Architecture School Rankings

Read about degree programs in architecture, which usually lead to a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) or Master of Architecture (M.Arch). Find out what three universities have to offer in terms of program features and rankings, and see what other schools in the U.S. provide training for architects.

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School Overviews

Students who are interested in careers as architects must earn a professional B.Arch or M.Arch from a school that has been accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). The three schools featured below are all NAAB-accredited and include California Polytechnic State University, Rice University and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. These schools all have nationally ranked architecture programs. Some schools offer non-professional degrees for students who do not plan on obtaining a state architect's license.

Top U.S. Schools with Architecture Programs

1. California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo

California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) ranked as the seventh-best university in the West, according to U.S. News & World Report in 2012. Additionally, Cal Poly's undergraduate architecture program placed fourth on the DesignIntelligence survey of best architecture schools in 2012, as reported by Architectural Record. Nearly 10% of the university's 19,000 students enroll in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, where they can earn a B.Arch or non-professional Master of Science (M.S.) in Architecture. Program emphasis is on direct experience and a balanced curriculum that combines courses in art and science; B.Arch students in their fourth year may acquire additional experience abroad.

2. Rice University in Houston, TX

Rice University tied for 17th place on U.S. News & World Report's survey of national universities for 2012. The university's School of Architecture is one of the smallest in the U.S, yet it ranked fifth on the DesignIntelligence survey of best undergraduate architecture programs for the same year. Undergraduates can pursue a 6-year Bachelor of Arts in Architecture program leading to a professional B.Arch; a non-professional Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Studies is also available. Students in the B.Arch program may spend a semester in Paris; fifth-year students in the Preceptorship Program can acquire real-world experience at a top architectural firm. The M.Arch program can be completed in three, five or seven semesters, depending on a student's prior architectural education.

3. University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia

The University of Pennsylvania (Penn) tied for fifth place on U.S. News & World Report's list of national universities in 2012. According to DesignIntelligence in the same year, the university's graduate architecture program tied for eighth place on its survey of best architecture schools, as reported by Architectural Record. Undergraduate students can earn a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture; a special intensive major is available to those interested in earning a Master of Architecture. Graduate programs can lead to an M.Arch., a post-professional M.Arch II, an M.S. in Architecture or a Master in Environmental Building Design; a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. D.) in Architecture is also available.

Penn partners with the Architectural Association's School of Architecture in London to offer an Advanced Architectural Design Studio for 15 M.Arch students each year. Penn's architectural programs emphasize all aspects of design, ranging from hand drawing to computer-aided design (CAD).

Ten Good Architecture Schools in the U.S.

Name of School Distinction Location
California Polytechnic State University Recognized in 2009 for its commitment to sustainable design by Architect magazine San Luis Obispo, CA
Cornell University First-year architecture students celebrate annual Dragon Day, a 100-year-old tradition in which they create a huge dragon for a bonfire Ithaca, NY
Harvard University Graduate program ranked best or second-best for the last seven years, according to DesignIntelligence Cambridge, MA
Kansas State University Students in the master's degree program travel to Dallas, Chicago and Los Angeles to learn about urban architecture Manhattan, KS
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Master's degree program ranked sixth in 2012 by DesignIntelligence Cambridge, MA
Rice University Summer architecture program is taught by graduate architecture students and is open to all Rice students Houston, TX
Southern California Institute of Architecture One of the few independent architecture schools in the U.S. with undergraduate and graduate programs Los Angeles, CA
University of Texas Second-best undergraduate architecture program, according to DesignIntelligence in 2012 Austin, TX
University of Pennsylvania Home of PennPraxis, a faculty-student research group that works with organizations around the world Philadelphia, PA
Yale University Joint master's degree programs offered by the School of Management and School of Forestry and Environmental Studies New Haven, CT
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