The corridors of world-class universities are the birthplaces of architecture, the creative combination of design, innovation, and utility. Aspiring architects enter these revered universities and go on a life-changing adventure where their creativity and technical prowess collide. This article takes us on a tour of the best architecture schools in the world, which are renowned for their innovative curricula, illustrious faculty, and nurture of creative minds. Come discover the top global organizations influencing the future of urban planning and architecture.
What is Architecture?
According to Wikipedia, “architecture is both the process and the product of planning, designing, and constructing buildings or other structures. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural symbols and as works of art. Historical civilizations are often identified with their surviving architectural achievements.”
Architecture is not only about drawings and designs. It draws from the breadth and depth of both the arts and science. Even though it requires spatial reasoning and creativity, these abilities must be well-grounded. Imagination, creativity, and precision are all intermingled in this unique vocation.
List of Best Architecture Schools in the World
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the US
- University College London (UCL), the UK
- The Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands
- ETH Zurich, Switzerland
- Harvard University, the US
- National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore
- The University of California, Berkley (UCB), the US
- Tsinghua University, China
- University of Cambridge, the UK
- Politecnico di Milano, Italy
#1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The MIT School of Architecture and Planning is part of the five schools of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The school combines art, technical education, culture, and science. It offers both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. MIT’s coursework is rich and as a student, you will learn about building technology, computation, Urbanism, and much more.
MIT is currently occupying the No. 1 position among the best architecture schools in the world.
#2. University College London, the UK
UCL is home to one of the most influential architectural schools. Known as The Bartlett School of Architecture, It is currently the 2nd best department in the world for Architecture and the built environment. It offers 4 undergraduate courses in architecture and 14 postgraduate programs.
If you are admitted into UCL, you will undertake an academic program that is rewarding. The coursework is rigorous and design-led. In addition, UCL also offers 17 graduate programs to students who want to be leaders in their field.
According to QS ranking (a highly), UCL stands takes the 2nd place among the best architecture schools in the world.
#3. ETH, Zurich
ETH Zurich is well known for its academic standards. Its faculty accommodates one of the best STEM institutions in the world.
The focus in this school is largely on theory rather than application. However, you can be sure of the diversity of specialization to choose from. Some of the school’s focus includes :
- Technology in architecture
- Conservation of architectural heritage
- Architecture: theory and history
- Urban environment
- Landscape design
This school espouses the two-tiered Bologna process. That is to say, you can complete your undergraduate and Master’s degrees consecutively. Now that is a good deal!
#4. University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is not a newcomer to the league of best architecture schools. The school’s innovative program is well-rounded to serve the needs of the current environment. But to be at par, you must be ready to expand the range of your imagination. The Department of Architecture has a small class size as it seeks to focus on the peculiarities of each student. In fact, if you are fortunate to get into the program, you will have your own workshop.
You will have 11 Master’s programs and a full 3 years program to choose from.
#5. The Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands.
The Delft University of Technology has a highly acclaimed faculty and programs. This school’s program pays a lot of attention to urbanism in its academic research. Furthermore, there is a good combination of humanities and science in its research endeavors. With a decent diploma and proficiency in English and Dutch, you would be well on your way to its highly esteemed architecture faculty.
#6. Manchester School of Architecture
Manchester School of Architecture is a merger of two schools. It fosters the synergy between creativity and design. As a result, it has become well known for its diverse programs. Its research borrows from the ideas of prominent English architects. Some of the programs include:
- Conversation of Historic Sites
- Environmental and Landscape Design
- History and Urban Planning
#7. Politecnico di Milano
This Italian school is a prestigious institution with one of the best architectural programs. This is not surprising as Italian architecture has earned a reputable place in the world. Moreover, the school is amongst Europe’s most renowned engineering schools.
It has a 3-year bachelor’s program which offers study trips and workshops. Both undergraduate and postgraduate courses are available.
Another good mark about this school is its employability ranking and the vast network of respectable alumni.
#8. Harvard University
Amongst other things, the architecture faculty at Harvard will equip you to explore a range of design investigations and build your knowledge of the modern built environment.
One of the key aspects of the department’s philosophy is the integration of design excellence in the skillful manipulation of form. The architecture coursework includes design studio, theory, technology, and professional practice, with design as the main focus of learning.
Furthermore, your experience as a student will be enriched through exhibitions, renowned lectures, and public program series. As the demand for innovation increases, Harvard’s architectural department is ever more focused on the use of modern technology to mold leaders in the field.
#9. National University of Singapore
Apart from being a prominent University in Asia, NUS has earned a place as one of the best architecture schools in the world. The growing economy and urbanization in Asia are taking place at a fast rate.
An architecture degree in NUS will immerse you deeply in these growth opportunities. You stand to reap from the positive complexities as a result of this. The B.A. (Arch) at NUS is a four-year Honors degree program that serves as the foundation for concurrent Master’s programs.
This school teaches design excellence through exploration and application. Due to its location, concepts you will learn include equatorial environment alongside other environmental concepts affecting the built environment.
You will have the option of choosing a specialization in your final year of study, leading on to concurrent Master’s programs. According to the NUS Department of architecture, “this sequence encourages independent and advanced thinking…”
#10. The University of California, Berkeley (UCB) the United States
The Department of Architecture at UC Berkeley has a strong culture that promotes research. It offers thorough programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The faculty adopts a unique multidisciplinary style in its programs. Exciting collaboration exists with a variety of other disciplines. Such areas of interest form the framework for architectural technologies and humanities. As such, you will be encouraged to re-vision and re-make the built environment.
Some of the NAAB-accredited programs are:
- MArch ( pre-professional degree 120 credits + 48 graduate credits)
- MArch ( non-professional degree + 72 credits)
- Architecture: BA, Minor
- Environmental Design and Urbanism in Developing Countries: Minor
- History of the Built Environment: Minor
- Social and Cultural Factors in Design: Minor
- Sustainable Design: Minor
Architecture: MArch, MAAD, MS, PhD
#11. Tsinghua University
Tsinghua University is a top university in China. Its programs are recognized internationally. The Bachelor’s degree is a four-year program while the master’s degree takes 1-2 years depending on your background and ability. An extension in the master’s degree does not attract extra tuition.
However, proficiency in Chinese is a requirement if you have an interest in studying at Tsinghua University. The architecture faculty at Tsinghua University fosters critical thinking and adopts, by intention, small class size in order to breed thorough architects of the future. They cannot be blamed. This is one of the hallmarks of being one of the best architecture schools in the world.
#12. Ecole Politecnique Federale Le Lusanne
EPFL is easily one of the best Swiss schools out there and that is for compelling reasons. Their architecture program firmly uses research and innovation as an academic framework.
Studying in this school will encourage you to reflect on the various theoretical issues and use this knowledge as a basis for your own work. Several resources are also available for practice at the workshop where you will have your own space.
Modern computation tools and a robust library are all part of what makes this swiss school one of the top schools for architecture.
#13. Tongji University / Shanghai, China
The Architecture program at Tongji University is a dual degree and it is taught in English. As an aspiring international student, you are required to gain English language proficiency.
The program takes four years to complete. Due to its collaboration, you will spend the first three semesters at Tongji University, the fourth to seventh semesters at the University of New South Wales, and the last one back at Tongji University.
The faculty consists of experts of international reputation including a Nobel laureate in the field. After graduation, you will be eligible to take qualifying examinations in China, Australia, and other commonwealth countries.
#14. The University of Hong Kong, China:
The University of Hong Kong in China believes in invention and research. It aims to groom architects who will be able to influence the local and international landscape. The school has many options in architecture. These include
- Bachelor of Arts in Architecture
- Masters in Architecture
- Masters in Architecture (design)
- MPhil and Ph.D.
#15. The Hong Kong Polytechnique University:
The Hong Kong Polytechnique University emphasizes the application of knowledge in learning. The Polytechnique achieves this through its Work-in-Education and Service in Learning framework.
As a result of this, students of this school are valuable in the workforce. Also, the school is focused on the advances of the fourth industrial era and is keen on producing top-rated architects of the future.
It has earned a commendable position in global rankings and is welcoming to international students. You will receive architecture education through spatial design education and studio culture.
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
- Harvard University
- Princeton University
- The University of California, Berkeley (UCB)
- Columbia University
- Yale University
- The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
- University of Pennsylvania
- University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
- New York University
- Architectural Association of Architecture
- University of Cambridge, The UK
- University College London (UCL), The UK
- The Delft University of Technolgy, The Netherlands
- Politecnico di Milano
Top Architecture Schools, Philippines
- University of the Philippines, Mindanao
- Saint Louis University
- University of the Philippines, Diliman
- Mapua University
- University of Santa Tomas
Top Undergraduate Architecture Schools
- Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA
- Cornell University, Ithaca,
- California Polytechnic State University, California
- Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
- University of Cincinnati, Ohio
Best Graduate Architecture Schools
- MIT School of Architecture and Planning
- Yale School of Architecture
- Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
- Princeton University
- Rice University School of Architecture
Architecture Master Program Ranking
- Master in Architecture 2 – Harvard University
- MSc in Advanced Architectural Design – Columbia University
- Post-Master in Architecture and Urban Design – TuDelft, The Netherlands
- Master in Collective Housing – ETH + UPM, Spain
- English Program for Master in Architecture – Tsinghua University, China
Architects’ jobs depend greatly on the economy and construction industry. Consequently, there is a surge in jobs when the economy is booming and vice versa. However, the salary paid also rests on location, rank, and experience. Attending one of the best architecture schools in the world can affect earnings too.
Also, other costs like tax, insurance, and legal costs have an impact on salaries. On average, architects in the United States earn around $107,945 per year. However, some architects’ salaries in the United States can range from $130,826 – $151,388 per year. Architects made a median salary of $82,320 in the last few years.
Architects Job Prospect
The job outlook for architects is bright in countries with stable economies. Also, depending on where you work, your career growth will also be affected. Larger private firms offer opportunities for growth and the kind of roles you take on in the public sector are equally important. Notwithstanding, if you engage in growing your portfolio, you will enjoy a fulfilling career.
Based on statistics, the job outlook for architects is projected to grow by 8% from 2018 to 2028. That is more than the average in relation to other professions. Following the focus on sustainable architecture, those who specialize in this area can expect to find job opportunities in building eco-friendly structures.
Here are the career options after graduation and a Master’s degree
- Landscape architect
- Building contractor and researcher
- Architectural historian
- Architectural engineer
- Highway engineer
- Structural engineer
- Land developer
See the 8 Best 3d Modeling Software that every Architect needs to work effectively.
Why Study Architecture?
The role of an architect is a very important one. Architects are among those who improve life in material form. We owe the structure of our houses, cities, and civilization to their creativity, imagination, and ingenuity.
Without them, the built environment would only exist in thin air. But architects, the masterminds, together with other contractors, create the joyous spaces we have today.
We encourage you, if you have a creative and analytical mind, to love studying an integral part of buildings, or even re-imagine them to become a part of this meaningful work.
Here are some reasons why a career in architecture may be worth pursuing:
- You will have very portable skills that you can easily transfer across other fields. Some are leadership, time management, creative skills, analytical thinking, and problem-solving, among others.
- You will get the chance to travel around the world and experience different architectural styles, especially if you attend one of the best architecture schools in the world.
- A career in architecture is never boring but fulfilling, rewarding, creative, and full of inspiration.
- You will be highly respected and will earn a decent living.
- You will develop a deep appreciation for diverse fields and skills—the arts, humanities, history, and culture.
- An architectural profession is a lifelong career. Meaning you will practice for a very long time.
- You will be involved in meaningful work on environmental sustainability, urbanization, and a green world.
How to Become an Architect
There are three-year Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts programs in architecture. However, the problem is that they are usually not accredited nationally. Starting your architectural pursuit with any of these undergraduate degrees may mean going for a master’s program in architecture in order to qualify for state licensure.
So, as a college hopeful, ensure that your program of choice is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board before you enroll. A list of all the accredited architecture programs in the U.S. is available on the NAAB website.
If you are determined to become an architect, know that the fastest and cheapest route into the profession is through a five-year undergraduate program. The best architecture schools in the world offer these programs. However, if you are still unsure about studying architecture, you may pursue a four-year college degree in another field and later augment your undergraduate education with a master’s in architecture.
The informal but longer path in a few U.S. states is to work with a credentialed architect and become an architect. However, taking the formal route is beneficial in so many ways, and below is a step-by-step guide.
Step 1 – Get Your Bachelor’s Degree
The dream to become an architect becomes an actionable plan when you choose and get into an accredited university. They are colleges with the best architecture programs accredited by the NAAB (National Architecture Accrediting Board). It takes about five years to complete this step and earn your B.Arch. Thereafter, you can go ahead to pursue an internship.
Step 2 – Complete an Internship
You will complete an internship program as part of the requirements to become an architect. Most colleges and states have an Internship Development Program. This program usually takes three years and accumulates 5,600 hours. As you can see, this is a crucial step because architecture is an art that requires constant practice to become a skill. In the process, you will gain insight into pre-design, design, and project management.
Step – Get Your License
Once you have satisfied all state requirements and have completed your internship program, you will have to take the Licensing exam known as the Architects Registration Exam. The requirements to take these exams vary from state to state. After the completion of these seven-part exams, you will become a licensed architect.
Step 4 – Gain Professional Certifications
As part of efforts to advance your chances of employment and enrich your knowledge, it is advisable to earn additional certifications. The programs you subscribe to will depend on your specialization. Some of these certifications are awarded by the National Council of Architectural Board.
Step 5 – Get Your Master’s Degree
It is not mandatory to get a master’s degree in architecture to practice but it is a huge step toward boosting your pedigree in the field. Subsequently, a Master’s degree will not only open doors for you but will also create an avenue to venture into the world of academia if you follow up with a Ph.D. Also, for those who want entry into the field without a bachelor’s in architecture, this is usually the first step for them.
Architecture Job Description
Apart from building and design, architects also alter old buildings. These jobs may be in private or commercial buildings large or small. Architecture education can also be infused into many sub-fields like furniture making, interior design, and landscape architecture. All in all, these are the duties of an architect;
- Consult with clients to determine their building needs
- Develop building concepts
- Develop building designs.
- Carry out drawings and specifications.
- resolve issues arising during the course of construction
- Manage the environmental impact of the project.
- Coordinate alterations to existing structures.
- Organize permit documents and work with subcontractors’.
- Give technical advice on the restoration and conservation of old properties.
- Liaise with other contractors, engineers, and surveyors on building and control.
- Ensure that the project goes as planned within the agreed period and budget
- Research the local building codes, zoning laws, and city regulations
Finally, given that the best architectural schools in the world provide world-class facilities and training, you will gain an edge over the competition. Although becoming an architect can be daunting, and might not look like mega-bucks, it does hold the promise of a rewarding and eventful vocation. You can even begin your journey by getting a diploma degree in architecture.
What is the number 1 architecture school in the world?
Going by the recent world ranking by subject, MIT is the number architectural school in the world.
How can I become an architect?
Below are some educational requirements for becoming an architect :
- Earn a bachelor’s degree
- Gain professional experience through a paid internship
- Pass the Architect Registration Exam
- Get additional professional certification
- Earn a master’s degree
What are the best architecture programs?
Here are some of the top architectural programs for a master’s degree
- Master of Architecture 2 – Harvard University
- MSc Advanced Architectural Design – Columbia University
- Post-Master in Architecture and Urban Design – Delft, The Netherlands