Graduate programs

The NAAB accredited professional Master of Architecture at Portland State University encourages substantive investigation of significant urban situations and prevailing architectural issues pertinent to contemporary human experience. It meets the demands of an accredited first professional degree in architecture as determined by the National Architectural Accrediting Board.

Through a series of focused design studios, and courses in humanities, technology and the profession, the program encourages depth in questioning, aptitude in discursive thinking, and versatility in means of representation as each student assimilates the skills, knowledge and dexterity to negotiate the professional demands of comprehensive design while developing a mode of creative inquiry that extends beyond established conventions to possibilities yet to be tested in a critical arena. Student generated questions and polemics will form the inspiration for the final year Design Thesis exploration culminating in a unique thesis proposal fully articulated in drawings, models and text.

We offer two tracks towards the Master of Architecture: the 2-year track for candidates with a pre-professional undergraduate degree in Architecture (74 credits); and the 3-year track for candidates with a Bachelor's degree in any discipline (134 credits).

We also offer two graduate certificates: a Graduate Certificate in Public Interest Design consisting of coursework and fieldwork that will prepare future leaders in architecture and related fields to aid currently underserved populations throughout the world through sustainable design methods, with an emphasis on addressing social, economic and environmental issues; and a Graduate Certificate in Urban Design, focusing on the design of urban public space, offered in partnership with the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning.

Admission requirements

Architecture M.Arch. 2 year

Architecture M. Arch. 3 year

Public Interest Design Grad Cert

Urban Design Grad Cert

Urban Design Graduate Certificate

Two things about cities, their design and planning, have become abundantly clear in the early 21st century: first, even at the largest scales, the details matter, and second, good policy is important, but it's not enough to create a great place. Together, these two lessons of the last 100 years of urban placemaking in America have brought new interest and attention to urban design.

What is Urban Design? The term generally means the process for shaping urban growth, conservation and change - making design decisions about individual buildings as well as big plans about the design of streets, public spaces, and collections of buildings. Urban design combines the aesthetic and three-dimensional design skills of the architect with the decision-making, engagement, and management methodologies of the urban planner. What excites the urban designer is the making of memorable and artful places - places that are pleasant to be in as well as go through, places that reflect the uniqueness of different communities.

The Graduate Certificate in Urban Design at Portland State University, a joint effort of the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning and the School of Architecture, has been created to offer planners, designers, and architects the opportunity to engage and incorporate in their own work the principles and methods of urban design. It utilizes the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan region as a laboratory, an urban place renowned for its use of urban design and attention to urban design concerns. This certificate is intended for those who are currently seeking an advanced planning or architecture degree, or who are currently employed as a professional planner, architect, or designer.


The Graduate Certificate in Urban Design consists of five required core courses, for a total of 20-22 SCH (course descriptions can be found in the PSU Bulletin).

Core Requirements


Arch 532History and Theory of Urban Design


USP 513Public Space



Arch 521Urban Design Methods



USP 575Urban Design Workshop


Arch 531Studies in Contemporary Urban Design


M.Arch candidates only may substitute Arch 585 Design Thesis (6 credits) with an urban design topic for USP 575.

Application and Admission Requirements

Admission to the Graduate Certificate in Urban Design program is limited to graduate students currently enrolled in either the MURP or M.ARCH programs; graduate students in other programs who have an undergraduate or graduate design degree, those who have completed an undergraduate or graduate design degree, or those who have completed a graduate planning degree from an accredited planning degree program.

In addition, admission to graduate study at Portland State University is granted on the basis of evidence of suitable preparation and the probability of success in the intended field of study. Admission generally requires a minimum of an accredited baccalaureate degree and a GPA which meets university graduate admission standards. Typically, students admitted to graduate study at Portland State have an undergraduate or graduate (minimum of 12 credit hours) GPA of at least 3.0.

If you meet all of these requirements, please visit the websites of either the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning ( or the School of Architecture ( for more information.

If you are currently admitted to a masters or doctoral program at PSU, in good academic standing, and currently registered for classes, please contact the representatives named below.

For more information, please contact the GCUD coordinators: Aaron Golub, Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning,, 503-725-4069; Anna Goodman, School of Architecture,, 503-725-8405.

Course Overlap Between Degrees and Certificates

Graduate courses can be applied to a master's (or a doctoral) degree and a graduate certificate. However, graduate courses cannot be applied to two graduate certificates. See PSU Bulletin for more course overlap information.