Architecture Degree Programs in Boston
Aspiring architects have many options for degrees in the Boston area. This article looks at three private schools that are no more than 15 minutes from downtown Boston and examines the programs they offer. Prospective students can also peruse the table of useful data, such as enrollment figures, tuition and acceptance rates, to assess these schools. A little information on other Boston-area schools with architecture degree programs is also included.
- Architecture students at Harvard University in Cambridge, almost four miles from downtown Boston, can earn bachelor's degrees from the Department of Architecture, while the Graduate School of Design offers two master's degrees in architecture.
- Also in Cambridge, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has baccalaureate and master's degrees in architecture. MIT is about two miles from the Boston city center.
- The School of Architecture at Northeastern University , two miles from downtown Boston, offers bachelor's and master's degree programs with a focus on urban architectural and issues.
Comparison of Schools
There are many aspects an aspiring architecture student should consider when choosing a school. The following table offers important information about these schools.
|Harvard University||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||Northeastern University|
|School Type||Four-year; private not-for-profit||Four-year; private not-for-profit||Four-year; private not-for-profit|
|Total Enrollment (2017)||31,120*||11,466*||21,489*|
|Campus Setting||Midsize city||Midsize city||Large city|
|Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2017-2018)||$48,949*||$49,892*||$49,497*|
|% of First-Year Students Receiving Any Form of Aid (2016-2017)||72%*||84%*||75%*|
|Acceptance Rate (2017)||5%*||7%*||27%*|
|Retention Rate (2017)||98% for full-time students*||99% for full-time students*||97% for full-time students*|
|Graduation Rate (for students who began studies Fall 2011)||96%*||94%*||87%*|
Source: *NCES College Navigator.
Undergraduates interested in the study of architecture can pursue an undergraduate concentration at Harvard, while those wishing to pursue a career in the field can enroll in the appropriate master's program. The master's programs prepare graduates to meet the requirements for professional practice, which requires an internship and passing the licensing examination.
Undergraduate Concentration in History of Art and Architecture - Architecture Studies
Students in the Architecture Studies track of the the History of Art and Architecture undergraduate concentration can choose from a concentration in history and theory, which critiques architecture from all over the world, or design studies, which examines current issues in architecture. Courses during this four-year degree program may include landscape architecture and the study of how architecture reflects time and place. Two tutorials and studio courses are required.
MArch I/MArch I AP
The MArch I program is open to students who hold bachelor's degrees in a major other that one of the design fields and also to those with pre-professional degrees in a design field. Students with bachelor's degrees in architecture or environmental design may be eligible for acceptance to the advanced program (AP). The MArch I program requires seven semesters of study, while the MArch I AP calls for five semesters. Students in both programs take courses that involve studio work and the study of architecture theory, visual media and professional practice issues. An independent design thesis is required.
The MArch II program is open to students who have completed the five-year professional program in architecture. The program calls for three semesters of study and includes an independent design thesis. Students take a professional seminar, studio courses and electives to total at least 80 units of study.
MIT offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in architecture with numerous options at each level. Design studios are the foundation of architecture education at MIT, and students advance with projects of increasing difficulty as their education progresses.
The BSA program at MIT is called Course 4 and offers five disciplines: architectural design; art, culture and technology; computation; history, theory and criticism of architecture; and building technology. A set of core classes addresses topics such as visual arts and design, art history and design computing.
The four-year BSA program is not accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), but is a preparatory program for continuing education in the field. Students can also minor in architecture; art, culture and technology; design; or history of architecture, art, and design.
Bachelor of Science in Art and Design (BSAD)
The BSAD is a program for students interested in design principles and foundations. BSAD is known as Course 4-B and may include classes in architecture design fundamentals and spatial practices. A senior thesis is required, as is the completion of a research design seminar.
The MArch program prepares students for professional licensure. About 30 students are admitted each year. The program begins with three core studios, followed by three 'option' studios that allow the student to explore challenges in contemporary architecture, perhaps traveling to other countries, while interacting with MIT faculty and visiting professors. A design thesis finishes the program. Students with an unrelated bachelor's degree can finish this program in three and a half years, while students with related pre-professional degrees may be able to complete their studies in two and a half years through advanced entry admission.
The advanced study SMArchS program is two years long and is for individuals who already hold a professional degree in architecture. Students can specialize in architectural design or architecture and urbanism. The program requires at least 96 units and a thesis. Requirements include an architecture studies faculty colloquium in the first term. Students may take courses from areas of interest such as MIT's Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture or in building technology.
Northeastern's School of Architecture is in the College of Arts, Media and Design. The BS in Architecture program does not meet the state's educational requirement for architects, but Northeastern's one-year MArch program does.
BS in Architecture
While the BS in Architecture calls for four years of study, it takes five years to complete because Northeastern requires that students participate in two six-month paid internships. They also must participate in a study abroad program in Berlin. The program includes instruction in the basics of architecture, such as drawing techniques and computer-aided design, as well as the development of modern architecture. Studio courses allow students to work on design projects.
BS in Architectural Studies
This program focuses on architecture design and includes one six-month co-op. Students study the history of architecture as well as design principles. The program offers the following three tracks of study: sustainability; design and culture; and real estate development and design.
Students with a BS in Architecture from Northeastern can earn this degree in a year, while students with a BS in Architecture from another school will need two years. Those who hold degrees in other fields must enroll in a program that takes three years and a summer quarter to complete. In all programs, students examine urban housing, use integrated design and research various types of market-driven structures. For their final design studio project, students combine this information to create solutions for systemic problems. Master's students also study architecture theory and design strategy. Elective options include real estate development and the urban landscape.
Other School Options
There are many other school options for architecture in the Boston area. Boston Architectural College, a small private school, offers a bachelor's and a master's degree in architecture, as does Wentworth Institute of Technology, another private institution. A public school, the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, offers a low tuition for Massachusetts residents and has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Architectural Design and a MArch.