Nov 16, 2018  
Graduate Record 2015-2016 
Graduate Record 2015-2016 [ARCHIVED RECORD]

Master of Architectural History

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Applicants must hold an approved baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university. Admission to graduate study will normally require a command of at least one foreign language. Candidates admitted to the program must, before beginning their work for the degree, have taken the equivalent of ARH 1010 (History of Architecture I: prehistory-14th century) and 1020 (History of Architecture 2, 15th century-present) and one semester of architectural design studio (ARCH 2010). These prerequisites may be satisfied by taking ARH 1004 and ARCH 2040, or the equivalent, during the school’s summer session. (Students do not normally enter the program in the spring semester, although this is permitted in special circumstances with approval of the chair.)


The program’s purpose is to equip the student with a sound background in architectural history, including its principles and interpretation. 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.

Historic Preservation Certificate Program

Students wishing to enter the Historic Preservation Certificate Program must be admitted to one of the graduate degree programs in the School of Architecture. In order to ensure proper academic advising and program coordination, students interested in the Historic Preservation Program should attend the program meeting at the start of the fall semester. Upon arriving at the Architecture School they should also file a program participation form with the Architecture School’s registrar. Students who complete the required 21 credits of preservation course work receive a Certificate in Historic Preservation, in addition to their master’s degree. There are individual courses that fulfill the requirements of the historic preservation certificate curriculum that also fulfill requirements within the architectural history department curriculum. Thus, students normally complete the course work for the historic preservation certificate during the same period in which they complete their degree program. The certificate program courses fulfill the degree program’s requirement for minor field of study. The courses in Group B of the Foundations of Preservation Core can count towards a major field requirement in American architectural history. 

Placement Examination

Students with diverse backgrounds and from different disciplines are admitted to our program. For those students who lack adequate undergraduate preparation in the field, the curriculum has been structured to allow them to remedy this situation.

Upon entry into the program, candidates will take a placement examination composed of two sections. Section one covers Prehistory to the 14th Century, the second section covers the 15th Century to the Present.  Both Sections include non-western material. Students whose exams evidence significant gaps in one or more of these fields are required to take the appropriate course or courses during the first year. Only one such course may be used to satisfy the degree requirements; it would take the place of an open elective.

Language Qualification

Candidates are required to demonstrate a reading knowledge of one foreign language appropriate to the student’s major field of study. 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 prior to admission to the University of Virginia graduate program. Alternatively, the student can take the ETS Graduate School Foreign Language Test and pass with a score of at least 550, or take University of Virginia language courses at the intermediate level, or pass the language departmental reading test. Architectural History students should fulfill the language requirement before or shortly after entry into the program.

Course Distribution

Three credits must be in ARH 8001 (Methods in Architectural History), one credit in ARH 5001 (Library Methodology), 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 each of the following distribution areas: the Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Mediterranean. The content of at least one of these courses must primarily focus on material before 1450. Students are encouraged to take additional ARH or ARAH graduate courses, graduate courses elsewhere in the university, or courses fulfilling the Historic Preservation Certificate. Courses taken at other institutions are normally not accepted. Under exceptional circumstances a petition along with supporting materials (i.e. syllabus and work samples) may be submitted to receive an exemption from taking a required course. Candidates are required to fulfill the total degree credit requirement regardless of course exemptions granted.  Petitions are to be submitted to the department chair or graduate program director for consideration and final decision.

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. The 36 credits required for the degree must be from ARH courses or ARAH courses with appropriate architectural history content. In extraordinary circumstances, and by prior approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, the student may substitute graduate courses from other departments.


The thesis is a major piece of independent work completed under the supervision of a committee of three faculty members. The committee is normally composed of two full-time Departmental Faculty, one of whom serves as Chair, and a third member who may be 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 or prior to the thesis course.

Typical Program of Study

First Year

Fall Semester - Credits: 13 Spring Semester - Credits: 12
  • ARH ___ - Minor field area, Credits: 3
  • ARH ___ - Core Distribution, Credits: 3
  • ARH Elective, Credits: 3
  • ARH Elective, Credits: 3

Second Year

Fall Semester - Credits: 12 Spring Semester - Credits: 12
  • ARH ___ - Major field area, Credits: 3
  • ARH ___ - Minor field area, Credits: 3
  • ARH Elective, Credits: 3
  • ARH Elective, Credits: 3


Additional Information

The preservation program requirements for students in the Department of Architectural History are listed in the description of the Historic Preservation Program.

Architectural History students may, with approval, attend the summer programs in Vicenza, Jamaica, or Beijing.

A semester in England is also offered through the Courtauld Institute at the University of London for second year students.

A Venice program is offered through the School of Architecture for second year students.

Architectural History Course Descriptions

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