The culmination of the B.Arch and M.Arch professional programs is a major design research project which serves as a bridge between the rigors and strictures of a comprehensive professional education and the imagined but unpredictable opportunities for career pursuits afterwards.

Since 1980, that final course has been Thesis (either ARC 508 or ARC 998). Beginning in Spring 2024, the final course will be Directed Research (ARC 498 or ARC 698).


Working individually or in teams, under the guidance of a faculty Advisory Group, students devise and pursue an ambitious project that builds on the skills and knowledge gained in their prior courses. Thesis is both a test of students’ general competency across the subject areas of the curriculum, as well as a focused design research investigation that draws upon the expertise of the faculty.

Directed Research (DR)

Each Spring semester, beginning in 2024, the School’s faculty will offer several DR courses which represent their range of expertise. Each course will involve students in collaborative research endeavors led by faculty members and will require student initiative and advanced skills. Course format and size will vary depending on the type of research undertaken. The aim of the Directed Research courses is to culminate, with maximum quality, intensity, flexibility and diversity, the aspirations of the B.Arch and M.Arch curricula (including design, design research, technical knowledge, critical/creative thinking, and political and cultural awareness) in ways that prepare students for careers in the evolving and increasingly specialized, collaborative, and multi-faceted field of architecture.