Architecture Schools in Chicago with Degree Program Information

Only three schools near Chicago have architecture programs. Read an overview of the programs at these schools, all within five miles of downtown. Get information on program and admission info, and find out which school is the right one for you.

Chicago Architecture Schools

The Chicago area has several architecture schools that offer degrees at a variety of levels. This article deals with the three that are closest to the heart of the city, all less than ten minutes from downtown. It also includes a table that allows for a comparison of various aspects of these schools, such as tuition and size. At the end of the article is a brief paragraph about one other school, about 40 miles from Chicago,that also offers architecture degrees.

  • The Illinois Institute of Technology, a four-year private school, offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. It is just three miles from the city center.
  • School of the Art Institute of Chicago is a four-year art school, has the smallest student population of the three schools profiled and is the closest to downtown Chicago, at just a half-mile away. It offers bachelor's and master's degrees.
  • A four-year public university, the University of Illinois at Chicago has a traveling studio in Barcelona, as well as an undergraduate and graduate student exchange program. Bachelor's and master's degrees are available here. This school, too, is very close to downtown, located less than two miles out.

Comparison of Schools

Students who want to study architecture must consider many factors when choosing a school. The following table makes it easy to compare these three institutions, looking at aspects including school type and tuition costs.

Illinois Institute of Technology School of the Art Institute of Chicago University of Illinois at Chicago
School Type 4-year; private not-for-profit 4-year; private not-for-profit 4-year; public
Total Enrollment (2017)* 7,164 3,648 30,539
Campus Setting Large city Large city Large city
Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2017-2018)* $45,864 $49,610 $13,704 in-state; $26,560 out-of-state
% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2016-2017)* 100% 88% 84%
Acceptance Rate (2017)* 54% 70% 77%
Retention Rate (2016-2017)* 90% for full-time students 81% for full-time students 80% for full-time students
Graduation Rate (for students beginning in Fall 2011)* 72% 66% 57%

Source: *NCES College Navigator

Illinois Institute of Technology

The faculty at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) includes landscape architects and award-winning architects. There is also a visiting faculty program where international instructors teach at the institution for a semester or a year.

Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.)

The B.Arch. program meets the licensing requirements for practicing architecture. Courses include freehand drawing, physics for architects, architecture studios and architectural computing. There are also several areas of specialization for students to choose from, including digital design, landscape architecture and city and regional planning.

Master of Architecture (M.Arch.)

The M.Arch. program at IIT is a 3-year professional degree program that focuses students' studies on concepts of design, construction materials, building systems and architectural history, among other subjects. Students are evaluated throughout the program to ensure they have a full understanding of the material before they can continue on to completion.

Master of Science (M.S.) in Architecture

The M.S. in Architecture is an accelerated degree program that lasts one full calendar year and is designed for individuals who have a B.Arch. It's a 32-credit program that culminates in a 5-credit research thesis project. Students select an area of concentration and conduct their own research on that subject for this thesis.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Architecture

The PhD program is for students who desire to go into academics or research. Students will complete a doctoral dissertation while earning their doctoral degree. Individuals are taught through a combination of seminars, classwork, design and research.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Students will find a fabrication workshop, 3D scanners, 3D rapid prototypes, a mold-making room and slide scanners while earning an architecture degree at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Studio - Architecture Pathway

This 4-year BFA program is taught primarily through design studio sessions and courses focusing on design history and theoretical concepts of architecture. There's also a focus on technological innovation and architectural design ethics.

Master of Architecture

The second year of the master's degree program has collaborative studios while the third year has student collaborations with artists and sharing work with the local community. Students can choose an area of specialization in interior architecture. It is expected that it will take students three years to earn their master's degree, though a two-year option is available.

University of Illinois at Chicago

In addition to the main campus-based programs, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) allows students to study in Barcelona. While there, they can intern at an office and can learn Spanish if necessary. The university also features lectures, a career fair, reviews and exhibitions.

Bachelor of Science in Architecture

The bachelor's program in architecture has a 4-year sequence described by the department as follows: Operations, Technologies, Urbanisms and Options. In the fourth year, Options, students get to decide their own path for their projects. Students will learn about technologies within architecture, model building techniques and complex urban landscapes.

Master of Architecture

Individuals can complete the master's degree program in three years. Those who are admitted into the first year of the program must attend a 10-day workshop before classes begin. Students will learn how to communicate with different audiences about contemporary collective space and how to combine architectural technology with design. Students will also complete a research project while earning their degrees.

Master of Science in Architecture

The M.S. program offered at UIC is a one-year program that begins during the summer term and continues through the fall and spring semesters. It's designed for professional architecture degree-holders. During the fall semester, students spend their time in design studios, while during the spring semester, students complete their cumulative design research project.

Other School Option

Another architecture school in Chicago is Judson University, a four-year private not-for-profit school found 37 miles from Chicago that offers a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and a Master of Architecture.

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