Clemson School of Architecture

academicyearTaliesin, the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture offers a fully accredited degree:

The M.Arch degree is an accredited, professional graduate degree leading to qualifications for architectural licensing. An undergraduate degree in a related or an unrelated field and post-secondary prerequisites are required for admission. Graduates of the program are prepared to enter leadership roles within the architectural profession and become licensed architects upon completion of internship experience and passing the architectural exam.

The program is designed for students who thrive in a multifaceted environment focusing on rigorous design, critical thinking, and hands-on learning. The small-scale of the School facilitates an individualized educational experience and fosters a close relationship between students, faculty, and staff.

Students are active participants in the design of their learning path through the structured curriculum, and through approved independent study, drawing on a variety of resources throughout their education. Students explore architecture through the resources of design, technical and professional practices, liberal studies, and the arts throughout the learning process. Project-based learning is central to the educational experience.

The education is rigorous but noncompetitive; traditional grading is replaced by assessment of the student's learning by faculty, mentors, and practicing architects on the basis of evidence documented in coursework and through semi-annual portfolio review.

The Taliesin educational experience is closely linked to its two architecturally stunning campuses and is fueled by the intense year-round educational community that is marked by residency at the main Arizona campus (Taliesin West) and the summer Wisconsin campus (Taliesin). All students are provided with on-campus housing at both locations, including the celebrated desert shelters at Taliesin West, experimental dwellings dotting many of the 500 acres of Sonoran Desert preserve surrounding the main campus.

The Core Curriculum comprises three phases: Foundation, Exploration, and Synthesis. Studios, workshops, and classes designated as Core, are required activities, and occur at intervals throughout the student’s course of study. The graduate level of academic performance calls for student mastery of learning content.

The Foundation phase (approximately the 8- 12 months in the first year) is characterized by a rigorous set of Core offerings, supplemented with electives, that establishes the critical basis for the entire course of study.

The Exploration phase (approximately the 8- 12 months in the second year) is characterized by a combination of Core offerings, with increased student electives provided the consent of the review committee and Core faculty.

The Synthesis phase (approximately the final 8 – 12 months of study) is characterized by independent initiatives that integrate the studies into architectural design outcomes. Advisors and review committees offer guidance in student determination of activities most beneficial to the development of learning within the programs.

Core Curriculum offerings are based on established syllabi, and include design studios, classes, Box projects, architectural practice activities, research, and construction projects. Students are required to attend all Core offerings, which may be complimented with independent study as approved by faculty. Core requirements may be adjusted based on evaluation of prior work.
Performance evaluations are completed by instructors and are included in the portfolio for review committee assessment. Students are required to represent and critically examine all Core Curriculum work in their portfolios.

Following is a general three-year outline of the Taliesin program according to the three curriculum phases: Foundation, Exploration, and Synthesis. (It is not intended to be an official schedule.) Course and studio work requirements are related to degree program and Performance Categories as determined by faculty in course syllabi. Required offerings vary, based on student background and needs. Electives are discussed with the student during his or her Portfolio Review.

FOUNDATION PHASE (first 12 months)

Fall Term (Arizona):
CORE: Foundation Design Studio (includes Box Project 1), Graphic Design Studio
ELECTIVES: Integrated Studies (gen. ed.) Course, Hand Sketching, Architectural Concepts

Spring Term (Arizona) :
CORE: Advanced Design Studio (includes Box Project 1), Cultural Anthropology, Taliesin West as Text, Principles of Sustainability, Nature Patterns, Perspective Drawing, Hand Rendering, Portfolio Writing Workshop
ELECTIVES: Group Arch. Practice project, Design Build Project

Summer Term (Wisconsin):
CORE: Box Project 2, Architectural History I & II,
ELECTIVES: Graphic Design Studio, Shelter Design Project, Approved Independent Study.

Spring Term (Arizona):
CORE: Box Project 3, Architectural Practice / Internship, Technical Drawing, Structures II or III, Applied Sustainability, Codes.
ELECTIVE: Nature Patterns, Design/Build, Prairie Shelter Design, Desert Shelter Construction, Study Abroad, Approved Independent Study.

Summer Term (Wisconsin) :
CORE: Box Project 4, Research Design Studio, Architectural Criticism and Writing, Construction Contracts, Architectural Practice / Internship.
ELECTIVES: Prairie Shelter Construction, Performance Project, Contemporary Architectural Theory, Drawing To Understand, Approved Independent Study.

SYNTHESIS PHASE (final 12 months)

Fall Term (Arizona):
CORE: Box Project 5, Architectural Practice / Internship, Practice Management.
ELECTIVES: Initiate Capstone (thesis) project*, Teaching Assistantship*, Approved Independent Study.

Spring Term (Arizona):
CORE: Box Project 5, Comprehensive Design Studio, Construction Contracts, Building Systems
ELECTIVES: Teaching Assistantship*, Approved Independent Study.

Summer Term (Wisconsin):
CORE: Final Box—Core OR
ELECTIVES: Capstone Project*, Architectural Practice / Internship, Teaching Assistantship*

ONGOING (All Terms)
Learning Portfolio, Lectures, Design Charettes, Sketching, Rendering, CAD and Perspective drawing tutorials, Music / Performance, Cultural Events, Community Activities

*Capstone Project and Teaching Assistantships are electives for M.Arch students; Core Faculty approval is required.


The School's curriculum supports applied project-based design and research. Innovation in architecture is explored through experimentation of materials and processes related to a project, through the lens of the social and cultural context of that project.

An example of this aspect of the curriculum is the Shelter Construction Program, which challenges students to design and build small structures as case studies of how materials come together, how they withstand severe environmental conditions, and how the project realization can happen with resourcefulness and invention. The shelters form a core component of the housing stock for enrolled students.

Design research is encouraged and explored through systematic inquiry that leads to knowledge. Students can develop such research projects in their Box Project, Independent Study, and the Research Design Studio. A strong emphasis on the socio-cultural context of architecture is often developed in these projects, as well as specific technical and typological investigations.

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