Architecture Schools in California with Degree Descriptions

Research architecture programs in California, which currently has about twenty schools offering programs. Read an overview of degree programs, tuition info and program options for several of these schools and decide which program is right for you.

Essential Information

California residents who want to study architecture can find several 4-year universities that offer bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs in the discipline. Some curricula consist of elective courses and design labs as well as internships or co-op experiences. Students may also prepare to present final exhibits. The schools in the following section offer programs such as:

  • Architecture
  • Architecture in Urban Design and Landscape
  • Fine Arts in Architecture/Landscape/Interiors
  • Interior Architecture
  • Architectural Studies
  • Architecture and Community Design
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Real Estate Development for Architects

California College of the Arts

Architecture courses at California College of the Arts are offered on the school's San Francisco campus. Students here can earn a professional Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) to prepare for state licensure. This program is studio-centered and covers building technology, professional practice and architectural history and theory. It also includes electives and an internship. Students at this school can also earn a Master of Architecture (M.Arch), and Master of Advanced Architectural Design. The M.Arch program prepares student for licensure, while the other master's programs are post-professional.

California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo

Located in San Luis Obispo, this school offers a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and a Master of Science (M.S.) in Architecture. The B.Arch program is a five-year professional program that prepares graduates for state licensure. The M.S. program is designed for students who hold a B.Arch or a similar degree, and is not a professional program. Students in the bachelor's program have the opportunity to select a minor from the College of Architectural and Environmental Design, participate in a co-op program and study abroad or at an off-campus location in the U.S., during their fourth year. The fifth year of this program includes a year-long project and final exhibit. The Master of Science in Architecture is research-based and allows students to specialize in innovating material practice or sustainable architecture. This school also offers a Master of Business Administration with an architectural management track and a Master of City and Regional Planning with an architecture planning focus.

California State Polytechnic University - Pomona

At this school, located in Pomona, students can earn a Bachelor of Architecture, Master of Architecture or Master of Interior Architecture. All three are professional programs. The B.Arch centers around the design lab and includes coursework in architecture history, sustainability, building codes and structures. Students pursuing the M.Arch can concentrate their studies in either sustainability or historic preservation. Both specializations require students to complete an independent project and take both lecture and studio courses. The Master of Interior Architecture is for students intending to work in the field of interior design. This program is offered through the University of California - Los Angeles' (UCLA) extension offices and holds many classes on the Los Angeles campus.

Otis College of Art and Design

This Los Angeles-based school offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Architecture/Landscape/Interiors. This program is design-centered and prepares students for future education. Combined with additional experience and testing, this degree may also qualify students for state licensure. In this program, students take studio courses and study technology, digital media fabrication, lighting and construction. Students here have access to the school's lighting, metal, model and wood shops.

University of California - Berkeley

Located in Berkeley, this school's College of Environmental Design offers a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture, Master of Science in Architecture, Master of Architecture and a PhD in Architecture. Of these programs, only the M.Arch is a professional program. The B.A. is designed to prepare students for graduate studies, but may contribute to state licensing requirements. Curriculum covers architectural design, technologies and history, building performance and society and culture. The M.Arch is designed for students intending to practice as architects, while the Master of Science is research-based. The PhD program is designed for students intending to work in academia or consultation. Students in the M.S. and PhD programs may focus in a variety of areas, including building science and sustainability, environmental design and urbanism in developing countries, structures and construction and history of architecture and urbanism. This school is home to a fabrication shop and a computer-aided drafting and manufacturing facility.

University of California - Los Angeles

This school is located in Los Angeles and offers a Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Studies, a Master of Arts in Architecture, two Master of Architecture programs and a PhD in Architecture. The B.A. and M.A. programs are not professional programs and prepare students for further education and research, rather than licensure. The M.Arch programs, on the other hand, are professional programs. Students can complete an M.Arch I degree and build upon it by completing the M.Arch II program. The PhD program prepares students for work in academia and research, not state licensure. UCLA also offers a dual M.Arch and Master of Urban and Regional Planning program, design labs and opportunities for students to study abroad and participate in local architectural laboratories.

University of San Diego

Located in San Diego, this school's College of Arts and Sciences allows students to major in architecture while pursuing a Bachelor of Arts. This program prepares students for graduate programs. Coursework covers architectural design foundations, architecture theory and history and studio arts. As part of their upper division requirements, students must complete a final studio course and a thesis.

University of San Francisco

This school, located in San Francisco, offers a bachelor's degree in architecture and community design through the School of Art and Architecture. This program is designed to prepare students for graduate studies in architecture and urban design. The program includes coursework in social sciences and humanities and also covers urban and landscape design and city planning. Students in the program have the opportunity to study abroad, complete an internship and minor in architectural engineering.

University of Southern California

This Los Angeles-based school offers both undergraduate and graduate architecture programs. Undergraduate students can pursue a Bachelor of Architecture or Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies. The B.Arch is a five-year program that prepares students for state licensure. The B.S. program can be completed in four years and prepares students for advanced education. Graduate programs at this school include a Master of Advanced Architecture Studies, Master of Building Science, Master of Heritage Conservation, and Master of Landscape Architecture. The first professional M.Arch program is designed for students who have completed a pre-professional degree and wish to prepare for state licensure, while the post-professional program us designed for students who have completed a professional undergraduate degree program. A PhD in Architecture is also available. This program prepares graduates for scholarly work and consulting positions

Woodbury University

Burbank-based Woodbury University offers architecture programs on its main campus in Los Angeles/Burbank and at its San Diego location. The Los Angeles campus offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Architecture, Master of Architecture and Master of Science in Architecture, while the San Diego campus provides a Master of Landscape Architecture and Urbanism, Master of Real Estate Development for Architects and a Master of Architecture. Students can pursue a B.Arch at either location. The Bachelor and Master of Architecture degrees are professional programs that can prepare graduates for state licensure. The M.S. program is for students who have already earned a professional degree. The landscape and urbanism and real estate development programs allow students to gain specialization within the field of architecture.

Career Requirements

To practice as an architect in California, candidates must be licensed through the state. California's guidelines allow prospective architects to meet the education, experience and examination requirements in a variety of ways. At minimum, candidates must complete eight years of experience and an intern development program. They must also pass the Architect Registration Exam and the California Supplemental Examination.

To be eligible for licensure, candidates must verify that they have completed an architectural education program. Students can complete a professional degree program that is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) or the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB). The California Architects Board has set education equivalents that allow students to combine non-accredited degrees, work experience and related educational programs to prepare for their architectural examinations.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type and Setting Architecture Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)
California College of the Arts Four-year, private; large city Bachelor of Architecture,
Master of Architecture, Master of Advanced Architectural Design
$43,708*
California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo Four-year, public; small suburb Bachelor of Science in Architecture,
Master of Science in Architecture
$9,001 (in-state), $20,161 (out-of-state)*
California State Polytechnic University - Pomona Four-year, public; large suburb Bachelor of Architecture,
Master of Architecture, Master of Interior Architecture
$7,016 (in-state), $18,176 (out-of-state)*
Otis College of Art and Design Four-year, private, large city Bachelor of Fine Arts in Architecture/Landscape/Interiors $42,314*
University of California - Berkeley Four-year, public; midsize city Bachelor of Arts in Architecture,
Master of Science in Architecture, Master of Architecture,
PhD in Architecture
$13,431 (in-state), $38,139 (out-of-state)*
University of California - Los Angeles Four-year, public; large city Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Studies,
Master of Arts in Architecture, Master of Architecture I, Master of Architecture II,
PhD in Architecture
$12,763 (in-state), $37,471 (out-of-state)*
University of San Diego Four-year, private; large city Bachelor of Arts in Architecture $44,586*
University of San Francisco Four-year, private; large city Bachelor's Degree in Architecture and Community Design $42,634*
University of Southern California Four-year, private; large city Bachelor of Architecture, Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies,
Master of Advanced Architecture Studies, Master of Building Science, Master of Heritage Conservation, Master of Landscape Architecture, Dual M.Arch and Master of Planning,
PhD in Architecture
$50,277*
Woodbury University Four-year, private; large city Bachelor of Architecture, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Architecture,
Master of Architecture, Master of Science in Architecture, Master of Landscape Architecture, Master of Real Estate Development for Architects
$36,408*

Source: *NCES College Navigator


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