College of Engineering, Informatics, and Applied Sciences2019-2020

Department of Civil Engineering, Construction Management, and Environmental Engineering

Building Science, Master of Science

Building science is a field of study concerned with the technical performance of buildings, building materials, and building systems that draws upon physics, chemistry, engineering, architecture, and the life sciences. Understanding the physical behavior of the building as a system and how this impacts energy efficiency, durability, comfort and indoor air quality is essential to innovating high-performance buildings. Modern building science employs models of the building as a system (systems theory), and applies empirical techniques to the effective solution of building design problems.


What Can I Do with a Master of Science in Building Science?

It takes a large team of diverse professionals to design and build a work of architecture. Among the building design team, building scientists play many important roles working side-by-side with architects, engineers, construction teams and other specialists to deliver high-performance / low-impact buildings. Building Scientists specialize in the technical aspects of architecture, including energy performance, structural integrity and resilience, resource use optimization, and the comfort and health of those who occupy buildings. Building Scientists are qualified to work for organizations that deliver architectural, engineering, construction and building science services.

Career opportunities that might be pursued:
  • Acoustic Consulting
  • Advanced digital tools
  • Advanced materials technology and research
  • Architecture
  • Building commissioning and Building Performance Evaluation
  • Building facade engineering
  • Building forensics
  • Building retrofit
  • Building services engineering
  • Carbon management
  • Construction project management
  • Construction products design
  • Design programming and project management
  • Energy performance (analysis and modeling)
  • Environmental consulting
  • Lighting design (artificial and daylighting)
  • Material technologies
  • Mechanical engineering (HVAC systems)
  • Plumbing engineering (Supply, DWV, Hydronics)
  • Power generation and storage
  • Quantity surveying (material and cost estimating)
  • Renewable energy
  • Sustainable building design
  • Water engineering
  • Wind engineering


With further education, one of these paths is possible:
  • Architecture
  • Construction Engineering and Construction Project Management
  • Mechanical Systems Engineering (HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical)


University Requirements

  • To receive a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject areas, consisting of at least 30 units of graduate-level courses. (Many master’s degree programs require more than 30 units.)

    You must additionally complete:

    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s). This may include a thesis.
    • All graduate work with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.
    • All work toward the master’s degree must be completed within six consecutive years. The six years begins with the semester and year of admission to the program.
    The full policy can be viewed here.



In addition to University Requirements:

Minimum Units for Completion 30
Additional Admission Requirements Admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.
Thesis Thesis may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.
Comprehensive Exam Comprehensive Exam is required.
Oral Defense Oral Defense is required.
Research Individualized research is required.
Some online/blended coursework Required
Progression Plan Link View Program of Study

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this program, students will be able to:

1. Identify and research fundamental components and related problems of building science.
  • Apply knowledge of the historical context of building science to solving contemporary building design problems.
  • Research solutions that can be used to minimize energy and resource usage, conserve water, and minimize construction waste for a variety of energy-efficient building types.
  • Research solutions that can be used to improve the full-spectrum of human comfort parameters for building occupants for a variety of energy-efficient building types.
2. Develop protocols, tools and organizational methods necessary to solve building science problems.
  • Develop solutions that can be used to minimize energy and resource usage, conserve water, and minimize construction waste for a variety of energy-efficient building types.
  • Develop solutions that can be used to improve the full-spectrum of human comfort parameters for building occupants for a variety of energy-efficient building types
3. Analyze and solve advanced building science problems
  • Apply knowledge of modeling building energy performance, water resource use, and associated carbon emissions using appropriate modeling tools, to a variety of building types.
  • Develop and utilize digital tools to quantify and analyze the performance parameters of a variety of complex building systems.
  • Apply knowledge of environmental economics to the evaluation and selection of building performance alternatives.
4. Document and explain advanced building science solutions to a variety of audiences.
  • Accurately explain the design strategies used to improve building performance to a variety of audiences.
  • Communicate predicted performance results of the design strategies used to improve building performance, to a variety of audiences.


Additional Admission Requirements
  • Admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.
    • NAU Graduate Online application is required for all programs. Details on admission requirements are included in the online application.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution
    • Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A"), or the equivalent. 
    • Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.
    • Transcripts
    • For details on graduate admission policies, please visit the Graduate Admissions Policy
    • International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy 

    Individual program admission requirements include:

    • B.S. degree in Civil Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Construction Management, or Architecture, 
      • or a B.S. degree in mathematics or a natural science, 
      • or a Bachelor’s degree and passing score on the F.E. Civil exam
      • or an M.S. degree in Civil Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Construction Management,
      • or a Master of Architecture (M.Arch),
      • or a Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)
    • TOEFL of 80 for international students whose degree is not at an English speaking institution
    • GRE® revised General Test
    • 2 letters of recommendation
    • Statement of Purpose
Master's Requirements
  • Take the following 30 units:

    Building Science Fundamentals (9 units):

    Building Science Economics (6 units):
    Building Science Elective (9 units):
    Select from:
    Thesis or Master's Project (6 units):orThe CENE Graduate Coordinator or their designee will serve as faculty advisor for these students.  If a project is selected, the faculty member serving as the project leader will serve as the student’s advisor.


  • Milestones
    Students in this program must engage in original research in one of the focus areas of building science, as will be primarily mentored through the program by their advisor.  Students must secure a specific advisor by the end of their second term of study.  Faculty tasked to be advisors must be members of CECMEE or hold affiliate stats.  NTT faculty with a terminal degree will be allowed to serve as graduate advisors.  The timeline below is predicated upon two years to completion.  Milestones may be revised in the event of exceptional student progress.
    Thesis Milestones
    • Assignment of Thesis Committee (Year 1, Spring): The Thesis Committee will be formed with guidance of the student’s advisor, and will guide the student through the final stages of their research.  The committee must consist of three faculty, with at least two members of CECMEE and optionally one faculty member from outside the area. NTT faculty with a terminal degree in their field will be allowed to serve as Thesis Committee members.
    • Thesis Defense (Year 2, Spring): This examination consists of written and oral portions: The Thesis and Thesis Defense, respectively.  The Thesis captures the summative outcomes of a student’s research and the Thesis Defense allows for a comprehensive oral examination by the Thesis Committee to determine the merits and adequacy of the work.  The outcome of this combined exam may be a Pass or Fail, with 2/3 consent of the Thesis Committee required to achieve a Pass. Students who do not receive a Pass on this exam may retake the exam the following semester.
    Non-Thesis Option
    • Completion of required coursework, including Master’s Project is required for degree.
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also take. For prerequisite information click on the course or see your advisor.

Campus Availability

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