City for an annual career road trip, or pair up with one of our alumni mentors. Explore Career Resources

Meet our alumni

Enterprising ‘makers’ and accustomed innovators, our graduates enter today’s research-driven profession ready to lead. Graduates of our program find diverse job opportunities in large architecture and planning firms, nonprofits and NGOs, manufacturing enterprises, design research agencies, government and nonprofit organizations.

Let us know how we can help


**Ranking is based on 2018-19 annual research expenditures by all public schools of architecture and planning within the American Association of Universities. Among the 65 universities within the AAU, there are 34 public universities, 18 of which house accredited architecture and planning programs within one school. Among this peer set are the Harvard GSD, Columbia University, Cornell University, The Ohio State University, and University of Michigan.