List of Top Architecture Schools in United States

Mar 19, 2021

If you want to get technical and define it then, Architecture is the art and science of designing buildings and other physical structures. But what exactly is the core of architecture that compels you to study it? It is the joy of making of places where people spend their lives. As architects, you are not just concerned with the exterior and interior design of a building, but the environment as a whole. Architecture is mostly about human beings living in a “better” way then before. You do not aim at sustainability you aim at eternity.

The top architecture schools are:

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

The Department of Architecture at MIT has two undergraduate programs that offer comprehensive study in architecture, art and design. So a student can choose to graduate as a Bachelor of Science in Architecture or a Bachelor of Science in Art and Design. The programs focus on the inconspicuous connects between architecture, design, building technology, computation, and the history, theory and criticism of architecture, art and design. About 30 students register for this program every year.

To be accepted by the Department of Architecture at MIT for the undergraduate program, a student must first be accepted to MIT. It is only at the end of the first year that the student can choose a major in a specific department. Considering how prestigious it is to be accepted at MIT, your test score must be exceptional and you must be a class topper.

A TOEFL or IELTS score is also necessary. Need-based aid is available. Students can do term-time work and/or take a loan to meet their expenses.

Noted alumni: Christopher Alexander, Cass Gilbert, Christopher Charles Benninger.

For more information:

2. The Bartlett School of Architecture UCL (University College London), UK

This internationally famous institution is known for its innovative research and thorough teaching. The School offers four-degree programs:
  • Architecture BSc
  • Architecture MSc
  • Architectural & Interdisciplinary Studies BSc
  • Engineering & Architectural Design MEng

To be accepted for the undergraduate program at UCL, the minimum requirements for Indian students are:

  • The applicant should have completed the first year of a Bachelor Degree at an Indian university recognized by UCL with above-average grades OR
  • Excellent scores in Standard 12 awarded by CISCE or CBSE

Need-based scholarships are available as the school is keen to encourage talented students. One in four AA students receives financial assistance from the School's Scholarship, Bursary and Assistantship program.

Noted alumni: Leslie Lokko, Arya Taware, Narinder SAgoo

For more information:

3. ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), Switzerland

The program offered at this world-renowned school includes architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, and urban design. The language of instruction in the three-year Bachelor’s degree in German but classes and examinations take place in German or English.

Applicants must have a Swiss matriculation certificate or it’s equivalent. Applications to the first semester can be one of the following three:
  • Admission without entrance examination 
  • Admission conditional upon passing reduced entrance examination (4 subjects) 
  • Admission conditional upon passing comprehensive entrance examination (8 subjects)

Financial support and scholarships are available but limited.

Noted alumni: Steve Baer, Max Frisch, Bernard Tschumi

For more information:

4. University of California, Berkeley, USA

This private Ivy League research university offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Architecture at the College of Environmental Design (CED). The program includes environmental design and architecture with opportunities for highly varied individual programs. Students can major in architecture, landscape architecture, urban studies or sustainable environmental design.

The program ensures that students become adept at strategizing, problem-solving and critical thinking that is essential in design and planning. To stand a chance to be accepted, applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.0. Besides, applicants must be good in math, algebra, trigonometry and calculus.

Need-based and merit-based scholarships are limited.

Noted alumni: Ron Herman, Austin Allen and Kim Wilkie.

For more information:

5. Harvard University, USA

Architecture Studies at this private Ivy League research university is conducted within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the Graduate School of Design. The Bachelor of Architecture course usually takes five years to complete.

The program includes:
  • History and Theory - of global architecture
  • Design Studies – analyzing contemporary architecture 

International students must include TOEFL scores while applying. Successful applicants usually have a GPA score of at least 3.4.

Financial aid at Harvard is limited.

Noted alumni: Frank Gehry, Fumihiko Maki and IM Pei.

For more information:

The other schools who did not get mentioned in the top 5 list but are great schools for architecture anyway:

6. British University in Dubai, UAE

We know Dubai has beautiful buildings and amongst them, is a beautiful school that helps design them. The Faculty of Engineering at the British University inDubai (BUiD) provides both practical and research programmes to support the development needs of the Middle East. 

The University offers full-time and part-time Masters programmes in Sustainable Design of the Built Environment andSystems Engineering in collaboration with the Welsh School of Architecture inCardiff and The University of Manchester.

7. Cardiff University, Wales

The WelshSchool of Architecture (WSA) was voted as the UK’s top school of architecture in the Times Higher Education Supplement, and its holistic approach to design embraces all aspects of architecture. WSA is currently expanding its taughtMasters programme, offering course options in Environmental Design ofBuildings, Theory and Practice of Sustainable Design, Urban Design, SustainableEnergy and Environment, Building Energy and Environmental Performance Modeling. The Design Research Unit within the WSA is a nurturing space where design and research come together to produce innovative and sustainable built solutions.

8. Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology(RMIT), Australia

RMIT focuses on exploring the emergence of innovative practices in the context of international architectural debate, promoting a constructive environment for learning through project-based research and critique. What differentiatesRMIT’s Masters programme from other universities is the Urban ArchitectureLaboratory in which students undertake urban architectural electives in conjunction with spatial information architecture electives. RMIT also offers short courses in 3D Max, AutoCAD, Photoshop and Rinoceros to keep architects’ computer aided design skills at the forefront.

9. University of Cambridge, UK

Architecture has been studied at Cambridge University since 1912 (yes, that long) and theFaculty of Architecture is respected for pushing boundaries and diversifying to address issues within the built environment. Especially designed to attract top flight engineers early in their careers, the course enables professionals to engineer buildings for sustainable development through enhanced technical skills and a holistic understanding of a sustainable development. Similarly, a part-timeMasters in Interdisciplinary Design, built especially for architects, is a course for design, strategy, leadership and sustainability in architecture, ensuring a multiple-voiced approach to built solutions.

10. Columbia University, New York, USA

The Graduate School of Architecture, Preserving and Planning (GSAPP) of Columbia University has offered a number of specialised architecture programmes since it opened in 1881. All programmes stress the need for analysing and understanding historical trends in architecture in order to move forward with new ideas. The school’s preservation programme, which was America’s first, continues to train professionals in the understanding of historic architecture, artefacts and landscape. GSAPP offers Master of Architecture, Master of Advanced ArchitecturalDesign, Master of Architecture and Urban Design, Master of HistoricPreservation, Certificate in Conservation of Historic Buildings among others.

11. Waseda University, Japan

Waseda boasts the oldest Architecture Department of all the private universities inJapan, and each year the Waseda alumni contribute to the talent within large design firms such as Nikken Sekei, NTT Facilities and the Ishimoto Design Office. Through a variety of postgraduate programmes, Waseda deals with the relationship between architecture, urban design and engineering, providing specialised courses that enable architects to reach expertise in seismic design, vibration engineering, seismology/wind engineering and advanced disaster prevention planning, among many other specializations. 

We are living in a rapidly changing world, and so we need people with the imagination to create the buildings and cities our society needs to keep pace with progress. If you are someone who is excited by change, then you could grasp the opportunity to build the future the way you want it.


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