University at Buffalo - The State University of New York
Skip to Content

INTRO: Thesis / Special Project

Students in the 2-year Master of Architecture first professional degree program are required to complete ARC 698 – Research Methods during their first semester of graduate study; students in the 3.5-year Master of Architecture first professional degree program are required to complete ARC 698 – Research Methods during their third semester of graduate study. This course provides a foundation for subsequent graduate coursework, including the Thesis and Special Project, by introducing students to:

  • library research strategies and techniques,
  • differences between and the mechanics of the Special Project and Thesis and
  • methods of design inquiry

Thesis

Students with a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or higher are encouraged to consider completing a thesis as the culminating experience in their Master of Architecture program.  An outline of the procedures and requirements of a thesis are as follows:

Definition

For the purposes of these guidelines, a thesis will be considered any independent inquiry initiated by a student, formulated together with a Thesis Committee, and completed for ARC699 credit.

Prerequisites

  1. 3.5 GPA
  2. A Thesis Committee composed of at least two full-time faculty recruited by the student. The Thesis Committee chair must be a tenured/tenure-track member of the Architecture Department faculty and a Member or Associate Member of the UB Graduate Faculty.

Process

  1. Pre-thesis.In their penultimate semester of the program, students intending and eligible to pursue a thesis will conduct pre-thesis research to explore the viability of doing so. This prethesis research will take the form of either:
    • Directed Research, conducted within a Graduate Research Group, or
    • Independent Study with a faculty member.

    Pre-thesis will be graded on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis. Satisfactory completion of pre-thesis research (ie: receiving a passing grade) does not necessarily qualify a student to continue on to pursue a thesis. A separate evaluation will be made by the Thesis Committee regarding the viability of pursing a thesis.

  2. Thesis Abstract. Students will submit a thesis abstract no later than the 6th week of their pre-thesis semester. This abstract must be signed by all members of their Thesis Committee and be approved prior to commencement of the thesis. The Thesis Abstract is submitted along with the Application to Candidacy.
  3. Reviews:

Thesis Proposal Review. The first review occurs at the end of the pre-thesis semester. At this review, a prospective thesis student presents a Thesis Proposal that consists of the Thesis Abstract together with preliminary research conducted during the pre-thesis semester, the first three sections of the Thesis Documentation (see 3d below) and examples of past work that demonstrate the preparation and ability for the student to successfully complete a thesis. The jury will consist of the student’s Thesis Committee and at least two additional faculty members. These additional faculty members serve as advisors to the Thesis Committee and do not have voting rights with respect to the Thesis Proposal.

Thesis Progress Reviews. Thesis students will be reviewed at least twice in the course of their thesis semester. The jury will consist of the Thesis Committee and at least two additional faculty members. These additional faculty members serve as advisors to the Thesis Committee and do not have voting rights with respect to the progress of the Thesis. These reviews will occur in the 5th and 10th weeks of the semester. At the second review (10th week) students will be evaluated by the Thesis Committee as follows:

  1. Documentation
    Each student’s thesis work must be documented as a bound print volume (provided to the architecture department) and as an electronic submission (provided online to the Graduate School). Students should reference the Graduate School ‘s Electronic Thesis & Dissertation (ETD) Submission guidelines http://www.grad.buffalo.edu/etd/) for information about required parts of the documentation, its physical specifications and style manual options.Content: The content of the thesis documentation must include:

     

    1. discussion of the thesis issue/problem and its significance
    2. review of the salient literature and design precedents
    3. discussion of the methods/procedures of inquiry and analysis employed
    4. discussion of the relevant results/findings from that inquiry and analysis
    5. presentation of the application of those results/findings to the thesis issue/problem
    6. concluding critical assessment of the strengths and limitations of the completed thesis
  2.  
    • PASS: This indicates that the student has a well-articulated thesis and a project that is developed to a point where very few changes are needed. This student is ready to begin final production and may proceed without conditions toward the final public presentation.
    • PROVISIONAL PASS: This indicates that the student has a well-articulated thesis but still needs time to develop certain aspects of his/her project. The student is expected to re-present the project in 2 weeks time for approval to participate in the final public presentation. Depending on the circumstances, students with Provisional Pass grades may request an extension or defer their final public presentation to the following semester.
    • FAIL: This indicates that the student lacks a coherent thesis and will not be allowed to continue his/her Thesis. The student will be required to return to UB the following semester and take a final project studio in order to graduate.

Deadlines: Items 1 through 3 on the above list are to be completed by the end of classes of the pre-thesis semester and submitted together with the Thesis Proposal to the Thesis Committee.

The completed thesis documentation must be electronically submitted to the Graduate School by the following deadlines:

Students must submit a final draft of their thesis documentation to their Thesis Committee for review and comment no later than one week prior to the deadlines listed above. The Thesis Committee chair will then communicate the revisions required for the committee to sign-off on the thesis documentation and the deadline by which these revisions need to be submitted to the thesis chair for subsequent review.

The required M-form signed by all members of the student’s Thesis Committee and a receipt for having the committee-approved thesis documentation bound must be submitted to the architecture department two days before the aforementioned documentation submission deadlines.

A student whose thesis documentation is submitted after these deadlines will have his or her degree conferral deferred until the next applicable conferral date.

Timetable example for 2-year Master of Architecture June Degree Candidates

Second Semester, Fall Semester:

  1. Pre-thesis research: Register for ARC 567 (Directed Research) or ARC 599 (Independent Study).
  2. Submit Application to Candidacy form and thesis abstract by 6th week of semester.
  3. End of semester: Thesis proposal review.

Second Year, Spring Semester:

  1. Thesis (7 credits)
  2. Thesis interim review 1 (5th week of semester)
  3. Thesis interim review 2 (10th week of semester)
  4. Thesis final review/public presentation (last week of classes)
  5. Submit bindery receipt and signed M-Form (two days before final exams end)
  6. Submit thesis document online (last day of final exams)

Timetable example for 3.5-year Master of Architecture February Degree Candidates

Third Year, Spring Semester:

  1. Pre-thesis research: Register for ARC 567 (Directed Research) or ARC 599 (Independent Study).
  2. Submit Application to Candidacy and thesis abstract by 6th week of the semester.
  3. End of semester: thesis proposal review.

Fourth Year, Fall Semester:

  1. Thesis (7 credits)
  2. Thesis interim review 1 (5th week of semester)
  3. Thesis interim review 2 (10th week of semester)
  4. Thesis final review/public presentation (last week of classes)
  5. Submit bindery receipt and signed M-Form (Wednesday before spring classes begin)
  6. Submit thesis document online (Friday before spring classes begin)

Special Projects

A student who intends to do a studio-based special project must notify the architecture department of that intention. For special projects to be undertaken in the fall semester, the notification deadline is the last day of classes in the previous fall semester; for special projects to be undertaken in the spring semester, the notification deadline is the last day of classes in the previous spring semester.

The special project requirement must be completed while “in residence” during a fall or spring semester graduate studio. Descriptions of all graduate studios to be offered each semester will be posted. Students notify the architecture department of their ranked preferences among the graduate studio offerings by submitting studio selections prior to the first week of classes. These students will be given priority in the studio lottery selection.

A student must complete the special project studio’s design work and special project documentation to the satisfaction of his or her supervising studio instructor and the Master’s Degree Requirements Committee (MDRC) respectively. Students are encouraged to schedule consultative meetings with their studio instructors periodically throughout the semester to gauge progress on their special project studio’s design work.

Six weeks before the semester’s last day of classes, a special project student must provide the architecture department with:

  • a written special project abstract comparable to the thesis abstract
  • a mock-up of his or her proposed special project documentation

The MDRC will review these submissions and notify the student of any required changes.

A special project studio instructor’s submission of a studio course grade of “B” or higher will be considered an indication of that instructor’s receipt of and satisfaction with a student’s completed special project studio’s design work. A student who receives a special project studio course grade of “B-” or lower will be required to complete an additional special project graduate studio with a grade of “B” or higher in a subsequent semester.

The MDRC will review each special project document submitted to the architecture office to verify its satisfactory compliance with the special project documentation requirements (described below). special project documentation that the MDRC deems noncompliant will be returned to the student for correction.

The architecture department will notify the Graduate School that a student has completed his or her special project requirement for the Master of Architecture first professional degree only after:

  • the special project studio’s design work has been deemed satisfactory by the supervising studio instructor
  • the special project documentation has been deemed compliant by the MDRC
  • a receipt for having the MDRC-approved documentation bound has been provided to the architecture department
  • the required M-form has been signed by a MDRC representative and the special project studio instructor or, if the studio instructor is unavailable, the architecture department chairperson

Each student’s special project studio work must be documented both as an 8 ½” x 11” bound print document and as an electronic document saved to a labeled CD/DVD that is stored in a jewel case. Since the special project documentation is organized in a manner comparable to the thesis documentation, students should reference the Graduate School’s “Guidelines for Graduation and Thesis and Dissertation Preparation” (http://grad.buffalo.edu/content/dam/grad/study/etd-guide.pdf) for information about required parts of the documentation, its physical specifications and style manual options.

The special project documentation must include:

  • a description of the studio project assignment(s)
  • a description of the design approach employed for the studio project(s)
  • a discussion of the salient issues inherent in the project assignment(s)
  • an annotated portfolio of the student’s design work on the project assignment(s)
  • a summary of reviewers’ comments about that work
  • a self-critique of that design work on its merits

Timetable

Each student must submit both print and electronic versions of the special project documentation to the architecture department for review by the MDRC by the following deadlines:

 

A student whose special project documentation is submitted after the deadline or is deemed noncompliant by the MDRC will have his or her degree conferral deferred until the documentation is deemed compliant by the MDRC.

First Year, Spring Semester Affirm special project intention (before classes end)
Second Year, Fall Semester Submit Application to Candidacy form (by announced due date)
Second Year, Spring Semester
  1. Submit Studio Selection form (during first week of classes)
  2. Special Project Studio (7 credits)
  3. Special project interim review (six weeks before classes end)
  4. Submit special project documentation (four days before final exams end)
  5. Submit bindery receipt and signed M-Form (two days before final exams end)
Third Year, Fall Semester Affirm special project intention (before classes end)
Third Year, Spring Semester Submit Application to Candidacy form (by announced due date)
Fourth Year, Fall Semester
  1. Submit Studio Selection form (during first week of classes)
  2. Special Project Studio (7 credits)
  3. Special project interim review (six weeks before classes end)
  4. Submit special project documentation (four days before final exams end)
  5. Submit bindery receipt and signed M-Form (two days before final exams end)