The 10 Best Architecture Schools in the World

Few aspects of a society’s culture have been known to inspire as much awe in other lands as its architectural achievements. 

Towering skyscrapers of steel and glass and monumental works of masonry and concrete serve as shorthand for a society’s scientific and artistic achievements. 

Whether constructed centuries and millennia ago, like the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, or built within the last century, like the Empire State Building and Burj Khalifa, the world’s architectural marvels are known to nearly everyone. 

These world-famous buildings and structures have inspired many people to seek to create their own great works that will stand the test of time. 

While many may take the inspiration gained from these wondrous marvels of construction and apply it to other art forms, others will be driven to design their own architectural feats to rival and join those already known to the world. 

The next generation of designers faces the unprecedented challenge of climate change as they contemplate the wonders of the future. They will be required to design these new marvels with ethics and sustainability in mind. 

To meet these challenges, future architects will seek the best education and training available to them and must choose from a wide range of universities. 

With so many options available, it can be challenging to decide which school is both the best fit for a student and offers the best education. 

To help students make this difficult choice, we have compiled this list of the best architecture universities in the world. The ranking for this list is based on the QS list of top architecture schools

10. Politecnico di Milano (Milan, IT)

Politecnico di Milano
Pasafr, PoliMi main building, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Polytechnic University of Milan is the largest technical university in Italy and the oldest university in Milan.

The school awards Laurea, equivalent to a Bachelor of Science, and Laurea Magistrale, equivalent to a Master of Science, degrees, among other programs. 

The undergraduate course of study in Architectural Design is expected to take three years to complete and is administered by the School of Architecture, Urban Planning, Construction, and Engineering. Courses within the program are offered in both English and Italian. 

The undergraduate Bachelor of Science in Architectural Design is a pre-professional degree, but it does prepare students for the graduate level of study, which is considered a professional degree. 

International students seeking a Master of Science degree must complete the steps outlined on the school’s international students page and must demonstrate a basic proficiency in Italian. 

Graduate students have a range of options that incorporates the study of architecture for the Bachelor of Science degree, including landscape and urban architecture, engineering, design, and history. 

9. Tsinghua University (Beijing, CN)

Tsinghua University
葉又嘉, 清華大學法圖, CC BY-SA 4.0

Tsinghua University’s School of Architecture offers students the option to study the field under five different research categories focused on history, design, urban design, technology, and society. 

The school first began training international architecture students in 2008, and its English Program for Master in Architecture or, EPMA, provides courses in five different categories, with English as the standard language of instruction.  

The program has a low ratio of students to professors, generally about 6 to 1, and many of its studios provide real-world opportunities to work in major centers of Chinese architectural development. 

Applicants to the graduate program must have an accredited professional bachelor’s degree in architecture, and admission is competitive as the program only accepts 20 students at a time. 

The school also offers an interdisciplinary option through its Master’s Program in Architecture – Future Human Habitat Design. 

8. UC Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)

UC Berkeley Campus
Public domain photo by Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

The College of Environmental Design at the University of California, Berkeley offers undergraduate students a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture as well as the option to study architecture as a minor alongside another degree.  

The first three years in the program establish a breadth of fundamental knowledge before focusing on architecture specifically. In the junior year, students choose from one of two tracks that focus on either design research or studio studies. 

Students who have completed this pre-professional degree are well placed to pursue a Master of Architecture, or enter the workforce in construction or government. 

UC Berkeley’s Master of Architecture program accepts students holding any Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree, although students who have not attained a dedicated pre-professional degree in architecture will take three years to complete the program. 

Students who have directly pursued an undergraduate architecture degree may pursue a Master of Architecture with Advanced Standing upon review and approval of the admissions committee. 

7. Manchester School of Architecture (Manchester, EN)

Manchester School of Architecture
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

The Manchester School of Architecture unites programs from two schools, Manchester Metropolitan University and The University of Manchester, in order to provide a world-renowned architecture program. 

The school offers a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Architecture degree, preparing them for further study in one of its many graduate architecture programs. 

Combining the resources, faculties, and facilities of its two constituent universities, the Bachelor of Arts program includes studio and fieldwork to provide its graduates an education that makes them highly sought after in industry or prepared for further professional degrees. 

Master’s degrees at the school range in focus from research to landscape architecture and urban design. The Master of Architecture program spans two years of full-time study, but can be taken over four years as part-time. 

Students can tour and collaborate with other international institutions before developing a design thesis and graduating with a professionally recognized degree. 

6. National University of Singapore (Queenstown, SG)

National University of Singapore
Joshua Rommel Hayag Vargas, University Cultural Center, NUS, February 2020, CC BY-SA 4.0

The National University of Singapore’s Department of Architecture awards two undergraduate degrees in architecture: a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture. 

The first year of the Honours Bachelor of Arts in Architecture program establishes a firm foundation of fundamental knowledge and skills. 

This is built upon in the second and third years as students study concepts like site structure while researching approaches to architecture. The program’s fourth year allows students to begin specializing in preparation for further studies. 

Graduate students can choose to pursue one of a range of master’s degrees through the Department of Architecture, including degrees focused on architectural conservation and integrated sustainable design. 

The Master of Architecture program spans two years. The program focuses on design expertise and culminates in a design thesis that allows students to arrive at their own perspectives on design through independent research. 

5. Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)

Harvard University
Public domain photo by Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

The Harvard Graduate School of Design offers two Master of Architecture degrees in addition to a range of other graduate and post-graduate degrees in the field. 

The Master of Architecture I program is the school’s professional program and accepts students with any Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree.  

Depending upon previous courses taken, students may need to complete particular prerequisites before continuing in the program. 

Students with a pre-professional degree in architecture may be admitted to the program with advanced standing, which can shorten the duration of the program to two and a half years. 

In order to register for professional practice, students must also intern in an architectural office and pass a registration exam. 

The Master of Architecture II program is a post-professional course available to professional architects who wish to broaden their understanding of the field and increase their skills. 

4. ETH Zurich (Zurich, CH)

ETH Zurich
ETH-Bibliothek, ETH Zürich im Abendlicht, CC BY-SA 4.0

The architecture program for undergraduate students at ETH Zurich comprises three areas that run through the length of the course of study. Design and construction, science and technology, humanities, and the arts make up the bulk of the curriculum, with the main emphasis on design and construction.  

The undergraduate program takes three years to complete the academic courses. Additionally, six months of experience working in the architectural field is required in order to complete the degree. 

Building on the core knowledge and skills developed at the undergraduate level, the graduate architecture program at ETH Zurich requires students to complete two focal works in different disciplines within the field as well as a master’s thesis. 

The program’s primary language of instruction is German, and the Master of Science ETH in Architecture degree can be earned in two years. 

3. University College London (London, EN)

University College London Bartlett School of Architecture
Shadowssettle, Bartlett, 22 Gordon Street, University College London in the afternoon, CC BY-SA 4.0

University College London’s undergraduate architecture program requires three years of full-time study and culminates in a Bachelor of Science degree. 

The first year of study places students in design studios with the goal of imparting fundamental skills in observation, critical thinking, and working in three-dimensional space. 

The second and third years of the program are centered around the school’s Design Units, which are groups of roughly fifteen students who collaborate on design projects and allow students to develop individual approaches to design. 

UCL’s Bartlett School of Architecture provides seventeen options for postgraduate study of architecture. Historic urban environments, digital theory, history, and bio-integrated design are just a few of the architectural disciplines studied at the school. 

The Master of Architecture in Architecture program at the school is the second half of the course of study needed for a professional architecture degree and takes two years to complete. 

2. Delft University of Technology (Delft, NL)

Aspiring architects at Delft University of Technology are among the most promising future professionals in the field, as even the school’s undergraduate program limits the number of students to 400. 

The competitive admissions landscape at the university ensures that students graduating from the school with its Bachelor of Science of Architecture, Urbanism and Building Sciences degree are among the best in the field. 

The program’s language of instruction is Dutch, and it takes three years of full-time study to complete. 

Graduate students at the school take two years of full-time study to earn the Master of Science Architecture, Urbanism and Building Sciences degree. 

Students at the graduate level receive instruction in English and choose from one of five tracks offered by the program in order to specialize in their field of choice. 

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Public domain photo by Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

Undergraduate students at MIT begin their architectural careers at the school by studying in its Bachelor of Science in Architecture program which prepares them for the next step in becoming a professional architect. 

Depending on the amount of Advanced Placement credits and placement test scores, undergraduates can begin specific architectural studies in their first semesters. 

MIT’s Master of Architecture program takes three and a half years to complete and is comprised of six studios over six semesters and a semester spent working on a thesis. 

The school offers one formal master’s level dual degree which is the Master of Architecture and Master of City Planning degree. 

Upon approval of a student’s academic advisor, graduate students can create their own dual degrees that combine architecture and a related field. 

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