New STEM designation for UTSA’s Master of Architecture and Master of Science in Architecture program

(January 16, 2019) -- The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Department of Architecture is pleased to announce that the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has designated both the Master of Architecture and the Master of Science in Architecture as STEM programs through a new STEM CIP-code. The Classification of Instructional Programs (or “CIP code”) is a government-developed designation for academic programs, according to the primary subject matter of the programs’ content. It has become a means of identifying areas of study that would be targeted for benefits, including funding and visa status. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) is a grouping of academic disciplines identified to proactively improve competitiveness in science and technology development in the U.S. curriculum.

Having both graduate programs recognized with the new STEM CIP-code (04.0902) will open a range of opportunities, explained Dr. Sedef Doganer, Chair of the Department of Architecture. This includes an additional 24 months of Optional Practice Training (OPT) for international students, with a total of 36 months of OPT employment after degree completion, which enhances their opportunities to secure work visas at the end of their educational career.

“It will not only improve the number of minority students that have access to STEM-related opportunities, but also will be a great competitive tool for recruiting high-caliber international students to our programs,” said Doganer. “Currently we are one of very few schools nationwide to have a STEM CIP-code for our MArch and MSArch programs and the only school in the state of Texas. This puts UTSA architecture at the forefront of the discipline, breaking new ground for architectural research, education, and practice.”

The UTSA Department of Architecture previously included STEM-related content in program offerings and a strong segment of architecture faculty already conduct STEM-related research. With two unique graduate programs serving the state and region, UTSA will provide potential career paths that will fill a need in the architectural profession to bolster design intentions and ideas with sound research-based solutions. Research and development are primary in improving and developing key concepts related to sustainability and problem solving for the specific user groups for which architects design, and the designation will lead to increased research opportunities and available funding for students and faculty.

“This is a designation that is long overdue, as we, as an architecture discipline, have always employed an applied STEM approach to both our architectural education and our professional practice,” said John Murphy, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Architecture, Construction and Planning at UTSA.

Architects not only apply advanced technologies and sustainable principles to building design and construction, they also lead multidisciplinary teams of designers, engineers, and consultants to effectively integrate building systems and improve the public health and welfare. However, the academic grouping known as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) has long been regarded as the antithesis to the creative fields of art, music, and architecture.[1] In related national news, the United States Congress passed the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technology Education (CTE) Act in early January, which will lead to architecture being officially recognized as a STEM subject. The bi-partisan act will allow states to use federal funds to modernize the CTE curriculum, allowing for an increase in available funds for high-school-level architectural education. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) lobbied for the change for several years, in the meantime bringing design to K-12 students through special programs and activities, and the bill will formalize these efforts.[2]

[1] Reiner-Roth, Shane. “Architecture will be recognized as STEM.” Archinect, https://archinect.com/news/article/150112193/architecture-will-be-recognized-as-stem.

[2] Walsh, Niall Patrick. “Architecture becomes a STEM Subject in the United States.” ArchDaily, https://www.archdaily.com/908830/architecture-becomes-a-stem-subject-in-the-united-states

Nicole Chavez