Architectural Studies Major

Submitted by Heidi Gilpin on Tuesday, 7/16/2019, at 12:54 PM

Advisory Committee:  Professor Nicola Courtright, Professor Ronald Rosbottom, Professor Laure Katsaros; Associate Professor Heidi Gilpin; Assistant Professor Yael Rice, Assistant Professor Dwight Carey, Assistant Professor Gabriel Arboleda.

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

The FCAS 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 FCAS 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 that identifies a focus within the major, courses already taken, and those planned. This proposal must be approved by the College’s Architectural Studies Advisory Committee, which will forward it to the Five College Architectural Studies (FCAS) review committee. In this manner, a student’s major coursework decisions are discussed and vetted first by Amherst faculty and subsequently by Five College faculty in Architectural Studies to ensure that students will have appropriate preparation and a strong plan for the major.

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. A senior thesis is required. Consequently, the Amherst FCAS major requires nine (9) courses plus two (2) thesis courses, for a total of eleven (11) courses. The student may choose to take a double senior thesis course (ARCH 499D) in the second semester of senior year, in which case the total number of courses required to complete the major becomes twelve (12). Before the second semester of junior year, the student must submit to his or her College advisor a significant research project (which may constitute a final project for a course taken) that demonstrates the ability to undertake rigorous research. This will constitute the comprehensive requirement for the major. Before the end of the junior year, the student will propose a senior thesis project and three potential advisors (two of whom must be Amherst faculty members) to the College’s Architectural Studies Advisory Committee; an Amherst College thesis advisor will be designated.

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.