Best Architectural Design Degree Programs of 2022

Learn more about the top Architectural Design programs, what to expect, job prospects, and how to choose the program that’s right for you.

Architectural design is the process of designing buildings and other structures. Architectural designers work with clients to develop plans for new construction, and they also work with existing buildings to renovate or expand them. Architectural design is a creative and technical field, and architectural designers need to have a strong understanding of both the art and science of design.

Architectural design degrees can prepare students for a variety of careers in the field of architecture, including architectural design, interior design, and landscape architecture. Students in architectural design degree programs learn about the history and theory of architecture, and the different styles of architectural design. They also learn about the technical aspects of design, such as construction methods and materials.

How to Choose the Right Architectural Design Program

When it comes to choosing the right architectural design program, there are many factors to consider. The cost of the program, the location of the school, the length of the program, and the curriculum are all important factors to keep in mind.

The cost of the program is an important factor to consider. Some programs may be more expensive than others, and financial aid may be available to help offset the cost of tuition. Location is also an important factor to consider. Some programs may be located in cities where there are more internship and job opportunities. The length of the program is also an important factor to consider. Some programs may be four years, while others may be five or six years. The curriculum is also an important factor to consider. Some programs may be more focused on theory, while others may be more focused on practical applications.

When it comes to choosing the right architectural design program, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. It is important to consider all of the factors mentioned above in order to find the program that is right for you.

Best Bachelor’s in Architectural Design Programs

The best programs for Architectural Design ranking is based on key statistics and student reviews using data from the U.S. Department of Education. Some of the metrics influencing how the rankings are determined include graduation rate, average salary for graduates, accreditation, retention rate, and cost.

Rank 1
Stanford University
Stanford, CA

The Bachelor of Science in Architectural Design from Stanford University is a highly respected program that prepares students for advanced studies in architecture and construction management. The program provides a strong foundation in math and science, which makes graduates well-suited for graduate work in other fields such as civil and environmental engineering, law, and business.

Rank 2
James Madison University
Harrisonburg, VA

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Architectural Design degree from James Madison University is an intensive program focused on rigorous design processes. Architectural design is approached holistically– emphasizing investigations into the nature of materials and objects, interior space, ergonomics, history and theory, programmatic invention, functional poetics, and collaboration across disciplines. The curriculum instills purpose, craft, technological competencies and versatile thinking.

Rank 3
University of Maryland-College Park
College Park, MD

The Bachelor of Science in Architecture from University of Maryland-College Park is an accelerated four-year pre-professional program designed to efficiently dovetail with the Master of Architecture, their NAAB-accredited professional degree. The program blends general education requirements with foundational work in design thinking and making, design media (manual drawing, digital media, and physical model-making), architectural history and theory, building methods and materials, as well as introductory design studio.

Rank 4
University of San Francisco
San Francisco, CA

The Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from University of San Francisco is a pre-professional degree program that prepares students for graduate architecture and urban design programs. The curriculum combines an introduction to architecture, community design, urban design, city planning, and landscape design with a strong emphasis on the social sciences and humanities.

Rank 5
Temple University
Philadelphia, PA

The Bachelor of Science in Architecture degree from Temple University is a 4-year pre-professional program that focuses on architectural design. Students take courses in the architecture foundation program for the first two years of study, then focus on architectural design in the third and fourth year. Sequential studio courses provide the means for integration and synthesis of academic and professional knowledge that is learned in courses in building technology, architectural history and theory, and representation.

Rank 6
The New School
New York, NY

The New School’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Architectural Design program is a pre-professional degree that combines the concepts and creativity of the fine arts with the material and making disciplines of architecture and urban design. In this major, students investigate architecture’s environmental, cultural, and theoretical foundations using methods ranging from full-scale construction to digital animation. Students study form, tectonics, structure, energy, and urban dynamics and create sustainable, socially engaged, globally oriented work. The curriculum includes courses in art and design history and theory, as well as university electives that broaden students’ perspective. The program culminates in a capstone project.

Rank 7
University of Central Florida
Orlando, FL

The Bachelor of Design in Architecture from University of Central Florida is a NAAB accredited program that was created to meet the local need in Central Florida for an architecture program. The Bachelor of Design (B.Des.) degree program is a partnership with Valencia College and the University of Florida, as part of a 2+2+2 program to enable students to complete an architectural program in Central Florida. Admission to the program is based on the completion of an Associate of Arts in Architecture (or similar program) and a competitive review.

Rank 8
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO

The Bachelor of Science in Interior Architecture and Design from Colorado State University is a research-based program that focuses on problem-solving. The curriculum is designed to give students the knowledge and skills they need to start careers in fields such as design, architecture, lighting design, and facility management. The program includes courses in visual communication, interior design technologies, construction management, design thinking, entrepreneurship, and global environmental sustainability. Students are also required to complete an internship in order to graduate. Theprogram is accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation.

Rank 9
Pennsylvania College of Technology
Williamsport, PA

The Bachelor of Science in Architecture & Sustainable Design degree from Pennsylvania College of Technology is a 4-year program that prepares students for careers in architecture and sustainable design. The program focuses on teaching students how to design buildings that are energy efficient and preserve natural resources. Students in the program will take courses in architectural history, computer-aided drafting, building materials, construction, and sustainability. The program also includes a design studio component where students will have the opportunity to put their knowledge into practice.

Rank 10
SUNY College of Technology at Delhi
Delhi, NY

The Bachelor of Technology in Architectural Design and Building from SUNY College of Technology at Delhi is a four-year program that prepares students for a career in the architectural field. The program combines both creative and technical aspects of rendering and designing buildings, as well as preparing construction drawings. Students learn about structural theory, commercial construction, building codes, sustainable building practices, and more. In addition to taking architectural design courses, students also participate in critical reviews and develop their portfolios with design projects. The program culminates with a senior portfolio project that prepares students for presenting their work in a professional setting.

What to Expect From a Bachelor’s in Architectural Design Program

Students in a bachelor’s in architectural design program learn how to turn their creative visions into detailed plans and drawings. The coursework emphasizes both the technical and artistic aspects of architecture, teaching students how to use computer-aided design (CAD) software, as well as more traditional drawing and drafting techniques.

Most programs require between 120 and 130 credits for graduation and take four years to complete. In addition to core coursework, students also take electives in areas such as history, theory, and criticism. Many programs also require an internship, giving students the opportunity to gain real-world experience before graduation.

Prospective students should have strong visualization skills and be able to think abstractly. They should also be comfortable with using computers and various software programs. Although not required, it is helpful if students have some experience with drawing and drafting before starting the program.

Common Architectural Design Courses

The curriculum for an architectural design degree program will typically include a mix of design studio courses, liberal arts courses, and technical courses. The following is a list of five courses that are often found in an architectural design degree program.

Computer Aided Design

This course covers the use of computer software to create and modify architectural drawings and models. Topics include two and three dimensional drawings, isometric and perspective views, walk-throughs, and renderings. Students also learn about file management, plotters, and printers. Upon completion, students should be able to use a variety of software programs to create two and three dimensional drawings, models, and walk-throughs.

Construction Methods and Materials

This course covers the methods and materials used in modern construction, with an emphasis on their application in the architectural design process. Topics include an overview of the construction process, an introduction to various construction systems and materials, and an exploration of the relationship between construction methods and materials and the architectural design of buildings. Upon completion, students should be able to identify and describe the various methods and materials used in modern construction, and explain how they are used in the construction of buildings.

Visual Communications

This course introduces the basic principles and methods of visual communication as applied to architectural design. Emphasis is placed on the use of various drawing techniques and computer applications to develop two- and three-dimensional design communication skills. Upon completion, students should be able to apply the principles of visual communication to the development of architectural drawings.

Human Factors in Architecture

In this course, students learn how to apply the principles of human behavior and physiology to the design of architectural spaces. The course covers topics such as environmental psychology, anthropometrics, lighting, acoustics, thermal comfort, and ergonomics. Students learn how to apply these concepts in the design of both residential and commercial spaces. Upon completion of the course, students should be able to apply the principles of human behavior and physiology to the design of architectural spaces.

Design Theory

This course covers the history, philosophy, and criticism of architecture and design. Emphasis is placed on the study of the writings of major theorists, the analysis of architectural works, and the examination of the impact of social, economic, and technological factors on the development of architectural thought. Upon completion, students should be able to demonstrate an understanding of the major schools of thought in architectural theory and apply them to the analysis of specific architectural works.

Career Options for Architectural Design Graduates

Graduates of architectural design programs work in a variety of industries, including construction, engineering, and architecture. They may also work in fields such as urban planning, landscape architecture, and interior design.

Architectural Designer

Architectural designers are responsible for the design of buildings and other structures. They work with clients to understand their needs and develop designs that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. In addition to coming up with the initial design concept, architectural designers also develop detailed plans and drawings, oversee the construction process, and make sure that the finished product meets the client’s expectations.

Visual Merchandiser

Visual merchandisers are responsible for creating attractive displays in retail stores. This can include setting up window displays, arranging items on shelves, and creating in-store displays. Visual merchandisers often work with store managers and buyers to come up with themes and strategies for displays that will attract customers and boost sales. They also may be responsible for taking down and storing displays, as well as keeping track of inventory.

Urban Planner

Urban planners work with government officials, business leaders, and members of the community to develop long-term plans for the physical development of an urban area. They take into account the needs of the community, the environment, and the economy when they create their plans. Planners also work with architects and engineers to design specific projects, such as parks, schools, and office buildings.

Landscape Architect

Landscape architects design and plan outdoor spaces, such as parks, gardens, residential areas, and commercial developments. Their work can involve everything from site selection and feasibility studies to soil analysis and plant selection, and they often collaborate with architects, engineers, and other professionals on larger projects. Landscape architects typically have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in landscape architecture, and many states require licensure.

Furniture Designer

Furniture designers create functional and attractive pieces of furniture. Their work involves a mix of creativity, technical skill, and business acumen. First, they must come up with original design concepts that meet the needs of their client. Once a design is finalized, they must create detailed drawings and specifications that the manufacturing team can use to create the final product. In some cases, the furniture designer may also be responsible for overseeing the manufacturing process to ensure that the finished product meets their standards.

Insights From an Architectural Design Graduate

Carter Fields is an Architectural Designer at Gensler. He has a bachelor’s degree in architectural design from the University of Southern California. Carter has over 7 years of experience in architectural design and construction.

ClimbtheLadder: How did you make the most of your Architectural Design degree program so that it prepared you for post-graduation jobs?

Carter Fields: I think the most important thing I did was get involved in as many extracurricular design competitions as possible. These competitions really forced me to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions to design problems. They also gave me a chance to work on my presentation skills, which are essential in the architectural profession.

In addition to design competitions, I also made sure to get involved in as many on-campus organizations as possible. These organizations gave me a chance to meet other students with similar interests, and they also helped me develop my leadership skills.

ClimbtheLadder: What type of person is successful and thrives in an Architectural Design career?

Carter Fields: A successful architectural designer is someone who is able to think creatively and critically. They must be able to solve problems and communicate their ideas effectively. They must also be able to work well in a team.

ClimbtheLadder: What was the most challenging course you took? What advice would you give to students who are about to start this course?

Carter Fields: The most challenging course I took was construction methods and materials. It was a very technical course that required a lot of memorization. My advice to students who are about to start this course is to make sure you are organized and have a good study method. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your professor or classmates.


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