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Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects: Master of Architecture with an Emphasis in Interior Architecture

Students in the MArch with an Emphasis in Interior Architecture program gain all the expertise necessary for the practice of architecture, while developing the sensibilities specific to the growing field of Interior Architecture. 

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Application Deadline: January 15

If you are ready to apply to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s (SAIC) Master of Architecture with an Emphasis in Interior Architecture program, you will need to build a portfolio, gather all of your application materials, and complete the electronic application by January 15 for the fall semester (spring admissions are not accepted).

Application to the Master of Architecture (MArch) with an Emphasis in Interior Architecture program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is open to students who have earned an undergraduate degree. Students should have taken one course in college-level algebra and one course in college level physics to begin the program.

The SAIC Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects (AIADO) department requires an online application for its MArch with an Emphasis in Interior Architecture program. You will need a valid credit card and current email address in order to complete the form. Please review the following requirements carefully before submitting your application:

  • Applications for the fall semester must be submitted no later than January 15. No applications are accepted for spring semester.
  • There is an $90 nonrefundable application fee. The application fee is discounted by 50% through December 1.
  • You must upload one 500- to 750-word statement of purpose that describes the history of your interests and experiences in design, your personal and professional motivations and goals, and your reasons for pursuing graduate study at SAIC. Upload your statement of purpose to the online application. 
  • In addition to your application, you must submit an ePortfolio by 11:59 p.m. (CST) on January 16. Your portfolio should include a minimum of five different projects documented in up to 20 images, or up to 10 minutes of time-based work, or a combination of the two as appropriate. Applicants with no previous experience in design can submit a critical writing sample or a visual "essay" in lieu of a traditional design portfolio.
  • A current résumé is required. Upload your résumé to the online application.
  • An interview is required. Please contact the AIADO department prior to the application deadline at 312.629.6650 or aiado@saic.edu to schedule your interview.

You also must submit an official college transcript and two letters of reference for admission into the program. You can ask your references to upload their letter to your online application or mail them directly to the school. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and work experience in architecture, interior design, or a related field is recommended, but not required.

International Students 

Students whose native language is not English, or who do not have a degree conferred by a US-accredited university, are required to submit evidence of English language proficiency. Submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) results with your application. The Institution Code for SAIC is 1713.

Minimum Required Scores

TOEFL: 100
IELTS: 7.0
For more information about the TOEFL, please visit here.
For more information about the IELTS, please visit here

Academic Records

Transcripts are records of your studies that list the courses you completed, the grades received, and provide evidence of degree conferral. They may include grade sheets, exam results, final diplomas, degrees, or graduation certificates. Official copies are issued in the original language directly by your university. Copies must bear the official stamp or seal of the institution, as well as the signature of the appropriate official such as the dean, rector, registrar, controller of examinations, or office of teaching affairs. Photos, notarized copies, facsimiles, or email transmissions are not acceptable. 

Official translations are expected for all educational documents issued in a language other than English. A translation agency or university language department should issue official translations typed on official stationary and the translator must attest proficiency in the original language and indicate their translations are accurate word-for-word.

Students with undergraduate preprofessional bachelor's degrees in architecture or architectural technology may request admission to SAIC's MArch with an Emphasis in Interior Architecture, Option 2 program. Applicants must request consideration for the Option 2 program in a letter with their application to the MArch with an Emphasis in Interior Architecture program.

Students who request consideration for the MArch with an Emphasis in Interior Architecture, Option 2 may be placed into the MArch with an Emphasis in Interior Architecture program if their undergraduate transcripts and syllabi do not include courses covering all of the topics included in the first year of SAIC's Master of Architecture program.

This consideration is made after admission to the Master of Architecture program and is dependent on available space as well as a college transcript showing completion of the following classes:

  • 6 semester credit hours in building science
  • 3 semester credit hours in structural engineering
  • 6 semester credit hours in architectural history
  • 6 semester credit hours in design studios

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) offers two Master of Architecture (MArch) with an Emphasis in Interior Architecture degrees. Unlike many other interior architecture graduate degrees, SAIC’s two MArch with an Emphasis in Interior Architecture options are housed with in an interdisciplinary educational community, providing a provocative and effective context for exploring the social and cultural implications of material and technological creative work.

The 3 year, 102-credit option is a carefully choreographed studio sequence, offering students the skills and sensibilities required of the contemporary interior architect, while grounding them in the histories and theories that are specific to the design of interior spaces. Each semester includes a conceptual cluster of classes with a 6-credit design studio, a 3-credit technical support studio, and 3-credit seminars.

Term Credit Hours
First Summer  6
  • AIADO 5004 Design Visualization (3)
  • AIADO 5005 Design Materialization (3)
 
First Year Fall 15
  • AIADO 5110 Arch/Inarch: Grad Studio 1 (6)
  • AIADO 5113 Arch/Inarch: Construction Systems  (3)
  • ARTHI 5100 Issues in Architectural History: Chicago as Laboratory (3)
  • Elective (3)
 
First Year Spring 15
  • AIADO 5120 Arch/Inarch: Grad Studio 2 (6)
  • AIADO 5123 Arch/Inarch: Structures 1 (3)
  • ARTHI 5102 Spaces in Architectural History (3)
  • Elective (3)
 
Second Summer (Off Campus) 6
  • Off-Campus Study (3)
  • Off-Campus Study (3)
 
Second Year Fall 15
  • INARC 6110 Interior Arch: Grad Studio 3 (6)
  • AIADO 6112 Arch/InarchNodes/Networks (3)
  • ARTHI 5122 Critical Traditions: History of Architecture and Design (3)
  • Elective (3)
 
Second Year Spring 15
  • INARC 6120 Interior Arch: Grad Studio 4 (6)
  • AIADO 6123 Codes, Specs, Joints (3)
  • Art History (3)
  • Elective (3)
 
Third Year Fall 15
  • INARC 6210 Interior Arch: Grad Studio 5 (6)
  • AIADO 6212 Arch/Inarch: Choreographed Systems (3)
  • AIADO 6213 Arch/Inarch: Thesis Strategies (3)
  • Elective (3)
 
Third Year Spring 15
  • AIADO 6220 Arch/Inarch: Grad Studio 6 - Thesis (9)
  • AIADO 6221 Arch/Inarch: Structures 2 (3)
  • AIADO 6222 Arch/Inarch: Practice Economies (3)
 
Participation in four Graduate Critiques—Participation in Critique Week is mandatory for the final four semesters of study at SAIC. 
Participation in Graduate Design Exhibition  
Total Credit Hours 102

Degree Requirements and Specifications

  • Completion schedule: Students have a maximum of four years to complete the degree. This includes time off for leaves of absence.
  • Transfer credits: Normally transfer credits are not accepted. All requests for transfer credits are reviewed individually by the director of the department at the time of admission and are subject to approval at that time. No transfer credit will be permitted after a student is admitted.
  • Full-Time Status Minimum Requirement: 12 credit hours.

Students with undergraduate pre-professional bachelor's degrees in architectural studies, architectural technology, or interior design may be accepted into the two-year, 60-credit accelerated program. Students admitted into the Option 2 program may also be lacking one or two specific topical architectural classes, and if so will be required to take those classes at SAIC.

Term Credit Hours
First Year Fall 15
  • INARC 6110 Interior Arch: Grad Studio 3 (6)
  • AIADO 6112 Arch/Inarch: Nodes/Networks (3)
  • ARTHI 5122 Critical Traditions: History of Architecture and Design (3)
  • Elective (3)
 
First Year Spring 15
  • INARC 6120 Interior Arch: Grad Studio 4 (6)
  • AIADO 6123 Arch/Inarch: Codes, Specs, Joints (3)
  • Art History (3)
  • Elective (3)
 
Second Year Fall 15
  • INARC 6210 Interior Arch: Grad Studio 5 (6)
  • AIADO 6212 Arch/Inarch: Choreographed Systems (3)
  • AIADO 6213 Arch/Inarch: Thesis Strategies (3)
  • Elective (3)
 
Second Year Spring 15
  • AIADO 6220 Arch/Inarch: Graduate Studio 6: Thesis  (9)
  • AIADO 6221 Arch/Inarch: Structures 2 (3)
  • AIADO 6222 Arch/Inarch: Practice Economies (3)
 
Participation in four Graduate Critiques  
Participation in Graduate Design Exhibition  
Total Credit Hours 60

Degree Requirements and Specifications

  • Completion schedule: Students have a maximum of four years to complete the degree. This includes time off for leaves of absence.
  • Transfer credits: Normally transfer credits are not accepted. All requests for transfer credits are reviewed individually by the director of the department at the time of admission and are subject to approval at that time. No transfer credit will be permitted after a student is admitted.
  • Full-Time Status Minimum Requirement: 12 credit hours.

In the United States, most state registration boards require a degree from an accredited professional degree program as a prerequisite for licensure. The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), which is the sole agency authorized to accredit U.S. professional degree programs in architecture, recognizes three types of degrees: the Bachelor of Architecture, the Master of Architecture, and the Doctor of Architecture. A program may be granted a 8-year, 3-year, or 2-year term of accreditation, depending on the extent of its conformance with established educational standards.

Doctor of Architecture and Master of Architecture degree programs may consist of a preprofessional undergraduate degree and a professional graduate degree that, when earned sequentially, constitute an accredited professional education. However, the preprofessional degree is not, by itself, recognized as an accredited degree.

In order to meet the education requirement set forth by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, an applicant for an NCARB Certificate must hold a professional degree in architecture from a program accredited by the NAAB; the degree must have been awarded not more than two years prior to initial accreditation. However, meeting the education requirement for the NCARB Certificate may not be equivalent to meeting the education requirement for registration in a specific jurisdiction. Please contact NCARB for more information.

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects was formally granted a three-year term of initial accreditation for the professional Master of Architecture program effective January 1, 2011. The Master of Architecture program's most recent accreditation visit occurred in 2014. The four distinct options of the accredited Master of Architecture program:

  • Master of Architecture (3.5-year program; total 102 credits; requirement: nonprofessional degree)
  • Master of Architecture with an Emphasis in Interior Architecture (3.5-year program; total 102 credits; requirement: nonprofessional degree)
  • Master of Architecture, Option 2 (2-year program; total 60 credits; requirement: preprofessional degree)
  • Master of Architecture with an Emphasis in Interior Architecture, Option 2 (2-year program; total 60 credits; requirement: preprofessional degree)

National Council of Architectural Registration Boards Certificate

In order to meet the education requirement set forth by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), an applicant for an NCARB Certificate must hold a professional degree in architecture from a program accredited by NAAB, and the degree must have been awarded not more than two years prior to initial accreditation.

However, meeting the education requirement for the NCARB Certificate may not be equivalent to meeting the education requirement for registration in a specific jurisdiction. Please contact NCARB for more information.

Interior Architecture is a growing professional field where architects are having increasing impact. In the MArch programs, we teach through hands-on inquiry, experimentation and exploration, developing the skills and experience necessary for professional practice and the critical thinking necessary to develop new ideas and drive invention.

Coursework combines project-based design studios organized around a timely intellectual focus, technical courses in building structures, systems professional practice, and architectural technology, and electives in architectural history and theory. We encourage MArch students to develop their practice by taking courses in other departments across SAIC and by applying to AIADO’s External Partnership courses. In their final year, students complete a rigorous comprehensive studio and pursue a self-directed design thesis under the supervision of faculty in the Department.

Certificate in Historic Preservation

All MArch students have an opportunity to pursue a Certificate in Historic Preservation through coursework in SAIC’s Historic Preservation Program, one of the top programs in the nation. Working with Chicago’s rich history of historic structures, students gain expertise and experience with the practice, theory and science of preservation.

Studio and Beyond

Through independent studios and joint ventures, students gain the ability to translate meaningful ideas into meaningful objects and environments. Recent industry projects and external partnerships include collaborations with Chicago Architecture Biennial, CB2, Samsung, Industreal, Danese Milano, Tacoma Museum of Glass, Rossana Orlandi (Salone Internazionale del Mobile), Brand.It, Haworth, and Dupont Corian. 

Interested in learning more about how you can apply?

Visit the graduate admissions website or contact the graduate admissions office at 800.232.7242 or gradmiss@saic.edu.