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Best Architecture Schools in the US. Based on 2021 University Rankings

Best Architecture Schools in the US. Based on 2021 University Rankings

You stumbled on this article, not by chance! Something must have spiked your interest in researching the best colleges for architecture. It might be that you want to carefully select which college is best for your passion in architecture, you might be researching on behalf of a friend, sister, or a loved one. 

No matter the intent, you are on this page now and I will be sharing with you, best colleges for architecture rankings according to QS ranking, World University ranking, and Niche ranking 2021. Read on.

According to World University Ranking, the best colleges for architecture in the US are:

  • Stanford University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Harvard University
  • University of California, Berkeley (UCB)
  • Princeton University
  • Yale University
  • University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • Columbia University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • New York University

QS ranking for the best colleges in the US for architecture are:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Harvard University
  • University of California, Berkeley (UCB)
  • Columbia University
  • University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)
  • Cornell University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
  • Stanford University

Niche’s ranking is:

  • Rice University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Cornell University
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Yale University
  • Columbia University
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Southern California
  • Princeton University
  • University of Pennsylvania

With the list above, we can conclude that when it comes to architecture, the United States is blessed with a plethora of structures and monuments that draw millions of visitors each year. America appears to have it all, from the Empire State Building to the White House, from the Gateway Arch to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and from Mount Rushmore to the Lincoln Memorial. Let’s take a look at these universities.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Architecture (MIT)

The school is proud to boast that “MIT Architecture is shaped by MIT’s architecture”. This stems from the deeply rooted confidence that they offer the best when it comes to equipping students with the right skills in Architecture.

The MIT School of Architecture + Planning is divided into five divisions, and the Department of Architecture is one of them.

Let’s break this down sentence by sentence. The Department is structured in five discipline groups: Architecture + Urbanism; Building Technology; Computation; History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture and Art; and the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture.

There are roughly 265 students in the department per year, with up to 230 being at the graduate level. Additionally, there are over 120 different courses offered by 55 faculty members each year. The department offers degrees in Architecture at both the Master’s and PhD

With a 4.1% acceptance rate, it means that out of every 100 applicants they only accept 4 people. This shows that the school is very selective when it comes to admissions.

MIT is not looking to admit only people who come from a specific background. Statistics have shown that over 40 countries are represented in our student body, which is 50% US students. 

However, applicants must show that they will contribute something meaningful to the Institute, and they must also show that they are self-motivated. If you are thinking of applying to MIT, you need to be a step ahead of other applicants.

Harvard University

Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and among the most prestigious in the world. Since its founding in 1636, Harvard has educated and graduated thousands of students to meet the demands of the changing world.

The university has grown from nine students in the mid-1600s to an enrollment of more than 20,000 today.

With an acceptance rate of 4.6%, it is crystal clear that you need to be highly competitive to gain admissions to the best architecture schools in the US.

The Department of Architecture is under Harvard Graduate of School Design. It is a unique community with faculty members who are prominent in the design field. Students will explore the most creative design approaches here, and faculty will be present across the field.

The architecture program’s design-centered curriculum includes studio, theory, visual studies, history, technology, and professional practice.

Here is how much it would cost you to study Architecture as an Undergraduate at Harvard School of Design.

Tuition$53,420
Student Activity fee$170
Health Services$1,242
Health Insurance$4,040

The tuition fee might look like a lot but you can get access to financial aid. It was reported that 70% of Harvard’s student body receive some form of financial aid. But “students whose parents make less than $65,000 are not expected to contribute any funds at all”.

University of California, Los Angeles.

UCLA is a public land-grant research university in Los Angeles, California. It was founded as the southern branch of the California State Normal School in 1882.

If you are considering getting a degree in Architecture then you might want to look into UCLA. The Architecture department is dedicated to training Architects that will transform society.

The curriculum conceives of architecture as a cultural, creative, and technical practice and a discipline with direct social impact. The program also offers specialization in the design of buildings, communities, and public spaces.

UCLA has an acceptance rate of 12.3% as of 2020 and for you to be admitted to study Architecture, you need a minimum of 3.0 GPA at the time of application.

Here is an estimation of how much it will cost you to study Architecture at UCLA.

Undergrad Tuition – In State$11,500 – $16,500
Undergrad Tuition – Out of State$41,500 – $46,500
Graduate Tuition – In State$21,500 – $26,500
Graduate Tuition – Out of State$36,500 – $41,500

Graduate School of Architecture, Columbia University

Columbia University has one of the largest international student populations in the United States. It is considered to be one of the country’s most prestigious centers of learning and research.

Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and reservation at Columbia University (GSAPP) was established in 1881. It’s been ranked among the best architecture schools in the US by World University, QS, and Niche.

If you are to apply for Architecture in GSAPP, the following programs are available:

  1. Master of Architecture – A three (3) year professional degree
  2. M.S. Advanced Architectural design – A three (3) term program consisting of summer, Fall, and Spring Terms.
  3. M.S. Computational Design Practices 
  4. M.S. Critical, Curatorial and Conceptual Practices.
  5. PH. D. in Architecture
  6. Introduction to Architecture.

For Graduate School, the estimated tuition & fees are 52,450 USD for the academic year 2021-2022

While preparing students to become accomplished practitioners in their respective fields—architecture, urban design, historic preservation, urban planning, or real estate development—the curriculum emphasizes the importance of analyzing and challenging the underlying history, premises, and future directions of the design professions.

Some of the notable Alumni of GSAPP are:

  • Temple Hoyne Buell – designed over 300 buildings in Colorado; designed the first ever shopping mall
  • Nabil Gholam (M.S. in Urban Planning 1988) – architect, founder of award-winning architecture firms in Beirut
  • Philip L. Goodwin (1912) – co-designer of the original Museum of Modern Art, New York
  • Mitchell Joachim (M. Arch. 1997) – acknowledged as an innovator in ecological design, architecture, and urban design

And a host of others.

Stanford University

Stanford University was established in 1891, located at Stanford CA with an estimated number of 15,157 students and 2,279 faculty. They no doubt deserve their seat as one of the best universities to study Architecture in the US.

Studying architecture at Stanford University would be a good choice because the program’s courses mix hands-on architectural design studios with a wide range of other subjects. There are varieties of elective courses in energy conservation, sustainability, building systems, and structures, as well as design foundation and fine arts courses, available to students.

The program not only prepares you for architecture, the program’s math and science requirements make it easier for students to get into graduate programs of study for other fields like civil engineering, law, and business.

The architectural design program at Stanford University costs about 31,533 EUR per year and it is a four (4) year program. You need to bear in mind that you can get access to 100% scholarship and/or financial aid.

University of Pennsylvania School of design

The University of Pennsylvania School of Design was established in 1914. The parent institution is the University of Pennsylvania. Their mission is to “prepares students to address complex sociocultural and environmental issues through thoughtful inquiry, creative expression, and innovation”

Weitzman School of Design offers degrees in architecture, landscape architecture, city and regional planning, historic preservation, and fine arts. 

The school was renamed in 2019 after Stuart Weitzman, an award-winning designer, and a footwear icon. According to the school, naming the school after him “reflects Weitzman’s enduring influence in the world of design and his extraordinary support”.

Notable Alumni of Pennsylvania School of Design are:

  • Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg
  • Jayson Musson
  • Barton Myers
  • John Nolen
  • Rai Okamoto

Below is an estimate of how much it costs to study Architecture:

Undergrad Tuition – In State$50,000+
Undergrad Tuition – Out of State$50,000+
Graduate Tuition – In State$50,000+
Graduate Tuition – Out of State$50,000+

Is an Architecture Degree Worth it?

From the outside, architecture appears to be a fascinating – and even lucrative – profession, but is it really worth it? Is it worthwhile to spend in professional training?

 If you’re in the middle of deciding on a professional path and you’re thinking about all of the above questions, then below is a guide for you.

To start with, Architects are in charge of creating structures that are both safe and appealing to the eye. They are renowned to be imaginative people with a good sense of detail.

To become an architect, you need to obtain a 5-year undergraduate degree, 3-year graduate degree, and a license.

According to the AIA salary calculator, as of 2017, an entry-level architect’s salary in the US is 45,210 USD but with experience, you can grow to earn over 100,000 USD on average.

It takes years of study and hard work to be called an architect and to answer your question? Yes, it is worth it. Although, you have to decide for yourself.

FAQ on the best architecture schools in the us. based on 2021 university rankings

Is Architecture good for me? 

Like every other career, architecture is not for everyone. If you are aspiring to be an architect, you should have qualities like Design Skills, Creative thinking, analytical thinking, project management, e.t.c. If these skills sound interesting to you, then yes! Architecture is good for you.

Is Architecture a good career for the future? 

The future of living on our planet lies in architecture. Architecture can solve all of the problems of overcrowding, poverty, and dwindling resources. New technology in the field of architecture will ensure that humans will still be able to live on earth.

Is Architecture competitive? 

Competition in architecture is tight, but it will make you a better architect. It begins the moment you submit an application to design school and never ends. Many people have a great deal of creative energy that can be released in a competitive situation. It is one of the most competitive professions.

Is Architecture Engineering or Art? 

The architecture combines both Engineering and Art. Essentially, architecture is the art and science of creating and constructing structures. Architectural engineering encompasses all aspects of building design and construction, including mechanical, electrical, structural, and other mathematical accuracy considerations.

Is Architecture a four-year degree course? 

A four-year architecture major is considered a pre-professional degree, and earning a Master’s in Architecture, or M. Arch., is required to practice as an architect. An internship is also required for the Master’s program.

Is Architecture hard to Study?

Because of how time-consuming architecture is, it is thought to be difficult. Architects who have had a great career have all made tremendous sacrifices and worked exceedingly hard to get there.

Is Architecture just buildings? 

Architecture is one of the most important professions in design – but architecture is also much more than just the process of designing buildings. However, before defining the architecture, the clear difference between ‘architect’, ‘designing’, and ‘engineering’ must be well understood.

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