Architects design and construct the world we live in. With one of the following 20 Best Bachelor’s Degrees in Architecture, students can help shape the environment of the future. The world of architecture is more than the design, planning, and construction of architecture. While artistic designs and stable structures are vital, architects must also consider the cultural, environmental, and societal impacts and implications of the structures they create. An undergraduate architecture degree can help architects not only create dynamic structures but also understand how these structures affect the landscape of the world.
The following 20 Best Bachelor’s Degrees in Architecture includes Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Architecture degrees. BA and BS degrees lay the foundations of pre-professional study, while B.Arch. Degrees are professional degrees built largely around hands-on studies and projects. Many of the following programs deliver studio-based architectural education, with students “learning by doing” in the design studio and lab settings. Many of the programs listed also offer students opportunities to study abroad and get inspired by new surroundings.
As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Architects spend much of their time developing plans; meeting with clients, engineers, and fellow architects; and visiting construction sites. In addition to designing buildings from houses to factories to skyscrapers, architects may play roles in the design of fashions, furniture, and other structural projects.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, architects earned a 2018 median pay of $79,380 annually or $38.16 hourly. The demand for architects is growing at a projected rate of four percent, which is slower than average. This is mainly due to a high number of students graduating with architecture degrees. Students entering the field can expect strong competition for internships and job positions – through a passionate few may succeed and excel.
Best Value Schools publishes college degree rankings with the belief of how one’s higher education should be, both, affordable and an investment of continued value for the students who pursue them. The staff of BVS collects data from reputable sources in order to calculate Net Price and the short and long-term value of every ranked degree. Collected data is simplified into weighted categories before scoring and then scaled through a BVS Score up to 100. The weighted categories are:
Degree Investment Return (25%)
Student & Alumni Evaluation (25%)
Cost Value (25%)
Academic Success (15%)
No matter what degree you decide on, we hope our research and support has made the selection process easier. There are numerous resources BVS utilizes to collect information on degrees, and we encourage you to check them out for yourself!
Here are the 20 Best Bachelor’s Degrees in Architecture!
The University of Texas at Austin offers Best Value Schools' top-ranked Bachelor's Degree in Architecture for the 2019-'20 school year. The university's Bachelor of Architecture is a professional degree program with a rigorous, design-focused curriculum. The degree requires 161 hours of coursework in the history, technology, and theory of architecture. Course offerings include Architecture and Society, Principles of Physical Planning, and Technical Communication. The curriculum also features several studio-based design and construction courses. The degree program is designed to be completed in five years.
Founded in 1883, UT Austin is the flagship institution of the University of Texas System. The public research university is a space-grant institution and a member of the Association of American Universities. The university has the nation's eighth-largest student enrollment on a single campus. Located in Austin, the campus' most striking feature is the Beaux-Arts Main Building, a tower in the middle of campus often illuminated in white or orange lights. The university is counted among the nation's "Public Ivies." U.S. News & World Report ranks UT Austin at No. 49 in National Universities, No. 16 in Most Innovative Schools, and No. 15 in Top Public Schools.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University offer a Bachelor of Architecture. The professional degree program is offered through the university's School of Architecture and Design. All students in the school begin with the same foundational curriculum before advancing to a major. Students start the program with a summer qualifying design laboratory, which builds an understanding of fundamental design thinking. In the fourth year, students have the option to participate in offsite internships, studios, and various study abroad programs. The degree program is designed to be completed in five years of study.
Established in 1872, Virginia Tech is a public research university and one of six designated senior military colleges in the United States. Located in Blacksburg, Virginia, it is the second-largest public university in the state by student enrollment. The main campus is characterized by its extensive use of Hokie Stone limestone in its buildings. The university also operates statewide learning facilities and a study-abroad site in Switzerland. It is a land-, sea-, and space-grant institution. U.S. News & World Report ranks Virginia Tech at No. 76 in National Universities and No. 30 in Top Public Schools.
California Polytechnic State University offers a Bachelor of Architecture through its College of Architecture and Environmental Design. The degree program includes major courses such as Architectural Technology Fundamentals, HIstory of World Architecture, and Issues in Contemporary Professional Practice. The curriculum culminates in a senior architectural design project and research thesis. Established in 1901, Cal Poly is a public space-grant research university. It is one of two polytechnic schools in the California State University system. It is located in San Luis Obispo, which is often considered one of the happiest cities in the United States. The main campus is one of the largest in the nation. U.S. News & World Report ranks Cal Poly at No. 12 in Regional Universities West, No. 8 in Best Undergraduate Teaching, and first in both Most Innovative Schools and Top Public Schools.
The University of California, Berkeley offers a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture. The degree program is rooted in courses in architectural and environmental design, with opportunities for specialized and individualized study. Course offerings include Historical Survey of Architecture and Urbanism, People and Environmental Design, and Social and Cultural Basis of Design. Toward the end of the program, students can choose a Design Research track, which involves an annual research theme and design project. Alternatively, they can opt for a Studio track, which is studio-intensive and includes course options in structures, construction, and energy and environment.
Founded in 1868, UC Berkeley is the flagship institution of the University of California system. Located in Berkeley, the main campus includes historical Beaux-Arts Classical architecture. It also features Sather Tower, the tallest university clock tower in the nation. Additional buildings are in the Collegiate Gothic and Victorian Second-Empire style. The public research university is one of the founding members of the Association of American Universities. U.S. News & World Report ranks Berkeley at No. 24 in Most Innovative Schools, No. 22 in National Universities, and No. 2 in Top Public Schools.
The University of Virginia offers a Bachelor of Science in Architecture through its School of Architecture. The degree program is rooted in innovation and critical inquiry in architecture. The 124-credit curriculum looks at the architecture not only of buildings, but also of cities, installations, furniture, clothing, and more. Courses include 3D Geometric Modeling and Visualization, 20th Century History of Ideas, and World Contemporary Architecture. The degree program is designed to be completed in four years.
UVA was founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson. Located in Charlottesville, it is the flagship university of Virginia. The main campus was also designed by Thomas Jefferson, in the Jeffersonian architectural style. The public research university is noted for its history, secret societies, and student-run honor code. It is a member of the Association of American Universities. U.S. News & World Report ranks UVA at No. 28 in Best Value Schools, No. 25 in National Universities, No. 24 in Best Undergraduate Teaching, and No. 3 in Top Public Schools.
Cornell University offers a Bachelor of Architecture through its College of Architecture, Art, and Planning. The progressional degree program features an intensive curriculum that emphasizes design, history, representation, structures, technology, and theory. Students can choose a concentration in Architectural Analysis; Architecture, Culture, and Society; Architectural Science and Technology; History of Architecture; and Visual Representation in Architecture. Students spend one semester in Rome and have the opportunity to study in New York City. The degree program is designed to be completed in five years.
Cornell was established in 1865 as the land-grant institution of New York. Today, it is a private Ivy League research university. The main campus is located in Ithaca, New York. It features a haphazard layout and an unusual mix of architectural styles, including Collegiate Gothic, international, modernist, Neoclassical, and Victorian. The university also operates locations in New York City, Roosevelt Island, and Qatar. U.S. News & World Report ranks Cornell at No. 21 in both Best Value Schools and Most Innovative Schools and No. 16 in National Universities.
The Georgia Institute of Technology offers a Bachelor of Science in Architecture. The rigorous degree program delivers architectural education centered around technology. The 131-credit curriculum includes major course requirements such as Architecture Modeling & Media, Construction Technologies, Environmental Systems, and History of Architecture. Students can also engage in design studio courses and idea incubator workshops.
Georgia Tech was established in 1885 to train students to build a post-Civil War industrial economy. Today, the public research university is a member of the University System of Georgia. The main campus is located in Atlanta and features a historic district as well as modern buildings. The university also operates a campus in Savannah and international campuses in China, France, Ireland, and Singapore. U.S. News & World Report ranks Georgia Tech at No. 35 in National Universities, No. 8 in Top Public Schools, and No. 4 in Most Innovative Schools.
The University of Washington offers a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture. The degree program has a liberal arts foundation and a non-studio based delivery. Students can choose a focus area in History and Theory, Materials and Making, or Sustainable Technologies. The curriculum covers aesthetics, building technologies, construction, ecology, landscape, political and economic structures, socio-cultural influences, spatial reasoning, and urbanism. The degree program is designed to be completed in four years.
UW was founded in 1861 in downtown Seattle, Washington. Today, the public research university is located in Seattle's University District. The main campus features historical, sustainable, and modernist architecture. The university also operates campuses in the Washington towns of Tacoma and Bothell. A sea- and space-grant institution, it is a member of the Association of American Universities. U.S. News & World Report ranks UW at No. 59 in National Universities, No. 37 in Most Innovative Schools, and No. 20 in Top Public Schools.
University of California, Los Angeles offers a Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Studies. The degree program delivers architectural education through intimate studio and seminar settings. The curriculum features coursework in the areas of Critical Studies, Design, and Technology. Course offerings include History of Architecture and Urban Design: Prehistory to Mannerism and a series of Fiat Lux Freshman Seminars. The curriculum also includes opportunities for independent student research. The degree program begins in students' junior year of college and takes two years to complete.
Founded in 1919, UCLA is the second-oldest campus of the University of California system. The public research university is a member of the Association of American Universities and is counted among the "Public Ivies." Located in Los Angeles, the campus features Romanesque Revival architecture and is under continuous construction, which has earned UCLA the nickname "Under Construction Like Always." U.S. News & World Report ranks UCLA at No. 23 in Most Innovative Schools, No. 19 for National Universities, and No. 1 for Top Public Schools.
The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities offers a Bachelor of Science in Architecture through its College of Design. The pre-professional degree program involves studio-based learning and rigorous courses in history, theory, and building technology. The curriculum is built around design studios in advanced design, material assemblies, urban design, program and typology, and site and context. Students have opportunities to engage in faculty research, community engagement with student organizations, and design-build activities. Students can also choose to study abroad in countries such as China, Italy, Japan, and Spain.
Established in 1851, UMN is the flagship institution of the University of Minnesota system. The university's main campus is situated in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota. It includes Beaux-Arts, Greek Revival, modernist, and Richardson Romanesque architecture, as well as a Norman castle called The Armory. U.S. News & World Report ranks this top-ranking school at No. 76 for National Universities and No. 30 for Top Public Schools.
The University of Southern California offers a Bachelor of Architecture through its School of Architecture. The degree program takes a global, culturally sensitive approach to architecture and its role in society and the environment. It is a STEM-designated program. The curriculum begins with foundational architecture courses, followed by courses in areas of individual interest. Courses include Architecture: Culture and Community, Building Structures and Seismic Design, and World History of Architecture. Students must complete a comprehensive design studio project as well as a culminating building project, professional practice, and a specialized research design studio course. The program is designed to be completed in five years.
Founded in 1880, USC is the oldest private research university in the state of California. It is also the largest private employer in the city of Los Angeles. The campus is primarily built in red-brick Romanesque Revival style, supplemented by Modernist and Brutalist structures. A sea- and space-grant institution, USC and its research has led to innovations such as antivirus software, DNA computing, and the Domain Name System. U.S. News & World Report ranks USC at No. 37 in Best Value Schools, No. 28 in Most Innovative Schools, and No. 22 in National Universities.
The University of Michigan offers a Bachelor of Science in Architecture through its Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. The pre-professional degree program includes 125 credit hours of architectural and liberal arts education. This education is delivered through interactive studios, lectures, and seminars. Course offerings include Architecture in Film, Architecture and Psychology, Design Activism and Social Justice, and Suburbia. Students have access to a state-of-the-art digital fabrication laboratory and a vast design studio. Students are also offered several opportunities to travel abroad.
Founded in 1817 in Detroit, U of M is the oldest university in Michigan and the state's flagship institution. It is now a public research university in Ann Arbor, Michigan. A sea- and space-grant institution, U of M is a founding member of the Association of American Universities. The university's campus is divided into four areas. Its North Campus has more modern architecture, while Central Campus features classical and gothic structures. U.S. News & World Report ranks U of M at No. 27 in National Universities, No. 12 in Most Innovative Schools, and No. 4 in Top Public Schools.
Syracuse University offers a Bachelor of Architecture through its School of Architecture. The professional degree program includes courses in architectural design, history, technology, theory, and professional practice. The 162-credit curriculum includes elective offerings such as Dwelling and the Modern Home; Sixteenth Century Italian Architecture; and Utopia: Design and Cultural Imagination. Students must also complete an architectural design thesis and professional practice. Students are also eligible to study in studio-based programs in New York City, Florence, and London. The degree program is designed to be completed in five years. Graduates of the program are prepared to participate in the Intern Development Program required for architect licensure.
Syracuse began as the Genesee Wesleyan Seminary, which was founded in 1831 by the Methodist Episcopal Church. The university was officially established in 1870. Though it maintains its relationship with the United Methodist Church, Syracuse is now nonsectarian. Today, it is a private research university. The campus is located in the University Hill neighborhood of Syracuse, New York, and features diverse architectural styles including contemporary and Romanesque Revival structures. U.S. News & World Report ranks Syracuse at No. 53 in National Universities and No. 51 in Best Value Schools.
Carnegie Mellon University offers a Bachelor of Architecture through its School of Architecture. The professional degree program prioritizes excellence in practice as well as specific study options. All students begin with three years of foundational courses and studios. Course offerings include Architecture & the Arts, Case Studies in Architecture & Cities, Generative Modeling, and Modern Architecture. Students then move on to individual paths in alignment with their interests and goals, which involve elective courses an Advanced Synthesis Option Studios. The program is designed to be completed in five years.
Carnegie Mellon was founded in 1990 by Scottish-American industrialist Andrew Carnegie. Formerly a technical school, it is now a private research university. Its main campus is located three miles from Downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The main campus was built in the Beaux-Arts architectural style of Henry Hornbostel, who won a 1904 design competition and later founded the university's School of Architecture. An international university, CMU operates several international degree-granting locations, including additional campuses in Qatar and Silicon Valley. U.S. News & World Report ranks CMU at No. 34 in Best Value Schools, No. 25 in National Universities, No. 15 in Best Undergraduate Teaching, and No. 7 in Most Innovative Schools.
Illinois Institute of Technology offers an undergraduate program leading to a Bachelor of Architecture. The degree program features a studio-based curriculum that emphasizes detail, the craft of building models, and the connection between the art of building and the art of construction. Students can choose between five concentrations: Architectural History/Theory, Design/Build, Digital Design, Landscape Architecture, and Planning. Students typically choose a minor in Business, Engineering, Entrepreneurship or Urban Affairs. Students also have the option to pursue a dual degree program leading to an additional Master of Business Administration or Master of Civil Engineering degree.
IIT was established in 1890 with the purpose of helping students "learn by doing." Five local institutions merged into the school to make it what it is today: a private research university in Chicago, Illinois. In the mid-20th century, the school's architecture program was directed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who became known as the father of modern architecture. The campus was designed by van der Rohe in the modernist style. U.S. News & World Report ranks IIT at No. 96 in National Universities and No. 30 in Best Value Schools.
Northeastern University offers a Bachelor of Science in Architecture through its College of Arts, Media, and Design. The degree program combines liberal arts studies with professional training and creative problem-solving skills. The curriculum includes studio courses and courses in history and technology in the field of architecture. Courses include Architecture, Modernity, and the City; Design Tactics and Operations; and Structural Systems. It also includes six-month co-ops, which allow students to gain real-world architecture experience. Students also spend a semester studying abroad in Segovia, Spain. Graduates of the program may choose to pursue an accelerated Master of Architecture degree, which can be earned in one year.
Northeastern began in 1898 as the Evening Institute for Younger Men in Boston's Huntington Avenue YMCA. Today, it is a private research university with a main campus that spreads through several neighborhoods in Boston, Massachusetts. The main campus features extensive green space and is considered a model for urban campus design. The university also operates satellite campuses in Charlotte, North Carolina; San Jose, California; Seattle, Washington; and Toronto, Canada. It is a Carnegie-classified top-tier research institution. The university is noted for its cooperative education program, which combines classroom study and practical professional experience. U.S. News & World Report ranks NEU at No. 72 in Best Value Schools, No. 44 in National Universities, and No. 8 in Most Innovative Schools.
Rice University offers an undergraduate program leading to a Bachelor of Architecture degree. The major curriculum consists of 62 credit hours, including courses in Architectural Problems; Professionalism and Management in Architectural Practices; a design studio course, and two semesters of preceptorship. The preceptorship program is a full-time, supervised internship spanning nine to twelve months. Preceptorship opportunities are available in cities such as London, New York, and San Francisco. Students in the fifth year of the program may apply to complete one semester of study in Paris.
Rice University was established in 1912 and funded by the estate of businessman William Marsh Rice. It is now a private research university with a focus on undergraduate studies. It has small class sizes and a very high level of research activity. The university has been noted for its applied science and materials science programs. It is a member of the Association of American Universities. The campus is located near the Houston Museum District in Houston, Texas. It is built almost entirely in a uniform Byzantine architectural style and features archways, columns, and pink and sand-colored bricks throughout. U.S. News & World Report ranks Rice at No. 16 in National Universities, No. 14 in Best Value Schools, and No. 8 in Best Undergraduate Teaching.
Tulane University offers a Bachelor of Architecture through its School of Architecture. The degree program combines advanced study in architecture with liberal arts and professional studies. It follows a design studio-based model for architectural education. Courses include Building, Climate and Comfort; Materials and Methods; Physics for Architects; and Structural Systems. The program is designed to be completed in five years.
Tulane was founded as a public medical college in 1847. Today, it is a private research university. Its law and medical schools are counted among the oldest in the United States. The university is also among the oldest member institutions of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The university's main campus is located in New Orleans, Louisiana. It features large oak trees, limestone and brick, and historic and eclectic architecture. U.S. News & World Report ranks Tulane at No. 63 in Best Value Schools and No. 44 in National Universities.
The Rhode Island School of Design offers a Bachelor of Architecture. The professional degree program highlights the architecture process as well as the complexities and responsibilities of architecture practice. The curriculum includes courses in Drawing, Structural Analysis, and Urban Ecologies. It also includes courses in Concrete Structures, Steel Structures, and Wood Structures. The plan of study culminates in a thesis seminar, research, and project. The degree program is designed to be completed in five years.
RISD was founded in 1877 by a group of pioneering women who highlighted creative achievement and women's right to economic self-sufficiency. It is a private college with immersive, studio-based education in liberal arts, visual art, and design. The campus is located near Brown University on College Hill in Providence, Rhode Island. The campus also includes the RISD Museum, which showcases works from various time periods, cultures, and regions across the globe.
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers a Bachelor of Architecture. The degree program is rooted in the liberal arts as they relate to design and the environment. It integrates cultural, environmental, and ethical perspectives in its study of architecture. Courses include Architectonics, Construction Management, History of Architecture, and The Making of Modern Society. The program consists of 160 credits and is designed to be completed in five years.
The Cooper Union was founded in 1859 by prolific industrialist and inventor Peter Cooper. Originally a school of technology, it is now a private college with schools of art, architecture, and engineering. Located in the East Village of Manhattan, New York City, it has historically been considered as one of the most selective colleges in the nation. Its Italianate brownstone Foundation Building was designed by Fred Petersen, a founder of the American Institute of Architects. U.S. News & World Report places Cooper Union first in Regional Colleges North, Best Value Schools, and Most Innovative Schools.
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