best architecture schools

What Are the Best Architecture Schools Worldwide?

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Do you enjoy studying structures and aspire to work in the field of architecture? If that's the case, you're undoubtedly looking for the best architectural education available. Therefore, learning how to study and become an architect is essential.

Identifying the best architecture schools can be tough. However, we've done the tough work for you and prepared a list of the best architecture schools in the United States and worldwide.

The Discipline of Architecture

Bachelor of Architecture, a professional degree, is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). Bachelor of Science in Architecture (B.S. ) or Bachelor of Arts in Architecture (B.A.). It is typically a 3-4 year program in the United States, depending on the major and minor subjects.

Architecture School

An architecture school offers a Bachelor of Architecture (BArch), the minimal degree required to become an architect; however, there are multiple alternative architecture degrees.

A Master of Architecture degree is another method to become an architect if you don't have a Bachelor of Architecture. Master of Architecture degrees might last anywhere from one to three years, depending on your prior experience with architecture.

These programs often last five years. By the end, you'll have the curriculum and experience necessary to pass the Architecture Registration Exam and begin working as an architect. Topics covered by architecture majors include:

  • Drafting
  • Structural design
  • Architectural theory
  • Construction methods

The list below examines the best undergraduate degrees available to high school and transfer students interested in architecture and related professions. In addition, some of the most economical and high-quality institutions with architecture programs are listed below.

These are some of the most famous architects of the 21st century and architecture that has shaped modern era construction; additionally, a list of top female architects to inspire you to become an architect.

31 Best Architecture Schools in the US

1. California Polytechnic State University (CAL POLY)

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Cal Poly is a well-known university in San Luis Obispo, California. It takes 5 years to study architecture. The well-known College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED) at Cal Poly provides a unique combination of eight-degree programs in five closely connected departments:

  • Architecture
  • Landscape architecture
  • Architectural engineering
  • City and regional planning
  • Construction management

2. Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)

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Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a public research university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Students can specialize in subdisciplines such as sustainable or computational design. They can also combine their strong foundation in architectural studies with other CMU areas such as the humanities, sciences, business, or robotics.

3. Cooper Union For The Advancement of Science And Art

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The Cooper Union is one of the best places to study architecture because it aims to deliver the best professional education possible to its students in a stimulating intellectual atmosphere. As a result, it has one of the best academic programs for preparing students to become great architects, artists, and engineers.

The Cooper Union is located in the heart of Manhattan, New York City. Outside of the studio and classroom, the city's numerous cultural, educational, and civic institutions provide students with an unlimited source of inquiry and experience.

4. Cornell University

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Cornell University's architectural department focuses on design, philosophy, history, technology, representation, and structures. Students study a core curriculum for the first three years of their education, creating a strong basis for architectural education. Here you can work across fields throughout the final four semesters.

All available concentrations in architecture include:

  • Architecture
  • Culture and Society
  • Architectural Analysis
  • History of Architecture
  • Architectural Science and Technology
  • Visual Representation in Architecture

5. Georgia Institute of Technology

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The School of Architecture at Georgia Tech introduces students to the discipline, material culture, and creative problem-solving methodologies. It is one of the best architecture schools because of its high quality of design education. It is also active on a global scale in both practice and research.

Georgia Tech is one of the state's four main research universities and one of the University System of Georgia's 34 public institutions. It is an urban university known for its focus on cutting-edge technology and merging academic and practical training. It is located in midtown Atlanta.

6. Harvard University

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Harvard University is one of the best architecture schools in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States. It is the oldest higher education institution in the United States, founded in 1636. It is home to ten degree-granting schools, two theaters, five museums, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

It also houses the largest academic library system in the world, so you will have access to all the resources you may need to study. In addition, it provides extensive financial aid packages, which over 60% of students take advantage of.

Architecture Studies is sponsored jointly by the History of Art and Architecture and the Harvard Graduate School of Design for Harvard College students. It is a good university to study in as it has produced eight US presidents, several foreign heads of state, 62 living billionaires, 359 Rhodes Scholars, and 242 Marshall Scholars.

Although the school is a bit expensive, you will get value for your money. The school provides admission for both citizens and international students. So, if you find this school appealing enough, you can apply for an Hb2 visa to come here. But, ensure you consult an immigration lawyer for US immigration advice before applying for the visa.

7. Illinois Institute of Technology(IIT)

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IIT Architecture students and professors have a long history of innovation in architecture, design, landscape architecture, and urbanism. The IIT bachelor's degree is tailored for undergraduates who want to leave their imprint on the built world. It is one of the top-ranked architecture programs in the United States.

The National Architectural Accrediting Board recognizes this five-year, STEM-designated degree. It allows graduates to become licensed architects without having to return to school. The academic program ensures that advanced digital technologies are combined with sustainable design, collaborative thinking, and professional practice.

8. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

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MIT is located in Cambridge, United States. It is a privately endowed, independent, coeducational university with five schools:

  • Science
  • Engineering
  • Management
  • Architecture and planning
  • Humanities, arts, and social sciences

MIT is a great institute to study architecture because it is also invested in extracurricular activities. It offers one of the most diversified intercollegiate athletic programs globally, with 33 varsity sports. A vibrant artistic culture pervades college life as well.

The Architecture Department is dedicated to preserving human values and developing acceptable roles for architecture in society. The academic program encourages and nurtures individual creativity within a humanist, socially, and environmentally conscious framework of ideals.

As expected, the school has big names to prove its success. Among them are John O. Merrill and Louis H. Skidmore, who graduated in 1922-1923. They co-founded Skidmore Owings and Merrill, one of the largest architectural firms in the US. Another is I.M. Pei, who graduated in 1940 and won the 1983 Pritzker Prize in architecture.

9. Northeastern University

Northeastern University as seen from above. Aerial photography taken around campus in June 2010.

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Northeastern University is one of the best architecture schools in the US. The school brings together a strong faculty, experts in practice, teaching, scholarship, and research, with a clear aim to address the issues of today's urbanization.

Students study global influences that shape cities through various lenses, including design, history, technology, business, and culture. What makes the program great is its dedication to applying the power of critical thinking and design innovation to the real problems that cities worldwide face today.

10. Pratt Institute

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Pratt Institute is a prestigious architecture school in New York City. The five-year design sequence integrates critical thinking, design, technology, building, representation, sustainability, and social responsibility. It provides a thorough foundation in architecture.

The program continually integrates new technology into the curriculum since it is committed to modern material practices. As a result, Pratt students learn to strive for creative and intellectual freedom and dedicate themselves to honestly inspired architectural research.

11. Princeton University

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The undergraduate curriculum at the School of Architecture at Princeton University focuses on architecture and introduces architecture within the context of a liberal arts education. Undergraduates study a variety of disciplines that contribute to an architect's knowledge and vision. These include:

  • Architectural analysis
  • Representation
  • Computing and construction technologies
  • architectural design
  • The history and theory of architecture and urbanization

A wide academic program like this also helps students prepare for graduate school in architecture and related fields, including:

  • Visual arts
  • Art history
  • Urban planning
  • Civil engineering
  • Landscape architecture

12. Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

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RISD is a great school to study architecture since it stresses the process, artistic sensibilities, and social and ethical responsibilities inherent in fine arts. As they identify and explain a personal approach to the field, students hone their capacity to think and communicate through sketching, making, writing, and discussing ideas with others.

13. Rice University

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Rice University is a prominent research university dedicated to building a strong intellectual environment for future architects. It is located in the nation's fourth-largest metropolis, Houston, Texas.

Rice Architecture's modest student-to-faculty ratio of 5:1 fosters a close-knit community that provides thoughtful training to undergraduates and graduates, particularly in the studio setting.

14. Syracuse University, New York

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The five-year Architecture program provides a comprehensive approach to designing the built environment through a rigorous and interesting professional course of study. The design studio is the program's heart.

Students learn design principles while working alongside their peers in this session. Professors provide instruction through substantial one-on-one communication and formal and informal work assessments.

15. Texas A & M University-College Station

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Texas A&M University's Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) program is the oldest in the state. It is a four-year program sponsored by the American Society of Landscape Architects and accredited by the Council of Landscape Architecture Registration Boards. The BSLA program received provisional accreditation in 1971 and has remained accredited ever since.

16. The Visual College Of Art And Design, Vancouver

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Owned by the Eminata Group, the Visual College of Art and Design (VCAD) is a for-profit career college located in Vancouver, Canada. The institution offers Diploma programs in diverse design courses, of which architecture and interior design are two distinct courses.

Students who graduated from this school are versatile and usually have a dab hand in creating layouts of residential, commercial, industrial, and public spaces. The school architecture program also gives students an edge in theoretical and practical aspects of architectural practices in Canada.

Other Great Architecture Schools in the US Include:

  1. Tulane UniversityNew Orleans, Louisiana.
  2. The University of CaliforniaBerkeley, California.
  3. University of California Los Angeles, California.
  4. The University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.
  5. The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Illinois.
  6. The University of Michigan, Ann Arbour, Michigan.
  7. The University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  8. The University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  9. The University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
  10. The University of Texas at Austin, Texas.
  11. The University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia.
  12. University of Notre Dame, Indiana.
  13. University of Washington Seattle, Washington.
  14. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University at Blacksburg, Virginia.
  15. Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.

21 Best Architecture Schools Worldwide

We interact with architecture every day. Structures worldwide have a tale to tell, from antique castles to gothic cathedrals, modern museums to skyscrapers. Our list highlights the best Architecture universities in the world to study architecture according to QS World University Rankings. 

1. Delft University of Technology

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The Delft University of Technology is based in the Netherlands and features one of the world's largest campuses. Restaurants, parks, cycling lanes, a botanical garden, a new media center, a flying simulator, and an aerodynamics and propulsion lab are all part of the 161-hectare complex.

Delft Institution of Technology is one of the best universities to study architecture as it was ranked as the 54th best university in the world by the QS World University Rankings 2018. It specializes in several STEM subjects, including:

  • Architecture
  • Environmental studies
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Engineering and technology
  • Civil and structural engineering 

2. University College London(UCL), United Kingdom

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UCL is in the midst of one of the world's most dynamic cities, allowing you to enjoy all the benefits of London. It was the first university in England to admit women to university education and the first to admit students of any religion or social background. Did you know this?

UCL is a great university to study architecture abroad as it boasts 18,000 international students from more than 150 countries, giving it a global viewpoint. In addition, there have been 30 Nobel laureates among its former employees and pupils, one for each decade since the Prize was established.

UCL understands that students enter architecture school for various reasons and are dedicated to helping you achieve your goals while improving your skills and employability.

3. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH ZURICH)

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ETH Zurich is a Swiss university based in Zurich. It has a reputation for cutting-edge research and innovation and is one of the world's premier science and technology universities. Albert Einstein is among the university's graduates. In addition, ETH Zurich researches various sectors, including engineering, architecture, chemistry, and physics.

At ETH Zurich architecture department, the academic program combines solid theory with practical application. Although German is the primary teaching language for undergraduates, most master's programs and doctoral courses are taught in English.

4. National University of Singapore (NUS)

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NUS is a prestigious, globally known Asian university. It provides a global perspective on teaching and research, focusing on Asian viewpoints and expertise. NUS Architecture students think critically, intellectually, and ethically about their activity and its effects on others, going beyond aesthetics and technical expertise.

The programs and services are designed to help you get the most out of your stay on campus. As an architecture student, you'll find various ways to get active in the school community. This could be via leadership development, participation in student clubs and organizations, or volunteer work with local organizations.

5. Manchester School of Architecture (MSA)

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Manchester School of Architecture (MSA) is an innovative collaboration between Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) and The University of Manchester (UoM). You will find it half a mile from the city center. It combines two architecture schools with over 100 years of educational experience to create one of the UK's largest architecture schools.

The MSA's architectural research is inherently interdisciplinary and extensive in scope. It embraces topics as diverse as urban design, urban development, ecological and landscape design, and historic environment protection and management.

The Manchester Architecture Research Centre (MARC) is primarily responsible for this research. The research work inspires postgraduate research and taught programs, and you are invited to participate actively in the school's research culture.

6. Tsinghua University

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Students interested in excellent engineering and computer science programs can look no further than Tsinghua University in Beijing. It has ranked among the top in the world for both fields since 2015.

Tsinghua is consistently ranked among China's best institutions, and notable alumni include President Xi Jinping, who earned a degree in chemical engineering in 1979. Distinguished guests who have talked at Tsinghua include Tony Blair, Henry Kissinger, and Bill Clinton.

The institution is divided into 20 schools and 57 departments, with subjects ranging from science to engineering to arts and literature to social sciences and medicine.

Tsinghua University's campus is in the Haidian neighborhood in northwest Beijing, on the location of the Qing Dynasty imperial gardens. Tsinghua University has one of the most beautiful university campuses globally.

7. Politecnico Di Milano, Italy

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With approximately 45,000 students, Politecnico di Milano, founded in 1863, is one of Europe's most prestigious technical colleges. It is the largest Italian university in Engineering, Architecture, and Design. Almost all postgraduate academic programs are taught in English, drawing many international students from over 100 countries.

The program in Architecture and Urban Design offers students advanced training in the field of Architectural Design. The educational path appropriately addresses the growing demand for architects to deal with the complexity of problems and their new professional responsibilities, as required worldwide.

The study focuses on the fundamentals of architectural design at various theoretical and practical scales. Optional courses, elective thematic and final Design Studios, allow students to personalize their educational experience.

8. University of Cambridge 

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You will find the University of Cambridge in the old city of Cambridge, 50 miles north of London. It is the fourth-oldest university globally and the second-oldest in the English-speaking world, founded in 1209.

The University of Cambridge is a popular university known for its teaching, research, and worldwide viewpoint, thanks to its reputation for academic brilliance.

Cambridge's Department of Architecture emphasizes creativity, curiosity, and a strong intellectual foundation. As a result, it has a strong staff-to-student ratio, a fantastic library, reprographics rooms, workshops, studios, and places for larger projects are all available.

9. The Ecole Polytechnique Federale De Lausanne (EPFL)

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EPFL is a research institute and university focusing on natural sciences and engineering in Lausanne, Switzerland. It has students from different countries. The EPFL campus, which spans 136 acres and 65 buildings, is located on the shores of Lake Geneva.

Architecture studies are based on a constant dialogue between practice and theory. Students have their workspace in a workshop throughout their studies and access to computing equipment and machinery in the model's workshop.

Students can also access a well-stocked library, various seminars on art, physics, architecture, and human sciences, and exhibitions that are cutting-edge in these subjects. In addition, between the Bachelor's and Master's degrees, all students must do a one-year professional internship.

10. Tongji University

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Tongji German Medical School became Tongji University in 1927. This state university is one of China's oldest and most prestigious higher education institutions. It is popular for its strength in architecture, civil engineering, oceanography, engineering, science, medicine, management, arts, law, and economics.

The institution has created extensive ties within the industry, allowing students to get firsthand knowledge through contact with society. That explains why Tongji University architecture graduates are highly sought after by employers around the country.

It includes a four-year undergraduate degree program that is taught in English. Students attend Tongji University for the first three semesters, the University of New South Wales for the fourth to seventh semesters, and Tongji University for the eighth semester.

11. Dublin Institute Of Design

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The Dublin Institute of Design is Ireland's oldest specialized private third-level design college. The institution provides educational training in interior design, graphics, fashion, costume and web design, animation, and visual merchandising.

The university started its 3-year Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design program in 1991 and has since become a force to reckon with among institutions offering the same discipline. A visit to Dublin would let you know how effective graduates of this institution have been within the city itself.

12. The University Of Technology, Sydney

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Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, is the home to the University of Technology Sydney UTS), a public research university with no small reputation in architecture and interior design. UTS uses a distinct model of learning, which encourages strong research performance and direct engagement with industry and the professions to give learners a practical learning experience.

Pushing boundaries is the university theme, and graduates of architecture and design in this institution have a say anywhere in the world. Using cutting-edge technology in dedicated studios, students learn to solve real-life problems, some of which were proposed by industries around the institution.

Meanwhile, the school program runs for only three years, and there is the option of both full-time and part-time.

Other Great Architecture Schools Worldwide Include:

  1. The University of Hong Kong Hong Kong SAR.
  2. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong SAR.
  3. The University of Tokyo, Japan.
  4. Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (UPC) Barcelona, Spain.
  5. Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin).
  6. Technical University of Munich, Germany.
  7. KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.
  8. The University of Melbourne.
  9. The University of Melbourne Parkville, Australia

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Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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