Education

Best Architecture Degree Programs of 2022

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

Architecture is the process of designing and constructing buildings and other structures. Architects work with clients to design buildings that meet their needs and budget. Architects also work with engineers and other professionals to ensure that the buildings are safe and meet all building codes.

Architecture degrees can prepare students for a variety of careers in architecture, including architectural design, construction management, and urban planning. Students in architecture degree programs learn about the history and theory of architecture, and the different styles of architecture. They also learn about the technical aspects of designing and constructing buildings, and the legal and regulatory environment in which architects operate.

How to Choose the Right Architecture Program

When it comes to choosing the right architecture degree program, there are a few key factors that prospective students need to keep in mind. The first is accreditation. Any reputable program will be accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). Students should also consider the cost of the program, as well as the length of time it will take to complete the degree. Location is another important factor, as many architecture programs require students to complete internships and/or clinical experiences. Finally, students should research the curriculum of each program to make sure it aligns with their interests and career goals.

Best Bachelor’s in Architecture Programs

The best programs for Architecture 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
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA

The University of Virginia offers a Bachelor of Science in Architecture that is designed to give students the skills and knowledge necessary to pursue a career in the field of architecture. The curriculum is focused on design, allowing students to explore different ways of shaping and transforming the built environment. The first year of study is a shared Common First Year curriculum, wherein students take courses in three School of Architecture departments: Architecture, Urban + Environmental Planning, and Architectural History.

Rank 2
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA

The Bachelor of Architecture degree from University of Southern California is a five-year program that provides students with a foundation in architectural principles and design. The first two years of the program focus on introductory coursework, while the second cycle of four semesters allows students to explore various aspects of architecture and develop their individual strengths and interests. The program culminates in the fifth year with a comprehensive design studio project and a research design studio.

Rank 3
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL

The Bachelor of Design in Architecture from University of Florida is a four-year preprofessional degree. The program is studio-based and students have the opportunity to study abroad and take part in off-site learning opportunities. The studio sequence progressively and thoroughly explores various formal, conceptual and technical considerations and how they interrelate in the creation of space. The ideas and experience that students gain in design studio are reinforced and amplified by support courses in history, theory, structural tectonics, building technology and construction materials and methods.

Rank 4
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Troy, NY

The Bachelor of Architecture from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is a five-year professional degree that is accredited by the National Architectural Accreditation Board. The program is designed for students who are interested in the creative and scientific aspects of buildings and the importance of ecological design. The curriculum includes architectural design, history/theory, and technology courses. The program also offers an opportunity to study abroad for one semester in Italy, India, China or Latin America.

Rank 5
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 6
Syracuse University
Syracuse, NY

The Syracuse University School of Architecture’s undergraduate program offers a professional curriculum that stresses creativity, research and problem solving. The five-year program leads to a Bachelor of Architecture degree. The core of the program is the studio experience: an intense exploration of the creative process. Students will have a dedicated workspace and receive intensive feedback as they develop their work.

The program also offers a number of opportunities for hands-on experience, including field trips to major cities, studios offered by prominent architects serving as visiting critics, and short programs led by faculty in locations around the world.

Rank 7
New York Institute of Technology
Old Westbury, NY

The Bachelor of Architecture degree from New York Institute of Technology is a five-year professional program that is studio-based and experiential. The program is designed to prepare students for a career in architecture through coursework, design-build projects, and research. The program emphasizes learning-by-doing and offers students the opportunity to work side-by-side with faculty on real-world projects. Upon completion of the degree, students will be prepared for New York State licensure and reciprocal licensure in other jurisdictions.

Rank 8
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Worcester, MA

The Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute is a four-year ABET-accredited program that includes a capstone design project in the fourth year. The program provides students with a broad foundation in engineering sciences related to the build environment.

As part of the program, students focus on developing technical skills in four core areas: structural systems, mechanical systems, electrical systems, and construction/construction management. In addition to general courses for architectural engineering, students may focus their design proficiency in either the structural or mechanical area with electives like Design of Steel Structures, Pre-stressed Concrete Design, and Building Energy Simulation.

Rank 9
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Blacksburg, VA

The Bachelor of Architecture degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University is a five-year program that is fully accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). The program is designed to prepare students for a career in architecture, with a focus on building design, aesthetic concerns, response to architectural precedents, and material and spatial expression. In addition, the program offers the opportunity to study abroad in Europe or participate in an internship program, which allows students to gain real-world experience in the field.

Rank 10
Clemson University
Clemson, SC

The Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from Clemson University is a four-year program that prepares students for a career in architecture or another design field. The first five semesters of the program focus on teaching foundational skills, with courses in design, drawing, and computer applications, as well as required courses in science, math, social sciences, and the humanities. Computer integration in the design studios is emphasized in the second year. First and second-year students also study public speaking, preparing them to speak professionally about their work. In the third and fourth years, students have the opportunity to study abroad.

Rank 11
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 12
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 13
University of Illinois Chicago
Chicago, IL

The Bachelor of Science in Architecture degree from University of Illinois Chicago is a 122-hour program that provides students with a foundation in the principles of architecture. The core curriculum includes courses in architectural studio, technology, history, and theory, as well as math and the natural sciences. Students also complete distribution requirements in the humanities, social sciences, and arts, and have the option to pursue a minor. The program culminates in a capstone studio course, in which students apply their knowledge to a real-world project.

Rank 14
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 15
Ohio University
Lancaster, OH

Ohio University’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Architecture provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary to pursue a career in interior design. The curriculum is technology-based and provides students with the opportunity to learn how to combine various elements to create distinct and responsive environments that meet the needs of people in a variety of settings. The online degree option allows students to complete the program at their own pace.

What to Expect From a Bachelor’s in Architecture Program

Students in a bachelor’s in architecture program can expect to take classes in design, history, theory, and technology. The degree typically takes four years to complete and culminates in a capstone project.

Most bachelor’s in architecture programs are accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). To be eligible for licensure, students must graduate from an accredited program.

The core curriculum for a bachelor’s in architecture typically includes classes in design studio, visual communication, building technology, and structures. Students also usually take liberal arts courses to round out their education.

Some programs offer specializations, such as landscape architecture, urban design, or historic preservation. Students might also be able to pursue a dual degree, such as a bachelor’s in architecture and a master’s in business administration.

Prospective students should have strong drawing skills and be proficient in computer-aided design (CAD) software. They should also be able to think creatively, work independently, and communicate effectively.

Common Architecture Courses

The core curriculum for an accredited architecture program will typically include classes in the following areas.

Architectural History

This course covers the history of architecture from prehistoric times to the present day, with an emphasis on Western architecture. The course will trace the development of architectural styles and examine the work of key architects and their influence on the evolution of architecture. In addition, the course will explore the relationship between architecture and other disciplines such as art, engineering, and urban planning. Upon completion, students should be able to analyze the form, function, and meaning of architectural works from a variety of cultures and periods and to discuss the ways in which architecture reflects and shapes the societies in which it is produced.

Computer-Aided Design

This course covers the use of computer-aided design (CAD) in the architectural profession. Topics include an introduction to CAD, 2D drawing, 3D modeling, rendering, and animation. Emphasis is placed on the use of CAD software to create architectural drawings and models. Upon completion, students should be able to use CAD software to create 2D and 3D drawings and models of architectural designs.

Structural Analysis

This course covers the basic principles of statics and mechanics of materials, and their application to the analysis and design of trusses, beams, columns, and cables. Emphasis is placed on the use of the force method, the displacement method, and energy methods. Upon completion, students should be able to analyze and design various structural elements.

Building Materials

This course covers the properties, manufacture, and use of materials employed in the construction of buildings. Topics include wood, masonry, concrete, metals, glass, and plastics. Upon completion, students should be able to identify, select, and properly use various building materials based on their physical and mechanical properties.

Thermal and Lighting Design

This course covers the principles of thermal and lighting design as they apply to the built environment. Topics include solar geometry, daylighting, electric lighting, and thermal comfort. Emphasis is placed on the interaction of these systems and their impact on energy use, human comfort, and the environment. Upon completion, students should be able to apply the principles of thermal and lighting design to the built environment.

Career Options for Architecture Graduates

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

Architect

Architects design and oversee the construction of buildings, homes, and other structures used by people. Architects typically have a four-year degree in architecture and must complete an internship before they can take the licensing exam to become registered architects. To practice architecture, architects must have both a license and a professional degree from an accredited school of architecture.

Urban Planner

Urban planners develop long- and short-term plans for the physical development of urban areas, with the goal of making them more livable, sustainable, and economically viable. Planners typically work for local or regional governments, but they can also work for private developers, nonprofits, or consulting firms. The work can involve anything from developing new transportation systems to revitalizing old neighborhoods. Planners typically have a deep knowledge of their city or region and are familiar with its history, demographics, and culture.

Civil Engineer

Civil engineers design, plan, and oversee construction projects for the public and private sector, including roads, bridges, tunnels, dams, airports, and sewage and water systems. They are responsible for making sure that these projects are completed on time, within budget, and according to specifications. Civil engineers typically have a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, and many also have a master’s degree or doctorate.

Interior Designer

Interior designers are responsible for the look and feel of the interiors of homes, offices, stores, and other spaces. They work with clients to determine their needs and preferences, and then they come up with a design that meets those needs and reflects the client’s taste. Interior designers often have a team of assistants who help with the technical aspects of the job, such as measuring spaces and ordering furniture and materials. In some cases, designers also work with architects and contractors to ensure that the design is executed properly.

Construction Manager

Construction managers are responsible for the day-to-day operations of a construction site. They oversee the workers and make sure the project stays on schedule and within budget. Construction managers also work with architects, engineers, and other professionals to make sure the project is safe and meets all the necessary requirements. Construction managers typically have a background in construction, engineering, or architecture.

Insights From an Architecture Graduate

Amy Stanley is an architect at Stanley Architecture. She has a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Texas at Austin. Amy has over 10 years of experience in architecture and design.

ClimbtheLadder: What would you recommend that students do in addition to their degree program, in order to stand out to employers?

Amy Stanley: I would recommend that students get involved in as many extracurricular activities as possible. This could include anything from joining a professional organization to participating in a design competition.

In addition, I would recommend that students take on internships and/or co-ops during their time in school. This will not only give them the opportunity to gain experience in the field, but it will also allow them to network with professionals.

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

Amy Stanley: A successful architect is someone who is creative, has strong problem-solving skills, and is able to think outside the box. They must also be able to work well under pressure and meet deadlines.

ClimbtheLadder: Was there anything about your Architecture program that you didn’t expect or anticipate?

Amy Stanley: I didn’t expect the program to be as creative as it was. I thought it would be more technical. I was surprised at how much creativity was involved in the program.

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