AD Architecture School Guide: University of Minnesota

For most schools, receiving an M.Arch requires 2 to 3 years, and, according to NCARB, IDP towards licensure takes an average of slightly over 5 years, excluding the time to take the exams themselves.

The University of Minnesota School of Architecture is offering two degrees that will significantly reduce IDP requirements—pending approval by NCARB— and thus reduce the time it takes to attain one’s architecture license. Two M.S. programs, an M.S. in Architecture Research Practices and an M.S. in Architecture Metropolitan Design are designed as additional year-long degrees attained while students pursue their M.Arch’s. Even better, both are structured to not only help students attain up to 930 IDP hours toward completing the degree, but to defray tuition while doing it.

Courtesy of UMinn College of Design Facebook Page

The M.S. ARP is an ambitious program, developed by the head of the School of Architecture, Renee Cheng, along with other UM faculty members. Here’s how it works:

It begins with the student’s research interests. These are matched with a faculty member who advises the student up to 10 hours a week. Then, through the Consortium for Research Practices (CRP), firms propose projects which students can intern on, depending upon their research interests. Students also work up to another 15 hours with a member firm of the Consortium. By completing this concurrent degree program, students can automatically earn 930 IDP hours, again, pending NCARB approval. And according to an article in Architect Magazine, an additional 1,500 IDP hours can be earned “through the program’s research-intensive curriculum, teaching, and the RP internship itself.”

Potentially, then, in one year students can accumulate almost half of the 5,600 IDP hours required towards licensure. Even better, says the article, this can all be achieved while defraying tuition costs through paid internships and a stipend as well. 

UMinn Student Hank Butitta (MArch '13) converted a school bus into a tiny home for his thesis project.. Image © Justin Evidon

Completing the M.S. AMD is another way for students pursuing an M.Arch to attain 936 IDP hours. Conducted through the Metropolitan Design Center (MDC), students explore “better and more sustainable urban design solutions” that confront contemporary metropolises. Their mission is to address the “distinctive growth economies” that characterize specific regions.

Past locally-based projects and investigations have included “Overcoming Crime: Transforming the Physical Design and Character of Peavey Park,” “Exploring Urban Design Options Along the Central LRT Corridor, “Asian Economic Development Association: The Little Mekong District,” and “Using Greenways and Green Infrastructure as a Vital Design Strategy to Achieve Sustainable Communities.” Each of these projects has generated its own 21-30 page document filled with statistics, research, and proposals.

Courtesy of UMinn College of Design Facebook Page

Those interested in the program will find that the school offers a wide variety of resources. First, there is the number of faculty—over 85 full, Associate, and Adjunct professors—for approximately 450 students. There are 7 research centers including the MDC and CRP, as well as a Virtual Reality Design Lab, the Center for World Heritage Studies, the Center for Sustainable Building Research, and InformeDesign.

Tuition for the M.Arch is also simplified: regardless of residency, it is $10,947 for 12-17 credits and each credit over is $912.25/credit. For the M.S. programs, full-time residents pay $7,006 for 6-14 credits while non-residents pay $10,733. Fortunately, there are scholarships totaling $165,000 available for continuing students; they are awarded based on both students’ applications and portfolios. Approximately 95 Teaching Assistantships are also available per year, which entail a tuition discount of $3,500, a stipend of $3,330 or $17.08/hour for 195 total hours per student, and a discounted health benefits plan.

About this author
Cite: Sherin Wing. "AD Architecture School Guide: University of Minnesota" 09 Nov 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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