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Master of Science in Architectural Engineering

The Master of Science in Architectural Engineering is a two-year program for students with a bachelor of science in civil, architectural or structural engineering with an emphasis in structures. Three letters of recommendation are required.

The program was developed for those individuals interested in strengthening their understanding of structural behavior, becoming more familiar with the relationship between structures, architecture, and construction, plus becoming familiar with current design and analysis trends in the structural engineering profession. The program is ideal for continuing engineering students and for individuals who have graduated and wish to re-enter academia after gaining valuable work experience. For those students still enrolled at Cal Poly-SLO the Blended Program allows them to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering and a Master of Science in Architectural Engineering simultaneously. 

If you are a prospective student interested in applying for the ARCE Master's Program click here.

If you are a current Cal Poly ARCE student interested in applying for the Blended Master's Program click here.


To provide the best preparation for Structural Engineering practice in California.

  • Educate students about advanced engineering concepts and current trends within the structural engineering profession
  • Train students to incorporate architectural and construction issues when developing structural design solutions
  • Improve students’ ability to understand structural behavior
  • Improve verbal and written writing skills


To create a uniquely balanced education of practice and theory which better prepares graduates for the building industry.

  • Offer courses that link analysis, design, and constructability
  • Offer courses that promote interdisciplinary teamwork
  • Offer courses that are relevant to structural engineering practice
  • Offer courses that strengthen analytical abilities and reinforce engineering basics (practical theory)

Master of Science in Architectural Engineering 

The MS of Architectural Engineering is designed for students holding an accredited degree in architectural engineering or civil engineering who wish to pursue advanced studies in structural engineering. For students within the Cal Poly Architectural Engineering undergraduate program, a blended BS + MS option is available. The mission of the program is to better prepare students for practice in the structural engineering profession. Core curriculum courses expose students to emerging topics in structures, advanced methodologies to predict and analyze structural behavior in response to earthquakes, and cutting-edge design procedures used in industry. Additionally, related topics in architecture and construction management maybe integrated into the curriculum, to create a unique master's program. The project culminates with a written report and oral presentation. Additionally, candidates should refer to “General Policies Governing Graduate Studies” section for supplemental university requirements.

MS of Architectural Engineering Flow Chart

Blended BS Architectural Engineering + MS Architectural Engineering 

For motivated students a blended program, also referred to as a 4+1 program, is available. The blended program allows students to simultaneously complete both a Bachelor of Science in ARCE and a Master of Science in ARCE. The blended program offers promising individuals an opportunity to continue their studies in architectural engineering while enrolled in a collaborative learning environment within the Architecture Department.

Eligibility for the Blended Program

Architectural Engineering students wishing to pursue a Master of Science in Architectural Engineering may apply after completing all 300 level Architectural Engineering courses and 180 units. The ARCE Graduate Committee will review all applications and select individuals with records that demonstrate success at the undergraduate level as well as potential to succeed at the graduate level. Candidates should refer to the "General Policies Governing Graduate Studies" section for university eligibility requirements regarding blended programs. Contact the Architectural Engineering Department for additional information.

Blended BS Architectural Engineering + MS Architectural Engineering Flowchart

Highlighted Coursework

Highlighted Courses Units

ARCE 501 Advanced Structural Mechanics

Term Typically Offered: F

Prerequisites: ARCE 306, ARCE 353.

Description: Principles, concepts, and techniques of advanced structural mechanics. Studies of displacement, strain, stress, strain-displacement relation and constitutive models in three dimensions. Failure criteria. Introduction into energy principles and approximate solutions.


ARCE 502 Nonlinear Structural Behavior I

Term Typically Offered: F

Prerequisites: ARCE 306, ARCE 353.

Description: Principles, concepts, and behavior of structures loaded beyond their linear-elastic limit. Elastic-plastic behavior of truss, beam, and frame structures. Buckling and post-buckling behavior of columns. Behavior of beam-columns and the principle of superposition. Second-order elastic behavior of frames.


ARCE 503 Nonlinear Structural Behavior II

Term Typically Offered: W

Prerequisites: ARCE 502

Description: Principles, concepts, and techniques of nonlinear structural analysis currently used in practice. Classification of nonlinear problem types. Investigation of typical iterative solution strategies. Studies in material and geometric nonlinearities in spring, truss, and frame elements. Use of current nonlinear analysis software.


ARCE 504  Finite Element Method for Building Structures

Term Typically Offered: W

Prerequisites: MATH 244, ARCE 306, ARCE 501

Description: Basic concepts of equilibrium and compatibility. Stiffness and flexibility properties of various types of finite elements. Development and application of displacement and force methods. Elastic stability and dynamic response of buildings to earthquake, wind, and moving loads. Use of finite-element computer programs.


ARCE 511 Structural Systems Behavior

Term Typically Offered: SP

Prerequisites: ARCE 371, ARCE 403, ARCE 452, ARCE 483

Description: Design, performance, and construction issues related to structural systems. Further development of design and analysis techniques necessary for performance based engineering of structural systems. Assessment of advantages and limitations of different structural forms and systems.


ARCE 598 Structural Engineering Design Project

Term Typically Offered: F,W,SP

Prerequisites: ARCE 371, ARCE 403, ARCE 452, ARCE 483

Description: Independent development, research, and conclusion of a graduate project by individuals or teams specializing in the area of architectural or structural engineering. Projects may include graduate students from other disciplines. Students shall enroll in 3 quarters. Total credit limited to 9 units.



The Degenkolb Graduate Lab was sponsored by Degenkolb Engineers.

To see more about the Graduate Facilities, click here!

Computer Requirements

The department requires a PC/Windows based machine with the following minimum specifications:

  • Intel 3.0 GHz multi core processor 
  • 500 GB or greater hard drive (or greater)
  • 256 MB or greater video memory (or greater)
  • 4GB or greater RAM (or greater)

An Apple computer will be sufficient if you are able to run the Windows operating system on it.

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