Courses of Study 2023-2024 
    
    Jun 12, 2024  
Courses of Study 2023-2024 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Architecture – M.S. MDC


Master of Science, Matter Design Computation


The Matter Design Computation (MDC) program is a two-year research degree culminating in a master of science. Students pursue architectural research in areas of material computation, adaptive architecture, and digital fabrication. Two of the most promising technologies are 3D printing and rapid assembly via robotics for manufacturing of individual and continuous component parts. Together, these technologies are geared towards becoming indispensable tools for nonlinear manufacturing and design, automated building construction, as well as complex form making. Students from diverse disciplinary backgrounds investigate the intersections of architecture and science and apply insights and theories from biology and mathematics to the design, fabrication, and production of material structures.

The MDC is an interdisciplinary program housed in the Graduate Field of Architecture and represented by a core of faculty from the departments of Architecture, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Fiber Science and Apparel Design, Materials Science and Engineering, Computer Science, and Biological and Environmental Engineering. Students with an undergraduate or graduate degree in architecture, engineering, biological or materials science, or computer science are likely candidates for the MDC program.

  • Instruction mode: In person
  • Program location: Ithaca, New York
  • Length of program: 4 semesters; 48 academic credits; full-time study

The M.S. MDC program is now designated as a STEM program in Architectural and Building Sciences/Technology (CIP code 04.0902) making international M.S. MDC graduates eligible to extend their F-1 visas for up to three years in order to work in the United States.

M.S. MDC Admission Requirements


The Department of Architecture has the following admissions requirements for the M.S. MDC program:

  • All Graduate School Requirements, TOEFL or IELTS Exam for Non-Native English Applicants
  • two - three recommendations
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Transcripts
    • International transcripts & International degree equivalencies
  • GRE scores are no longer required or accepted
  • A portfolio of creative work or equivalent must be submitted online via the CollegeNET application. Portfolios must be no larger than 20 MB or they will not successfully upload. All applicants are required to submit a portfolio that should represent the applicant’s best work, including prior academic or professional work in the areas of computational design and digital fabrication. Published scientific and technical papers may be submitted in addition to or in lieu of a portfolio. The entire portfolio must be uploaded as one PDF file, using a landscape (horizontal) format for each page, to ensure that the width of the screen is maximally used to view each portfolio page (approximately a 4:3 ratio). If any portfolio project, drawing, or model has been produced by several designers or if the design was produced in a professional setting, each drawing must be labeled, clearly stating the number of designers, which drawings or details of drawings were produced by the applicant and a list of the names of all members of the group project. If the project was produced in an office, an office setting, or as an assistant to an author, the office name, supervisor, and all members of the team must be identified. Please note: The portfolio must be uploaded at the same time as the application is submitted (deadline January 3). Please plan your application process accordingly.

M.S. MDC Degree Requirements


First Year:


Upon entering the program, students will be assigned a primary advisor from the graduate faculty who represent the MDC concentration and whose interests mirror those of the student. The students will use the first semester to develop a comprehensive research agenda. During the first year, students will also take elective classes in support of their research. These classes will be carefully selected in consultation with the student’s primary advisor. At the end of the first year, students are required to produce a comprehensive research plan, with supporting materials, outlining the approach to their thesis. Students also must have a full (two-person) special committee in place no later than the end of the first year.

Fall Semester:

Total: 12 credits

Spring Semester:

Total: 12 credits

Summer Semester:

Students will be strongly encouraged to work in faculty labs or on faculty research programs during the summer between their first and second year of study.

Second Year:


The second year of the program is devoted to the production of a capstone document — a thesis. Students work closely with their special committee and take electives in support of their research during the fall term as necessary.

Fall Semester:

Total: 12 credits

Spring Semester:

Total: 12 credits

Total: 48 credits


M.S. MDC Learning Outcomes


  • Students of architecture will expand their creative design potential by increasing their knowledge and understanding of material and computational design, digital fabrication, and emerging materials and technologies at the nexus of biology, materials science, and architecture.
  • Students who have graduated from other disciplines will explore advanced architectural design, material and computational design, and digital fabrication.
  • Students will practice transdisciplinary collaboration and hybrid thinking in design to prepare them for emerging careers in both the academy and in practice and industry.

To assess these objectives, evidence is collected through graduate level elective coursework and thesis preparation. Frequent meetings between the student and committee chair inform the development of the thesis topic and as evaluated through the thesis itself. Literature review takes place through required course work and the research studio format.

M.S. MDC Policies


The M.S. MDC program follows the Graduate School’s Code of Legislation.