How to Prepare for the Best Schools for Architecture?

October 1, 2022
By AdmissionSight

How Many Years Does It Take To Study Architecture In the US?

How many years does it take to study architecture in the US? A B.Arch, a five-year undergraduate degree in architecture, or an M.Arch, a post-college master’s program that typically lasts two to three years, are the two alternatives available to people who desire to get an architectural degree that will facilitate their licensure as architects.

Although there are four-year bachelor’s degrees in architecture in the fields of science, art, and fine arts, these programs are typically not nationally certified. To be eligible for state licensure, an individual with one of these undergraduate degrees may need to enroll in an architectural master’s program, preferably in the best schools for architecture. Therefore, every aspirant student should research if a program is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board, or NAAB, before enrolling in it. On the NAAB website, you can find a list of all the recognized architecture programs in the United States.

According to architectural industry experts, a five-year undergraduate degree is a quick and least expensive way for college students who want to become architects to enter the field. However, those who aren’t sure if they want to pursue this job can decide to get a four-year degree in architecture or another subject instead, knowing that they can later add a master’s in architecture to their undergraduate training regardless of their college major.

Young woman working on drafts.

If a person spends many years working as an apprentice for a certified architect, they may be able to get licensed as an architect in various areas of the United States without having a professional degree in the subject. However, experts note that a person who enrolls in a professional architecture program can typically become licensed more quickly than someone who does not hold a formal degree.

Accordingly, a career in architecture often requires five to eight years of higher education, sometimes even more depending on the path a person takes.

What Classes In High School Are Good For Architecture?

Various concepts from the domains of science, math, and art must be understood by architects. So, what classes in high school are good for architecture?

High school students should enroll in physics, art history, drawing, sculpture, and photography studies to best prepare them for careers in architecture. Additionally, they can select electives in technology, humanities, woodworking, molding, foreign languages, and mathematics (such as calculus and linear algebra).

Two architecture students studying in a table.

When considering a profession in architecture, there are many more resources to take into account. You can improve your preparation and work ethic as an architect by taking a few electives in high school before getting into the best schools for architecture.

Best Art Programs To Take To Get Ready For Architecture Schools

To put it simply, the art of architecture incorporates a variety of different disciplines and natural sciences. Future architects must comprehend design concepts in order to use them in practical and appealing ways. These are going to be the most crucial classes that aspiring architects should take:

  • Studio Art/AP Studio
  • Photography
  • 3D Art
  • Drawing

Welding, woodworking, manufacturing, computer-aided drafting, and other related courses can also be worthwhile. Any course that guides you through the entire process of creating work will teach you useful skills.

Top Mathematics and Science Programs for Future Architects

Since math is required in high school, most students don’t take math electives, however, taking additional math classes does qualify as an elective in some ways. Your life in architecture will be saved by these math classes. Without math, no structure would be secure, and we would all be tenting outside. Along with science studies, these courses assist you in honing your logic, trial-and-error, and problem-solving abilities.

You must first enroll in all of the high school-required math classes. Geometry and Algebra I and II are both on the list; they are all the building blocks of more difficult arithmetic. It is advised that you enroll in higher-level math courses after you have completed those courses. In addition, taking AP-level coursework can help you get college credits. Here are the best math and science classes to take for preparation:

  • Calculus
  • Trigonometry
  • Physics
  • Biology

Additional High School Architecture Courses

Other high school courses that might be highly beneficial include:

  • Mechanical drawing and CAD (Computer Aided Design)
  • History (preferably art history)
  • Humanities (to improve your verbal and written communication abilities)
  • Technology (for your designs and plans)
  • English (to strengthen critical thinking and writing abilities)
  • A foreign language (would be quite helpful if you were visiting another country for work)
  • Project administration

The people you will work with within the architectural setting need to be communicated with frequently. Do electives and activities that will push you beyond your comfort zone if you are a timid or reserved future architect, including choir, band, orchestra, team sports, clubs, or a musical. There are numerous methods to improve your abilities!

What Do Most Architecture Schools Require For Admission?

What do most architecture schools require for admission? The procedure for applying to college architecture programs in the best schools for architecture is often the same as for other degree programs. But there are frequently extra demands and tactics to take into account.


You don’t need to discuss architecture or the reasons you want to study it in your Personal Statement, which is often the 650-word Common App essay. You can write about anything as long as it demonstrates something truly personal and significant because almost all schools will want an additional essay that is specifically about architecture.

You must express your “Point of View” or the reason(s) you are passionate about architecture in your Supplementary Essays on Architecture. You should think about how you intend to use and study architecture. Perhaps you’re curious about how design can develop public areas that support racial fairness. Or how we can use recycled materials to create net-zero structures. Or how fractal-inspired inventive structures can be created using algorithms.

Female student looking intently on her laptop.

As you find your distinctive voice in design, keep in mind your other interests. Architects are inspired by nature, culture, and society. Make sure to relate whatever you do to how you “experience spaces.” Our manmade environments influence everything we do, even our natural environments like woods. Why do you prefer certain environments while feeling uneasy in others? Have you ever traveled to an area that altered your outlook? You can begin by thinking about these issues in order to describe your passion for architecture.

College Architecture Portfolio

Some universities, such as RISD, Rice, and Cornell, require a portfolio. Many top architectural programs, including Virginia Tech, do not require portfolios, although possessing one will increase your possibilities. Some colleges, particularly art schools like RISD or Cooper Union, will give significant weight to the portfolio and additional drawing tasks (consider it a visual essay).

The first thing to remember is to stay away from including architecture in your portfolio of architecture. You should instead incorporate visual art (drawing, painting, photography, graphic design, sculpture, woodworking, etc.). Contrary to popular belief, most programs do not need candidates to submit technical sections or detailed designs or renderings. This is specifically stated in the portfolio requirements for Rice and Syracuse.

For the majority of architecture programs, concepts are typically weighted more heavily than techniques. While photorealism is acceptable, a strong concept and composition are far more crucial. In addition, it is also recommended to do free-hand drawing and drawing from life rather than using photographs as references. Not to mention, since you use the descriptions to explain your thought process, they might be very significant.

Structure your portfolio with the aid of your art teacher. Attend portfolio reviews to receive more commentary. You will receive personalized feedback from the universities that sponsor many of these portfolio assessments.

Finally, carefully follow the portfolio requirements provided by each school. The last thing you want is a surprise! In general, you usually publish it to a website like SlideRoom.


In certain schools, alumni are interviewed. For example, in the Cornell interview in comparison to the MIT interview. Please specify if something is required or optional.

Two people shaking hands in a room.

The interview with Cornell is necessary and important. Additionally, Cornell’s interview will be with a former student of architecture, in contrast to most alumni interviews where the interviewer is chosen at random. You should also discuss the projects with the interviewer and bring examples of your artwork.

Here are a few pieces of advice:

  • Be ready to discuss your thought processes for the various components and respond to inquiries about them.
  • Write a story that binds the pieces of your portfolio together and shows how they relate to your passion for architecture. Create a logical order for how you will present your tasks to make you feel more prepared. Perhaps the order demonstrates your growth in design thinking. Or think about displaying development sketches that turned into a finished piece.
  • Be ready to discuss your reasons for choosing Cornell particularly and for architecture in general when prompted. Build up your knowledge of historical and contemporary issues in architecture (what do you think of the winner of the Pritzker Prize this year?). Be able to list some of the structures and designers you admire the most. Moreover, demonstrate that you did your homework on Cornell’s architecture department and courses.

What Are the Best Schools For Architecture?

If you want to study architecture, you might be looking for your options. Now, what are the best schools for architecture?

Because everyone has various objectives and interests when it comes to education, there is no single “best” school for everyone. However, by comparing the offerings of several institutions, you ought to be able to choose one that meets your requirements and tastes.

Two students working on a project with their teacher.

You have a variety of options if you wish to study architecture in the best schools for architecture in the US. We’ll examine the top architecture programs offered in the US so you can pick the program that’s ideal for you.

University of California-Berkeley

The United States’ top 1 in the list of the best schools for architecture is the University of California, Berkeley, which was established in 1868. It is a Berkeley-based public research center that is well-known among educational institutions in the US.

The UC Berkeley’s program mixes required architectural and environmental design courses with opportunities for a wide range of individual research. Through fundamental classes and research in numerous fields, their program offers a full introduction to the field of architecture. Students may prepare for specialization in the field by focusing on architectural design and representation, architectural technology and building performance, architectural history, and society and culture.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

There is a significant body of research being done by the MIT Department of Architecture in all of its subfields. The Department’s placement within MIT also enables greater depth in areas like computers, contemporary design and manufacturing methods, materials, structure, and energy, as well as the humanities and the arts.

The Department of Architecture in MIT is committed to upholding moral principles and creating appropriate roles for architecture in society. It is a setting where unique creativity is promoted and fostered within a framework of ideas that is humanist, socially responsible, and environmentally sensitive.

Harvard University

For Harvard University undergraduates, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ History of Art and Architecture focus includes a path in Architecture Studies. The subject is jointly taught by the Graduate School of Design and the History of Art and Architecture.

At the nexus of imaginative conception, practical application, and social use, architecture incorporates not only the physical structures of human habitation but also the dynamic processes that characterize human action and experience. The study of architecture combines technical and humanistic methods of inquiry with written and visual modes of expression in regular classroom settings as well as “making”-based studios created expressly for this emphasis.

Cornell University

The staff of the architectural department has developed a highly organized and extensive curriculum that emphasizes design as well as philosophy, history, technology, representation, and construction.

In Ithaca, New York, Cornell University is a research institution that is privately owned. For the first three years of their education, all students adhere to a core curriculum designed to lay a solid foundation for future study in architecture and other fields. During the last four semesters, students are encouraged to work in a variety of fields while concentrating on a rigorous intellectual and speculative course of study.

There are several concentrations in architecture, including Architectural Science and Technology, Architectural Science and Technology and History of Architecture, Architectural Analysis, and Visual Representation in Architecture.


  • Columbia University


The institution’s architecture program is designed with a thorough curriculum and state-of-the-art equipment which made Columbia University one of the best schools for architecture in the US.

The program prepares students for specialization in the field in the fields of architectural design and representation, architectural technology and building performance, architectural history, and society and culture. Additionally, Columbia University’s architecture program integrates literary and visual ways of expression with scientific and humanistic methods of inquiry in both ordinary classroom settings and studios designed especially for this area of study.


  • Princeton University


The School of Architecture’s undergraduate program is renowned for its challenging and interdisciplinary approach to pre-professional education. Their program offers an introduction to architecture within the context of a liberal arts education and leads to an A.B. with a focus on architecture.

In addition to architectural design and the history and philosophy of architecture and urbanization, undergraduates also study a range of disciplines that contribute to an architect’s knowledge and vision, such as architectural analysis, representation, computing, and building technologies. Students can better prepare for graduate school in architecture and allied disciplines like landscape architecture, urban planning, civil engineering, art history, and the visual arts by enrolling in a broad academic program like this.


  • Rice University


William Marsh Rice University also referred to simply as “Rice University.”, is one of the top universities in the elite group of educational institutions in the United States.

A projected architecture school at Rice University seeks to address architectural problems through research and partnerships with divisions like environmental studies, business, and engineering. It is multidisciplinary and allows students to take part in internships with some of the best businesses to jumpstart a future career. The program will provide students with unmatched help and attention.


  • Carnegie Mellon University


Brilliant architectural design requires both in-depth basic training and the emergence of specific expertise. The reputation of Carnegie Mellon University as a premier interdisciplinary institution and a major player in international research is well-known.

Students who major in architecture at CMU have the option to combine their studies with other recognized fields at the university, such as robotics, business, or sustainable or computational design. Offering a deep level of participation in all of its architectural disciplines is Carnegie Mellon University’s goal. Its foundation is built on innovation and creativity, which regulates the idea of curiosity.


  •  Yale University


The Yale University architecture department is structured around a thorough curriculum, state-of-the-art tools, and a variety of activities that promote design exploration, visual inquiry, and critical discourse. The curriculum covers all of these topics through design studios and labs, lectures, and seminars on architectural history and philosophy, urbanization and landscape, materials and technology, and structures and computing. Numerous extracurricular initiatives, such as student travel possibilities, student art shows, and open studios, supplement the curriculum.


  • University of Pennsylvania


Last but not least among the top 10 best schools for architecture, the University of Pennsylvania‘s undergraduate architecture program was established in 2000 to give undergraduate students in the College of Arts and Sciences opportunities.

At UPenn, students can take architecture at many levels of engagement, from a Freshman Seminar to a Minor to a Major. Design, History & Theory, and Intensive Design are the three concentrations on which students concentrate.

The School of Arts & Sciences awarded him a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) with a Major in Architecture. Additionally, the university is frequently named as one of the top architecture schools in both the US and overseas.

You will have a wide range of choices for the best schools for architecture, no matter what your decision is. Choose what is right for you instead of focusing on the list of best schools for architecture. If you’re still having a hard time deciding on your own, AdmissionSight is here to help. AdmissionSight has been around the college admissions industry and our experts have been helping students get into their dream schools for more than 10 years now. Book an initial consultation to start discussing your future.

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