M.A. in Architecture

Master of Arts In Architecture Degree Program

Master of Arts in Architecture (M.A.)

Academic Degree in Architecture Oriented Toward Research and Teaching
Program Duration: 2 years
Degree Conferred: Master of Arts in Architecture

There are two academic graduate degrees at UCLA Architecture and Urban Design: Master of Arts (M.A.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Architecture. These programs produce students whose scholarship aims to provoke and operate within the multiple constituencies in the field of architecture.

Both the M.A. and Ph.D. programs are supported by the Standing Committee, made up of three faculty members: Michael Osman, interim program director, Dana Cuff, and Cristóbal Amunátegui. A number of visiting faculty teach courses to expand the range of offerings.


All M.A. and Ph.D. students are required to enroll in a two-year colloquium focused on methods for writing, teaching, and researching in the field of architecture. The six courses that constitute the colloquium train students in the apparatus of academic scholarship. Over the two-year sequence, students produce original research projects and develop skills in long-format writing.


This program prepares students to produce specialized research, consulting, or teaching in fields related to the architecture and urban design professions. M.A. students work in a variety of intellectual and programmatic milieus including historical research, cultural studies, and interdisciplinary studies with particular emphasis on connections with geography, design, art history, archaeology and literary studies, as well as studio and design based research.

Beyond the core colloquium, M.A. students take a series of approved courses both at AUD and across the UCLA campus. The M.A. program is a two-year degree, terminated by a thesis. The thesis is developed from a paper written by the student in their course work and developed in consultation with the primary advisor and the standing committee. In addition to courses and individual research, students often participate in collective project based activities, including publications, symposia and exhibitions.

The program is distinguished by its engagement with contemporary design and historical techniques as well by the unusual balance it offers: fostering great independence and freedom in the students’ courses of study while providing fundamental training in architectural scholarship. 

Research Opportunities

The intellectual life of the students in the M.A. and Ph.D. programs is undergirded by the increasing number of opportunities afforded to students through specialized faculty-led research projects. These include: cityLab and the Urban Humanities Initiative.

cityLAB is a think tank that focuses on experimental urban architecture. Its director, Dana Cuff, initiates projects that engage research and design related to three initiatives: the postsurburban city, urban sensing, and rethinking green. Advanced research students from AUD, as well as related departments, participate in all cityLAB undertakings. Recent projects include symposia, design competitions, funded research grants, design-technology installations, and publications on topics ranging from design after disaster, to innovative housing neighborhood infrastructure, to high-speed rail’s implications for the city.

The Urban Humanities Initiative (UHI), of which Dana Cuff is one of the principle investigators, has established UCLA as an internationally recognized hub for collaborative study of urbanism that bridges design with the humanities. UHI’s focus is the comparative study of megacities on the Pacific Rim, including: Tokyo, Shanghai, and Mexico City. Seminars and studios are linked by a broad conceptual themes which demonstrate overlapping cultural and historical dynamics, including: risk and resilience, identity, and density. Several conferences have been organized, including one organized by the M.A. and Ph.D. programs of the Department, “Archiving Risk: Contributions of Architectural and Urban History,” in 2014.

Recent Dissertation and Thesis Titles

  • Anas Alomaim, "Nation Building in Kuwait, 1961-1991."
  • Tulay Atak, “Byzantine Modern: Displacements of Modernism in Istanbul.”
  • Ewan Branda, “Virtual Machines: Culture, telematique, and the architecture of information at Centre Beaubourg, 1968–1977.”
  • Aaron Cayer, "Design and Profit: Architectural Practice in the Age of Accumulation"
  • Per-Johan Dahl, “Code Manipulation, Architecture In-Between Universal and Specific Urban Spaces.”
  • Penelope Dean, “Delivery without Discipline: Architecture in the Age of Design.”
  • Miriam Engler, “Gordon Cullen and the ‘Cut-and-Paste’ Urban Landscape.”
  • Dora Epstein-Jones, “Architecture on the Move: Modernism and Mobility in the Postwar.”
  • Sergio Figueiredo, “The Nai Effect: Museological Institutions and the Construction of Architectural Discourse.”
  • Jose Gamez, “Contested Terrains:  Space, Place, and Identity in Postcolonial Los Angeles.”
  • Todd Gannon, “Dissipations, Accumulations, and Intermediations:  Architecture, Media and the Archigrams, 1961–1974.”
  • Whitney Moon, "The Architectural Happening: Diller and Scofidio, 1979-89"
  • Eran Neuman, “Oblique Discourses: Claude Parent and Paul Virilio’s Oblique Function Theory and Postwar Architectural Modernity.”
  • Alexander Ortenberg, “Drawing Practices: The Art and Craft of Architectural Representation.”
  • Brian Sahotsky, "The Roman Construction Process: Building the Basilica of Maxentius"
  • Marie Saldana, “A Procedural Reconstruction of the Urban Topography of Magnesia on The Maeander.”
  • David Salomon, “One Thing or Another: The World Trade Center and the Implosion of Modernism.”
  • Ari Seligmann, “Architectural Publicity in the Age of Globalization.”
  • Zheng Tan, “Conditions of The Hong Kong Section: Spatial History and Regulatory Environment of Vertically Integrated Developments.”
  • Jon Yoder, “Sight Design:  The Immersive Visuality of John Lautner.”