25 Best Architecture Schools 2020
The 25 schools on this list offer the top Bachelor's Degrees in Architecture, based on median salary one year out of college. University of Notre Dame comes in first with a median starting salary of $55,200. Graduates of the undergraduate architecture program at University of California - Berkeley had the lowest median debt compared to graduates of the other top schools. Second lowest in median debt is Cornell University, at $17,500. Starting median salaries for graduates from the top 25 schools range from $47,800-$55,200.
Tuition, median salaries, and median debt were reported by the U.S. Department of Education in November 2019. View our methodology for more details about these rankings or read more about the top-ranked schools.
|Rank||School||Annual Tuition||Median Debt||Median Salary|
|#1||Notre Dame (IN)||$55,553||$24,500||$55,200|
|#3||Southfield (MI)||$35,280||Not Reported||$53,400|
|#5||San Luis Obispo (CA)||$23,833||$26,250||$52,900|
|#10||San Francisco (CA)||$50,282||$26,000||$51,200|
|#13||Kennesaw (GA)||$8,066 - $17,710||$31,000||$50,300|
|#18||Los Angeles (CA)||$58,195||$32,368||$48,600|
2020 Best Colleges Highlights
Learn more about the top colleges for a Bachelor's in Architecture degree. You can also read student reviews of each school by clicking on the stars. Although student reviews were not used as a ranking factor in this list, we provide ratings and reviews so students can consider the experience of alumni in their decision-making process.
The University of Notre Dame features a Bachelor of Architecture (BArch). This rigorous five-year program results in a first professional degree.
The first two years of the degree emphasize history and fundamentals. Uniquely, the program requires that a student’s third year be spent in Rome. The purpose of the Rome year is to understand that architecture is part of a millennia-long tradition and also part of a living city. The fourth year focuses on regional and traditional American forms. The final term of the fifth year is a studio thesis.
Students choose one of three concentrations: Architecture Practice and Enterprise, Furniture Design, or Preservation and Restoration. Each focuses on utility and design. Studio instruction and critique is a major part of the curriculum. The program also places a strong emphasis on sketching and drawing by hand. Courses include Graphics and Drawing, Building Technology, and Advanced Modeling Technique.
Founded in 1842, Notre Dame is a Catholic university located in Notre Dame, Indiana, near South Bend.
Carnegie Mellon University offers two bachelor’s degrees in Architecture. The Bachelor of Architecture (BArch) is a five-year professional program. The Bachelor of Arts in Architecture is a four-year program and is not part of an architect’s professional certification. Students in the program choose one of the two degrees by the end of their second year.
Both programs cover architectural history and foundation coursework, and both require studios, which are taught in small groups in a studio context with close faculty collaboration. The BArch requires ten studios, while the BA requires four. Advanced studios vary, but cover topics like materials, sustainability, and recycling. The content is the same for both degrees for the first two years.
The BArch program emphasizes technical knowledge and skills such as drawing. Students will learn design, structural concepts, and how to move from concept to construction. Courses include Materials and Assembly, Practice and Ethics, and Case Studies in Architecture and Cities. The BA degree is less focused on technical expertise and more on general knowledge. BA students will be grounded in architecture, but are not preparing for licensure in the field.
Carnegie Mellon is located in Pittsburgh. It is one of the country’s premier technological universities.
Through its College of Architecture and Design (CoAD), Lawrence Technological University features a Bachelor of Science in Architecture. The degree is designed for students who intend to become professional architects and is structured in combination with a Master of Architecture (MArch) program which requires 168 credits for both combined. Students finishing the BA automatically enter the Master's program. The combined program typically takes five years.
The dual program is focused on knowledge and skills that lead to certification but does so with an interdisciplinary approach. Emphasis is placed on design, ethics and social responsibility, sustainability, and communication skills. Students will learn architectural history, understand structures and their supporting systems, develop teamwork building and design skills, and be prepared for practice. Courses include History of the Designed Environment, 20th Century Architecture, Art and Design Awareness, and HVAC and Water Systems. Not all graduates enter architecture, and some go into design professions or teaching.
Lawrence is located in Southfield, Michigan, in the Detroit metro region.
Boston Architectural College offers a bachelor’s degree in architecture (BArch). This is a five-year professional program. The degree has a unique aspect that combines employment with academics. BAC partners with many local and regional firms that hire students for paid internships. Ninety-one percent of current students are employed this way while enrolled. Students earn practice hours when employed in relevant settings. The degree requires 3,000 practice hours.
The program emphasizes buildings and their systems, building performance, architecture history, current practice and design (both sketching and computer-aided design). The curriculum areas are studio design, design media, history and theory, and building technology and management. Students will learn history, acquire technical skills in designing structures and infrastructure, improve their communication and team working skills, and acquire practical experience through internships.
Classes in the curriculum include Spatial Thinking, Sustainable Systems, Building Systems, and Design Representation. There are several intensive studio courses. BCA also offers two related degree programs: Interior Architecture and Landscape Architecture.
The school was founded in 1889 and is located in Boston.
California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo features a Bachelor of Architecture (BArch). This is a rigorous five-year professional degree.
The degree emphasizes architectural history, present practices, how to design solutions to architectural problems, and communications. The fourth year is off-campus, often abroad. The university has programs in Florence and Copenhagen. Internships and “co-ops” (cooperative education opportunities with appropriate organizations and firms) are required; students self-initiate these opportunities. Graduates will be thoroughly grounded in all aspects of the field, will be familiar with the technical requirements of their field, and have enhanced design and communication skills.
Among the courses in the program are Architectural Technology Fundamentals, Introduction to Structural Systems, and History of World Architecture: Prehistory to Middle Ages. This program is not only one of the best, but it is also among the largest architectural schools in the country.
The school is located in San Luis Obispo, midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.