best schools for architecture

Best Schools for Architecture: An Introduction

You love art, mathematics, and science: you’re a critical thinker with a creative side. You aren’t afraid of a demanding profession with long hours. It’s no wonder you’d be interested in architecture as your major in college. Now, it’s time to start creating a college list of the best schools for architecture. 

There are many options open to you when looking at the best schools for architecture as a potential architecture major in college. If you’re wondering what are the best schools for architecture, then you’re in the right place. 

There are many “best colleges for architecture” lists. However, the very best colleges for architecture vary, which makes deciphering the top architecture schools more challenging. Finding the best schools for architecture for you can be challenging, but choosing architecture as a major in college is an exciting decision!

In this guide, we’ll break down some of the follow topics related the best schools for architecture:

  • What to look for in the best colleges for architecture?
  • How to tell which of the best schools for architecture might be the right fit for you.
  • What it means to be an architecture major in college?
  • List of best architecture schools in California
  • Info about top New York architecture schools
  • Best architecture schools in Texas
  • Lists of best architecture schools in the world, and here in the US.

Whether you’re deciding between Boston Architectural College or UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, we’re here to help you find the best colleges for architecture, wherever that may be! 

What is an architecture program?

You have a few college majors that have caught your attention, but you’re especially drawn to architecture as a major in college. But you may be wondering, “What do college majors of architecture study?” Before you skip ahead to googling the best schools for architecture, best colleges for architecture, and top architecture schools, it’s a good idea to understand what architecture as your major in college will look like. 

What does it actually mean to become an architecture major? The best colleges for architecture will teach their college majors of architecture the history and theory of architecture and give them studio experience. Architecture college majors will take classes in math, science, design, and theory. They’ll also learn about building materials and structures. 

As an architecture major in college, students choose from a four- or five-year Bachelor’s program. In the five-year program, students will graduate licensed and ready to work in the field. After the four-year program, students then complete a Master’s program in architecture to get licensed and start working. 

Architecture program can vary widely

Keep in mind, programs vary. What you study in the program at Boston Architectural College will be different from that of UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture. Check out this article to learn more about the different types of architecture programs in order to find your top architecture schools.

Is architecture for you? Most successful architecture students are creative artists with a keen eye for detail. They also won’t shy away from math and science. Architecture students should also enjoy working with people since architects collaborate constantly with clients, engineers, and other architects. 

Later in this article, we’ll check out top architecture schools, the best colleges for architecture, and the best schools for architecture that will meet your needs. So, keep reading to get all of your questions about architecture schools answered!

best schools for architecture- fed square

How does architecture differ from other college majors?

You may notice that an architecture major is slightly unique compared to other college majors. You now know that students need to either get licensed in a five-year Bachelor’s program or head to a Master’s program after completing their four-year program. But what are the other differences between architecture majors and other college majors? And how can that help you decide the best colleges for architecture for you?

Acceptance to the top architecture schools is competitive. So, gaining admissions to the best colleges for architecture or the top architecture schools will call for some careful planning. While you don’t need to go into college as an architecture major, early planning will help. Preparing an application for an architecture program is very similar to creating a competitive application for other college majors. 

Check out these application tips to have the best chances of getting into the best schools for architecture. If you’re still not sure that architecture is for you, here are more specifics on what it takes to study architecture. Or, read more about it from someone who’s been through the process. 

Top Architecture Schools: What schools have architecture programs?

We’ve defined what an architecture program is, but now you’re wondering: where can I find one? Architecture programs are all over the country, but the best schools for architecture for one student may be vastly different from the best schools for architecture for another. Below, we’ll explore some of the top architecture programs across the country to help you consider all the best options. 

The best schools for architecture are all over the country, so explore them all! Below, we’ll touch on many of these schools, including the best architecture schools in the US and also the best architecture schools in the world. Later in this article, we’ll discuss 10 of the top architecture schools in the US. Finally, we’ll get into specifics about the best architecture schools in California, the best architecture schools in Texas, and the top New York architecture schools. 

Here are some of the best schools for architecture that we’ll look at in greater depth: 

  • USC School of Architecture
  • Boston Architectural College
  • UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture
  • Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning
  • Rice University Architecture
  • And some of the best architecture schools in the world, for students interested in international universities!

Like many other college majors, students do not need to apply to specific architecture programs when completing their college applications. If you are interested in architecture, but not totally sure, just make sure to apply to colleges that offer architecture as one of their college majors. You don’t have to attend one of the top architecture schools; many quality universities across the nation will offer it as a major in college. 

What can you do with an architecture degree?

So, you’re intrigued by architecture as your major in college. But, what exactly can you do postgrad as an architecture major from one of the top architecture schools?

best schools for architecture

Once you become licensed, you are able to enter the workforce as an architect. There are many career options. For example, some students choose to start their own business, others opt to work for an architecture firm, construction company, or the government. Conversely, some students lean towards academia, choosing to educate future architects. 

The best schools for architecture will equip their graduates with the skills they need to go on to excel in the workforce. Therefore, the route you choose after getting your degree from one of your top architecture schools is completely up to you. 

What is the best college for architecture?

So, what are the best colleges for architecture? There are many “best schools for architecture” lists, however, the best schools for architecture for you could be completely different from another student interested in the field. Deciding the best colleges for architecture is a personal choice that can depend on varying factors. For example, the list of best architecture schools in U.S. News may be completely different than your personal best colleges for architecture list. 

What to keep in mind when searching for the best schools for architecture: 

1. Campus size

Knowing if you want to attend a large or small school is important when considering the best colleges for architecture. So, think about the size of the university you’d like to attend and narrow down your programs from there. 

2. Presence of graduate students

Are you interested in the best colleges for architecture or universities? The best colleges for architecture will not include graduate programs. Universities with architecture programs will most likely have a Master’s of Architecture program available. 

3. Student-to-faculty ratio

Are students able to form close relationships with faculty that could lead to further professional or internship opportunities? Smaller student-to-faculty ratios usually mean that students will receive more personalized attention. 

4. Class size

Are you drawn to a big university where you attend lectures of hundreds of students? Or do you see yourself in a smaller class environment that leads to more discussion? The average class size is important to know when deciding your best schools for architecture. 

5. Campus feel and culture

Like with other college majors, the best way to get a feel for the campus is to visit. You’ll usually know which of the best colleges for architecture are for you after being on campus. 

6. Program-specific opportunities

Different types of programs and specifics will be offered at the best colleges for architecture. Learn more about each program. Do they specialize in sustainability? Do they have unique internship opportunities for their students? 

When you start looking at the best colleges for architecture, you may notice that the top ten lists can vary. The best architecture schools in U.S. News may different from the best colleges for architecture listed by Niche. There are many options when looking for top architecture schools. Just a few of the best architecture schools in the US are USC School of Architecture, Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning, Boston Architectural College, and Rice University Architecture.

U.S. News Best Architecture Schools

Check out the best architecture schools in U.S. News here. Read more about one of the best colleges for architecture according to the best architecture schools in U.S. News. You can also find some of the best architecture schools in the US here

Your dream school may not make the best colleges for architecture lists. Top schools like the Boston Architectural College haven’t made the cut for the “best architecture schools in U.S. News.” That doesn’t mean they aren’t good programs and can’t make your “best colleges for architecture” list. 

What are the top 10 schools for architecture?

We’ve mentioned a couple of the top architecture schools, but now let’s check a top ten list of the best schools for architecture. What are the best colleges for architecture?

1. Rice University

best schools for architecture

Although located in the large city of Houston, Texas, the Rice University architecture program is the smallest in the country. If you’re looking for the best schools for architecture for personalized attention, this could be a great match. The Rice University architecture program offers its students a “preceptorship.” This means between their fourth and fifth year, students will complete a paid practicum with a top architecture firm in the US or abroad. 

2. Cornell University

best schools for architecture- cornell university

The Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning is about to celebrate its 150th anniversary, making it one of the longest-running art programs in the nation. Consistently ranking as a top program, there are about 550 undergraduate and 390 graduate students in the program

3. Washington University in St. Louis

top architecture schools

Students of architecture at Washington University in St. Louis attend the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts. Their programs are centered on design practice, technology, social engagement, and resilient cities. If you’re interested in designing with a social, cultural, and environmental conscience, then this could be the program for you. 

4. University of Southern California

usc school of archicture

The USC School of Architecture was ranked second in schools most hired by architecture firms in 2018. Students in the USC School of Architecture have the benefit of studying in the heart of LA. The program works closely with the local communities while also considering global concerns. 

5. Yale University

best colleges for architecture- Yale University

The Yale architecture program combines a liberal arts education with the elements of an architectural program. Students who graduate from this program must get licensed later to enter the workforce as an architect.  

6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Best colleges for architecture

The MIT architecture program gives students a comprehensive education on the built environment. They aim to prepare students to be knowledgeable and creative leaders in their field. The program has about 250 students enrolling yearly. 

7. University of California – Berkeley

best schools for architecture

The University of California Berkeley program promotes architecture as an instrument of change. The program has maintained the principles upon which it was founded while adapting to the needs of the times. Students have the option to choose the design research track or the studio track. 

8. Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc)

best schools for architecture

SCI-Arc is one of the few independent architecture schools in the nation. Deemed a world-renowned center of innovation, it is considered one of the best schools for architecture. Located in the Art District of LA, students are inspired by their surroundings. 

9. Columbia University

Best schools for architecture

The architecture program at Columbia University is in conjunction with its partner school, Barnard College. Students will complete a liberal arts education, focusing on architecture. Students often continue on to graduate programs. 

10. University of Notre Dame

best schools for architecture- notre dame

“Design for good” is the motto of the architecture department at the University of Notre Dame, focusing on equipping its students with the foundational elements of architecture in order to address critical issues. 

Now that we’ve looked at some of the best schools for architecture in the nation, let’s break them down by states and look at the best architecture schools in California, the best architecture schools in Texas, and the best New York architecture schools. When choosing the best colleges for architecture, geography can play an important role. So, let’s get into it!

Best schools for architecture: New York architecture schools

New York is home to some of the best schools for architecture in the nation. There are many things that attract students to New York architecture schools: the allure of a big city, the changing seasons, or the draw of the Northeast vibe. Whatever the reason, attending New York architecture schools interests many students. 

new york architecture schools

Here are 5 of the top New York architecture schools: 

1. Cornell University

The Cornell University of Architecture, Art and Planning is one of the top New York architecture schools, according to Niche. Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and planning offers its students a five-year accredited program. The Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning consistently ranks as one of the best architecture schools in the US. 

2. Columbia University

All undergraduate students of architecture at Columbia University will take their courses at Barnard College, a partner institution of Columbia. Many graduates from this program go on to study in some of the best graduate programs in the country. 

3. Pratt Institute

Students of the Pratt Institute, like those of Columbia, have the benefit of being located in the city. This five-year Bachelor’s program focuses on critical thinking, design, technology, building, representation, sustainability, and social responsibility. 

4. The Cooper Union

Another one of the best New York architecture schools located in the heart of NYC. This is another five-year Bachelor program, and students graduate licensed and ready to enter the workforce. The Cooper Union architecture program emphasizes creativity and professionalism amongst its students. 

5. Syracuse University

Located outside of the city but in the heart of the state, Syracuse University is amongst the best New York architecture schools. Students of architecture at Syracuse learn how to connect the foundations of the discipline to larger urban and social contexts. 

Now that we’ve explored some of the top New York architecture schools, let’s head to the West coast and explore some of the best architecture schools in California. 

Best architecture schools in California

When looking at the best architecture schools in California, or the best schools for architecture anywhere, you’ll want to think about what kind of college experience you want in addition to choosing the best universities by major. In California, there are many options. You could go to the school on the coast, in the mountains, or in the desert. The type of climate will change your experience and is definitely something to consider. However, the most important thing, if you’ve decided what you want to study, is choosing the best college by major. 

best architecture schools in california

Here are 5 of the best architecture schools in California, according to Niche

1. University of Southern California

The USC School of Architecture is consistently ranked in many of the top architecture school lists. The program emphasizes their holistic approach in order to prepare their students. The USC School of Architecture is known for having its graduates hired by top architecture firms. 

2. University of California – Berkeley

Another one of the best schools for architecture, having ranked in our top 10 best schools for architecture, UC Berkeley had to be included when looking at the best universities by major (in this instance, architecture) in California. The program is individualized and emphasizes environmental design. 

3. Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc)

This is possibly the best college by major if you’re interested in a top architecture school that is completely dedicated to its craft. Students are encouraged to “test the limits of architecture” and think in completely new ways to create change through the built environment.  

4. California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) – San Luis Obispo

Less known but still one of the best architecture schools in California, this program has five departments within its architecture program. With so many options to diversify your studies, this is definitely one of the best universities by major if you’re interested in architecture. 

5. University of California – Los Angeles

The UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture focuses on urban design, with an ideal location to do so. Studio culture is emphasized in this program. The UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture is one of the best schools for architecture on many top architecture lists. 

Now that we’ve looked at the best universities by major in California and New York, we’re going to head south and check out the best architecture schools in Texas. 

Best architecture schools in Texas

In such a large state, with notoriously unpredictable weather, attending one of the best architecture schools in Texas is sure to be a unique college experience. Different areas of Texas will vary greatly based on the climate and population of the area. When looking at the best architecture schools in Texas, know what you want from your college experience in order to choose the best college by major, for example, architecture. 

best architecture schools in texas

Here are the top 5 best architecture schools in Texas, according to Niche

1. Rice University

Rice University architecture is one of the best architecture schools in Texas and one of the best architecture schools in the US. The Rice University Architecture program aims to educate its students as well as prepare them to be leaders in the field. The Rice University architecture program combines a four-year degree with a hands-on preceptorship experience in order to best prepare its students for the workforce. 

2. University of Texas – Austin

Secondly, the architecture program at UT Austin gives students the option to choose from a four or a five-year program. They also offer graduate degrees, giving their students ample options when it comes to getting licensed in the field. 

3. Texas A&M University

One of the larger of the best architecture schools in Texas, and the best architecture schools in the US, this program catches the attention of many students searching for the best college by major. The program prepares its students to be innovative thinkers and leaders in the field. 

4. Texas Tech University

Another one of the best architecture schools in Texas, Texas Tech has one of the top architecture programs in the nation. Students in this architecture are heavily recruited. If you’re searching for the best college by major and are concerned about career options, this architecture program is a great option. 

5. University of Houston

This is a great option as one of the best architecture schools in Texas and one of the best universities by major if you’re interested in studying in a big city. This five-year program focuses on research, building, and community

When searching for the best college by major in Texas, you’re sure to find ample options when creating your “best architecture schools in Texas” list.

However, when looking for the best universities by major in architecture, you aren’t limited to the best architecture schools in the US. You could check out the best architecture schools in the world. So, let’s do just that! 

What is the best architecture school in the world?

We’ve discussed the top ten best schools for architecture, along with the best architecture schools in California, the top New York architecture schools, and the best architecture schools in Texas. But what if traveling abroad to study architecture interests you? We’re going to look at some of the best architecture schools in the world, apart from the best architecture schools in the US that we’ve already covered. 

There are many options for architecture programs when looking at the best architecture schools in the world. But first, you’ll want to think about how long you want to spend abroad. Do you want to enroll directly in a program in London? Or do you want to attend one of the best architecture schools in the US and study for a semester in Tokyo? These are important decisions to make when looking at your options for the best architecture schools in the world. 

best architecture schools in the world- delft architecture

The benefits of attending international architecture schools

There are many pros to attending one of the top architecture schools abroad. Architecture in other parts of the world is vastly different from US architecture. This means that as a student at one of the best architecture schools in the world, you’ll have the opportunity to study designs that you likely wouldn’t be able to in the best architecture schools in the US. For this reason, many students interested in architecture tend to search for the best college by major abroad as well as nationally. 

However, adjusting to college life can be difficult, and doing so in a foreign country has its own set of challenges. Students who do choose to attend one of the best architecture schools in the world will have to adjust to the local culture and language. This can be overwhelming and stressful for some students. 

If an international study is calling to you and you’re frantically searching for the best universities by major abroad, then you may want to check out this list of the best architecture schools in the world. It includes some of the top architecture schools you’ve seen on our lists already like MIT and UC Berkeley. It also includes best schools architecture in Denmark, Switzerland, Australia, China and Italy!

Architecture schools: More CollegeAdvisor resources for future Architecture Students

If architecture interests you and you are searching for the best universities by major in order to find the best colleges for architecture, then there are a number of factors you’ll want to consider when choosing a program. 

When picking the best college by major in the discipline of architecture, remember, you want to know if the program is accredited. Will you be licensed and able to work after graduating from one of the best colleges for architecture? Or will you require further study?

There are many options when choosing from the best architecture schools in the US and the best architecture schools in the world, however, you may have noticed from our top architecture schools lists that programs will vary greatly by university. The program at the Boston Architectural College is different from the program at UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture. Just like the student experience at the USC School of Architecture will vary greatly from one at Rice University Architecture. 

Choosing an architecture program for you

Be sure to investigate not only the best college by major but the specific details of those top architecture schools. Think about what are the best colleges for architecture for you? Any one of the top architecture schools we listed is a good option. Read more about choosing the best schools for architecture for you. 

Applying to architecture programs

Applying to the best colleges for architecture is similar to applying to any of the best universities by major. You’ll want to focus on building a strong application narrative, paying attention to your essays and extracurriculars. Having architecture-specific experience could give you an edge over other students interested in architecture and applying to the best college by major, however, it’s not a necessity. 

Check out some of our application tips when applying to the best colleges for architecture. 

Best schools for architecture: Final Thoughts

When looking for the best colleges for architecture, remember that your top architecture schools may be completely different than for another student interested in architecture and searching for the best universities by major. Choosing the best colleges for architecture is ultimately a personal choice. While Boston Architectural College draw some students in, others find UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture the most dazzling. However, there is no lack of options when it comes to finding the best colleges for architecture. 

You may want to be on the west coast and decide to only look at the best architecture schools in California, like UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture. Or maybe you’re in love with NYC and just have to attend one of the top New York architecture schools. Or maybe you like the long, cold winters and want to attend Boston Architectural College. You could want to feel that southern charm and check out the best architecture schools in Texas. Studying abroad at one of the best architecture schools in the world might even interest you. 

Focus on your own needs

Whatever your decision, you will have many options for the best schools for architecture. Avoid obsessing over the “best architecture schools in U.S. News” list and choose what works for you. Only you can make the best list of “best colleges for architecture” for you. 

Use this guide to help you to learn about different program offerings at top architecture schools. And remember that CollegeAdvisor.com is here to help you when determining the best colleges for architecture. 

This article was written by Sarah Kaminski. If you want to get help with your college applications from CollegeAdvisor.com Admissions Expertsregister with CollegeAdvisor.com today. Also, check out our other guides to Top Engineering Colleges and Best Business Schools as you build your college list!