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Sustainable Architecture Schools: How to Choose

Sustainable architecture, or green building design, is an emerging specialization. Some master's degree and certificate programs in architecture offer an emphasis in sustainable architecture. Programs in this area are offered at select colleges and universities throughout the nation.

The field of sustainable architecture has grown since the advent of the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification program in 1998, and now many master's degree programs offer specialized coursework, as well as certificates and degree specializations, in sustainable architecture. These programs focus on things such as preventing environmental degradation and mitigating environmental effects of construction.

Sustainable Architecture Schools

This list of colleges and universities identifies some of the most reputable schools offering sustainable architecture programs.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2015-2016)
University of Florida Gainesville, FL 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate In-state $6,381; Undergraduate Out-of-state $28,659: Graduate In-state $10,770; Graduate Out-of-state $27,335
The University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 4-year, Public Bachelor's Undergraduate In-state $11,403; Undergraduate Out-of-state $32,630
Ferris State University Big Rapids, MI 4-year, Public Bachelor's Undergraduate In-state $10,970; Undergraduate Out-of-state $17,562
New Jersey Institute of Technology Newark, NJ 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Undergraduate In-state $16,108; Undergraduate Out-of-state $30,326; Graduate In-state $18,500; Graduate Out-of-state $27,340
Cosumnes River College Sacramento, CA 2-year, Public Certificate Undergraduate In-state $1,104; Undergraduate Out-of-state $7,440
University of Oregon Eugene, OR 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Undergraduate In-state $10,289; Undergraduate Out-of-state $32,024: Graduate In-state $14,256; Graduate Out-of-state $24,165
Boston Architectural College Boston, MA 2-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Graduate Certificate, Doctoral Undergraduate $20,666; Graduate $22,530
Kansas State University Manhattan, KS 4-year, Public Master's Graduate In-state $9,139; Graduate Out-of-state $20,626

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES); School websites

School Selection Criteria

Summary of considerations:

  • Find out what kinds of professional experience and possible connections faculty members have at each school.
  • Look for programs that offer scholarships or fellowships for those studying sustainable architecture.
  • Undergraduate students who plan on pursuing this field can first earn bachelor's degrees in architecture or a related field, such as urban planning and design.
  • Specializations in sustainable architecture are generally offered at the master's degree level; some schools offer certificates, bachelor's degrees, and it is possible to take courses online through some institutions.

Master of Science in Sustainable Architecture

An M.S. in Sustainable Architecture can be completed in two years and typically entails completion of a thesis and an independent research project. An undergraduate background in architecture is usually required for admission.

Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Architecture

Graduate students and working architects can complete a certificate program to supplement their architectural portfolios.

Sustainable architecture programs can be pursued at the graduate and undergraduate level. These studies can be taken at a public or private college or university, and some institutions may offer the option of taking some courses online.

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