April Maguire 5 min read 12th Grade, Academic Tips and Info

Should You Major in Architecture?

Whether you dream of designing sprawling suburban homes or breathtaking urban skyscrapers, you might be thinking that a major in architecture is right for you. Designed to give students the academic foundation they need to work in the field, architecture programs teach a combination of artistic, scientific, and administrative skills. Along with expected courses like math, physics, and computer sciences, students may study art and history. Ideally, architecture majors also get hands-on field experience prior to graduating. 

 

Wondering if majoring in architecture is right for you? Keep reading to discover what you can do with this degree and find out the best schools for launching your career.

 

Overview of the Architecture Major

 

Architects have the privilege and responsibility of designing structures for use around the world. So, what’s involved in earning an architecture degree? If you decide to pursue this major, you can expect to attend a combination of studio design classes, lectures, and tutorials. Additionally, architecture majors will visit building sites and take part in critique lessons, where work is presented to fellow students and instructors for evaluation. The goal is to help students attain the necessary knowledge and skills while developing proficiency in the most commonly used architecture design programs. 

 

A career in architecture isn’t for everyone. Typically, students who excel in math and art tend to be drawn to this interdisciplinary major. Additionally, the best architecture students are willing to work long hours and feel comfortable accepting criticism from professors and peers. 

 

It’s worth noting that aspiring architects can pursue different paths on the road to achieving their dreams. Many students opt to attend a college offering a traditional undergraduate degree in architecture. In most cases, they need to go on to pursue a master’s degree in the field to work as architects. Students can also choose to earn a B. Arch., which refers to a five-year program that has been accredited by the National Architecture Accrediting Board. See our post on how to become an architect for more info on the different paths you can take.

 

What Can You Do With An Architecture Degree?

 

Considering a degree in architecture? Here are five of the most popular career paths for architecture majors:

 

1. Architect

Median Salary: $66,733

Projected Growth: 1%

 

Most students who choose to major in architecture do so because they plan to become architects. Daily responsibilities for someone in this field involve designing, supervising, budgeting, and assessing the environmental impact of builds. 

 

An exciting career that can also be challenging, architecture involves utilizing both technical knowledge and creative ingenuity. Individuals must also be comfortable with stress, as they need to ensure buildings are safe and structurally sound at every turn. 

 

2. Interior Designer

Median Salary: $47,082

Projected Growth: -5%

 

Architectural majors who are more interested in the insides of buildings may opt to pursue a career as an interior designer. Along with making decor recommendations, designers use their skills to renovate spaces and install fixtures and fittings. Additionally, interior design work requires strong budgeting skills, as you will need to keep track of how much products and materials cost. 

 

3. Building Surveyor

Median Salary: $52,430

Projected Growth: 2%

 

While architects are largely responsible for creating or renovating structures, building surveyors assess their quality, determining whether or not improvements are necessary. If you enjoy problem solving and have a talent for design and construction, you may enjoy a career in this field. Additionally, building surveyors may take measures to ensure that public and private buildings remain sound for the long haul. 

 

4. Structural Engineer

Median Salary: $70,533

Projected Growth: 2%

 

If you’re looking for a career that combines creativity ingenuity with scientific know-how, you might want to use your architecture degree to get a job as a structural engineer. Professionals in this field work hand in hand with fellow engineers and architects to ensure buildings are both structurally safe and pleasing to the eye. Along with selecting building materials, structural engineers may evaluate how buildings respond to weather conditions and supervise construction processes. 

 

5. Drafter

Median Salary: $50,487

Projected Growth: -4%

 

Drafting is a popular career among those with architecture degrees, and for good reason. Individuals in this field require a combination of creativity and technical knowledge, with most drafters using computer-aided design and drafting software to do their jobs. As a drafter, you can expect to handle an array of tasks, including preparing plans based on architects’ drawings, adding structural details to projects, and specifying materials. 

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Best Colleges for Architecture Majors

 

The US is full of exceptional colleges and universities, and it can be tough for students to choose the right school. If you’re passionate about architecture, consider earning your degree at one of these top institutions for architecture majors:

 

1. Cornell University

Location: Ithaca, NY

Acceptance Rate: 10.6%

Total Undergrad Enrollment: 15,182

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1400-1560 SAT, 32-35 ACT

 

An Ivy League private research university, Cornell has an undergraduate population of just over 15,000 students. One of the country’s best and oldest architecture schools, this Ithaca institution affords students access to a large alumni network. Additionally, architecture majors enjoy plenty of opportunities to expand their skill set and participate in hands-on learning off campus. As a bonus, the program boasts additional locations in New York City and Rome.

 

Learn more about Cornell and what it takes to get accepted.

 

2. California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo

Location: San Luis Obispo, CA

Acceptance Rate: 28.4%

Total Undergrad Enrollment: 21,037

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1280-1470 SAT, 26-32 ACT

 

A public university with more than 21,000 undergraduates, California Polytechnic holds the No. 3 spot on U.S. News and World Report’s list of the best Regional Universities West. It’s also a top school for architecture, affording students the chance to study abroad in destinations like Copenhagen, Florence, and Rome. In particular, this institution is a great option for students residing in California, as they can take advantage of the lower in-state tuition rates while earning their degrees.

 

Learn more about Cal Poly and what it takes to get accepted.

 

3. Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

Location: New York, NY

Acceptance Rate: 15%

Total Undergrad Enrollment: 858

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1283-1510 SAT, 31-34 ACT

 

A small private institution, Cooper Union has been around since the 1850s, and has offered an exceptional architecture program for almost as long. Located in the heart of the Big Apple, Cooper Union is known for providing students with a comprehensive education that includes technical skills, artistic instruction, and even cultural sensitivity. Additionally, students who pursue their architecture degrees at this school get to work side by side with top faculty. Note that the school also offers a five-year NAAB accredited program for aspiring architects who want to get a jumpstart on their careers. 

 

Learn more about Cooper Union and what it takes to get accepted.

 

4. The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin)

Location: Austin, TX

Acceptance Rate: 31.8%

Total Undergrad Enrollment: 40,804

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1170-1400 SAT, 27-33 ACT

 

UT Austin may be a large public university, but that doesn’t mean the architecture program isn’t highly regarded. In fact, publications like U.S. News & World Report and Forbes rank the school’s architecture program among the best in the country. Along with traditional classroom instruction, students will have the chance to expand their skills in a studio setting. Additionally, aspiring architects at this school have the chance to network with local professionals and pursue internships and work experiences at top firms. 

 

Learn more about UT Austin and what it takes to get accepted.

 

5. Pratt Institute – Main Campus

Location: New York, NY

Acceptance Rate: 48.7% 

Total Undergrad Enrollment: 3,435

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1230-1370 SAT, 25-30 ACT

 

A small private school, the prestigious Pratt Institute allows students to earn a degree while surrounded by the culture and entertainment of New York City. Like the other majors offered at Pratt, the architecture program aims to imbue students with professional knowledge, critical thinking, ethical judgment, and technical expertise. In particular, future architects who attend Pratt can take advantage of both studio-based courses and a research-centered thesis program. Additionally, students can choose from a five-year accredited bachelor’s degree in architecture or a B.S. in construction management. 

 

Learn more about Stanford and what it takes to get accepted.

 

There are many more schools that are great for architecture majors. See the complete list of best colleges for architecture.

 

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April Maguire
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
A graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC, April Maguire taught freshman composition while earning her degree. Over the years, she has worked as a writer, editor, tutor, and content manager. Currently, she operates a freelance writing business and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their three rowdy cats.