UVA School of Architecture is home to the oldest architectural history program in the nation. The department's teaching and research illuminates the changing meaning of the built environment within a broader social and cultural context.

The graduate program in Architectural History at UVA teaches a critical understanding of architecture as the broadest possible expression of the built environment-including vernacular, landscape and urban form. Students in the Architectural History graduate program hold a wide variety of undergraduate degrees from accredited colleges or universities. Recently these have included architecture, art history, English, history, biology, French, American Studies, engineering and historic preservation as well as architectural history.

The Architectural History department offers a wide range of lecture, practice-based and seminar courses, including the following architectural history areas:

+ The Americas

+ Europe

+ The Mediterranean

+ Asia


The Master of Architectural History is a 2-year graduate degree with a minimum of 36 credits at the graduate level. 

Typically students take credits beyond the 36 required during their four semesters of residency, generally attaining 48 credits by the end of the program.  Those interested in historic preservation can complete the requirements for the Certificate in Historic Preservation and the Master in Architectural History within two years.

Course requirements are intended to provide a solid grounding in the methods and theories of architectural history as well as a broad understanding of diverse periods and cultures.  

Students must complete a major field consisting of three courses or nine credits and a minor field consisting of two courses or 6 credits from these distribution areas: the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Mediterranean. Students may also select Historic Preservation as their minor. Cultural landscapes may also be chosen as a major or minor field in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. The 36 credits required for the degree must be from ARH or ARAH courses with appropriate architectural history content.  In extraordinary circumstances, and with prior departmental approval, students may substitute graduate courses from other departments.

The thesis is a major piece of independent work completed under the close supervision of a faculty member who is the director of the three-member thesis committee that oversees the project.  This committee may consist entirely of faculty from the Department of Architectural History or it may include one person from outside the Department.  It is possible to explore the thesis topic in greater depth through an independent study course taken prior to the thesis semester.

Preservation has grown increasingly important, both nationally and internationally, in defining a civic sense of place, buttressing sustainable communities, conserving urban neighborhoods, protecting rural and scenic areas, and enriching public understanding of social, cultural, and architectural history. The Historic Preservation program provides the opportunity for graduate students to develop the skills and expertise of the preservation practitioner within their own discipline, while at the same time studying the breadth of preservation work in related fields. Faculty from all four disciplines in the School of Architecture and distinguished visiting practitioners teach the preservation courses.

Shortly before the beginning of their first semester, all admitted MArH students take a diagnostic placement exam.  Based on the results of this exam, a student may be asked to take ARH 7010 (History of Architecture Part I) or ARH 7020 (History of Architecture Part II) during his/her first year.  Only one of these courses may be counted towards the degree; it replaces the open elective.

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.

The Architectural History department offers a direct path to receiving a Master of Architectural History for its qualified undergraduate majors.

Some students in the UVA Bachelor of Architectural History program may consider pursuing the MArH degree in the Architectural History department by remaining for a fifth year of study. Prospective students may apply for the 5th Year MArH Program in their 4th year or after graduating from the Bachelor of Architectural History program at UVA. 

Students must meet a minimum cumulative GPA to be eligible. Current students who wish to continue directly on for the fifth year MArH should meet with the Architectural History Graduate Director when planning their courses for their third year, i.e. spring semester of their second year but no later than fall semester of their third year in order to ensure proper course scheduling. In addition, graduates of the BArH program should be in contact with the Graduate Director before submitting their application.

Those interested in the 5th year MArH program should follow the Direct Admissions Policy for School of Architecture students.