Graduate Programs

Master of Science in Architecture with Option in Public Interest Design

March 9, 2021

Due to COVID-related circumstances, it is currently not possible to provide the hands-on design build experience that is an essential part of the Master of Architecture/Option in Public Interest Design program.

For this reason, pending approval by the Auburn University Board of Trustees, we are temporarily pausing all admissions to the program, beginning with admissions for the class that would start in Fall 2021.

Established in 1993, Auburn University Rural Studio gives architecture students a hands-on educational experience while assisting the underserved communities of Alabama’s Black Belt region, 150 miles from the university’s main campus. Students work in partnership with their neighbors in the community to define solutions, fundraise, design, and ultimately build remarkable projects. The Studio questions what should be built, rather than simply what can be built. Rural Studio has earned a world-renowned reputation not only because of its unique, hands-on approach to architectural education, but also in recognition of its more than 200 beautifully designed and constructed projects. Located in the small town of Newbern, Alabama (population 186), Rural Studio works with a broad variety of partners who, together, are committed to investing in and reinforcing the collective value of the community. The overarching philosophy of Rural Studio is that everyone, both rich and poor, deserves the benefit of good, dignified design.

The Master of Science in Architecture / Option in Public Interest Design is a post-professional degree designed for holders of a professional degree in architecture (Bachelor of Architecture or Master of Architecture) or its international equivalent. Applicants with non-professional degrees in architecture or degrees in affiliated disciplines will also be considered (environmental design, landscape architecture, building construction, etc.). The program will address systemic issues underlying housing affordability in rural Alabama. Through design and innovation in the field of rural housing, this program will cultivate leadership in the realms of public interest, design tectonics, and architectural project documentation and dissemination. Rural Studio MS Arch students will participate fully in the Rural Studio design-build program and will work collaboratively in a small group of students to participate in a directed research project in rural housing with the goal of designing and building a home in Hale County.

Program Calendar

January 31 Application due

March 1 Acceptance letters mailed

April 15 Deadline to respond to offer

August 15 Fall semester begins*

January 10 Spring semester begins*

May 15 Summer semester begins*

August 15 Summer semester ends*

* Dates given are approximate, as they vary year-to-year. Check the Auburn University academic calendar for exact dates.

Admissions and Application Process

For application to the Auburn University Master of Science in Architecture / Option in Public Interest Design (MS Arch) Program, applicants should submit the following directly to the Graduate School, by January 31st of the year in which they intend to enter the program. Previous achievements and a demonstrated desire to address the social and built environmental issues of a rural American community are important selection criteria for applicants.


Online Application

  • Official academic transcripts
  • Grade point average of at least 2.75
  • GRE (Graduate Record Examination) score of at least 300
  • TOEFL scores (international students only); For more information visit admission requirements at graduate school webpage
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A statement of intent (approximately 500-words) that explains why the applicant is interested in participating in the Rural Studio graduate program
  • A curriculum vitae or resume
  • A link to a digital version of the candidate’s portfolio that can be download from the link
  • Applicants must demonstrate the availability of adequate financial resources to meet personal and educational obligations. The properly completed “Official Statement of Finances” accompanied by certified evidence of your sponsor’s financial capability MUST BE filed with this office before an admission letter and your I-20 Form can be released.


In addition, applicants must submit a physical, printed portfolio of work to the following address:

Rural Studio Chair of the Graduate Program
Auburn University Rural Studio
PO Box 278
Newbern, AL 36765

Graduate Research Assistantships

The Master of Science in Architecture/Option in Public Interest Design (MS Arch) offers a limited number of Graduate Research Assistantships (GRA) and Tuition Waivers each year. The number offered each year fluctuates. GRA positions are highly competitive. The assistantships are awarded on the basis of merit.

The Tuition Waiver applies to in-state and out-of-state students alike and covers part of the tuition fee for each semester that the student is a GRA. Students who are appointed as GRAs are required to pay the Professional Fee.

Contact Information

For further information about the Auburn University Master of Science in Architecture / Option in Public Interest Design (MS Arch) program, contact Xavier Vendrell at