AIADO: 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 10

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 first submit SAIC's Graduate Application form and then a corresponding ePortfolio for the Interior Architecture department. ePortfolios are required for each additional program to which you wish to apply. All submissions happen via the software SlideRoom.

Application to the Master of Architecture with an emphasis in Interior Architecture program at 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 Master of Architecture with an emphasis in Interior Architecture program.

Students will be admitted to either a 2- or 3- year track depending on prior coursework and the ePortfolio submission. Consideration for the 2-year track is made after admission to the 3-year track 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

Option 2: Degree Program: Pre-Professional Background

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

SAIC requires applicants to apply online. Filing an online application requires a valid credit card and a current email address. You may apply to up to three programs with one application and fee. If you are applying to either the MFA in Studio or the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Studio you may select up to three departments of entry.

Applications must be submitted prior to 11:00 p.m. (CST) on the appropriate deadline. When you click the "submit" button on the Graduate Application form, you will be prompted to enter credit card information to pay the application fee. Your application form is not fully submitted until you have entered your credit card information.

Under no circumstances will an application fee be waived or refunded. After you submit the application form you will be directed to a dashboard where you can begin working on your ePortfolio(s).

A conferred four-year baccalaureate degree or its equivalent is required for admission to all graduate programs at SAIC. 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.

During the application process an unofficial transcript is acceptable for review pending an Admissions decision. Official transcripts are required upon admission. Include transcripts both official and unofficial from all universities/colleges from which a degree was obtained or prerequisites were fulfilled. You can attach unofficial transcripts as .pdf or .jpg files in the Educational History section of the application form. If you are in the process of completing a bachelor's degree when you apply, a transcript showing your first three years of study is acceptable.

Transcripts are considered official if sent directly from the degree- or credit-granting institution to the SAIC Graduate Admissions Office. Hard copy transcripts are considered official if the documents remain in the registrar's original signed and sealed envelopes. Official transcripts can be sent both in digital and hard-copy format. Digital transcripts can be sent from the degree- or credit-granting institution to gradmiss@saic.edu. Hard copy transcripts can be mailed to:

SAIC Graduate
36 S. Wabash Ave., Suite 1201
Chicago, IL 60603

Write a 500 to 700 word statement of purpose that describes the history of your interests and experiences in your program of interest, your personal and professional motivations and goals, and your reasons for pursuing graduate study at SAIC, and thoughts on potential future directions.

A statement of intent is required for all graduate programs though the content varies by department. You will upload your statement of purpose to the Attachments section of your E-Portfolio.

2 Letters of Reference are required.

You are responsible for securing letters of recommendation from persons who are qualified to write about your potential for success at SAIC. If you are currently a student or are a recent graduate, we recommend you request letters of recommendation from current or former instructors.

Letters of recommendation should be submitted electronically via the References section of the application form. In this section you will be asked to provide an email address for each of your references. Once you click "send request," an email will be sent from SlideRoom to your references with instructions on how to submit their recommendations online.

If your references are unable to provide an online recommendation please contact the Graduate Admissions office at gradmiss@saic.edu.

A current résumé is required.

A resume is required for all graduate programs. Upload your résumé to the Attachments section in your E-Portfolio.

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 in which one image is equivalent to approximately two minutes of time-based work. 

Applicants with no previous experience in design can submit a critical writing sample or a visual essay in lieu of a traditional design portfolio. The critical writing sample should be 1,000 words in length and address some aspect of design that is of specific interest or concern to you. This writing sample can include visual images, and should be submitted as a .pdf.

Applicants are required to submit an E-Portfolio, though the content varies by department. Please visit your individual program of interest to find details. You must submit a separate E-Portfolio for each program or studio department to which you apply. After you pay the application fee and submit the application form, an E-Portfolio for each of the programs you selected in the application form will automatically appear in your SlideRoom dashboard.

Submission specifications:

  • Images: .jpg, .gif, .pdf (up to 5 MB each)
  • Videos: .flv, .wv, .mov (up to 60 MB each)
  • Audio: .mp3 (up to 10 MB each)
  • Text documents: MUST be in .pdf format (up to 10 MB each)

TOEFL: 100 

IELTS: 7

DUOLINGO: 120

International applicants are required to submit evidence of English language proficiency. You are waived from this requirement if you meet any of the following conditions:

  • Your native language is English
  • You have an undergraduate degree conferred by a U.S. accredited university
  • You have an undergraduate degree conferred by a university whose primary language of instruction is English

If you do not meet one of these conditions, you must submit official English language proficiency test scores. You are strongly encouraged to schedule a language proficiency test appointment as early as possible in order to receive official test scores prior to the application deadline.

SAIC accepts official scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), and Duolingo. The TOEFL Institution Code for SAIC is 1713. Please upload an unofficial copy of your test score results to the International Requirements section of the application form.

Students with undergraduate pre-professional bachelor's degrees in architecture or architectural technology may request admission to SAIC's MArch Option 2 degree program. Appliants must request consideration for the Option 2 program in a letter with their application to the MArach program. Students who request Option 2 consideration may be placed into the Master of Architecture program (3 year program) if their undergraduate transcripts and syllabi do not include courses covering all of the topics included in the first year of the MArch 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 Architecture department conducts interviews by invitation, only. Applicants who pass the preliminary review will be invited to schedule an on-campus interview the weekend of February 15, 2020. Notification will be sent by late January.

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.

Master of Architecture with Emphasis in Interior Architecture Cover

View Grad Brochure

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.

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.