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Masters in Architecture in USA – Universities, Fees & Jobs

Updated on 15 April, 2024

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad abroad Editorial Team

Pursuing your master’s in architecture in the USA means going through a degree course of two or three years. Courses usually span four to six semesters, and the program itself is mandatory for obtaining a license as an architect in the USA. M. Arch is all the more required if you do not have an undergraduate five-year B. Arch degree. 

Getting into the best architecture colleges in the USA requires applicants to have GRE/GMAT scores and undergraduate degrees in architecture or related disciplines. Approximate tuition fees may hover around $16,500-55,700 or roughly INR 12.27 lakhs and INR 41.4 lakhs. Average salaries may stand at $110,000 per year or INR 81.78 lakhs. 

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Reasons for Studying Master’s in Architecture in the USA

Studying for an M. Arch degree in the USA is the gateway to a rewarding future career for aspirants. Here are some of the biggest reasons to pursue the same: 

  • The B. Arch degree of five years and M. Arch course are the only courses with recognition from the USA’s NCARB (National Council of Architectural Registration Boards). It is a body granting architect licenses for trained and qualified professionals. 
  • The average architecture salary in the USA is handsome and skilled graduates find employment in public and private sector jobs. 
  • As per reports from leading agencies and government organizations, employment figures are projected to grow even further over the next decade. 

Best Universities for Master’s in Architecture in the USA 

Here’s taking a look at some of the leading universities in the USA for M. Arch or equivalent programs. You may apply for a master’s in architecture in the USA without GRE at some institutions, while most of them will insist on the GRE or GMAT scores. 

Without further ado, here is a list for you: 

Name of Institution

Tenure of M. Arch Course

Total Cost of the Course

The University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley)

Two-three years

$39,809 annually or INR 29.60 lakhs

Harvard University

30 months

$53,420 per year or INR 39.72 lakhs

Columbia University

Three years

$30,540 per term or INR 22.71 lakhs

Cornell University

42 months

$58,586 annually or INR 43.55 lakhs

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Three years

$32,858 yearly or INR 24.43 lakh

University of Pennsylvania (UPenn)

Three years

$54,964 annually or INR 40.86 lakhs

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

42 months

$27,755 per term or INR 20.63 lakhs

The University of Texas at Austin (UTA)

Two years

$39,108-$41,582 or INR 29.07-30.91 lakhs

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Three years

$79,469 annually or INR 59.08 lakhs

Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)

24-42 months

$16,565 per semester or INR 12.32 lakhs

Various Types of Master’s in Architecture in the USA 

There are two kinds of M. Arch degrees available in the USA. They are the M. Arch I and II programs. M. Arch I helps in earning undergraduate skills and qualifications. This two-year course is for those who do not have an undergraduate degree (accredited). M. Arch II is for professionals looking to pursue a postgraduate course and covers two years. The program is suitable for students who have an undergraduate or B. Arch degrees. 

B. Arch is the only accredited degree for architecture in the USA and not something like a BA or BS in the field. Many universities teaching M. Arch I degrees usually offer admission to those who have design backgrounds. However, opportunities exist for people from diverse areas as well. 

M. Arch and Other Master’s in Architecture – What is the difference? 

The master’s in architecture program is called M. Arch in the USA. However, there are other types like M. Sc or Master of Science in Architecture and even Master of Arts or MA at universities. 

As the names themselves indicate, M. Sc is more focused on technology and research aspects of architecture. The MA course focuses more on design and art. These are the core differences between M. Arch degrees and other master courses in Architecture in the USA.

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Costs for Studying Master’s in Architecture in the USA 

An M. Arch degree is costly in the USA. You will not only have to pay tuition fees but also visa and application charges simultaneously. The cost of living in the USA is another factor worth noting. Here’s taking a closer look at some of the expenses that you can expect: 

  • GRE Examination Cost- $213 or INR 15,800
  • Application Charge- $80-150 or INR 5,947-11,151
  • TOEFL Test Charge- $185 or INR 13,748
  • Flight Cost- $700 or INR 52,040
  • IELTS Test Charge- INR 14,700
  • SEVIS Cost- $350 or INR 26,009 
  • Visa Charges- $160 or INR 11,890
  • Tuition Fees- Average tuition fees hover around $16,500-$55,700, approximately INR 12.27-41.4 lakhs. The fees may be higher at reputed institutions. 

Living Costs in the USA 

Living costs are not just limited to accommodation but also include public transportation, leisure, and recreational expenditure, food, eating out, apparel, and other associated costs. Books and study materials are also included in the tally. Here’s taking a look at the approximate cost of living across major cities in the USA. 

Name of the City

Monthly Living Costs


$1,200 – $2,200 or INR 90,000 to INR 1.64 lakh

Los Angeles

$1,500 – $2,500 or INR 1.12 lakh to INR 1.86 lakh

New York City, Washington D.C.

$1,700 – $3,000 or INR 1.26 lakh to INR 2.23 lakh

Miami, Boston

$1,500 – $3,000 or INR 1.12 lakh to INR 2.23 lakh


$1,300 – $2,500 or INR 96,646 to INR 1.86 lakh


$800 – $1,300 or INR 59,474 to INR 96,646


$1,000 – $2,000 or INR 74,343 to INR 1.49 lakh

San Diego

$1,400 – $2,400 or INR 1.04 lakh to INR 1.78 lakh

San Francisco

$2,200 – $4,000 or INR 1.64 to INR 2.97 lakh


$1,500 – $2,500 or INR 1.12 lakh to INR 1.86 lakh


$1,000 – $1,800 or INR 74,343 to INR 1.34 lakh

New Orleans

$1,100 – $2,000 or INR 81,777 to INR 1.49 lakh

This table will help you get an idea of approximate living costs in leading cities across the USA. 

Requirements for Admission

Students will need the following: 

  • An undergraduate degree in Architecture or any related design field is a must. 
  • GMAT or GRE test scores are required at most universities. 
  • A resume or CV is necessary. 
  • Proof of English language proficiency proof through IELTS or TOEFL test scores. 
  • SOP or Statement of Purpose is essential for universities. 
  • LOR or Letter of Recommendation, depending upon institutional requirements. 

Many universities also have their dedicated entrance examinations for M. Arch courses in the USA. 

Visa Process for International Applicants 

There are three visa types, though the F-1 visa is the commonest one. You should make sure that you apply for the visa at least three months before beginning your course. The steps in the process include the following: 

  • Submit your DS-160 or online visa application. 
  • Make your online student profile and pay your visa charges. 
  • You can schedule two appointments online; They include an appointment with the application center in your home country. It is where you will provide your biometric data. The second appointment is with the nearest American Embassy, where you will give an interview. 
  • Go to your visa interview and answer all questions confidently and calmly.

You will be notified about the status of your visa application after that. 

Available Scholarships for M. Arch Aspirants

Pursuing M. Arch courses can be a costly affair in the USA, especially for international students. Yet, several institutions and universities offer scholarships to reduce the financial burden of aspirants. Scholarships between 25-50% are only available at MIT in the USA. Most grants cover 25% of tuition costs. 

You will find many of them offered by government organizations and non-profit bodies as well. Various commissions arrange financial assistance and scholarships for international students based on multiple eligibility parameters. They include academic and co-curricular accomplishments along with specific financial requirements of students. 

Here are some of the available scholarships:

Name of Scholarship

Scholarship Details

Scholarship Amount

Fulbright Foreign Student Program

4,000 international students get this scholarship every year.

$1,000 – $2,500

Go Clean Scholarship

Only one scholarship is available.


BrokerFish International student scholarship

Partner universities offer this scholarship.


ProNet David W. Lakamp AIA Scholarship

The body offering the scholarship is the AIA or the American Institute of Architects. It is offered to two students annually.


Aga Khan Scholarship

The scholarship is for postgraduate applicants from developing nations.

50% waiver on tuition costs

ASLA Student Award

Given to those studying landscape architecture.

May Vary

Jason Pettigrew Memorial ARE Scholarship

The scholarship is given by the AIA National Associates Committee.

Total study costs

Professional Scope after MS in Architecture in the USA

Those with MS in Architecture in the USA find employment in multiple public and private organizations. Public organizations like the National Building Organisation, National Institute of Urban Affairs and Housing, Department of Railways, City Development Authorities, State Public Works Department, Central Public Works Department, and more hire MS in Architecture graduates. Postgraduate architecture students get handsome starting salaries in the USA. Average salaries stand at $110,000 or INR 81.78 lakh annually. 

Graduates find employment as project managers, design architects, senior project architects, landscape architects, urban designers, urban planners, and regular architects. There are job prospects throughout several private industries engaged in design, construction, urban development, and infrastructure. Average salaries may hover between $58,631 and $94,310 for many of these job roles. It works out to anywhere between INR 43.59 lakh to INR 70.11 lakh every year. 

Jobs for trained architects will only grow further in the USA, with steady demand from both corporates and planning organizations. Globally acclaimed universities, engaging curriculum, emerging technologies and design trends, and readily available employment opportunities make the USA a top choice for architecture students. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is GRE required for a master’s in architecture in the USA?

Most universities require GRE scores from their prospective architecture students. However, you can still apply to some institutions that do not insist on GRE scores. Some of the leading names include the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University and the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University. MIT or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also has a Master of Science in Architecture Studies or SMArchS. It does not require GRE mandatorily. You can also apply to the California College of the Arts.

Is the USA good for architecture?

The USA is one of the top global destinations for studying architecture. The country is home to some of the world’s most famous and historical monuments, buildings, and landmarks, annually visited by thousands of tourists. Some of them include the White House, Empire State Building, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Gateway Arch, and the Lincoln Memorial, to name just a few. The USA also has some of the world’s best architecture and urban planning institutions, along with a flourishing job sector. Skilled architecture graduates get hired in public organizations such as the National Institute of Urban Affairs and Housing, the Department of Railways, City Development Authorities, National Building Organisation, and more.

They also find employment at leading private firms and corporations. For working in the USA, graduates will require an internship and pass-marks in the examination for Architect Registration. Every state has varying requirements in this regard. They will have to join the Architectural Experience Program as well.

ow long is an architecture course in the USA?

Architecture courses require five years at the undergraduate level (B. Arch) in the USA with three years in professional internships. It completes the requirements under the AXP (Architecture Experience Program). M. Arch programs usually span two years on a full-time or part-time framework. There are four to six semesters at most institutions.

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad abroad Editorial Team

We are a dedicated team of study-abroad experts, ensuring intensive research and comprehensive information in each of our blogs. With every piece written, we aim at simplifying the overseas education process for all. Our diverse experience as journalists, content writers, editors, content strategists, and marketers helps create the most relevant and authentic blogs for our readers.

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