Architecture Confers "Retroactive" Degree

October 31, 2004

Nick Marinello

Homecoming weekend will have a special meaning for some 250 architecture alumni who return to campus to attend a ceremony to confer a retroactive Master of Architecture degree.

"We have never had an event that has thrilled so many alumni," said Cathy Ryan (A'91), alumni relations coordinator for the School of Architecture. "We have people coming in from as far away as London and Israel."

The conferral ceremony, which will be held in Dixon Hall on Friday, Oct. 22, will recognize the school's decision to retroactively confer a Master of Architecture (MArch) on all students who have graduated from the school's professional program.

Through 2003, graduates from the school's five-year "undergraduate program" received a Bachelor of Architecture degree, but in 1999 the school's faculty voted to change the nomenclature of its degree to keep current with trends and philosophies in the academic and professional fields of architecture. The change also affected all alums who graduated from the school's 3.5-year professional program with a Bachelor of Architecture.

An undergraduate degree is a prerequisite for this program. All graduates will now hold a Bachelor of Architecture as well as a Master of Architecture. Graduates from the class of 2004 were the first to receive an MArch degree for completion of the five-year program.

In 2003 the architecture faculty voted to retroactively award a Master of Architecture to all graduates of the 5-year curriculum, the 3.5-year professional curriculum and the 4-year program offered before 1948. The master's degree awarded for these curriculum is considered a "first professional" degree, according to a memorandum from the School of Architecture.

Alumni who pursued a Master of Architecture after completing the five-year program hold what is considered a "post professional" degree. In a 1999 interview with Inside Tulane, then dean Don Gatzke said that Tulane was the first major private school to make such a change. The conferral ceremony is part of a three-day homecoming event that includes walking tours, lectures, an open house and socials.

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