Best Architecture Schools with Undergraduate Programs

Read about undergraduate architecture programs, available at some of the top universities in the U.S. Learn about the degree options at four noteworthy institutions, as well as what's unique to other schools in the country that offer architecture programs for undergraduates.

Students looking for careers as architects will need a professional bachelor's degree to start. The following are some of the best undergraduate architecture schools in the nation.

School Overview

Four of the top schools for undergraduate architecture programs include Princeton University, a member of the Ivy League, as well as Rice University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and Carnegie Mellon University. In general, the programs teach students about the structural and aesthetic aspects of design and building construction.

Students should be aware in advance that the licensing requirements for professional architects in some states include completion of a program that has been accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). Of the four schools profiled below, only Rice University, Carnegie Mellon, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute offer NAAB-accredited Bachelor of Architecture programs. Princeton offers an NAAB-accredited master's program.

These schools are chosen as top ranking based on the quality and variety of the programs offered, the experiential learning opportunities available within those programs, and the overall reputation of the school.

Princeton University in Princeton, NJ

School Highlight: The undergraduate architecture curriculum includes several courses in art and archaeology.

Princeton University is a private Ivy League institution that ranked as the best school in the nation for 2016, according to U.S. News & World Report. The university's School of Architecture is known for offering a well-rounded liberal arts education for undergraduates, as well as small class sizes that allow for one-on-one instruction.

At the school, students can earn a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Architecture or a B.A. in Urban Studies. The latter takes a multidisciplinary approach to architecture and planning and includes courses in politics and civil and environmental engineering. Additional programs include a Bachelor of Science and Engineering (B.S.E.) in Architecture and Engineering, available through the university's engineering school. Graduate students can pursue an NAAB-accredited Master of Architecture program.

Rice University in Houston, TX

School Highlight: Rice has one of the oldest professional degree programs in the U.S.

Rice University is a small private college that U.S. News & World Report ranked among the top 20 national universities in 2016. The university offers a B.A. leading to a professional Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.). Students who are not interested in earning a professional degree can pursue the B.A. in Architectural Studies. In addition to studio training, students can find opportunities through Rice's Preceptorship Program, which allows them to travel abroad for a year and get hands-on training from professionals from around the world.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, VA

School Highlight: The school has the third best undergraduate architecture program in 2016, according to Architectural Record.

The College of Architecture and Urban Studies at this public institution offers a professional B.Arch. through its School of Architecture and Design. Additional undergraduate degrees are offered in industrial design, interior design and landscape architecture. Off-campus program centers for architecture students include the Washington-Alexandria Center in Washington D.C. Fourth-year undergraduates can participate in the externship program and acquire some real-world experience at an architectural firm or organization.

Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA

School Highlight: The school offers a Collaborative Urban Design Build Studio program.

Carnegie Mellon University offers a unique bachelor's program which starts with a three year foundation of classes and studios essential for the start of the Advanced Synthesis Option Studio (ASOS), a fourth and fifth year program that leads to a BXA Intercollege Degree Program. The degree leads directly to a Bachelor of Humanities and Arts, a Bachelor of Science and Arts, or a Bachelor of Computer Science and Arts degree. The school was also ranked number nine in undergraduate programs by Architectural Record for 2016.

Top Architecture Undergraduate Programs

The remaining schools also house some of the best undergraduate architecture schools in the country.

  • Cornell University in Ithaca, NY has an undergraduate architecture curriculum which offers 'out-of-college and department' electives.
  • Georgia Institute of Technology located in Atlanta, GA offers programs where undergraduate architecture students can get degrees in architecture or industrial design.
  • The University of California at Berkeley has a variety of minors in architectural studies.
  • The University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign located in Urbana contains the Discover Architecture Precollege Program.
  • University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI features the A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.
  • Located in New Haven, CT, Yale University architecture students can pursue study abroad fellowships, scholarships and internships.

Princeton, Rice, Virginia Tech and Carnegie Mellon are four of the best undergraduate architecture schools in America. Many other schools offer excellent programs and bachelor degrees in architectural studies throughout the United States.

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