About the Major

Advisory Committee:  
Professor Samuel Morse (Chair), Professor Nicola Courtright (on leave 2019-2020), Professor Ronald C. Rosbottom (on leave 2019-2020), Professor Laure Katsaros; Associate Professor Heidi Gilpin (on leave in the Spring 2020); Assistant Professor Yael Rice, Assistant Professor Dwight Carey, Assistant Professor Gabriel Arboleda (on leave in the Fall 2019), Visiting Assistant Professor Karen Koehler.

Amherst College participates in the Five College Architectural Studies (FCAS) major with the unique requirements indicated below.

Like the FCAS major, Amherst’s ARCH major firmly places the study of architecture in the liberal arts by encompassing the history, theory, philosophy, design, and science of the built environment. The major draws on resources and faculty from a range of disciplines across the colleges, which include art history, cultural studies, history, literature, economics, urban studies, visual and media arts, gender studies, physics, sociology, and environmental studies. With the guidance of their Amherst advisor, Amherst students create an individualized course of study that may include, among others, sustainable design, urban planning, and architectural history, theory, and criticism.

An Amherst student wishing to pursue this major will meet with one of the faculty members on the College’s Architectural Studies Advisory Committee to discuss his or her interests, intentions, and coursework options. Following this discussion, the student will submit a proposal Amherst Architectural Studies major form to the Chair that identifies a focus within the major, courses already taken, and those planned. This proposal will be shared with the other faculty in the program.

Once the student’s proposal has been approved, he or she will meet at least twice per semester with his or her Amherst faculty advisor to discuss continued progress in the major. Amherst students, preferably before senior year, will be required to take four foundational (normally 100 level) courses focused on architectural history and design, and five intermediate (normally 200 and 300 level) courses in which they develop their particular field of concentration.

The Amherst ARCH major requires nine (9) courses plus one (1) capstone course, for a total of ten (10) courses.

A capstone project is required for all majors to be completed in the first semester of the senior year (ARCH 498). A proposal for the capstone project is due to the department in the second semester of the junior year. The project should be focused on one issue in the area most compelling to the student, often found in the pathway students charted in the proposal for the focus in the major: a design project; research in the history of architecture, housing, and urban development; theory or criticism; visual and spatial perception; or a combination of these areas.

The department, in consultation with the student, will appoint the capstone project’s advisor and two other readers (one is the Chair of the ARCH program). In the first semester of the senior year the department will discuss the project together with the student at two points: at the beginning, to help a student chart a path, and at the end, when the student presents the results of the semester’s work. These presentations will constitute the comprehensive requirement for the major.

In consultation with the department, the senior’s capstone course may be turned into an honors project that would be eligible for Latin honors in the second semester (ARCH 499). Any students continuing on to honors should also sign up, in addition to the honors course, for a 5-College design capstone course if available, normally taught at Hampshire College (Architecture and Design Concentrator Studio, HACU 0307). In effect, the student will thus take two (2) courses in the second semester to develop the honors project to its conclusion.

A selection of possible courses to fulfill the Architectural Studies major can be found on the Curriculum tab under Courses. Please also search the Five College Catalog for related courses, and discuss your options with the Chair and your major advisor.