The FCAS Major

The FCAS major is a liberal arts degree designed to provide students the essential foundations in architectural history, theory and studio design, but allows students to develop their own area of study with the broader discipline of architectural studies.

Amherst College, Hampshire College and Mount Holyoke College students may participate in the Five College Architectural Studies (FCAS) major. The major includes nine courses, plus a capstone semester in the senior year.

Bachelor of Arts, Architectural Studies
Students are required to take four foundation courses focused on architectural history and design, and five intermediate courses (in their sophomore and junior years) to be determined with their advisor, in which they develop their particular field of concentration. In the senior year, students are required to complete a capstone project; this can be pursued in the context of an already existing course, or in an independent study course. Below is an outline of the required curriculum for the major.

Two (2) Architectural History/Theory Courses
Two (2) Architectural Studio Design Courses

Five (5) Courses in architecture and architecture-related areas focused on a specific topic or area of interest around the built environment. Topics can range from architectural journalism to sustainable technologies to advanced architectural design.

Students are required to complete a one (1) year capstone project firmly focused in the area of architectural studies. This capstone project can be a written research or analysis project or a research + design project. Students develop their thesis statement and research in the first semester and complete their writing or design projects in the second semester in a Capstone senior seminar course. Each campus has a different set of requirements for this project based on the thesis and/or graduation requirements for that campus.

*Courses can be completed on any campus (with the exception of the capstone seminar) and students are strongly encouraged to travel to various campuses to broaden their exposure to faculty and campus resources.

Accelerated Masters (4+2) Program:
One of the Five College Programs + 2 Year Masters of Architecture From the University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Through our Five College collaboration, we offer students the opportunity to participate in an accelerated Master's program. Students interested in pursuing a Master of Architecture degree can take courses in the Five College program to prepare them for advanced placement in the graduate program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Students will complete a four-year liberal arts degree within the FCAS program and complete a two-year graduate program (4+2) instead of a typical three-year program. Contact us for more information on this program as students must complete specific coursework in their undergraduate studies to be eligible.

Declaring the Major

In order to be admitted to the Five College major program, each student (in close consultation with one or more of the program advisors) will put together a proposed plan of study including a statement of purpose and a list of projected courses, to be evaluated by a review committee made up of representative members of the FCAS faculty. Applications will be reviewed twice per year. The progress of the major, and any possible rerouting or changes in direction, can be made in consultation with the campus advisor, who will consult with the FCAS committee as necessary. Students can propose to join the major at any time during their first, second or third years—but their proposed concentration and eight of the required courses must be completed by the end of their junior year.

The required semester-long capstone project can be in any area of architectural studies, and might be a design project, research paper, exhibition/installation or urban plan; it may take any number of creative forms and formats. When the required courses are met, each student will submit a proposal describing the specific capstone topic, working project outline and research strategies, and include a significant working bibliography. This proposal will be read and evaluated by the FCAS faculty committee.

Please contact your advisor for more information about how the major works at your school or email us at

Submit an Application


Five College Architectural Studies majors will be offered an advisor from their home campus. Students in their capstone year will select an advisor from their home campus as the chair of their thesis and Division III projects.

The program liaisons for each campus are listed below. Please contact them directly to organize your advisory committee.

Hampshire College:
Thom Long, Associate Professor of Architecture + Design
Send an email >>

Mount Holyoke College: 
M. Naomi Darling, Assistant Professor of Sustainable Architecture
Send an email >>

Amherst College
Gabriel Arboleda, Assistant Professor of Environmental Design
Send an email >>

How To Apply

The FCAS major is offered at Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College and Amherst College. Students interested in this unique program must apply to one or more of these schools.

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About the Program

The FCAS program engages in myriad of questions about architecture and design. It encourages students to define and engage with the aspects of history, theory and design that they find most compelling. The program provides the essential concrete foundations, but an open-ended curriculum.

Explore the Program

The Major

The FCAS major is a liberal arts degree designed to provide students the essential foundations in architectural history, theory and studio design, but allows students to develop their own area of study with the broader discipline of architectural studies.

Learn More About the Major


The Five College program provides a wide array of creative resources for students. There are studios on all five campuses, digital fabrication maker spaces and advanced computer labs open to all students. As well, student have access to five full library collections and research materials, delivered to their home campus library.

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The Five College Architectural Studies program is an interdisciplinary course of study that bridges five campuses and is available to students currently enrolled in Hampshire College, Amherst College or Mount Holyoke College.