How to Choose the Best School Hundreds of colleges and universities offer classes in architecture and related fields. How do you choose the best architecture school? These links and resources will help you find the best schools for architecture and to decide which school is right for you.
Types of Architecture Degrees
There are several different paths you can take toward an Architecture degree. One route is to enroll in a 5-year Bachelor or Master of Architecture program. Or, you can earn a bachelor's degree in another field such as mathematics, engineering, or even art. Then go on to graduate school for a 2- or 3-year Masters degree in Architecture. These different paths each have advantages and disadvantages. Consult with your academic advisers and teachers. You can also ask professional architects about the type of training they recommend.
Architecture School Ranks
With so many schools to choose from, where do you begin? Well, you can look at manuals such as America's Best Architecture & Design Schools
, which evaluates schools according to a variety of criteria. Or, you can check general rankings of college and university programs. But beware of these reports! You may have interests that aren't reflected in school ranks and statistics. Before you choose an architecture school, think closely about your personal needs. Send away for catalogs, visit a few prospective schools, and talk to people who have attended there.
Accredited Architecture Programs
To become a licensed architect, you'll need to meet the educational requirements established in your state or country. In the USA and Canada, requirements can be met by completing an architecture program that has been approved by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB)
or the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB)
. Other types of accreditation, such as WASC accreditation, do not meet the educational requirements for licensing. Before you enroll in an architecture course, always make sure that it meets the criteria established by the country where you plan to live and work.
Architecture Training Programs
Many fascinating careers related to architecture do not require a degree from an accredited architecture program. Perhaps you would like to work in drafting, digital design, or home design. A technical school or an art school may be the ideal place to pursue your education. Online search engines can help you locate both accredited and non-accredited architecture programs anywhere in the world.
Regardless of the school you select, eventually you'll need to obtain an internship and receive specialized training outside the classroom. In the USA and many other parts of the world, an internship lasts about three years. During that time, you will earn a salary and be supervised by registered pros. At the completion of your internship period, you'll need to take and pass a registration exam (the ARE
in the USA). Passing this exam is your final step toward obtaining a license to practice architecture.
Study Architecture on the Web
Online courses can be a useful introduction to architectural studies. By taking architecture classes online, you can learn basic principles and possibly even earn credits toward a degree in architecture. Experienced architects may also turn to online classes to expend their knowledge. However, before you can earn a degree from an accredited architecture program, you'll need to attend seminars and participate in studios. If you can't attend classes full-time, look for universities that combine online courses with weekend seminars, summer programs, and on-the-job training.
The long progress toward a degree in architecture will be expensive. If you're in school right now, ask your guidance counselor for information about student loans, grants, fellowships, work-study programs, and scholarships. Check scholarship listings published by the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Most importantly, ask to meet with a financial aid adviser at your chosen college.
Ask For Help
Searching for the right school can be both exciting and terrifying. Take time to dream, but also consider practical considerations such as location, finances, and the general atmosphere of the school. As you narrow down your choices, feel free to post questions in our discussion forum. Perhaps someone who has recently graduated can offer a few tips. Good luck!