Graduate Research Opportunities

Research is an essential component of design education at the School of Architecture. Graduate students participate in a wide range of funded and non-funded research, scholarship, and creative and professional activities under the guidance of the School of Architecture faculty. Some of this research is extracurricular and occurs in the form of funded research assistantships in research labs or for individual faculty members. Other graduate student research happens within the curriculum as part of the final year of study thesis project. 

Research Labs

Within the School, there are several research centers and laboratories that provide a base for faculty research. These centers also offer opportunities for students to engage in funded research projects with the faculty. This research takes full advantage of the advanced computing, software and digital fabrication facilities at the CoA+A. The scale of research ranges from small, short-term investigations to large, multi-year grants. Sponsored activities include urban design studies for local and regional municipalities and community groups, high performance building and optimization protocols, daylighting and energy analysis, digital design and fabrication components, and interactive visualization.

The School of Architecture's five research centers in which graduate students are employed include:


The Masters Thesis offers support and structure for students to undertake an individual research project. Students are encouraged to build upon earlier investigations explored in one or more advanced studios or architecture elective seminars. Thesis students have the choice to pursue one of two modes of inquiry: either an open research investigation or a research through design project.

In either case, the thesis project consists of two parts. The first part is a seminar course taken during the penultimate semester. The course is focused on setting the parameters for the thesis investigation in terms of refining a topic, methodology, and scope for the inquiry. Students conclude the semester with a  project document that conveys the research and conceptual framework for their investigation.

The second part of the thesis project occurs during a student’s final semester and serves as the culmination of the MArch program. Thesis studio provides a platform for students to present a clearly articulated theoretical position and method of practice. The work of the thesis studio sets an example of depth of thinking and skill in making

CriticalMASS Graduate Research Symposium

Each spring, the Masters of Architecture Student Society (MASS) hosts a regional graduate research symposium. Graduate students from regional peer institutions are invited to present their work alongside UNC Charlotte theses students. A distinguished critic is invited to give feedback on all presented work. CriticalMASS 2017 will be held in April with Visiting Distinguished Critic TBD. See the CriticalMASS webpage to learn more about the history and objectives of CriticalMASS.

Conference Travel Support

The School of Architecture Director offers awards to support graduate student participation in academic conferences to present the results of their research.  A student must have a paper accepted for presentation in order to submit a request for funding.  Interested students must submit their paper abstract, the acceptance/invitation letter from the conference, and a projected budget, with their request for funding.  Award amounts are determined according to conference costs. Requests should be sent directly to Director Chris Jarrett at