Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I apply and confirm that all parts of my application have been received?

The application process is all conducted online via the University’s Graduate School. All materials for the application process are submitted electronically (transcripts, recommendations, statement of intent, GRE test scores, portfolio, etc.).

You are responsible to make sure that all of your materials have been submitted. This applies particularly to the electronic submissions you make to the Graduate School since your application will not be forwarded to the School of Architecture until all required parts of your application are received. The School of Architecture’s Admissions Committee can not finalize a decision until we recieve these materials. Therefore, it is critical that you check your online application frequently after it is submitted in order to insure everything has been received. If your online record indicates “referred status,” then your application is complete and has been forwarded from the Graduate School to our Admissions Committee for consideration.

For more information on the applications procedure, please see our Admissions web page.

2. What should be included in the portfolio and how should it be formatted?

Your portfolio is an expression and demonstration of your creative work. This should be clear for 2-year MArch applicants familiar with the process of making one. For 3+ MArch students (who typically have degrees in fields outside of design), it is suggested that you include visual work from courses in: visual art, sculpture, and photography as well as from personal projects. You may also include samples of architectural work from offices if you’ve had such experience. In addition, you may also consider any creative work such as essays or reports that you have authored during your college/professional career(s). In general, any creative work you deem worthy may be included in the portfolio.

The format for the portfolio is limited to a maximum size of 8-1/2” x 11” (US Letter format). It should be formatted as a pdf document with a maximum file size of 17 MB and should be uploaded as part of the online application process. A typical portfolio may have a total of 15-20 pages that demonstrates your accomplishments in an organized, visual manner. It should be elegant, concise, light, and simple.  Each piece of work featured should be presented with high-quality images and a brief text description. The careful composition, layout, and visual presentation of the portfolio are an important indication of the applicant’s creativity.

3. What scores do you expect for the GRE?

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is the preferred test that the Admissions Committee uses to evaluate all graduate students. Be conscious of the times that this test is offered as you must have the scores reported to the Graduate School prior to the deadline for admission. 

There are three parts that the Admissions Committee looks at: verbal, quantitative, and analytical scores. In the past, applicants admitted typically score 150+ for the verbal and 155+ for the quantitative sections of the exam. Analytical scores are typically 4.0 and above. The score rating represents the range and numerical standards of the 2011-12 ETS set of examinations. The Graduate School requires a minimum percentile of 30% when the percentiles for the three test components are averaged.

Note that these scores are only one factor for admission. The Admissions Committee looks comprehensively at all parts of your application (portfolio, transcripts, letters of recommendation, GPA, etc.) when it makes its recommendation for admission.

4. What GPA do I need to be accepted?

The Graduate School at UNC Charlotte requires an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher. Typically those accepted to the masters program in the SoA have GPAs of 3.25 and higher.

5. Which program do I apply to if I have completed a four-year bachelors in interior design and/or architectural technology?

Most interior design and architectural tech programs do not provide the necessary design studio experience for entry into our 2-year MArch program. At the same time, applicants with these undergraduate degrees may feel that they have taken some or all of the additional coursework for the 3+ year program (e.g. the completion of history, structures, materials, environmental systems, etc.) during their undergraduate degree. However, in all cases it is recommended that these degree holders apply to the 3+ MArch (3-1/2 year program). During the acceptance process the Admissions Committee will evaluate your application for any advanced standing.

6. I have already taken courses that are required in your graduate program. Will I have to repeat these?

In some cases, the School of Architecture may waive a required course if we determine it is redundant to your studies. In such cases we will need to evaluate the course by reviewing its syllabus, all assignments, as well as the final grade you received for the class. If a waiver is permitted, then you will be asked to enroll in an advanced elective course to replace the required course credit. 

7. Can I transfer credits for previous related coursework?

Only 6 credit hours of graduate work may be transferred to UNC Charlotte. A student may be exempted from additional hours of coursework, but will not receive credit. Undergraduate credits can not be transferred to count towards a graduate degree.

8. I am a 2-year MArch applicant but I did not take Structures II during my undergraduate studies. Do I need to complete this class before I apply?

Some four-year architecture bachelor degree holders may have to take one or more courses to fulfill the basic entry requirements for the 2-year MArch program (refer to Graduate Catalog). Hence non-studio coursework – such as, Environmental Systems, Structures II, etc. – may have to be completed. Such coursework may be fulfilled after acceptance to the program. In some cases, the program of study may be longer in order accommodate these additional classes.

9. Are there prerequisite courses that I must take for the 2-year or 3+ MArch degrees?

3+ MArch applicants are asked to have taken coursework in pre-calculus and basic physics. 2-year MArch applicants with a 4-year degree in architecture are expected to have a minimum of: 6 semesters of design studio, 2 semesters of introductory architectural history/theory, 2 structures courses, 1 environmental systems course, and 1 architectural materials course.

10. If I’m accepted, when does the program begin?

For 3+ MArch students, the program begins in the “second summer term” (typically the first week in July). For 2-year MArch students the program begins in the “fall semester” (typically the third week of August). Please make sure that you apply to the correct program, and hence, register your first course(s) for the correct entry semester.

As a rule, summer (for 3+ MArch applicants) and fall (for 2-year MArch applicants) are the only semesters in which new students accepted to the School begin their programs.

11. May I take course work as a post-bac student in the School of Architecture prior to admission?

As a rule, you must formally apply and be admitted to either the two MArch programs before you can take required coursework. Some applicants, however, have enrolled in non-required courses such as Liberal Studies (LBST) general education undergraduate lecture classes as an introduction to architecture. These courses do not count towards their master’s studies.  Another option is to enroll at UNC Charlotte as a Post Baccalaureate student. Post Bac status will allow students to take graduate level elective coursework at UNC Charlotte with instructor approval and if space is available.  Up to 6 credits of Post Bac studies may be transferred into a graduate program should the student be accepted as a graduate student.

12. Can I attend the program as well as work part-time outside of classroom hours?

The School of Architecture is a full-time enrollment program in which all of our graduate students take an over-load as a course schedule.  The typical graduate student enrolls in at least 9 credits of coursework per semester; Master of Architecture students typically enroll in (on average) 15 units per term.  Given this heavy course load and given the significant amount of time needed to complete assignments and projects, the School of Architecture highly recommends that students not seek outside employment.

The School of Architecture realizes that full time enrollment in graduate school is a costly endeavor; some students will find it necessary to work off campus to make ends meet.  This will represent a significant demand on student time and, therefore, may conflict with the demands of graduate study. 

13. What areas of architecture does the School specialize in?

The School of Architecture offers a broad-based program of study. However, since 2003, the School has invested a considerable amount of time and effort into its research centers. These centers have grown around faculty interests and expertise in the areas of: (1) digital fabrication, (2) lighting technology and energy conservation, and (3) urban and community design.

These three research areas have given rise to dedicated electives for graduate study in the program. These areas are seen as local areas of expertise in which students may engage research as well as deepen their programs of study. These areas are particularly important to 2-year MArch students who are asked to identify an area of interest in their first year of study. 3+ MArch students are also encouraged to engage is such coursework as they move into their second year of study.

Graduate students who undertake and perform at a high level in such studies have the opportunity to participate in research projects being conducted in one of the School’ research centers as mentioned above. It is also anticipated that these special interests will contribute significantly to the topic of their final project or thesis, which is completed in the final year.

For more information about our research centers, please see our Research web page.

14. When is my application due for the MArch Programs?

The deadline for all application materials submitted online is January 15 for admission to the following academic year – for example, January 15, 2016 for Summer 2016 (3+ MArch) or Fall 2016 (2-year MArch) entry semesters.

The Master of Urban design program continues to accept applications on a rolling basis until May 1 of the following academic year - for example, May 1, 2016 for Fall 2016 entry.

For more information on deadlines, please see our Admissions web page.

15. What scholarships, financial awards, research and/or teaching assistantships are available?

The School of Architecture and the UNC Charlotte Graduate School aim to support as many of our graduate students as possible through a combination of research and teaching assistantships, tuition deferrals, stipends, and scholarships. There are a number of awards that all accepted applicants are assessed for during the admission process. These are awarded to the most promising new graduate students on a merit basis. For 2-year MArch applicants, awards are based on prior academic and professional experience as well as skills and achievements in architecture. For 3+ MArch students, awards are based on academic achievement and promise. Admissions awards include the Graduate Assistant Support Plan (GASP) and New Masters Student Tuition Awards. These awards are typically combined with Research Assistantships, which may also be offered to continuing students. We also offer Teaching Assistantships and Scholarships in the School of Architecture.

For detailed information about all these awards, please see our Graduate Funding Sources web page.
16. When can I visit the School of Architecture?
The School of Architecture offers a general Open House in the fall semester (typically the first week in October) and a special spring Open House event for applicants accepted to the program held in April. Though different, each of these Open House events features a tour of the School, introduction to faculty and student work/projects, and an opportunity to see the program in action. Please contact SoA Graduate Program Director Peter Wong to learn of the exact dates as well as to schedule your participation at one of these Open House events.