Do you have designs on a career in architecture? There are dozens of best architecture schools across the globe where you can get a first-class education in architecture. Depending on the country — and state — where you will be studying and working, it’s best to investigate all the educational and licensing requirements to make sure you choose a program that matches you career goals. Regardless, you will have many programs from which to choose at both the graduate and undergraduate level.
Before you start whisking off applications to a list of schools, there are a number of questions to think about when considering which of the best architecture schools might be the right one for you.
What Do You Want To Do?
At the end of your academic journey, what is it that you want to be doing? Do you see yourself working in a traditional architect’s office or do you have a different specialization in mind? Maybe real estate development is what interests you most, or perhaps it’s construction management? An architecture degree can prepare you well for a career in a field that’s not considered to be strictly architectural. Maybe you ultimately want to teach and need to pursue a master’s degree. Knowing what your end game is will help you sift through your options and choose a program that best fits your needs.
Do you want to be licensed?
Even if you think you want to work outside the traditional realm of a licensed architect but still want to keep your options open, it’s best to choose a program will give you a degree that is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). If it’s ever a possibility that you will want to work for a firm, you will need an accredited program in order to qualify for licensing. Keep in mind that not all degree programs are accredited and having the credential will provide you with more options in case you change your mind about a specific career direction.
Is the School Ranked?
Once again, depending on what kind of career you have set your sights on, rankings may or may not be as important in your decision. Certainly, you want to choose a solid program, so when researching schools, consult different rankings and don’t rely just on one. Moreover, it’s important to remember that your success in a program will be determined by the effort that you put into it, not simply the school’s ranking.
Does the School Have the Right Path for You?
The degree that schools offer may be the same but the courses and opportunities will vary among the institutions. Depending on what your focus is, some schools will be a better fit for your specific career path. Rankings are important but taking a close look at the coursework, the faculty and what the program offers and requires are even more important.
Do You Have a Budget?
Like all higher education, architecture programs are not cheap, so you’ll want to have a good idea of your budget for school as well as what kinds of scholarships and financial aid you might need and what you can qualify for. You might find the architecture program of your dreams, but your budget may keep you from attending. This is especially true if it requires a major relocation.
What you like and don’t like will also play a role in how happy you are with a particular architecture program. If you hate living in a large urban area, then don’t choose a school located in a big city. If you want a full undergraduate college experience, choose an architecture school that is part of larger university with a good campus that appeals to you. The same goes for the size of the school: Those who prefer a smaller atmosphere won’t be comfortable in a larger setting.
Do Your Homework
Whatever your interests and preferences, the only way to make sure that you’re choosing a program that will be the best fit is to do extensive research on the schools you are considering. Don’t just rely on rankings: Visit the school and talk with admissions staff, faculty and current students. Read reviews and alumni comments about the program. Explore where graduates end up. Picking the best architecture school requires much the same research as choosing any type of college.
Here are the top programs across the globe that prepare students for amazing careers in architecture:
Top architecture schools in the United States
Unlike careers in interior design where a two-year degree or certificate program may be all you need, educational programs for architecture in the United States are typically five-years for undergraduates and 2 to 3 years for a master of architecture. No matter what the program, it is important to be sure that the program is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). Also, architects must be licensed and requirements vary from state to state, but all will require a degree, experience and successfully passing the licensing exam. These are the top five top architecture schools in the United States:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
MIT’s architecture program is part of the overall university, known as the best school in the world. It focuses on the “interconnected relationship between architectural design, building technology, computation, history, theory and criticism of architecture and art.” A multidisciplinary curriculum challenges students to be creative, innovative, and responsible in their professional pursuits. The program includes studios, lectures, workshops and seminars that all aim to foster new ways of thinking. The department encompasses about 250 students, typically about 30 of whom are undergraduates.
Cornell’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning is one of the country’s oldest architecture schools and is part of this elite research university. Located in a picturesque small Central New York town, the university is widely known for a long list of top programs. This top architecture school has about 800 students. Undergraduates pursue the bachelor of architecture degree and graduate students have a number of degree options: Professional Master of Architecture (M.Arch), Post-Professional Advanced Architectural Design (MS), History of Architecture and Urban Development (Ph.D), and Computer Graphics (MS).The school also offers a new program for Matter Design Computation (MS), which is a multidisciplinary program that melds architecture and science for pursuits such as material computation, adaptive architecture, and digital fabrication. The program operates under the “belief that architecture, art, and planning are simultaneously intellectual and material practices, and that leadership in cultural production demands both expertise in a specific discipline and wide knowledge in the liberal arts.”
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
Those interested in an interdisciplinary approach to architecture will want to explore, the Department of Architecture at California Polytechnic State University. It is one of five departments in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED). The undergraduate program is driven by the concept of “learn-by-doing” and in includes rigorous coursework that is lab-oriented. It also strives to balance and integrate design and technology. Student may study off campus in the fourth year and the fifth is devoted to a year-long project. In the Master’s program, students can choose to focus on Innovating Material Practice or Sustainable Architecture. The material practice specialization involves design integration through innovations in materials and material assemblies enabled by contemporary modes of digital fabrication. Cal Poly also offers the option of pursing an MBA, Architectural Management Track in combination with a bachelor’s degree, or a Master of City and regional Planning (MCRP) combination.
Syracuse University in central New York state is consistently ranked among the top architecture schools, solidly focused on the studio experience. The architecture program focuses on the “intense exploration of the creative process, supported by the most challenging approaches to history and theory in the context of the technologies that inform the future of our field.” Syracuse also prepares students to work in a global arena, offering a wide range of overseas experience opportunities during the five-year undergraduate program. The master of architecture program is meant for students who have an undergraduate degree in any field. The college also offers Design | Energy | Futures, which is a research and design program that leads to a post-professional master of science (MS) in architecture. It focuses on projects including urban design, high performance buildings, VR and computational simulation, building material research and product design.
Located in the country’s fourth largest city — Houston, Texas — Rice University’s architecture program is the smallest professional degree program at the top research university. The undergraduate program is set up to be where design and discourse meet and centers around studio based education and design. The curriculum fuses theory and practice in the aim of educating students to be leaders in architecture in a global environment. The university’s graduate program in architecture includes options for a seven-semester track for students who do not have a background in architecture or a five-semester option for those with an undergraduate architecture degree. A second graduate program, called Present Future, is a three-semester special-topic research course, which will end with a collaborative exhibition, book or similar shared project.
Top architecture schools in UK
University College London, Bartlett School of Architecture
The Bartlett School of Architecture at University College in London has an international reputation for award-winning innovative research and a rigorous education that is design-led and interdisciplinary. The top architecture school has two undergraduate options: First is the Architectural and Interdisciplinary Studies BSc, a unique degree combining architecture with other modules at the university. The second is the Architecture BSc (ARB/RIBA Part 1). This creative and rigorous degree helps students develop a unique approach to the built environment and design. It is vocational preparation for the practice of architecture, and exposes students to the greater forces in global society that will affect their work.
Manchester School of Architecture
One of the UK’s largest architecture schools, the Manchester School of Architecture (MSA) is a joint entity combining Manchester Metropolitan University and The University of Manchester. The two schools of architecture have more than 100 educating students, who will get a degree from both institutions.
The MSA architecture program is five years long: Three years of a BA in architecture and the two-year Master of Architecture (MArch). Between the two, most students spend one year working in a professional architectural practice before undertaking the Master’s program. The school’s courses are accredited and reviewed by the Architects Registration Board, and the Royal Institute of British Architects. Additional post-graduate programs include the Master of Landscape Architecture and the MA in Architecture and Urbanism, which involves research into how global cultural and economic forces influence contemporary cities. A PhD program is also available.
University of Cambridge
Established in 1912, the Architecture program at Cambridge University nurtures creativity and curiosity provides a strong intellectual grounding in the undergraduate program. At this top architecture school, the curriculum covers the history and philosophy of architecture, contemporary culture and urbanism, as well as construction, structural design and environmental design. As in many architectural schools, the work is studio focused and 60 percent of grading comes from studio work.
At the graduate level, two architectural tracks are offered: the MPhil Degree in Architecture and Urban Design and a Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Practice in Architecture. The school’s four research degrees are the MPhil in Architecture & Urban Studies, the PhD in Architecture, an MSt in Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment and the MSt in Building History.
Of course, the programs are accredited and reviewed by the Architects Registration Board, and the Royal Institute of British Architects
Top architecture schools in Germany
Technische Universität, Munich
The Technische Universität München (TUM) Department of Architecture has 1.500 students in its research-oriented education. The eight-semester Bachelor’s program in Architecture gives students a solid education, focusing on its core “Architectural Design”, around which all the teaching and research activities occur. It also offers three focus areas: Urban and Landscape Transformation, Integrated Building Technologies and “Cultural Heritage, History and Criticism.
At the master’s level, students at this top architecture school can chose from several degrees: The interdisciplinary master in Energy Efficient and Sustainable Building, which focuses on graduates in architecture, civil and structural engineering, and environmental engineering. The Industrial Design master’s is an interdisciplinary course offered jointly by chairs of the Faculties of Architecture, Mechanical Engineering and Business Sciences. A Landscape Architecture master’s program focuses on developing “new open spaces and landscapes within an intensive examination of the existing historical structures of industrial and post-industrial changes of public space.” The master’s in Conservation-Restoration teaches modern restoration, which is just as much history and art as it is science. Finally, an interdisciplinary master’s degree in Urbanism – Landscape and City is aimed at architecture, landscape architecture or planning, regional planning, geography, traffic engineering urban sociology, amid others.
Top architecture schools in Italy
Politecnico di Milano
Italy’s top architecture school is Politecnico di Milano, whose School of Architecture, Urban Planning, Construction Engineering offers a variety of programs. Students earn a Laurea (equivalent to Bachelor of Science) degree through the school’s three-year program. A third-year professional internship is included in the curriculum, allowing students to work at a company or studio. The Building Engineering/Architecture program, is a five-year course of study that is based in scientific, technical and engineering disciplines and trains professionals to effectively manage complex architectural projects.
At the graduate level, the “Laurea Magistrale” degree (equivalent to Master of Science) is a two-year program of study available for a number of focused degrees.
Top architecture schools Belgium
KU Leuven, Flanders
Brush up on your Dutch for KU Leuven. The architecture program at one of Europe’s most renowned universities, is offered only in Dutch at the undergraduate level. The degree programs include a bachelor of architecture, preparatory program for the Master of Architecture, and a Bridging program. basic academic program features an artistic perspective and covers every aspect of designing, planning, building, managing and living. If you have an undergraduate degree that does not qualify for direct entry into graduate level study, the preparatory program can fill the gap. The Bridging program is meant for those who already have a professional bachelor’s degree and want to move into architecture.
At the graduate level, this top architecture schools offers the Master of Architecture, which is a Master of Science degree, and is also taught only in Dutch. The courses students choose fit their own interests in terms of approach, content and methodology. The International Master of Architecture degree is offered in English and combines academics with “an artistic and experimental approach.” It teaches solid skills in the contemporary practice of design and research in architectural and allows students to define and their own trajectory and within one of two main curriculum frameworks.
Delft University of Technology
The Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment at Delft University of Technology is located on one of the largest campuses in the world. Boasting a national and international reputation, this top architecture school offers undergraduate and graduate programs in architecture as well as landscape architecture, housing, building physics, and climate design and sustainability. The Bachelor of Architecture, Urbanism and Building Sciences focuses on the changing world and the challenge of adapting our buildings and environments to new insights and human needs. Through individual and group work students learn about the synergy between technology, design, society and the built environment.
At the master’s level, the program in Architecture, Urbanism and Building Sciences has five tracks: Architecture, Urbanism, Management in the Built Environment, Building Technology and Landscape Architecture.
KTH, Royal Institute of Technology
Sweden’s top architecture school is located at KTH, Royal Institute of Technology. Founded in 1827, KTH is one of Europe’s leading technical and engineering universities, as well Sweden’s largest technical research and learning institution. The School of Architecture includes a basic bachelor’s program which lasts three years, followed by advanced architectural education in years four and five. Studio-based teaching is the core of the program and the curriculum includes an independent final term degree project. In addition to the master’s in architecture, KTH also offers a master’s program in architectural lighting design. Far more than just “good” lighting, new research and increased understanding now reflects the fact that light affects human well-being, human behavior, comfort, health, efficiency, safety and security. The program focuses on these new approaches and is involved with the Lighting Laboratory.
Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya — Barcelona
Spain’s technical university, the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, (UPC) also boasts the country’s top architecture school. The department of Architecture, Urbanism and Building constructions offers two undergraduate programs. The first is the five-year degree in Architecture Studies, which prepares students to be competent and production professionals with an international vision. A four-year bachelor’s degree in Architectural Technology and Building Construction is a Europe-focused, generalist program focusing on the theory, techniques and technologies used in building construction. Graduate of this shorter program can go on to work as technical architects, construction site managers, health and safety coordinators and building information modelling (BIM) 3D software specialists.
UPC also offers a master’s degree in Advanced Studies in Architecture-Barcelona (MBArch) that aims to teach students about research, innovation and contemporary architectural design with a focus on a number of specialty areas: A Contemporary Project (taught entirely in English) focusing on Barcelona; Urban and Architectural Management and Valuation; Urbanism; Process; Design and Programming; Theory, History and Culture; Architecture, Energy and Environment (taught entirely in Spanish); Technological Innovation in Architecture; and Architectural Restoration and Rehabilitation.
The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology – Zurich
The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology — known as ETH — as a premier academic reputation across the globe. Its Department of Architecture is no exception and has one of the most highly regarded faculties in the world. The combination of exceptional research and teaching expertise makes for a demanding and valuable education at this top architecture school. The bachelor of architecture is a three-year program with an additional, six months of internship. Courses are offered in German. The Master’s degree in Architecture takes two years ago complete and also is supplemented with an additional six-month internship. ETH also offers a second graduate degree in architecture, the master’s in Integrated Building Systems (MBS), which is a science-based education in building systems and technologies with a strong emphasis on the energy performance and the environmental impacts of buildings.
Top architecture schools in Singapore
National University of Singapore (NUS)
The National University of Singapore (NUS) is one of the top architecture schools that is consistently ranked as among the top 10 world-class programs. With a strong entrepreneurial spirit and a program that is multidisciplinary and imbued with choice, the Department of architecture is known for delivering professionals that are well prepared to be global citizens as well as designers. The university offers a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture, however this is not a professional program. That is the NUS Master of Architecture (M.Arch), which is recognized by Singapore Board of Architects. In Singapore, practicing architects must have completed 5 years of education plus 2 years of practical experience
In addition to the Master of Architecture, NUS also offers related graduate programs in Urban Design, Landscape Architcture, Integrated Sustainable Design and Urban Planning.
Top architecture schools in Hong Kong
The University of Hong Kong (HKU)
The University of Hong Kong (HKU), is Hong Kong’s oldest institution and is another one of the top architecture schools consistently recognized on a global level. Thanks to its unique location at a crossroads of geographies and cultures, The Department of Architecture approaches design from a sophisticated understanding of both. The studio-based multidisciplinary curriculum emphasizes technology, history and culture. Its four-year Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Studies BA(AS) is the first professional degree needed to qualify as an architect and is recognized by the Hong Kong Institute of Architects (HKIA), Architects Registration Board (ARB), Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA). After passing the Professional Assessment, graduates are can apply for admission as Members of HKIA and as Registered Architects.
At the graduate level, the two-year Master of Architecture (MArch) emphasizes current design and production technologies, within an understanding of the historical and theoretical culture of architecture.
Top architecture schools in China
Tsinghua University – Beijing
Not only a top global institution, Tsinghua University also has one of the top architecture schools globally. The school’s education follows its philosophy of “one-foundation”, “two-focus” and “three-combination”. The One-foundation is the “Theory of the Sciences of Human Settlements” which is the academic core of the program. Two-focus means concentrating on China’s development needs and being at the forefront of academic development. Finally, Three-combination means integrating education with research and practice. The undergraduate program prepares students to be competent, productive and innovative architects, planners and researchers either through the four-year Bachelor of Engineering in architecture or the five-year Bachelor in Architecture. The school also offers a Bachelor in Building Environment and Energy (HVAC).
At the graduate level, Tsinghua has the Master Program in Architecture and the English Program of Master in Architecture (EPMA). Both programs are about two to three years in length and prepare high-level professionals in the field of architecture
Seoul National University – South Korea
Among the nine top architecture schools in South Korea is Seoul National University the country’s leading architecture program. In general, the institution the oldest and is considered to be the most prestigious in South Korea. The university’s Department of Architecture has a five-year undergraduate program in Architecture and a four-year program in Architectural Engineering, leading to a Bachelor of Architecture for Architecture majors, and a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering for Architectural Engineering major. Graduate program offerings include a Master of Science in Architectural Engineering and Doctor of Philosophy in Architecture & Architectural Engineering.
After graduation, students can pursue a registered architect license or any other architecture related licenses. Most students go on to work at companies, such as those in architectural design, interior design, design supervision, architecture related state-owned companies, architectural R&D centers, construction companies and so on.
University of Tokyo and Kyoto University – Japan
Japan boasts two top architecture schools that rank in the top 50: The University of Tokyo and Kyoto University. Japanese architecture schools are graduate level and are generally based in engineering and science programs. This means that instead of doing a design project, students undertake a data-driven master’s thesis as part of their study. This also fits with the Japanese system of applying to a faculty member’s laboratory for your degree training, not just the school at large.
Tokyo University’s program is the Department of Architecture in the Graduate School of Engineering, and is a graduate-level degree only. The institution as a whole was established in 1877 and ranks among the top 50 universities in the world. The department has four major courses of study, which are architectural structural studies, architectural environment studies, architectural planning and architecture. The educational program has a broad scope ranging from preservation to the development of innovative new buildings. The University also offers the Global 30 Urban Design and Architecture Course that is dedicated to interdisciplinary research that bridges architecture, engineering and computation.
Meanwhile Kyoto University is the nation’s second oldest school and has produced a healthy share of at least nine Nobel prize laureates. This top architecture school — the School of Architecture and Architectural Engineering — is similarly limited to the graduate level. To earn a master’s degree, students must complete at least 30 credits of coursework and spend at least 2 years doing research. A master’s thesis and comprehensive exam are also required. As the work is research based, there is a wide selection of themes from which a student can choose, ranging from Architecture and Environmental Engineering, Construction Technology of Building Structures, and Architectural Design and Theory to Space Safety Engineering, Urban Disaster Reduction Planning.
Top architecture schools in Latin America
Universidade de So Paulo (USP) – Brazil
Brazil is home to Latin America’s top architecture program. The Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at the Universidade de So Paulo (USP) was founded in 1948, having started as the former engineer-architect course of the university’s Polytechnic School. The school’s relatively new USP Design Course educates students for a Bachelor in Design. The interdisciplinary program prepares students to use design to solve to contemporary human and social development problems. The five-year course of study offers areas of concentration such as Habitat, History and Fundamentals of Architecture and Urbanism, Landscape and Environment, Urban and Regional Planning, Architectural Design, Project, Space and Culture as well as Architecture Technology.
A Graduate Program in Design prepares professionals to work in the field of teaching and research in design using a multidisciplinary approach to the visual, material, spatial and digital.
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile – Chile
The Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile is home to another of Latin America’s top architecture schools. It’s School of Architecture combines academic theory and the application of professional methods and techniques to educate students for careers in architecture. The school also offers a network of international contacts exchanges in prestigious foreign universities and double degree opportunities. The program also prepares students to qualification for licensure via the Master in Architecture, Urban Project or Landscape Architecture. At the undergraduate level, the school offers a bachelor’s degree. Post-graduate options include Construction Administration (Architecture / Engineering), Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Sustainable Architecture and Energy, Cultural Heritage or Urban Project.
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México – Mexico
Mexico’s top architecture program is at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Mexico’s largest institution and North America’s oldest. The undergraduate degree program has four options: architecture, landscape architecture, urbanism and industrial design. The studio-based education trains students to become transformative professionals in society. At the graduate level, specialized and research programs in architecture, urbanism and industrial design are available. The academic structure is made up of 16 workshops where students get a theoretical and practical education that gives them the skills to take on professional challenges with innovations and creativity.
Once licensed in Mexico, graduates can work anywhere in North America, thanks to agreements between the architectural licensing organizations in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Top architecture schools in Australia
University of Sydney
Australia’s list of top architecture schools is led by the University of Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning. At the undergraduate level, the school offers three very selective three-year undergraduate options: The Bachelor of Design in Architecture, the Bachelor of Architecture and Environments and the Bachelor of Design Computing. Postgraduate options are more numerous here than any other Australian university. The country’s only Design Science program trains students specializing in Audio and Acoustics, Building, Building Services, Illumination Design and Sustainable Design, or a combination. IN addition to an Urban and Regional Planning program, a novel Interaction Design and Electronic Arts focuses on the intersection of design, human computer interaction and technology.
University of Melbourne
The University of Melbourne’s School of Design within the Faculty of Architecture and Planning, is also one of the country’s top architecture schools. At the undergraduate level, the three-year bachelor’s degree is in Design or in Environments. The true architectural degrees are at the graduate level. The master’s program prepares professionals to be knowledgeable leaders in their fields with strong practical skills. Master’s degrees are available in Architecture, Architectural Engineering, Construction Management, Landscape Architecture, Property, Urban and Cultural Heritage, Urban Design, and Urban Planning.
University of New South Wales
University of New South Wales is home to the Built Environment School, which is billed as “the most comprehensive built environment faculty in Australia.” Although it offers a list of various design and planning degrees, the three-year Bachelor of Architectural Studies
is the undergraduate pathway to the professionally accredited postgraduate Master of Architecture degree. This three-year graduate degree has the full five-year accreditation from the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA), NSW Architects Registration Board and Australian Institute of Architects (AIA). Graduate level degree options also include the Master of City Planning, Master of Construction Project Management and Master of Property and Development.
Top architecture schools in Africa
School of Architecture, Planning & Geomatics
The highest-ranked school in Africa for architecture is South Africa’s University of Cape Town. Its School of Architecture, Planning & Geomatics, which offers a Bachelor of Architectural Studies as a foundation program in the design of buildings and the urban or landscaped environments. the undergraduate program lays the necessary groundwork for the graduate professional programs in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Urban Design and City and Regional Planning. Students who don’t pursue the graduate degree can work as a senior architectural technologist. To become a draftsperson, students need the National Certificate from a master’s program and must take a Professional Practice entrance examination after two years of working in the field.