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M.S. in Architecture and Urban Design

The M.S.AUD (formerly M.Arch.II) is a one-year post-professional degree program that leads to a Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design degree.

This unique program offers students with a professional degree in architecture the opportunity to specialize their skills and apply architectural design thinking and capabilities to real-world challenges outside the field. The program is eligible for the STEM OPT Extension for F-1 visa holders.*

The program is located at UCLA Architecture and Urban Design’s IDEAS Campus, a state-of-the-art incubator for collaborative, cross-disciplinary design research. Led by professors who are experts in their respective fields, students join a team of educators and industry partners to question, challenge, and expand the current conventions of architectural practice.

Each year, the program offers concurrent studios that explores contemporary research topics. Students have the opportunity to investigate architectural design and its cultural and social context, often drawing from real-world examples in Los Angeles. For example, recent research immersed students in the concept of mobility within and around buildings, first, with a focus on rethinking shopping and the market and, second, rethinking workspace. In the entertainment area, students reenvisioned static event buildings, employing temporary staging, pop-up installations, robotized movements, media, and light. Previous urban strategy research focused on critical analyses of the modern city including history, politics, planning infrastructure, and social issues. Recent technology projects have investigated the intersection of the digital and physical worlds, examining life in mixed realities. These interactive environments challenge traditional fabrication techniques and spatial assemblies with virtual and augmented realities and robotics.

Past research studios have catalyzed design, technology, and research breakthroughs in high-profile projects with partners such as Hyperloop and SpaceX, high-performance architecture with Boeing and Cirque du Soleil, 3D-printing design and technology with Autodesk and RedBull, and urgent issues of sustainability with UNICEF in Haiti. By engaging with experts from other fields, we expand architecture’s field of influence and leverage design to propose alternative, more intelligent futures.

The one-year program.

The program kicks off each year in August with the IDEAS Summer Studio, a six-week preparatory course. Through weekly workshops, students are introduced to software, tools, and techniques available to design students. This technical foundation provides a common platform for the remainder of the one-year program and equips students to work collaboratively with faculty to explore research topics.

In the Fall, Winter and Spring quarters, students break off into concurrent studios that explore unique research topics. The three-quarter studio comprises a first quarter of research, a second quarter of hypothesis definition and development, and a final quarter of design resolution. Alongside their main studio, students also complete Technology Seminars and Critical Studies courses that explore complementary topics. Through intensive research and experimentation, students investigate contemporary technological interventions, capture opportunities for interdisciplinary growth, and create new methodologies for architectural design.

*Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a federally regulated program managed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and is subject to current U.S. federal rules and guidelines. Please visit studyinthestates.dhs.gov/sevis-help-hub/student-records/fm-student-employment/f-1-optional-practical-training-opt for the most up-to-date information regarding this policy.

Research Topics

As a global hub of innovation, Los Angeles is a place where things get launched. We try to capture that spirit through our research at the IDEAS campus.

Studio Leader: Greg Lynn

The Arrival Studio is investigating four landmark sites in Los Angeles that will be epicenters for civic activity during the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics. With the world’s attention on the city for several weeks we are collaborating with the zero-emission solution company ARRIVAL to rethink the method and experience of multi-modal public transportation in the city. ARRIVAL is sharing with us their pioneering approach, not only in the design quality of their buses, delivery vans and ride-share cars, but also in their method of manufacture using recyclable materials fabricated and assembled in urban scale micro-factories. Inspired by local micro-factories, sustainable materials and electric energy systems, the students are designing mixed use facilities on iconic sites in the city that combine bus stations, ride-share points, micromobility docking and charging stations, delivery vans, food and goods pick-up and drop-off locations, local delivery hubs and micro-factories that engage the core competency of ARRIVAL, warrant the international visitor and viewer awareness of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, and rethink the transportation, shopping, dining, leisure and event experience of LA.

See ResearchMore Student Work

Studio Leader: Natasha Sandmeier

In a world evermore organized by images, pixels, and data, the IDEAS Entertainment studio is uniquely positioned to provide a platform for architects to design and shape the environments, as well as the audiences, of our near future. Architecture traditionally privileges form over image, yet our world increasingly operates in reverse. The Entertainment Studio situates itself at the crosshairs of that reality, exploring what it means to work and learn as an architect today in a world filled with (and often, consumed by) the tools, techniques, and instincts of animators, filmmakers, and storytellers as well as their audiences. We build worlds and narratives that align space and form with image and technology, in order to transform the role of the architect in a massively mediated world – and discipline. Along the way, we transgress the authentic with the fantastical, the real with the fictional, in order to design, describe, and broadcast the worlds of tomorrow. And we take full advantage of our setting in Los Angeles, where entertainment, industry, innovation, and design percolate and cross-pollinate, suggesting tomorrow's new directions.

See ResearchMore Student Work

Studio Leader: Güvenç Özel

Architecture is on the cusp of a paradigm shift, accelerated in and by recent global patterns, in which the environments we occupy are increasingly virtual and mobile. Considered a dynamic ecosystem of technologies rather than a tectonic assemblage of materials, architecture is evolving toward a non-static and non-physical form of experience. As such, architecture is increasingly a transdisciplinary medium that merges the worlds of fabrication, gaming, and media design, among other technologies and innovations.

The IDEAS Technology Studio investigates the design of new media in digital and physical forms, and its potential to radically transform the human experience. Given the contemporary interest in the “metaverse,” the Technology Studio uses Extended Reality (XR), interactive robotic systems, and machine learning/AI to envision a “cyberphysical architecture” that exists at the intersection of digital and physical worlds. Architecture is situated and engaged as an incubator, and not strictly a recipient, of ongoing innovation and experimentation; the practice of design is reimagined as a platform to experience multitudes of contemporary realities.

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Studio Leader: Jeffrey Inaba

The once-in-a-generation global transformations we are witnessing today are most evident in our cities. Advancing technologies, changing climates, ever-widening social and economic disparities—new ways of living and co-existing—play out writ large in urban centers across the globe. Cities are also the sites where we as researchers and designers can conceptualize and shape a better, more equitable future. Students in the MSAUD/IDEAS Urban Strategy Studio engage state-of-the-art technologies, many of which have been developed locally in California, as they explore at-scale approaches to a range of design questions: climate change, aging infrastructure, population growth and flux, and other collective challenges. Cities are the central site and substance of all design; with urban questions and dynamics evolving in complexity, the Urban Strategy Studio works in a multidisciplinary context alongside experts, organizations, and institutional partners, developing analytical and design skills that students can apply in urban situations wherever they will be.

See ResearchStudent Work


The M.S.AUD program requires an advanced background in architectural studies and is open to students with a NAAB-accredited five-year Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) degree, a graduate degree in architecture, or the foreign equivalent.

As part of their application, students rank their preferred research topics, and are enrolled in one research topic for the year. All new students must enter in the summer session. The program is full-time and does not accept part-time students.

Thank you for your interest in our program. Applications to the MSAUD program for Fall 2022 were due in January 2022; applicants will be notified of admission decisions in March 2022. If interested, admitted applicants must file an online Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) by April 15, 2022.

Typical Study Program

Courses and schedule are subject to change.

401 Advanced Topics Studio (6)
289 Technology Seminar (4)
289 Critical Studies Seminar (4)
403A Research Studio (2)
401 Advanced Topics Studio (6)
289 Technology Seminar (4)
289 Critical Studies Elective* (4)
403B Research Studio (2)
401 Advanced Topics Studio (6)
289 Technology Seminar (4)
289 Critical Studies Elective* (4)
403C Research Studio (6)
289 Technology Seminar (4)
289 Critical Studies Elective* (4)

*Students are required to take two of the three Critical Studies Electives offered in the Fall, Winter, and Spring.

How to Apply

Applying to the M.S.AUD program is an online process via the UCLA Application for Graduate Admission (AGA).

Completing the requirements will take some time, so we strongly recommend logging in to the AGA in advance to familiarize yourself with the site and downloading the documents and forms you will need to complete your application.

You can also download this checklist to make sure you have prepared and submitted all the relevant documents to complete your application.

Your Statement of Purpose is a critical part of your application to the M.S.AUD program. It is your opportunity to introduce yourself and tell us about your specific academic background, research interests related to specific studio topics, achievements, and goals. Our selection committee use it to evaluate your aptitude for study, as well as consideration for merit-based financial support.

Your statement can be up to 1500 words in length. Below are some questions you might want to consider. You don’t need to answer every question; just focus on the elements that are most relevant to you.

  • What is your purpose in applying to the M.S.AUD. program? Describe your area(s) of interest, including any subfield(s) or interdisciplinary interests*
  • What experiences have prepared you for this program? What relevant skills have you gained from these experiences? Have your experiences led to specific or tangible outcomes that would support your potential to contribute to this field (e.g. performances, publications, presentations, awards or recognitions)?
  • What other information about your past experience might help the selection committee in evaluating your suitability for this program? E.g. research, employment, teaching, service, artistic or international experiences through which you have developed skills in leadership, communication, project management, teamwork, or other areas.
  • Why is UCLA Architecture and Urban Design the best place for you to pursue your academic goals?
  • What are your plans for your career after earning this degree?

Your Personal Statement is your opportunity to provide additional information to help the selection committee evaluate your aptitude for study. It will also be used to consider candidates for UCLA Graduate Division fellowships related to diversity. You can read more about the University of California Diversity Statement here.

Your statement can be up to 500 words in length. Below are some questions you might want to consider. You don’t need to answer every question; just focus on the elements that are most relevant to you.

  • Are there educational, personal, cultural, economic, or social experiences, not described in your Statement of Purpose, that have shaped your academic journey? If so, how? Have any of these experiences provided unique perspective(s) that you would contribute to your program, field or profession?
  • Describe challenge(s) or barriers that you have faced in your pursuit of higher education. What motivated you to persist, and how did you overcome them? What is the evidence of your persistence, progress or success?
  • How have your life experiences and educational background informed your understanding of the barriers facing groups that are underrepresented in higher education?
  • How have you been actively engaged (e.g., through participation, employment, service, teaching or other activities) in programs or activities focused on increasing participation by groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education?
  • How do you intend to engage in scholarly discourse, research, teaching, creative efforts, and/or community engagement during your graduate program that have the potential to advance diversity and equal opportunity in higher education?
  • How do you see yourself contributing to diversity in your profession after you complete your M.S.AUD. at UCLA Architecture and Urban Design?

A Curriculum Vitae (résumé of your academic and professional experience) is recommended but not required.

Applicants must upload a scanned copy of the official transcripts from each college or university you have attended both in the U.S. and abroad. If you are accepted into the program you will be required to submit hard copies. These can either be sent directly from each institution or hand-delivered as long as they remain in the official, signed, sealed envelopes from your college or university. As a general rule, UCLA Graduate Division sets a minimum required overall grade-point average of 3.0 (B), or the foreign equivalent.

All applicants are required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). More information on this standardized exam can be found at www.ets.org/gre. In addition to uploading your GRE scores, please direct ETS to send us your official score sheets. Our ETS codes for the GRE are below:

UCLA Architecture and Urban Design
Institution Code: 4837
Department Code: 4401

We recommend you take the exam at least three weeks before the application deadline as it usually takes 2-3 weeks for ETS to send us the test scores.

COVID-19 Update:
The GRE is a required component of the UCLA Graduate Division application process. If for some reason COVID-19 has impacted you in such a way that you are unable to take the GRE, please upload a statement with your online application to that effect so that our faculty can take that into account when considering your application.

If you have received a Bachelor’s degree in a country where the official language of instruction and primary spoken language of daily life is not English, you must submit either a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or an International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Exempt countries include Australia, Barbados, Canada, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. This is a requirement that is regardless of your visa or citizenship status in the United States.

To be considered for admission to the M.S.AUD. program, international students must score at least 87 on the TOEFL and 7 on the IELTS exam. Because processing, sending, and receiving TOEFL and IELTS scores can take several weeks, international students must schedule their exam no later than October 31 in order to meet UCLA deadlines. TOEFL scores must be sent to us directly and uploaded as part of the online submission. Our ETS codes for the TOEFL are below:

UCLA Architecture and Urban Design
Institution Code: 4837
Department Code: 12

If your score is less than 100 on the TOEFL or 7.5 on the IELTS, you are also required to take the English as a Second Language Placement Examination (ESLPE) on arrival at UCLA. The results of this test will determine any English as a Second Language (ESL) courses you need to take in your first term of residence. These courses cannot be applied towards your minimum course requirements. As such, you should expect to have a higher course load than students not required to take ESL courses.

If you have earned a degree or completed two years of full-time college-level coursework in the following countries, your TOEFL / IELTS and ESLPE requirements will be waived: U.S., U.K., Canada (other than Quebec), Australia, and New Zealand. Please provide official transcripts to demonstrate course completion. Unfortunately, we cannot accept any other documentation to demonstrate language proficiency.

COVID-19 Update:
For the 2021-22 cycle, UCLA Graduate Division will accept TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition scores. UCLA does not currently accept MyBest TOEFL scores. For more information, please visit the UCLA Graduate Division page on English language requirements.

Three (3) letters of recommendation are required. These letters should be from individuals who are familiar with your academic and professional experiences and can evaluate your capacity to
successfully undertake graduate studies at UCLA. If you do not have an architecture background please note that we are looking for letters that evaluate your potential as a graduate student, not necessarily your architecture experience.

Letters of recommendation must be sent electronically directly to UCLA by the recommender. When logged in, you can enter the name and email address of each of your recommenders. They will be contacted by email with a request to submit a letter on your behalf. You can track which letters have and have not been received. You can also send reminders to your recommenders to send their letters.

Your digital portfolio of original creative work is a central part of your application. Please upload your portfolio in the “Architecture” section of the online portal.

Your portfolio should be 8 1/2" x 11", and saved as a single PDF file no greater than 15 MB. We suggest designing your portfolio as single sheets, with your name clearly stated on the cover page. Image sizes should be at least 150 dpi and no more than 300 dpi for print.

Content is not restricted to any particular subject area, the material should form a cohesive presentation and represent your previous experience and creative abilities. It can be used to showcase both academic and professional work* and can include both graphic and written material.

*If you are including professional work please be sure to properly credit others and / or explain your role as part of a team.

Please complete and submit the Department Supplement Form to confirm your intention to apply to the M.S.AUD program as well as your ranked preference of research topics.

Tuition & Fees

The most up-to-date information on tuition and fees for the M.S.AUD program can be found on the UCLA Registrar’s Office website.

For information on estimated cost of living and other expenses visit the UCLA Financial Aid Office website.

Financial Aid

As a public university, we strive to make our programs accessible to students from a diverse population. UCLA Architecture and Urban Design offers graduate students a number of financial opportunities in the form of scholarships and employment opportunities.

Recruitment fellowships are offered to the most outstanding students that apply to the M.S.AUD program each year. All applicants are considered for recruitment fellowships as part of the application review process. No additional applications are necessary to be considered for these awards.

We offer a range of employment opportunities for students to work in the department. These include social media, marketing, photography, videography, front office administration, exhibition management and installation, fabrication shop assistant and assisting with the print lab operations. Students can work up to 20 hours per week, build their skills in these areas and learn about the department in the process. Please enquire in the main administration office to learn more.

These employment opportunities are prioritized for Work-Study eligible students. There are two types of work-study programs: the Federal Work-Study program which awards up to $2,000 per year; and the Graduate Work-Study program which awards between $5,000 and $15,000 per year. Students who are eligible to receive federal loans can apply to be considered for one or the other program. General information on work-study programs can be found on the UCLA Graduate Division website.

The Graduate Work-Study Program is for “need-based eligible” graduate students completing part-time paid internships, community service, research projects, or other endeavors closely related to their academic degree program. Students must submit additional paperwork to be considered for the Graduate Work-Study Program.

U.S. citizens or permanent residents can apply for Federal Stafford Student Loans through the UCLA Financial Aid Office, which are long-term loans through private lending organizations.

A variety of extramural funding opportunities are available to graduate students including academic fellowships, research grants, competition awards, conference support, and exhibition funding. To be considered for extramural funding, students should apply directly to the funding organization. UCLA Graduate Division maintains extensive records extramural fellowship directories. Among these, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and other architecture associations make awards annually.