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How to Get Into Architecture College: Prerequisites & Requirements

Learn what skills and prerequisites are required to be accepted into a college architecture program. Find out what types of degrees are offered, what courses they typically include, and what careers are available to those with a degree in architecture.

Getting Accepted Into Architecture College

The first step to becoming an architect is generally to earn your bachelor's degree in architecture. In 35 states, it is required that this degree be from one of the 122 architecture programs accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB.) Learn about the prerequisites for getting into one of these schools below and the opportunities that may arise as a result.

Degrees Available Bachelor's degree, master's degree, doctorate
Common Courses Architectural history and theory, building design, construction methods, professional practices
Key Skills Creativity; technical, organizational, communication, analytical, and visualization skills
Other Training Requirements Paid internship lasting around three years
Career Opportunities Architect, construction manager, industrial designer

How Do I Get Accepted Into a Program?

Individuals interested in pursuing higher education in the field of architecture are invited to visit the campus of their choice. Oftentimes, there will be opportunities available to visit classes, meet with faculty and students, and tour the school in order to get a feel for whether or not it is a good fit.

To pursue a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.) degree, prospective students must submit the required materials for their school of choice. Typically, this involves supplying information on previous education, college admission test scores, high school transcripts, letters of recommendation from a teacher or guidance counselor, and a personal essay. There is also a fee associated with applying. Some programs require that a portfolio showcasing a prospective student's design work be submitted as well.

Those applying to a master's degree program must already have obtained a B.Arch. from an accredited school or have a bachelor's degree that meets studio and architectural studies prerequisites.

What Type of Courses Will I Take?

A program in architecture requires lengthy, interdisciplinary study. A B.Arch. takes five years to earn, as opposed to the standard four, and a master's degree can take anywhere from 1-5 more to earn. During this time, students take a combination of math, science, art, and business courses in order to develop the creativity and problem-solving skills necessary to design and sell architectural solutions. Topics that are generally covered include:

  • Architectural history and theory
  • Building design
  • Computer-aided drafting
  • Structures
  • Construction methods

What Other Types of Degrees Are Available?

In addition to bachelor's degrees and master's degrees, some schools offer joint degree programs to architects that award two separate but related degrees. For example, an architect may choose to pursue a joint degree program that awards a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Architecture or a Master of Architecture and a Master of Environmental Management. Five-year doctoral programs (Ph.D.) are also offered at some schools. A Ph.D. is recommended for those looking to teach future architects or enter academic fields, such as publishing or museum curatorship.

What Additional Requirements Are There for Becoming an Architect?

In addition to earning a professional architecture degree, it is required that all U.S. architects pass the ARE (Architect Registration Examination.) This is a comprehensive test designed to assess a potential architect's knowledge and skills, especially those in the areas of practice that may impact public safety and wellness. It is also intended to ensure that architects can practice good judgment in all aspects of the design and construction process. Aspiring architects are eligible to take this exam after completing a degree and an internship lasting around three years.

What Career Opportunities Are Available to Program Graduates?

A degree in architecture brings with it a wide variety of career opportunities in addition to that of an architect. To name only a couple, program graduates may seek positions as construction managers, who design and oversee the development of construction projects, or industrial designers who develop product concepts.