As an academic discipline, architecture offers a unique avenue of inquiry into human problems and human ideals. As a profession, architecture is in an era of questioning, broadening, and deepening its mission. Two masters-level programs are offered to meet these conditions respectively: the Master of Science in Architectural Studies (MSAS [Interdisciplinary]), and the post-professional Master Advanced Architectural Design (MAAD [Interdisciplinary Studies]). Both offer students the opportunity to pursue their own, unique courses of study using the full resources of The University of Texas at Austin at the graduate level in the humanities, natural sciences, fine arts, business, and other professions.
The MSAS program is designed to support creative scholarship with a minimum of preconceptions. The only limitation is that the course of study be relevant to architecture's history, methods, concerns, and understanding of itself. Working with the Program Coordinator, students take 12 hours of upper-division or graduate courses outside of the School of Architecture* and 12 hours of graduate courses within it. They complete their study with a 6-hour written or multi-media Thesis, making a curriculum of 30 hours in all.**
The MAAD program is studio-based and architectural-design-focused. It aims to encourage students to acquire and integrate knowledge from other disciplines into the design process. Working with the Area Director, students take two advanced design studios, 15 hours of electives of which no more than 6 are in the School of Architecture, and conclude with a Master's Design Study, to make a curriculum of 36 hours in all.
Since time is limited and knowledge is near-infinite, students of both programs are required to have a clear and plausibly bounded course of inquiry in mind before starting. This usually limits the non-architecture disciplines studied to one or two in number (e.g. biology, or information science, or anthropology…).
* The School of Architecture also offers courses in Planning, Interior Design, and Landscape Architecture. For the purposes of the MSAS and MAAD Interdisciplinary programs, these courses are considered to be inside the School of Architecture.
** Some students may need to register for 9 hours in any given semester for financial reasons. A student may add an extra elective making the program 33 hours in all.