The contributions of professional architects for centuries can’t be overlooked. Depending on their major, they’re not only responsible for the exterior and interior architectural structure designs but also land-use design and other landscape architecture concerns.
The best architect schools offer degrees that ensure they produce experts who will not overlook other aspects of design and structure, such as safety and impact on nature. This way, they’ll excel in private practice and as government and private company or agency employees and contractors.
Listed below are universities or schools in the U.S. offering architecture-related programs. Ranked from lowest to average annual cost, they made it to the list because they meet the following criteria:
- An average annual cost of no more than $25,000
- An expected median starting salary of no less than $45,000
- Accredited and/or recognized by reputable institutions, agencies, or companies
10 Best Architect Schools in America
1. University of Florida
4 Year; Gainesville, FL
Average Annual Cost: $6,302
UF is a SACS-accredited (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) institution considered one of the top preeminent universities. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching also classifies it as a Very High Research University (RU/VH).
Its School of Architecture has a NAAB (National Architectural Accrediting Board) accreditation and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and city-lab programs. The four-year Bachelor of Design in Architecture is an undergraduate program designed to prepare graduates for a master’s degree.
For specialized career paths and professional advancement, graduates can enroll in two practice- and research-oriented 25-credit Graduate Certificate programs: Sustainable Architecture and Sustainable Design. They may also choose between the several master’s degrees offered by this large public university:
- Master of Science in Architectural Studies (MSAS) major in any of the following:
- 36-credit Sustainable Architecture
- 36-credit Sustainable Design
- Themed Environment Integration
- Historic Preservation (Coming Soon!)
- 33-credit Planned Program
- 52-semester Master of Architecture (Advanced Program)
- 30-semester Master of Architecture (Second Professional Degree)
Practicing, non-practicing, or fresh master’s degree graduates can further their skills and knowledge by enrolling in the university’s Graduate Studies program. Lastly, the university also has off-campus CityLabs master and graduate certificate programs for interdisciplinary collaboration and exploration of urban design, sustainability, and architecture ideas.
The University of Florida’s School of Landscape Architecture and Planning has several programs available, including:
- Minor in Urban Planning
- Minor in Landscape Architecture
- Bachelor of Landscape Architecture
- Urban and Regional Planning Graduate Certificate: Historic Preservation, Geographic Information Systems, Tropical Conservation and Development, Latin American Studies, and Wetland Sciences
- Master of Urban and Regional Planning
- First Professional Master of Landscape Architecture
- Post Professional Master of Landscape Architecture
- 4 + 1 Combined Program
2. University of Houston
4 Year; Houston, TX
Average Annual Cost: $12,838
Like UF, UH is a research university, but it is recognized by the Carnegie Carnegie Foundation as a Tier One institution with one of the highest research activities. Its Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design has gained lots of recognition, such as:
- Fifth on the College Factuals’ Best Value Architecture School in the US
- 31st on Design Intelligence’s 2019-2020 Top 40 Undergraduate Architecture Programs in the US
- 14th on the Design Intelligence’s 2019-2020 Top 20 Most Hired From Architecture Schools
- Sixth on Red Dot’s Top 10 Industrial Design Programs in the US
The school also has a long list of programs for future architects. For a bachelor’s degree, students can choose from the five-year Bachelor of Architecture, four-year Bachelor of Science in Interior Architecture, four-year Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design, and four-year Bachelor of Science in Environmental Design.
When enrolled in any of these majors, they can pursue a Minor in World Cities for a better understanding of complex or complicated urban phenomena. The school also offers a Minor in Architecture, open to students with a different major.
Lastly, it offers several master’s degree options: MS in Industrial Design, Master of Arts in Architectural Studies (MAAS), MS in Architecture, Master of Architecture 3+ (MARCH 3+), and MARCH +2.
The last three programs have STEM designations, allowing international students to extend their post-completion OPT (Optional Practical Training) for 24 months. It also means the School of Architecture’s faculty can qualify for STEM-designated funding at NSF and other research agencies.
3. Purdue University – Main Campus
4 Year; West Lafayette, IN
Average Annual Cost: $13,986
This large public university is consistently included in the U.S. News and World Report’s Top 10 Most Innovative University in America list. Its programs, including BSLA (BS in Landscape Architecture), have strict regulations and rules, especially for transferees or CODOs. This is evidenced by their acceptance rate of around 60%.
BSLA is a four-year program with a three-track curriculum: technical, design, and plant material. Students are taught and trained to become adept at analytical thinking, problem-solving, and communicating.
During the freshman or pre-landscape architecture year, they will learn the basics to qualify for the second or professional LA year. It is when they start applying the knowledge gained, which is almost similar to the third year. The difference is that juniors handle larger and more technically challenging and diverse projects.
Before the end of their junior year, students get assigned to professional offices to complete a 40-week co-op program. Then, in their last year, they will handle regional and urban design projects from “real” clients.
4. The University of Texas at Arlington
4 Year; Arlington, TX
Average Annual Cost: $14,246
Like the University of Houston, UTA is a Tier 1 large public university with an RU/VH designation. The U.S. Department of Education also recognizes it as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution.
UTA’s College of Architecture, Planning, and Public Affairs students have been winning major research and design competitions for over a decade. As one of the best architect schools in the U.S., the School of Architecture took the number 16 spot in Design Intelligence’s “Most Hired Firms” ranking.
Its four-year, pre-professional BS in Architecture program consists of Basic Studies Courses and a Core Curriculum Course Sequence to ensure students have sufficient knowledge and skills upon graduation.
BS in Architecture degree holders can enroll in advanced degrees. UTA offers three programs: the Master of Landscape Architecture, the three-path Master of Architecture (M. Arch), and the newest addition, the 30-credit MS in Sustainable Building Technology.
5. The University of Utah
4 Year; Salt Lake City, UT
Average Annual Cost: $14,773
With a Highest Research Activity designation, the University of Utah is one of the institutions included in the George W. Bush Institute’s innovation impact productivity ranking. It is also one of the large public universities in Utah with a low student-to-faculty ratio and tuition fees. Its School of Architecture currently has NAAB-accredited master’s degrees and one non-accredited bachelor’s program.
The pre-professional BS in Architectural Studies by The University of Utah aims to produce graduates qualified for entry-level jobs in the building industry. It also prepares them for the M. Arch degree and environmental design-related studies.
Options for a graduate degree include the two-year M. Arch that leads students to the practice of architecture. Another is the three-year M. Arch designed for enrollees with no undergraduate architecture degree.
The school also offers MS in Architectural Studies (MSAS), a post-professional graduate program perfect for those wanting to specialize in architectural research. Lastly, qualified students can enroll in the university’s M. Arch/MSAS Dual-Degree program.
6. University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus
4 Year; Denver, CO
Average Annual Cost: $15,358
The University of Colorado’s College of Architecture and Planning BS in Architecture program allows students to learn essential architecture-related knowledge in the first three years. During their last year of study, they can choose between Architectural Studies Track and Architectural Design Track.
As a university combining accessible, quality education and innovative research, 67% of its graduates stayed local. A decade after graduation, its alumni also earn 8% more than those who graduated from other Colorado-based four-year institutions. Plus, more than 70% of its full-time undergraduate students receive financial aid of no less than $13,000.
Those who want to pursue a master’s degree have several accredited program options, namely:
- STEM-Designated M. Arch
- Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)
- Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP)
- Master of Urban Design (MUD)
- MS in Historic Preservation (MSHP)
The university also has certificate programs for non-degree and degree-seeking graduate students. Lastly, architects who want to further their studies can enroll in the Ph.D. in Geography, Planning, and Design program.
7. Iowa State University
4 Year; Ames, IA
Average Annual Cost: $15,496
ISU is yet another large public university with an RU/VH designation, a non-discrimination policy, and a high acceptance rate. It has 10 schools and colleges, subdivided into several departments, including the College of Design – Department of Architecture.
The Department of Architecture offers programs with the main goal of ensuring graduates don’t ignore cultural discipline, social formation diversity, and environmental effects when creating their designs.
The university’s five-year Bachelor of Architecture (B. Arch) degree is a 165-credit program that includes an opportunity to study abroad for one semester. Once completed, graduates can enroll in a graduate program.
ISU offers two: 90-credit M. Arch and 30-credit M.S. Arch. They may also start their careers in architecture, construction, and other related industries and then take graduate degrees later.
Another option available for undergraduates is the five-year Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA). It’s a 150-credit program wherein students will undergo off-campus studies and training during their senior year. They have four options: Independent Study Abroad Experience, Professional Internship, National Student Exchange, and College of Design Rome Program.
8. North Carolina State University at Raleigh
4 Year; Raleigh, NC
Average Annual Cost: $16,458
NCSU is included in the U.S. News & World Report’s best global universities list for 2022 and Money’s Best Colleges for Your Money list. It currently offers hundreds of undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs available in different colleges or departments.
Its College of Design – School of Architecture offers programs centered on unique approaches and self-directed and multidisciplinary design excellence combined with research opportunities.
To jumpstart your career in the architecture and building industry, enroll in the school’s four-year Bachelor of Environmental Design (BEDA) program. This pre-professional degree prepares students for higher education.
They may choose to enroll in NCSU’s NAAB-accredited B. Arch program during their fifth year as students. This two-semester professional degree is also open to students who obtained their BEDA in another university. Interested students may also enroll in NCSU’s Minor in Landscape Architecture certification program.
For graduate studies, enrollees can choose from three. One is the M. Arch, available in two different tracks. The 48-credit is for those who finished architecture-related degrees, while the 96-credit is for those with no undergraduate architecture-related degrees.
With this master’s degree program, graduates can earn one or more of the following:
- Certificate in City Design
- Certificate in Public Interest Design
- Certificate in Energy + Technology in Architecture
- Concentration in History + Theory of Architecture
Another option is the self-directed, research-based Master of Advanced Architectural Studies program. With this option, enrollees can choose from four different focus areas of study: City Design, Public Interest Design, Energy and Technology, and History and Theory. The last graduate program available is the STEM-designated MLA degree.
9. North Dakota State University-Main Campus
4 Year; Fargo, ND
Average Annual Cost: $16,584
NCSU is committed to providing student-focused, quality, affordable educational services to produce leaders capable of solving local, national, and global challenges. It has a high acceptance rate of more than 90%, and its 2020 Career Outcomes Report shows that 80% of its graduates were able to land a job successfully.
This mid-sized university offers three architecture-related programs. The NAAB-accredited four-year BS Arch and one-year M. Arch help students build a solid foundation of skills and knowledge and prepare them for licensure. Students will enjoy state-of-the-art design studios and classrooms to master advanced modeling technology and actual, hands-on but guided project completion.
The last degree future architects can obtain from NDSU is the five-year MLA, a professional program aimed at enhancing students’ knowledge, skills, self-reliance, and environmental consciousness. Enrollees will attend lectures, seminars, field trips, and more to prepare them to handle community service and in-studio projects.
10. Texas Tech University
4 Year; Lubbock, TX
Average Annual Cost: $17,571
As a Research 1 institution, TTU’s College of Architecture has curricula focusing on architectural skills and knowledge development and how technology helps shape architecture. They also ensure students learn and understand the role of architecture in mediating political, social, and cultural issues.
For these reasons, they have produced high-performing, technically-trained, and globally competitive architects over the years.
The undergraduate degree option is the 124-credit BS Arch, but interested students may also opt for a dual-degree program. This program allows them to combine BS Arch and BA Civil Engineering or BS Arch and Bachelor of Business Administration degrees.
For graduate programs, the school offers M. Arch, MS Arch, and combined M. Arch and Master of Business Administration degrees.
Master’s degree students and graduates who want to have a specialization can enroll in any of the Graduate Certificate programs offered by TTU. They include Design, Computation, and Fabrication, Health Care Facilities Design, Health & Wellness Design, Land Arts of the American West, and Urban and Community Design.