ARCH799 Masters Thesis Research



Faculty Assigned
6 credit hours for initial term / 1 credit hour thereafter


Catalog Description

ARCH majors only. Prerequisites: ARCH 797 and 3.0 GPA overall. Co-requisite: ARCH 798. Repeatable to a maximum of six credits, provided the content is different. Development of master's thesis.


Offered fall and spring semesters only. 

First-time registrants for ARCH 799 must take 6 credit hours.  Should a thesis extend into an additional term, students must register for 1 credit hour of coursework.

Goals and Objectives


The successful completion of year long, independent, terminal project is a requirement for the M.Arch. degree. Thesis provides students with the opportunity to make an individual design statement and demonstrate their professional proficiency as the culmination of their academic experience. Arch 797, Thesis Preparation (3 credit hours); Arch 798, (3 credit hours) Thesis Research / Process; and Arch 799 (6 credit hours), Thesis Studio are the three courses that comprise the thesis year obligations. The purpose of the initial thesis work is designed to assist each student identify a proposition, develop the basis for a project to explore the proposition, collect base data, analyze the findings of that research and, finally and most importantly, generate viable design concepts that explore alternative approaches that can form the basis for the design effort of the thesis semester. Therefore, each student will produce a document that will, when completed at the end of the full year:


  • Assert a proposition with clarity, precision, relevance, and depth that can be explored throughout the course of thesis.
  • Discuss the site, building type, programmatic requirements, theoretical and conceptual context, and relevant tectonic/constructional implications of the selected thesis project.
  • Postulate and illustrate preliminary design concepts that verify a reasonable "fit" between site, program, theoretical/conceptual propositions, and tectonic/constructional implications represented through alternative design strategies.
  • Act as a reference manual for the project during the thesis studio. Constitute the Master's Thesis Document itself (in accordance with all requirements of the Graduate School) after final design drawings with appropriate concluding chapters describing and defending the design solution, are added.



Thesis (ARCH 797, 798, and 799) constitutes the culmination graduate coursework in the accredited professional degree program at the University of Maryland, School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. The Graduate School governs the format and submission procedures for the final document (see: www.gradschool.umd/etd/). The graduate faculty members of the Architecture Program serve as gatekeepers for content of the thesis proposition. Early in the Thesis Proseminar semester, three-person committees are formed to advise and evaluate the student’s progress throughout the course of the thesis program. While students enjoy almost limitless freedom in exploring content in their thesis propositions, several simple guidelines must be met in order for the thesis to be acceptable to the graduate faculty:


Research, communication, analysis, and design executed by candidates for Master of Architecture must demonstrate the highest professional and academic aspirations:

  • The thesis proposition must illustrate a well-structured and comprehensive approach to the subject matter.
  • Proper citations of intellectual property (written, visual, and otherwise) must be presented throughout all phases of the thesis process.
  • The thesis candidate must demonstrate a mastery of visual, spoken, and written communication skills.
  • The thesis candidate must demonstrate a mastery of analytical tools, media, and processes.
  • The thesis candidate must appropriately demonstrate how the proposition engages context, supports use, utilizes appropriate technologies, is supported by historical, theoretical, cultural, and social underpinnings, responds to legal and ethical parameters (including but not limited to life safety, ADA, zoning and building codes) and contributes to a sustainable environment.
  • The thesis proposition consists not only of the final product presented at public review, but the entire process employed by the candidate to arrive at his or her conclusions.


The level of development of a thesis proposition should be consistent to the scale and complexity of the proposition. Simply put, large-scale propositions will be supported by contextual and detail development at an appropriate scale to illustrate the viability of the proposition. Likewise, small-scale propositions will be supported by contextual and detail development at an appropriate scale to illustrate the viability of the proposition. Complex thesis propositions are to be supported by commensurate levels of development. Likewise, thesis committees will expect relatively simple thesis propositions to be supported by high levels of development.


Theses will likely engage subject matter from outside the discipline of architecture. However, the proposition must demonstrate a synthesis of disciplinary and extra-disciplinary knowledge within an architectural context.


The thesis committee is the sole and final arbitrator of the above conditions.