UVA architectural History

June 19, 2016
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The master’s degree program equips students with a sound background in architectural history, including its principles and interpretation, during a two-year course of study culminating in a thesis.

Curricular Focus

Course offerings focus on the following areas of architectural history:

  • American
  • European
  • Mediterranean
  • Asian
  • Theory

The degree requires a minimum of 36 credits at the graduate level.

The degree requirements should be considered as a minimum core program. Thus, the student should expect to take more than the required minimum courses during the normal four semesters of residency usually totaling 48 credits. Qualified students interested in historic preservation can complete the requirements for the Certificate in Historic Preservation and the Master of Architectural History within a two-year period.

Course Distribution

Three credits must be in ARH 8001 (Methods in Architectural History), one credit in SARC 6000 (The Common Course), and three thesis credits. In addition, each student must have at least nine credits at the 8000 level or above, and at least one course from four of the following distribution areas: American, Asian, European, Mediterranean, and Theory. Furthermore, students must take one class whose content predates 1750. Open Electives can be either additional courses in ARH, graduate courses elsewhere in the university, or courses used toward in fulfilling the requirement for the Historic Preservation Certificate. Courses taken at other institutions are normally not accepted. Under special circumstances a petition for an exception of one course might be granted.

Major and Minor Field Areas

Each student must complete a major field of nine credits and a minor field of six credits selected from among the distribution areas listed above. Students enrolled in the Historic Preservation Certificate Program may select historic preservation as their six-credit minor. Of the 36 credits required for the degree, 33 must be in ARH courses or ARAH courses with appropriate architectural history content, although in extraordinary circumstances, and by prior approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, the student may substitute other courses, e.g., history or English.


The thesis is a major piece of independent work undertaken under the supervision of a committee from the Department. The committee is normally composed of two full-time Departmental Faculty, one of whom serves as Chair, and a third member who maybe from outside the department. The thesis represents three credits, normally taken during the student’s fourth semester. It is possible to explore the thesis topic more broadly by enrolling for an independent research course in conjunction with the thesis course.


Applicants must hold an approved baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university. Admission to graduate study will normally require an average of B or better. Students admitted to the program who have not taken the equivalent of our two–semester survey of the history of architecture or an introductory studio in architectural design will be asked to do so in our summer school program prior to their first year. Students do not normally enter the program in the spring semester, although this is permitted in special circumstances with approval of the chair.


Students from a variety of disciplines apply to the program. For those students who lack adequate undergraduate preparation in the field, the curriculum has been structured to allow deficiencies to be remedied.

Upon entry into the program, candidates will take a placement examination composed of two sections. Section one covers Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Early Christian, Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic, and Early Renaissance architectural history. Section two covers 1500-present, and includes High Renaissance, Baroque, and European including, England, France, Germany, Italy and North American, since the first European contact. Students who fail in one or more of these fields are required during the first year to take the appropriate course or courses. Only one such course may be used to satisfy the degree requirements; it would take the place of the free elective.


Candidates are required to demonstrate a reading knowledge of one foreign language, preferably French, Italian, or German. This requirement may be satisfied by earning the grade of B or better in an intermediate-level university course in the language within two years of admission, by a score of at least 550 on an ETS Graduate School Foreign Language Test, or by a language departmental reading test.

Source: www.arch.virginia.edu
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