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Graduate Programs in Architecture Admissions Information

Before Applying to the Master of Architecture Program

Architectural education and practice are both challenging and demanding endeavors that require a high level of commitment, a dedication to self-education, and an ability and desire to deal with complex problems that sometimes do not have easy or clear answers. At the same time, architecture is also a highly collaborative field, and the ability and desire to work with others is necessary.

Before applying, you are encouraged to learn as much as possible about the field, including what architectural education and practice are like. Talk with current and former students, and architects, and read books on the profession, professional magazines, and websites. For more information about becoming an architect, the profession, careers in architecture, and what it's like to work as an architect, start with "The Basics" on the NCARB site. See also the "Career" section from the American Institute of Architects website. As you will learn there, an accredited Master of Architecture degree is the first step in a lifelong education. For those intending to become licensed architects, it is followed by a structured internship program (IDP), a licensing exam (the ARE), and continuing education to keep pace with a changing profession.

Instructions for Applying to the Master of Architecture Program


  • Criteria for Admission to the Master's Degree Programs
    Admission to our Master's degree programs is determined by an Admissions Committee of graduate architecture faculty. Admission is very competitive and based on an evaluation of the candidate's potential to respond successfully to the rigors and creative challenge of graduate study in architecture. Based on prior architecture education, there are two degree tracks from which to choose; M.Arch I which is a three year program and M.Arch II which is a two year program.  Those admitted to the M. Arch. II program will have a strong portfolio documenting the 6 to 8 semesters of design studio coursework typical of a BA or BS in Architecture. Those without 6 to 8 semesters of strong architectural design studio work should consider applying to, and may be offered admission to, the M. Arch. I track. (See the section below on Degree Track Selection and Prior Coursework for further information about advanced placement.)
    The most important materials reviewed to estimate this potential are the applicant's design portfolio; prior academic work (GPR/GPA); Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, including the analytic writing component; and, in the case of international students, TOEFL score. As described below, the most important part of the application is the portfolio, which is required of all applicants, regardless of prior experience and degree track. There are no cut-off scores for the GRE or GPA (so we cannot tell you whether to apply or not on this basis); scores are relative to other applicants in the applicant pool. However, since graduate students at Clemson University must maintain a B average in their coursework, above average GRE scores and undergraduate GPA are considered important factors for admission. Satisfactory performance (90 or above preferred) on the TOEFL examination is also required of international applicants; international applicants with lower TOEFL scores may be offered conditional admission.
    Additional information about admission is available on Clemson's Graduate School web site.
  • Specialties such as Concentrations and Certificate Programs
    Our program allows for such choices as a concentration in Architecture + Health (A+H), certificate programs such as Architecture + CommunityBUILD (A+CB) and Digital Ecologies, the choice of off-campus study in up to two semesters in three satellite locations, and/or 12 credit hours (most of one semester) of electives in any subject - all while completing degree requirements. Some of these opportunities require an application (A+H and A+CB program at the time of application), and some cannot be done simultaneously. However, we seek to make our program as flexible as possible within the structures of a NAAB-accredited M.Arch program.
    Admission to the Master of Architecture program is first to our M.Arch program at large, and subsequently to specialized programs including A+H and A+CB. The directors of those programs will contact those offered admission at large about placement and their programs' waitlist in the week or weeks following the initial offer of admission.
    Additional Admissions Information for A+H Program: Applicants who request admission to the A+H program are selected for admission to the A+H program in accordance with their standing in the applicant pool. Others are automatically waitlisted for admission to the A+H program. Those admitted to the M.Arch II track and waitlisted for A+H will be notified if any space becomes available before the first day of classes; however since space is limited, spaces will typically be filled soon after offers of admission are made to M.Arch II A+H applicants. Students who enroll in our M.Arch I program are waitlisted for the A+H programs will remain on the A+H waitlist throughout their first year of study (the first year of the M.Arch I program is the same for all students) and will be notified if a space becomes available before the first day of classes in Year 2.
  • Deadlines and Important Dates in the Application Process
    The deadline for receipt of the application and all supporting materials including the portfolio is January 15 for the following academic year which begins in mid-August. The School of Architecture does not offer mid-year (spring semester) admission.
    Offers of Admission: Initial offers are made six to eight weeks after the deadline, around March 1, at which time a wait list is also determined. Offers of admission are extended only by Clemson University's Graduate School following the review of a recommendation of admission by the School of Architecture, and approval and processing by the Graduate School. Newly admitted applicants will first receive a letter from the Graduate School through the admissions portal, and will be instructed to accept or decline the admission through the online portal.  When accepting the admissions offer, indicate the MARCH-ARCH-2 code. This is a University degree code and it does not indicate the degree track. Following the Graduate School letter, an offer letter will come from the School of Architecture will indicate the degree track to which the applicant was admitted.
    Waitlists:  Waitlisted applicants will not see an indication of this status in the Application Status Check, but will be notified by the School of Architecture. If a place becomes available, the School of Architecture will recommend admission to the Graduate School. All admissions correspondence is communicated in writing, by email, or through the admissions portal; no official admissions information is communicated by phone.
    Deadline for accepted applicant replies:  The deadline for replies to early offers of admission is April 15, or the date indicated on the letter from the School of Architecture. The number of places remaining for wait-listed applicants may not be known until after April 15. The admissions system status of waitlisted applicants will indicate pending until the application is approved or removed from further consideration.
    Waitlisted applicants who applied for advanced placement should consider moving their application to the three-year Master of Architecture track.
  • Application Requirements
    Admission to graduate programs at Clemson University follows procedures established by the Clemson University Graduate School and the School of Architecture. Please follow the procedures below and submit the requested information as follows:
    Step 1: Obtain an unofficial copy of your transcripts, take the GRE and have your scores sent to Clemson University Graduate Admissions using school code 5111; prepare your portfolio; and identify three people to complete online reference or recommendation letters (forms). An unofficial transcript is one that the applicant attaches to their online application; an official transcript is one sent directly from the applicant's college or university to Clemson University Graduate Admissions. International applicants, go to Step 2; others go to Step 3.
    Step 2, for International Applicants:
    i) Take the TOEFL. The School of Architecture does not recommend the IELTS test, unless the score is above 7.0. (See Information for International Applicants below.) Request your test scores to be sent to Clemson University Graduate Admissions, using school code 5111.
    ii) Calculate your US 4.0 GPA. Please note that we will not convert your grades and we may reject applications that have not supplied an accurate US 4.0 GPA conversion. See Information for International Applicants below.
    Step 3: Complete an online application for admission through the Graduate School.  Attach a PDF copy of unofficial transcripts to the online application. International applicants must attach a PDF of their WES/NACES evaluation to the application. Supply contact information for your three references as part of the online application.
    Note that you do not need to supply official transcripts unless you are offered admission. Similarly, international applicants do not need to supply original or official WES/NACES evaluations unless offered admission.
    Step 4: Send your design portfolio, directly to the School of Architecture at this address:
    Graduate Admissions, Attn: Michelle McLane
    Clemson University School of Architecture
    323 Fernow St., 3-129 Lee Hall
    Clemson SC 29634-0503.
    Step 5, if offered admission: If offered admission, you will be requested to supply official copies of your transcripts and credential evaluations. Official transcripts and credentials are not handled by the applicant or the School of Architecture. Official transcripts and credentials must be sent directly to Clemson University Graduate Admissions (not to the School of Architecture).
    EXCEPT FOR YOUR PORTFOLIO, ALL APPLICATION MATERIALS MUST BE SENT TO THE CLEMSON UNIVERSITY GRADUATE ADMISSIONS OFFICE AT THIS ADDRESS:
    Graduate Admissions Office
    E-209 Martin Hall
    Clemson SC 29634-5124
  • Completing the Online Application and Selecting a Degree Track
    The Online Application: The online application is accessed through Clemson University's Graduate School website.
    When you proceed with the online application, please note that MARCH-ARCH-2 is an application system code beyond our control that does not correspond to our M.Arch II degree track. All Master of Architecture applicants will select this application code. You will later select the appropriate degree track, M.Arch I or M.Arch II.
    If you have technical problems with the online application, you may alert us to the issue, but please take a screen-shot and contact Clemson's Graduate Admissions Office, which manages the application portal.
    Degree Track Selection: Within the online application, you will be asked to select your degree track for consideration. The degree tracks are described above and in more detail on our Graduate Degrees webpage. International applicants should make sure to observe the difference between the Master of Architecture (professional degree) track and the Master of Science in Architecture (non-professional degree) track.
    Applicants with prior coursework in architecture should note that the M.Arch II track is an advanced placement track. However, prior coursework doe not guarantee admission or advanced placement. Some pre-professional students should pursue admission to the M.Arch I track. Similarly, some M.Arch II applicants will be offered admission to the M.Arch I track.
    Apart from a strong portfolio documenting up to 8 semesters of architectural design studio coursework, other prior coursework (including two structures courses and other courses typical of a pre-professional program) is considered for advanced placement.
    In the admissions process, portfolios are reviewed by degree track selection. As noted above, the second offer letter, from the School of Architecture, will indicate the degree track to which the applicant was admitted
    These guidelines apply equally to the M.Arch I and II Architecture + Health degree tracks, where offers of admission are even more competitive due to the limited number of spaces available.
    Personal Statement: A personal statement is not required; however, a personal statement may be submitted (attached to the online application or sent with or included in your portfolio). A statement is suggested for M. Arch I applicants and other applicants to specialty programs.
  • Additional Requirements for International Applicants
    Degree Track Selection: International undergraduate degrees in Architecture may differ from US Bachelor degrees in Architecture; however, regardless of the title of the degree, an M.Arch II applicant's major course of study must be in architecture, with an emphasis on architectural design. International applicants should compare their course of study to Clemson's undergraduate degree program for a general comparison. The admissions committee also uses this as a general benchmark for a pre-professional undergraduate curriculum (for the purposes of a preliminary assessment of advanced placement). All M.Arch II applicants, whether international or not, must consider whether their portfolio will be competitive in the two-year applicant pool, where applicants will have up to four years of architecture design studios and other pre-professional studies in architecture.
    International Transcript/Credential Certification:  To provide the admissions committee with the most accurate information, international applicants should have their international transcripts evaluated by WES (World Education Services or another NACES-accredited evaluation service. Credential evaluation will show a course-by-course listing and your overall academic record converted to the US 4.0 grading system. Offers of admission may be conditional pending the submission of an official transcript evaluation.
    Please note: We will not convert your grades to the US 4.0 GPA and we may reject applications without accurate GPA conversions. We may also require credential certification as a condition of admission. Students from China: for WES evaluation, see http://www.wes.org/students/chinese/index.asp.
    GPA Conversion: International applicants must self-report their GPA on the online application in the US 4.0 grading system. We will not make the conversion calculations for you. If your transcript does not indicate your GPA in the 4.0 systems,then you must use the unofficial self-reported GPA calculator from WES or a similar calculator. You must also attach unofficial transcripts. Unofficial transcripts are copies sent by the applicant. If offered admission, you will be required to have official transcripts sent directly from your university to Clemson University Graduate Admissions. At that time you may also be required to submit a credential verification and transcript evaluation by WES or another NACES -accredited evaluation service. WES has an International GPA calculator that can be used for unofficial, self-reported GPA scores. There is a cost of $5 US for this service. 
  • Language and TOEFL Score Requirements for International Applicants
    Language Requirements: All coursework is in English and there is no time within the demands of the Master's degree curriculum to add coursework in English language study; therefore, international applicants are required to submit their TOEFL scores, and the admissions committee looks at scores for strong language abilities. The examination must have been taken no more than 24 months prior to application. A TOEFL score of 90 or better is an indication that the applicant will be able to satisfactorily understand and complete coursework in English.
    TOEFL Exam and Scores:The IELTS examination is accepted; however, 97% of applicants submit TOEFL scores and we convert IELTS to TOEFL scores for comparison. The School of Architecture therefore, does not recommend the IELTS test. The reason for this is that an IELTS score of 6.5 can be converted to a TOEFL score of 79 to 93. However, a score of 79 is not acceptable for admission, while a score of 93 is acceptable. Therefore, unless your IELTS score is above 7.0, your language abilities will not be considered acceptable. For conversion information, see http://www.ets.org/toefl/insitutions/scores/compare/. A TOEFL score of 90 or better is an indication that the applicant will be able to satisfactorily understand and complete coursework in English.
    In order to ascertain language abilities, international applicants may be requested to participate in a Skype interview. (Free software for Skype is available at http://www.skype.com/). After admission, any enrolled student whose English language abilities are found to be insufficient will be required to take supplemental language instruction although this may delay degree progress. Applicants with lower TOEFL scores but otherwise strong applications may be offered conditional admission. Conditional admission at Clemson requires attendance at Clemson's ESL center.
    Conditional Admission: Strong international applicants with lower TOEFL scores may be offered "conditional admission". Conditional admission requires an applicant to complete Clemson's ELS program. Clemson's ELS program is located in Greenville, SC (not on campus). There is a bus service between Greenville and Clemson, but conditionally admitted ELS students may not take classes and are not admitted to the University by the Graduate School until the ELS program is successfully completed. ELS is a private language instruction provider approved by the University. Visit the ELS website for more information about costs and housing. Conditional Admission will typically delay the start of formal studies by one year. Language sessions begin every 4 weeks; however, because conditional admission requires four 4-week sessions (4 months) of study, it is usually not possible to complete successful studies before the start of classes in August. If the conditionally admitted student begins and completes ELS requirements between May and December, the student may be permitted to take some classes in the spring semester beginning in January. The student will then join the class matriculating/starting in August. Students offered conditional admission who do not complete the Clemson ELS program must reapply - after additional English language study and earning a higher TOEFL score - and are encourage to do so.
  • Portfolio requirements for the M.Arch II program (for applicants with a pre-professional undergraduate background in architecture)
    For applicants to the two-year M. Arch. II programs (those with a pre-professional undergraduate background in architecture), the portfolio will include examples of studio projects, including titles, brief descriptions, and information about the date and year level when the work was completed. Any group work, whether in an academic or office setting, must be clearly identified as such, and include a brief description of the applicant's contribution. (Failure to acknowledge group or collaborative work as such will result in the rejection of the application.) Although the portfolio may present other aspects of the pre-professional applicants experiences and interests, there is an expectation that the portfolio of a pre-professional student will present a substantial amount of their work and experiences as a pre-professional architecture student.
  • Portfolio requirements for the M.Arch I program (for applicants without a pre-professional undergraduate background in architecture)
    For applicants without a pre-professional background in architecture, who are applying to our three-year M. Arch. I programs, the portfolio is equally important. Any two-dimensional creative work, or representations of three-dimensional work, such as photography, graphic design, interior design, sketching, painting, sculpture, etc., may be included. Published writing samples, website designs, and other relevant design work may also be included. Any collaborative work must be clearly identified and include a brief description of the applicant's contribution. Since the M. Arch. emphasizes architectural design, candidates who do not have any creative work and do not submit a portfolio will not present the Admissions Committee with satisfactory evidence of their design abilities or sensibilities. Applicants without art or design backgrounds should consider taking courses in the arts or design before applying.
  • Formatting Requirements for the Portfolio
    Both presentation and content are important, and all portfolios must follow the format requirements described below. (Electronic portfolios, CDs, websites, etc., will not be reviewed.)
    The portfolio provides evidence of design abilities and design sensibilities, and the opportunity for applicants to demonstrate preparation, prior experiences, accomplishments, and research interests relevant to their graduate degree program goal.
    Format Requirements: The Admissions Committee considers not just at the content of the portfolio but also presentation and the way the portfolio itself is put together—including adherence to the following guidelines:
    • The portfolio must be no larger than 8.5" x 11" or A4 to be included with other portfolios being reviewed. (There is no minimum or maximum page requirement.) Portfolios exceeding 8.5" x 11" or A4 may not be reviewed, and electronic portfolios, DVDs, websites, etc., will not be reviewed. Although other presentations may be acceptable, the typical portfolio is a spiral-bound booklet, soft cover booklet, or hardcover book.
    • The cover of the portfolio must include the applicant's name and the degree track(s) applied for. Portfolios that do not include the degree track may not be considered for advanced placement.
    • Current contact information should be included on the cover or within.
    • The applicant's resumé or cv will be contained within, whether as part of the portfolio in the front or back of the booklet (preferred), or as an insert.
    • All design projects presented must be clearly labeled with dates (year and semester), context of the work and supervisor (studio instructor or office supervisor).
    • All team, group, and office work must be identified; team members must be listed; and your role in the work must be clearly and specifically described.

Additional Information Related to Admissions to the Master of Architecture Program

  • Dual Degrees While Studying Architecture
    Due to the amount of required coursework in our NAAB-accredited M.Arch degree, in most cases it is not possible to simultaneously complete a dual degree in architecture and another field. If courses in the other field align with M.Arch elective opportunities in terms of their schedule, it may be possible that some of the graduate elective courses taken as part of the M.Arch program, which may be in any subject area, could be applied to another Master's degree.

    A dual M.Arch + M.S. in Architecture, with some coursework applying to both degrees, may be possible if (1) a student successfully applies to both programs simultaneously or applies to the M.S. program soon after the start of their M.Arch studies, (2) has an appropriate research interest, (3) finds a faculty member willing to serve as a primary advisor, and (4) secures the necessary approvals. The M.S. in Architecture degree would allow the student to earn a second Master's degree, most likely within one year, and to concentrate on a research topic and thesis. For more information see the M.S. in Architecture webpage.
  • Previous Coursework and Transfer Applications
    The application process for transfer applicants is the same as for non-transfer applicants; transfer applicants must follow the application procedure outlined here. Applicants with transfer credit may be approved for a lighter course load, but will not have a shorter time to degree. Transfer credit is considered only for graduate-level coursework in courses numbered 700 and above on the applicant's transcript. Transfer credit is limited to 12 credit hours (e.g., 4 typical courses/seminars; 2 studios; etc.) Graduate transfer credit is not automatic; it is subject to review and approval by the School of Architecture and the Graduate School.

    Advanced Standing and Course Substitutions: As indicated above, prior coursework - including studio and other preprofessional courses - determines placement into the two-year or three-year tracks.

    Two-year students must have completed the equivalent of Structures II as an undergraduate or will be required to take this course with the three-year track students in place of an elective course. this requirement will override elective off-campus study in the semester that Structures II must be taken.

    Applicants to both the two-year and three-year tracks who have completed previous coursework equivalent to program requirements may be considered for course substitutions at the time of admission or after admission. For example, a three year student with an undergraduate degree in structural engineering may be permitted to substitute elective courses for our structures courses.

    To be considered for course substitutions, admitted students will be required to provide syllabi and other supporting materials related to prior coursework in order to document equivalency.

    Except where graduate-level transfer credit is approved, all two-year track students must complete 60 credit hours and all three-year track students must complete 90 credit hours to earn the M.Arch degree. (A+H requires additional coursework.) In other words, course substitutions do not reduce coursework demands or the length of time to graduate.
  • Tuition
    According to the last Design Intelligence tuition report, our Master of Architecture program has relatively low tuition costs when compared to other NAAB-accredited program. Combined with a strong reputation, we think this makes our program a good value. For information about tuition and fees, please see the Graduate Program Tuition and Fees. The Master of Architecture is a Tier 1 program.
  • Other Costs
    Other costs of attendance include room and board, a high-end laptop computer, digital design software (most software is available for free, and Clemson now has an Adobe license), the cost of purchasing and/or sharing the cost of a laser cutter lens, books, architectural drawing and modeling materials, printing costs, lab course fees, and other typical expenses of graduate architectural education. Be sure to factor such expenses into your financial planning.
  • Off-Campus Study Costs
    For off-campus study costs, see the Fluid Campuses webpage. Also note that the School of Architecture also offers a number of grants and fellowships for students who study in Italy or Spain.
  • The Academic Common Market
    The following 16 states are members of the "Academic Common Market" of the Southern Regional Education Board: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. Our Master of Architecture programs (CIP 04.0201) are approved programs. If your state participates, you may qualify for in-state tuition. The general stipulation is that the program is not offered in your home state. We regret that this is not something we can assist you with; it is something you must pursue on your own.
  • In-State Residency
    Out-of-state students should also investigate the possibility of establishing in-state residency in order to reduce the costs of their education. Residency requirements are indicated by the SC Commission on Higher Education and South Carolina state law. The linked pages provide more details; however an independent, self-supporting person can establish state residency in twelve months.
  • Financial Aid
    The School of Architecture does not handle financial aid. For financial aid information, seeClemson Financial Aid
  • Assistantships and Fellowships
    The School of Architecture does not offer financial aid per se; however, a limited number of graduate fellowships and assistantships are offered to students each year based on merit, requisite abilities, and funding availability.

    Assistantships and fellowships may be offered to promising applicants based on their standing in the applicant pool. Recruting fellowships may be offered to new M.Arch I applicants based on their standing in the applicant pool. Fellowships offer a small scholarship and reduced tuition for out-of-state and international students 9in-state tuition) for one or more semesters. Assistantships are typically offered to M.Arch II applicants.

    Assistantships are also awarded to new and continuing students on an annual cycle based on academic performance and requisite abilities. With few exceptions, assistantships are one-year in length and are awarded only once per year, before the start of the coming academic year. Annual announcements of available assistantships are sent out during the summer and are used to identify the best fit for assistantship needs. Applicant ranking and academic performance (GPA) are also factors. For more information see our Employment and Assistantships webpage.
  • Visiting the School
    The School of Architecture hosts two graduate open house sessions each year. One in the fall (late October/early November) for prospective students who are considering applying, and one in spring (late March/early April) for prospective students who have been admitted or wait listed into one of the Master of Architecture degree tracks. To attend one of the open house session, please register through the online registration form offered on the Visit the School of Architecture page.

    Otherwise, prospective graduate students are always welcomed and encouraged to visit, and it is suggested that prospective students visit during the school year when students and faculty are present. Studios are in session Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons. It is recommended that you contact one of the program directors via email to set up an appointment for a visit that is not during one of the open house sessions.
  • Graduate Architecture Program Directors
    For the M.Arch I and M.Arch II degree tracks, the director is Peter Laurence, (plauren@clemson.edu)
    For the M.Arch I and M.Arch II degree tracks with a concentration in Architecture + Health, the director is Davis Allison (adavid@clemson.edu)