2017 RANKING & REVIEWS
TOP RANKING BEST ARCHITECTURE SCHOOLS IN THE U.S
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Finding the Best Architecture Schools in the U.S.

Architecture schools across the U.S. come in many forms. Even among the best architecture schools in the U.S., different institutions offer different programs and specializations.

This diversity allows students to find programs specific to their interests. However, with so many options, it can be difficult to find the best fit for your needs.

Architecture Universities In USA

Award Emblem: Top 6 Best Architecture Schools in the U.S.

Often, when students search for the top architecture schools in the USA, they run into questions like:

  • What kinds of programs do good architecture schools offer?
  • Are all top architecture schools in the USA accredited?
  • What kinds of degrees exist?
  • How much do the best schools for architecture cost?

To answer each of these questions and more, the following rankings and reviews will examine each of the best architecture schools in the USA today. Each review will examine prices, accreditation, and programs.

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AdvisoryHQ’s List of the Top 6 Best Architecture Schools in the U.S.

List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the schools below to go directly to the detailed review section for that school):


Top 6 Best Architecture Schools in the U.S. | Brief Comparison & Ranking

School Names

In-State Tuition

Graduate or Undergraduate

Ranking

Cornell College of Architecture, Art and Planning

Undergraduate–
$62,198

Graduate–
$47,050

Both

Design Intelligence:

Undergraduate- 1st

Graduate- 2nd

Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Graduate–
$66,158

Graduate

Design Intelligence:

Graduate- 1st

MIT School of Architecture and Planning

$48,140

Both

Design Intelligence:

Graduate- 5th

University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture

Undergraduate–
$5,086 per semester

Graduate–
$4,865 per semester

Both

Design Intelligence:

Undergraduate- 7th

Virginia Tech College of Architecture and Urban Studies

Graduate–
$12,355

Undergraduate–
$9,617

Both

Design Intelligence:

Undergraduate- 3rd

Graduate- 9th

Yale School of Architecture

Between $70, 749 and $68,993 per year

Graduate

Undergraduate is not accredited

Design Intelligence:

Graduate- 3rd

Table: Top 6 Best Architecture Schools in the U.S. | Above list is sorted alphabetically


What Is a Professional Degree?

A professional degree is a degree program that is design specifically to prepare a student to perform work in a particular profession. In most cases, a professional degree program must meet particular field-related standards like accreditation.

Many architecture colleges in the USA offer both professional and nonprofessional degree options. Nonprofessional degree options focus on academic aspects of the field and prepare students to contribute to the research, criticism, and theoretical development of architectural study.


Do I Have to Have an Undergraduate Degree?

Though graduate degree programs often have pre-requisite undergraduate degree requirements, many architecture colleges in the USA do not require that students have a specific architectural background.

Some professional degrees can be built upon and require specific prerequisites, though nonprofessional degrees from architecture universities in the USA can be built upon with a liberal arts background.

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Detailed Review – Top Ranking Best Architecture Schools in the U.S.

Below, please find the detailed review of each architecture school on our list of best architecture schools in the U.S. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these top architecture schools in the U.S. to score so highly in our selection ranking.



Cornell College of Architecture, Art and Planning Review


The Cornell College of Architecture, Art and Planning is a school within Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and it is one of the best architecture colleges in the USA. This top architecture school offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees.

In 2016, Design Intelligence, an architecture publication, listed both programs in their architecture school rankings. The undergraduate program was listed as the number 1 top architecture school in the USA at that level, and the graduate program was listed as the second best post-graduate option.

Top Architecture Schools In USA

Image Source: Cornell University

Programs

An important factor that makes this one of the top architecture schools in the USA is accreditation. Both the graduate and undergraduate programs offer professional degrees that are accredited by the NAAB, or National Architectural Accrediting Board.

It offers facilities that make it competitive with other architecture schools in the USA. Students can access communal workspaces and a fabrication shop to help them design, construct, and display architectural models for practical experience.

Students accepted to this top school for architecture have the opportunity to study architectural design, history, theory, and implementation. The graduate programs include:

  • Professional Master of Architecture
  • Post-Professional Master of Architecture
  • History of Architecture and Urban Development

Undergraduate programs include:

  • Professional Bachelor of Architecture
  • Minor in Architecture
  • Summer Session

Though this is one of the top architecture schools in the USA, it is relatively expensive. The in-state cost of the undergraduate program is $62,198, and the graduate program cost is $47,050.

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Harvard University Graduate School of Design Review


The Harvard University Graduate School of Design is a department of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Though the undergraduate college does have degree concentrations in the history and art of architecture, only the graduate program offers a true architecture school.

This is one of the best schools for architecture and it offers a masters degree program that is accredited by the NAAB. In their 2016 architecture school rankings, Design Intelligence listed this program as number 1 top architecture school in the USA.

Programs

As one of the best architecture schools in the U.S., Harvard offers different programs to educate students with different academic backgrounds.

The first is the Master in Architecture I program, which is designed as a professional degree for students who hold a non-design related bachelor’s degree or pre-professional degree.

The second program is the Master in Architecture II, which is designed to accommodate students who already hold an undergraduate professional degree and wish to continue their post-graduate education from one of the top architecture schools in the USA.

Both programs offered by this top architecture school concentrate on different aspects of the field:

  • Design studio
  • Theory
  • Visual studies
  • History
  • Technology
  • Professional practice

In addition to being one of the top architecture universities in the USA, the School of Design also covers landscape architecture and urban planning and design.

Like most good architecture schools, it offers students access to collaborative study spaces, plus library and fabrication resources.

This is one of the best architecture universities in the USA today, and it comes with a heavy price tag. The cost of in-state tuition to attend this top school for architecture is $66,158.



 MIT School of Architecture and Planning Review


The MIT School of Architecture and Planning is an excellent choice of architecture universities in the USA. This architecture school is part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

MIT offers a highly respected program that allows it to compete with the architecture universities in the USA. The graduate program was listed in the Design Intelligence 2016 architecture school rankings as number 5 of the top architecture schools in the USA.

Programs

This top school for architecture hosts around 265 students every year. Most of these students are pursuing a graduate level degree. The program offers more than 120 courses for both graduate and undergraduate students that are taught by 55 faculty members.

This school is competitive with other architecture universities in the USA in part because of the diversity of its available degrees. Students can choose from a number of specializations and degrees:

  • The Master of Architecture: a professional degree that is accredited by the NAAB and focuses on professional architectural design.
  • The Master of Science in Architecture Studies: focuses on research into the academic and practical field of architecture.
  • The Master of Science in Building Technology: focuses on the development and implementation of advanced technologies.
  • The Master of Science in Art, Culture and Technology: focuses on the relationship between the art and technology of architecture.

Undergraduate students at this top architecture school can choose to pursue either a Bachelor of Science in Architecture Studies, which focuses on the academic side of the field, or a Bachelor of Science in Architecture, which focuses on practical applications of architecture.

According to the MIT website, tuition for the 2016-2017 academic year was $48,140. This is a mid-rage tuition rate for the top architecture schools in the USA; some are higher and some are lower.



University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture Review


The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture offers a top architecture school for both graduate and undergraduate students. As one of the top architecture schools in the USA, it offers a wide range of programs with specializations.

In particular, the undergraduate program was listed in the Design Intelligence architecture school rankings as number 7 out of all of the architecture universities in the USA.

Program

As one of the best architecture schools, the University of Texas at Austin allows undergraduates to choose from a number of different architecturally-based programs:

  • Practical design and application of architecture
  •  Academic aspects of architecture
  • Interior design
  • Dual degree with architecture and engineering
  • Dual degree with architecture and art

Good architecture schools allow students to develop a more specialized focus through their graduate level studies. As one of the top architecture schools in the USA, graduate level students can study:

  • Professional architecture
  • History of architecture
  • Academic aspects of architecture like theory or criticism
  • Preservation of historic architecture
  • Design of sustainable buildings or building technologies
  • Urban planning and design

This diversity of degree programs allows any student admitted into the architecture school to study virtually any aspect of the field so that they can specialize their skills and knowledge.

Though this is one of the best architecture schools in the U.S., it has a much smaller price tag than some others. Tuition for these undergrad programs for the 2016-2017 academic year is around $5,086 per semester. The graduate programs run around $4,865 with the assumption that graduate students will carry fewer credit hours.

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Virginia Tech College of Architecture and Urban Studies Review


The Virginia Tech College of Architecture and Design is one of the best ranked architecture schools in the USA. It offers students four areas of focus. Students can choose from:

  • Architecture
  • Industrial design
  • Interior design
  • Landscape architecture

This is one of the best architecture schools and both the graduate and undergraduate programs were placed in the Design Intelligence architecture school rankings. The undergraduate program was listed number 3 out of all architecture universities in the USA, and the graduate program was listed as number 9 out of the best schools for architecture.

Programs

As one of the best architecture schools, it offers three major programs:

  • Bachelor of architecture
  • Master of architecture
  • Master of science in architecture

Students pursuing the bachelor of architecture degree are able to participate in one of the highest ranked architecture schools in the USA. This program allows students to build a solid theoretical and practical foundation in the field to launch their careers.

The master of architecture degree is accredited by the NAAB. As one of the top architecture schools in the USA, it offers students either a post-professional or professional degree, depending on their background and needs.

The master of science in architecture program is research-based and allows students to study and contribute to academic knowledge of the design and building professions that stem from architectural study.

Though this is one of the best architecture schools, tuition rates fall squarely on the affordable side of the spectrum. The in-state tuition for the graduate program is $12,355, while the undergraduate program costs $9,617.


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Yale School of Architecture Review


The Yale School of Architecture is one of the best schools for architecture that offers both graduate and undergraduate programs. Though students can earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in the field, because it is a liberal arts program, it is not an accredited professional degree, despite being offered by one of the most excellent architecture schools in the USA.

Architecture Schools

Image Source: Yale University

This is one among the most solidly ranked architecture universities in the USA. The Yale School of Architecture was placed in the Design Intelligence ranking of top architecture schools in the USA as number 3 out of the best schools for architecture.

Programs

Many good architecture schools offer multiple program options to help fulfill the educational needs of their students. Yale is one of the top architecture schools in the USA and offers multiple graduate programs to offer a diverse number of paths for students.

The Master of Architecture I program is designed for students who already hold a bachelor’s level degree, either in arts or sciences. This program covers topics like:

  • Free hand and computer-based drawing
  • Architectural problem solving
  • Theory
  • Planning
  • Urban development
  • Architectural methodologies

The Master of Architecture II is designed for students who already hold a professional degree in architecture. This can serve as either a second master’s degree or help those with a professional bachelor’s degree refine their skills.

The Master of Environmental Design is a two-year research program. This is not a professional degree, but it can help postgraduate students or professionals with established careers specialize their industry skills. Students will study how different social, political, economic, or technical factors can shape the environment.

Yale is one of the most expensive architecture universities in the USA. Tuition for the program is estimated between $68,993 and 70, 749 per year. Though this is an expensive option for architecture colleges in the USA, it is a well-respected program and costs can be cut with grants or scholarships.

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Conclusion  Top 6 Best Architecture Schools in the U.S.

In order to find the best architecture schools in the U.S., it is important to focus on your own needs. The best school will offer the right program with appropriate specialization to fit with your career goals. It is also important to consider tuition rates and university locations to ensure that any particular school is the best fit for you.

Best Architecture Schools In The US

Image Source: Pixabay

To find the best school, keep in mind the highlights from our comparison:

  • Cornell College of Architecture, Art and Planning: undergraduate program is the highest ranking.
  • Harvard University Graduate School of Design: graduate program is the highest ranking.
  • MIT School Architecture and Planning: offers both professional and nonprofessional undergrad options.
  • University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture: most affordable option.
  • Virginia Tech College of Architecture and Urban Studies: offers top ranked programs for both graduate and undergraduate levels.
  • Yale School of Architecture: most expensive option.

Each of these schools has positives and negatives, and it is important to weigh each option carefully. Some schools may have aspects that work better for one student, but make less sense for another. To find the best school, it is important to consider you own needs and choose the best balance as it fits into your life. Though some may be a better fit than others, each school is a solid option and none could be considered a bad choice.



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