Academic Programs
Learning by Doing

Master’s Program

The Master of Science in Architecture/ Option in Public Interest Design is a post-professional degree designed for holders of a professional degree in architecture (Bachelor of Architecture or Master of Architecture) or its international equivalent. Applicants with non-professional degrees in architecture or degrees in affiliated disciplines will also be considered (environmental design, landscape architecture, building construction, etc.).

The program addresses systemic issues underlying housing affordability in rural Alabama. Through design and innovation in the field of rural housing, this program will cultivate leadership in the realms of public interest, design tectonics, and architectural project documentation and dissemination. Rural Studio MS Arch students will participate fully in the Rural Studio design-build program and will work collaboratively in a small group of students to participate in a directed research project in rural housing with the goal of designing and building a home in Hale County.

  • Master’s Program Admissions & Application Process

    For application to the Auburn University Master of Science in Architecture / Option in Public Interest Design (MS Arch) Program, applicants should submit the following directly to the Graduate School, by January 31st of the year in which they intend to enter the program. Previous achievements and a demonstrated desire to address the social and built environmental issues of a rural American community are important selection criteria for applicants. Apply online through Auburn University Graduate School.

    • Official academic transcripts
    • Grade point average of at least 2.75
    • GRE (Graduate Record Examination) score of at least 300
    • TOEFL scores (international students only); For more information visit admission requirements at graduate school webpage
    • Three letters of recommendation
    • A statement of intent (approximately 500-words) that explains why the applicant is interested in participating in the Rural Studio graduate program
    • A curriculum vitae or resume
    • A link to a digital version of the candidate’s portfolio that can be downloaded from the link
    • Applicants must demonstrate the availability of adequate financial resources to meet personal and education obligations. The properly completed “Official Statement of Finances” accompanied by certified evidence of your sponsor’s financial capability MUST BE filed with this office before an admission letter and your I-20 Form can be released.

    In addition, applicants must submit a physical, printed portfolio of work to the following address:

    Rural Studio Chair of the Graduate Program
    Auburn University Rural Studio
    PO Box 278
    Newbern, AL 36765


    February 29   Application deadline at 11:59pm CST on Feb. 29

    March 10   Acceptance letters mailed

    April 15   Deadline to respond to acceptance offer

    August 15  Fall semester begins*

    January 06  Spring semester begins*

    May 15  Summer semester begins*

    August 17  Summer semester ends*

    *Dates given are approximate, as they vary year-to-year. Check the Auburn University academic calendar for exact dates.

    Costs and Fees

    Resident Per Semester Resident Per Year Non-Resident Per Semester Non Resident Per Year
    Tuition $4,815 $14,445 $14,445 $43,335
    Registration Fees $826 $2,479 $826 $2,479
    Health Insurance* $1,022 $3,066 $1,022 $3,066
    Architecture, Planning & Landscape Architecture Professional Fee $2,160 $6,480 $2,160 $6,480
    Rural Studio Fee** $830 $2,490 $830 $2,490
    Total Cost $9,653 $28,959 $19,283 $57,849


    *The health insurance fee is not required for students that have their own insurance.
    ** Includes lunch on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and 14 dinners during the semester.

    Tuition information may vary slightly and is subject to change.
    Students are responsible for obtaining housing in the area, basic living expenses and transportation. Also, a vehicle will be needed, as there is no public transportation.
    More information about resident vs. non-resident is here.

    Fall Semester

    Course No. Course Name Hours
    ARCH 7010 Fall Studio 6
    ARCH 7110 Seminar in Collaborative Design Methods and Process 3
    ARCH 7210 Executive Issues: Disciplinary Framework 3
    Total Credit Hours 12

    Spring Semester

    Course No. Course Name Hours
    ARCH 7020 Spring Studio 6
    ARCH 7120 Seminar in Design Tectonics 3
    ARCH 7220 Executive Issues: Research Methods 3
    Total Credit Hours 12

    Summer Semester

    Course No. Course Name Hours
    ARCH 7030 Summer Studio 6
    ARCH 7130 Seminar in Project Communications 3
    Total Credit Hours 9


  • Graduate Research Assistantships

    The Master of Science in Architecture/ Option in Public Interest Design (MS Arch) offers a limited number of Graduate Research Assistantships (GRA) and Tuition Waivers each year. The number offered each year fluctuates. GRA positions are highly competitive. The assistantships are awarded on the basis of merit.

    The Tuition Waiver applies to in-state and out-of-state students alike and covers part of the tuition fee for each semester that the student is a GRA. Students who are appointed as GRAs are required to pay the Professional Fee.

Undergrad 5th-Year

The Undergraduate 5th-Year Program is an optional program for up to twelve Bachelor of Architecture students in their final year at Auburn University. Teams of four students formulate sustainable building programs, fundraise, make community presentations, and design and build homes or community projects from foundation to roof. Search our catalog of projects or follow the students’ project blogs for more details about the projects.

  • Seminar in Aspects of Design (informally, “On and Beyond the Chair”)

    To supplement the intense team-based design studio design-build project, 5th-year and master’s students have a weekly individual hand drawing class. On and Beyond the Chair supplements and improves students’ graphic experimentation with free-hand drawing methods. Students “learn by making,” focusing on executing work with intelligence, manual skills, and high quality. To manifest this work, the students focus on a single chair of their choosing, creating two full-scale drawings: a 2-D drawing focused on the construction of the chair and a 3-D drawing recording the chair’s proportions. They also create a 4:1-scale mixed-media drawing dedicated to a large, personal image from the imagination.

Undergrad 3rd-Year

The Undergraduate 3rd-Year Program is an optional program for Bachelor of Architecture students at Auburn University. Cohorts of up to sixteen 3rd-year students live on campus at Morrisette House in Newbern, one during the fall semester and one during the spring semester. Each semester, students work collectively to design and build a home for local clients in West Alabama.

Students work on a design studio project as part of a 14-16 person team, building a contemporary house out of wood using platform frame construction. Alongside that project, the 3rd-years focus on the craft, use, and history of wood in their program. The dessein class, a.k.a. chair making class, offers students the opportunity to study wood up close and really understand its properties by working it and handcrafting a fine piece of modern furniture; this course’s work is structured in small teams. The seminar, focusing on history and theory, studies how antebellum wooden homes can offer us lessons in making today’s architecture; its watercolor focus offers students a concentrated solo learning experience. Search our catalog of projects or follow the students’ project blogs for more details about the projects.

  • Seminar in Aspects of Design (informally, “History & Watercolor”)

    This history and theory seminar at Rural Studio familiarizes the students with the built environment in Alabama’s Black Belt. It communicates the national and international context of wooden buildings—the physical, social, and cultural environments—when they were built and how they relate to the world today. They study how wooden buildings have survived so long (raised off the ground out of the water with big overhanging roofs), how they were naturally ventilated (with narrow plans good cross ventilation, high ceilings, operable transom windows and porches that shaded the building), and how they gave human comfort (the great porches). Students travel weekly to historic wood buildings in West Alabama, then discuss and free hand sketch each building. Student work culminates in a “Beaux Arts” watercolor of a historic wood building in the Black Belt.

    Watercolor of St. Luke's Episcopal Church
    Watercolor of Ormond-Little House
  • Dessein (informally, “Chair Making Class”)

    Students in this furniture-making course acquire solid woodworking by developing and designing the process of recreating iconic Modernist architect designed chairs through research, drawing, modeling, and building. The final products are extensive drawings, jigs, mock-ups, and the actual reproduction of the chair. By removing the design of the object from the process, the students focus on construction technique and craft. They acquire a greater understanding of the properties of wood by using only hand tools: we don’t use CNC routers or digital technology. The challenge is to craft by hand and to “feel” the material.

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