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Architecture Schools in California with Degree Descriptions

Higher Education Articles April 1, 2013

There are approximately twelve schools in California that offers research programs in architecture. In this article, students will get an overview of the program options, tuition information, and degree programs for these colleges and universities.

California Architecture Schools

Candidates are required to become licensed through the state in order for them to practice as an architect in California. California’s guidelines allow aspiring architects to meet the examination, experience, and education requirements in various ways. Candidates need to complete an intern development program and have eight years of experience at the bare minimum. They are required to pass the California Supplemental Examination and the Architect Registration Examination.

Candidates need to verify that they have completed an educational program in architecture to become eligible for licensure. Professional degree program that is accredited by the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB) or the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) can be completed by students. Education equivalents have been set by the California Architects Board that allows students to combine related academic programs, work experience, and non-accredited degrees to prepare for their architectural examinations.

Below is a list of California’s ten largest colleges and universities that offer architectural programs:

Woodbury University: Programs in architecture are offered at Woodbury University’s San Diego campus as well as their main campus located in Burbank/Los Angeles. The San Diego campus offers a Master of Architecture (beginning of fall 2013), Master of Real Estate Development for Architects, and a Master of Science in Architecture, Urbanism and Landscape, while the Los Angeles/Burbank campus offers a Master of Science in Architecture, Master of Architecture (M.Arch.), and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Architecture. The Bachelor of Architecture program is available to students at either location. The Master and Bachelor of Architecture degrees are professional programs that will prepare graduates for state licensure. Students who have earned their professional degree should pursue a Master of Science program. Students can gain specialization within the field of architecture through the real estate, urbanism, and landscape development programs.

University of Southern California: University of Southern California is located in Los Angeles, California and offers both bachelor and master degree programs in architecture. Students enrolled in an undergraduate degree program can pursue a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies and a Bachelor of Architecture. The Bachelor of Architecture degree program last for five years and prepare students for state licensure. The Bachelor of Science program will prepare students for advanced education, and takes four years to complete. University of Southern California’s graduate degree programs include a dual Master of Architecture and Master of Planning, a Master of Landscape Architecture, a post-professional Master of Architecture, and a first-professional Master of Architecture. The first professional Master of Architecture program is created for students who want to prepare for state licensure along with those that have completed a pre-professional degree, while the post-professional program is designed for students who have completed a professional bachelor degree program. An Architecture PhD program is also available to students that will prepare them for consulting positions and scholarly work.

University of San Francisco: This university is located in San Francisco, California and through the School of Art and Architecture; students can pursue their Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and Community Design degree. The degree program was created to prepare students for graduate studies in urban design and architecture. The program coursework includes humanities and social sciences, and also covers city planning and landscape and urban design. Students who are in the program have the opportunity to minor in architectural engineering, complete an internship, and study abroad.

University of San Diego: University of San Diego, located in San Diego, California, allows students to major in architecture while pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree through the College of Arts and Sciences. Students in this program are prepared for the master degree programs. Coursework includes studio arts, architecture history and theory, and architectural design foundations. Students will be required to complete a thesis and a final studio course as part of their upper division requirements.

University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA): UCLA is located in Los Angeles, California and offers a PhD in Architecture, two M.Arch programs, a M.A. in Architecture, and a B.A. in Architectural Studies. The Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts programs are not professional programs and prepare students for further research and education, rather than licensure. On the other hand, the Master of Architecture programs are professional programs. Individuals may complete a Master of Architecture I degree and build upon it by completing the Master of Architecture II program. The doctoral program is not a state licensure, and prepares students for work in research and academia. University of California – Los Angeles also offers a dual Master of Urban and Regional Planning and Master or Architecture program, opportunities for students to participate in local architectural laboratories and study abroad, as well as design labs.

University of California – Berkeley: UC Berkeley is located in Berkeley, California and offers a PhD in Architecture, Master of Architecture, M.S. in Architecture, and a B.A. in Architecture through the College of Environmental Design. Of these programs, the Master of Architecture is a professional program. The Bachelor of Arts program can contribute to the state licensing requirements, and designed to prepare students for graduate studies. Curriculum covers building culture and society and performance, history and technologies, and architectural design. The Master of Science is a research-based program, while the Master of Architecture is designed to help students practice as architects. The doctoral program is designed for students who want to work in consultation and academia. Students in the Master of Science and doctoral programs may concentrate on various areas, including history of urbanism and architecture, construction and structures, environmental urbanism and design in developing countries, and building sustainability and science. UC Berkeley is home to a manufacturing facility, a computer-aided drafting (CAD), and a fabrication shop.

Otis College of Art and Design: This school is located in Los Angeles, California and offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) in Interiors/Landscape/Architecture. This degree program prepares students for future education and focuses mainly on design. Combined with testing and additional experience, this degree could qualify students for state licensure. Students are required to take studio courses and study construction, lighting, digital media fabrication, and technology in this degree program. Students enrolled at Otis College of Art and Design has access to the school’s wood, model, metal, and lighting shops.

California State Polytechnic University – Pomona: Students can obtain a Master of Interior Architecture, Master of Architecture, or Bachelor of Architecture degree at this school, which is located in Pomona, California. All three are professional programs. The Bachelor of Architecture focuses on design lab and covers coursework in structures, building codes, sustainability, and architectural history. Students pursuing the Master of Architecture degree may focus their studies in either historic preservation or sustainability. Students are required to take both studio courses and lecture, along with completing independent project in both of these specialization programs. Individuals who want to work in the field of interior design should pursue the Master of Interior Architecture degree program. This program is offered through the UCLA extension offices and holds several classes at the Los Angeles campus.

California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo: This university is located in San Luis Obispo, California and offers a Master of Science in Architecture and a Bachelor of Architecture. The Bachelor of Architecture is a professional program that takes five years to complete and prepares students for state licensure. The Master of Science is not a professional program and designed for individuals who hold a Bachelor of Architecture or similar degree. During the students’ fourth year in the bachelor degree program, they will have the opportunity to study abroad or at an off campus location in the United States, participate in a co-op program, and choose a minor from the College of Architectural and Environmental Design. There will be a final exhibit and a year-long project during the fifth year of this program. The M.S. in Architecture is a research-based program that allows students to specialize in sustainable architecture or innovating material practice. California Polytechnic State University also offers a Master of City and Regional Planning with a focus on architecture planning and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with an architectural management track.

California College of the Arts: The California College of the Arts offers its architecture courses at the San Francisco campus. To prepare for state licensure, students should pursue the Bachelor of Architecture program. This program focuses on studio and covers architectural theory and history, professional practice, and building technology. It also includes an internship and electives. Students can earn a Master of Architecture in Urban Design and Landscape, Master of Advanced Architectural Design, and a Master of Architecture at the California College of the Arts. The Master of Architecture program prepares students for licensure, while other graduate degree programs are post-professional.

Colleges and Universities Comparison Chart

College/University School Setting and Type Architecture Degree Programs Tuition & Fees
Woodbury University Large city; private, Four-year Master of Real Estate Development for Architects, M.S. in Architecture, Landscape, and Urbanism, M.Arch., B.F.A. in Interior Architecture, B.Arch. $31,444
University of Southern California Large city; private, Four-year PhD in Architecture, Dual M.Arch. and Master of Planning, Post-Professional M.Arch., First-Professional M.Arch., B.S. in Architectural Studies, B.Arch. $44,463
University of San Francisco Large city; private, Four-year B.A. in Architecture and Community Design $38,884
University of San Diego Large city; private, Four-year B.A. in Architecture $39,970
University of California – Los Angeles Large city; public, Four-year PhD in Architecture, M.Arch. I, M.Arch. II, M.A. in Architecture, B.A. in Architectural Studies $35,570 (out-of-state), $12,692 (in-state)
University of California – Berkeley Midsize city; public, Four-year PhD in Architecture, M.Arch., M.S. in Architecture, B.A. in Architecture $35,752 (out-of-state), $12,874 (in-state)
Otis College of Art and Design Large city; private, Four-year B.F.A. in Interiors/Landscape/Architecture $38,300
California State Polytechnic University – Pomona Midsize city; public, Four-year Master of Interior Architecture, M.Arch., B.Arch. $17,783 (out-of-state), $6,125 (in-state)
California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo Small suburb; public, Four-year M.S. in Architecture, B.Arch. $19,701 (out-of-state), $8,043 (in-state)
California College of the Arts Large city; private, Four-year M.Arch. in Urban Design and Landscape, Master of Advanced Architectural Design, M.Arch., B.Arch. $38,798

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