Dual-degree programs in architecture, urban planning slated for fall

(June 22, 2020) -- UTSA’s College of Architecture, Construction and Planning will offer two new dual-degree programs at the master’s level beginning in the fall 2020 semester. The master of architecture and master of science in urban and regional planning degrees will be combined into a multidisciplinary track, while the master of architecture and master of science in architecture degrees will be combined into a research-oriented professional track.

The new dual-degree programs are designed to prepare students as future professionals and practitioners in a rapidly changing workplace. The programs are aligned with numerous schools of architecture at major U.S. universities, which have begun offering dual and joint degrees that aim to provide graduates of professional architectural programs with specific skill sets tailored for industry needs.

“Both programs will draw on the College of Architecture, Construction and Planning’s existing faculty expertise and will enhance all constituent programs by allowing students to explore relationships between two disciplines,” said Sedef Doganer, interim associate dean for research and graduate programs and chair of the Department of Architecture. “This will increase the recruitment potential for the programs and lead to more comprehensive intellectual investigations and innovation.”

According to the U.N. World Urbanization Prospects report, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities, a total expected to increase to two-thirds by 2050. The U.N. Conference on Housing and Sustainable Development in 2016 addressed issues of the New Urban Agenda, which called for policymakers, architects and planners to proactively engage in the process of urbanization across multiple scales and policy frameworks. Given the enormity of the demographic and environmental challenges facing cities, this obligation for architects and planners has never been greater.

UTSA’s new dual-degree programs will focus on confronting these types of complex global urban challenges. Today’s private design and planning firms and governmental offices often utilize a multidisciplinary lens.

UTSA aims to fill this increasing demand in medium- and large-size firms by producing graduates who possess the skill set needed to conduct architectural research and, more importantly, understand how to integrate research outcomes into the design decision-making processes. This also supports the goals of the Integrated Design Initiative to fully leverage scholarly expertise across architecture, construction, planning and engineering to optimally position UTSA on the cutting edge of transdisciplinary research and academic programming.

The new research-oriented professional track combining the M.Arch. and M.S.Arch. degrees serves a recent growing trend in architectural professional practice that pairs the conventional approach to practicing architecture with a focus on applied research and evidence-based decision-making.

The accredited professional program is informed by a research agenda to better prepare students for the emergence of research-oriented workplaces and will provide students with the skills needed to conduct valid and reliable research projects within professional settings.

Students have the ability to specialize in an area of expertise that builds on existing specialized concentrations within the M.S.Arch. program (historic preservation, sustainability or urban design), while a new nonthesis option in the M.S.Arch. program is based on student internship hours within an architectural firm, which are used to develop a professional report.

An American Institute of Architects survey of the existing disciplinary landscape reveals that more than half of private architecture firms in the U.S. provide both building design and planning services, while municipal planning departments in major cities regularly engage in physical planning activities. UTSA’s newly created M.Arch. and M.S.URP dual-degree program serves this emerging employment market by educating highly qualified professionals capable of combining these disciplines. 

Through completion of an accredited professional degree that integrates physical building design with considerations of land use, public policy, economics, environment and culture, graduates of the program will enter the work force well-equipped to confront policy issues and a range of three-dimensional design issues.

Architecture students have an opportunity to complete their degree program in architecture while acquiring urban and regional planning expertise, while urban and regional planning students can develop physical design skills and the possibility to acquire professional licensure in architecture. This broad and highly relevant skill set will lead to more high-quality employment opportunities within the U.S. and abroad.

UTSA will be accepting applications to enroll in the new graduate programs in the fall. Competitive scholarships and assistantships are available and qualified individuals are encouraged to apply.

Ingrid Wright

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