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The Breakdown

Sure, architecture is about designing buildings and physical structures. But perhaps more importantly, at its essence, architecture is the study of how we interact with space and environment. It’s a demanding discipline that truly stands at the cross-section of the arts and the sciences.

Undergraduates hoping to major in architecture can pursue one of two degrees: a BArch or a BS. The Bachelor of Science degree will be earned in a pre-professional program. While a BS certainly gives you a strong foundation, you will not be able to become a licensed architect without attending an accredited graduate program. Most students who receive a BS often complete their masters in two years. Conversely, those who earn a BArch will be able to become a licensed architect directly out of college (assuming they pass licensing exams, etc). It should be noted, however, that it typically takes five years to earn a BArch.

Regardless of the specific degree you pursue, your education will likely involve a combination of theory and application. You will learn how to create a variety of habitable structures that are functional, aesthetically pleasing and sustainable. Further, you’ll familiarize yourself with the vocabulary of architecture and the tools of the trade like CAD (a computer drafting program). Your coursework will involve art and design as well as math and engineering classes. After all, you will need to understand how to ensure your ideas are structurally sound and worth developing.

As an architecture student, you’ll need to rely heavily on both your right and left brain functions. Indeed, you’ll require artistic sensibilities coupled with stellar quantitative skills. Further, it’s important to be both an analytical and abstract thinker as well as a creative problem solver. And because most architects work in teams, you should always remember that diplomacy is not overrated.

Nuts and Bolts

Architecture students will enroll in courses such as: Architectural Design I, Visualization: Observation and Representation, Construction Materials and Methods, The City of Rome, Urban Design Theory, Historic Preservation and Restoration, Structural Systems in Buildings, Conceptual Drawing, Introduction to Planning, Applied Calculus, History of Architecture: Ancient to Medieval and Building and Climate.

Decisions, Decisions

Clearly, architecture students are fascinated by aesthetics and elements of design and construction. Therefore, they are also likely to be interested in studying art, art history, interior design, landscape architecture, urban planning, painting, sculpture, engineering, web design, naval architecture, physics and digital media.

What's Next

The process of becoming an actual licensed architect is not for the faint of heart. Indeed, simply earning a BArch from an accredited institution is (sadly) not enough. After receiving your degree (it should be noted that a number of students do continue on for their masters), you’ll need a position at an architecture firm to complete your intern development program (IDP). The program is divided into sixteen categories designed to cover the wide spectrum of tasks that architects must tackle. In addition, you will also have to pass the Architect Registration Examination (ARE), a seven part series that consists of multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank and graphic portions (which require drawings and layouts from the test takers). Further, some states require supplemental exams. Finally, once you pass the tests, you will have to register with the state in which you are working and confirm that all of your requirements are complete. Only then can you refer to yourself as a licensed architect. Of course, not everyone with an architecture degree becomes an architect. Graduates also go on to work in real estate development, industrial design, engineering, construction and preservation and restoration.


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