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5 Things to Consider When Choosing an Architecture School

an architecture student works on a model with sticks and paper

Choosing the right architecture school is a decision that sets the foundation for your future career in the field. Accreditation, experienced faculty, robust facilities, high-tech resources, career preparation, industry connections, and the college's overall culture all play crucial roles in shaping your educational experience.

We talked to Daniela Deutsch, Head of Architecture and Professor at the NewSchool of Architecture & Design, to get the best advice for evaluating architecture schools. Daniela co-founded an award-winning architecture firm in Frankfurt, Germany, and Principal of exitecture archLab Inc. in San Diego, California. She has also had a successful teaching career in Germany and the U.S., spanning over 20 years.

Here’s what we learned through research and talking with Daniela. 

Strong academic program & accreditation

When evaluating architecture programs, two critical factors should be at the forefront of your decision-making process: accreditation and academic program. Opting for a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) ensures that the education you receive meets the highest standards of quality and relevance in the field of architecture.

“There is no question that you want to attend a NAAB-accredited school. They do an excellent job of establishing learning outcomes and ensuring schools prepare students for professional opportunities after graduation,” Daniela Deutsch explained. "By considering only NAAB-accredited schools, you’ll know the school will prepare you for a strong future in architecture. Additionally, most of the 55 U.S. licensing boards require architects to hold a professional degree from a NAAB-accredited program."

As you evaluate potential schools, you should also pay close attention to the curriculum. A well-rounded program balances theoretical foundations and practical application, preparing you for the multifaceted field of architecture. You can also consider the program's specializations, including sustainable architecture, urban design, landscape architecture, and digital architecture. 

Faculty & learning environment

A cornerstone of any exemplary architecture program is its faculty. When evaluating architecture schools, it's essential to research the faculty members' backgrounds, including their educational qualifications, professional achievements, and contributions to the field of architecture. 

“There is a difference between professors who have dedicated their careers to academics and those with real-world, practical experience,” Daniela Deutsch explained. “The best architecture programs have a mix of the two, with at least half of the teaching faculty coming from a more practical background. That way, you can be assured that what you learn aligns with the most up-to-date trends and things happening in the field.” 

A low student-to-faculty ratio with tenured professors can be another indicator of a quality program, as they suggest more personalized attention, mentorship opportunities, and a strong school culture to retain dedicated faculty.

Facilities & resources

A school’s technological resources and studio spaces are also pivotal in shaping your experience and preparing you for the profession's demands. One hallmark of a top-tier architecture program is high-quality studio space that’s both clean and flexible. But just as important is the availability of the right technology.

“The best architecture schools offer state-of-the-art facilities with great technology and smart communications, including new systems and software,” Daniela Deutsch explained, adding that “in the digital age, particularly with advancements in AI, it's vital to equip our students with various learning modalities."

NewSchool has implemented HybriU's AI digital education platform, which is revolutionizing the future of education. This platform offers compelling 3D live demonstrations, interactive sessions, and presentations that highlight HybriU's key features and unmatched advantages. It significantly enhances students' learning experiences by bringing immersive 3D architectural models and buildings into the classroom.

These technologically advanced resources allow students to work on real-world projects that adhere to modern architectural design principles. They also make learning more accessible and more seamless. Daniela Deutsch told us these technologies are the future of education, and students shouldn’t compromise their learning at a school lacking in this regard.

The architecture school's library is another critical resource to support your learning. Assess the library's collection of books, periodicals, and digital resources related to architecture, urban design, and related fields. A well-stocked library that stays current with the latest publications and research databases is invaluable for coursework, thesis projects, and ongoing education.

Career preparation & industry connections

The ability to work on real-world projects and make quality professional connections are vital to launching a successful career as an architect. Therefore, when evaluating schools, prioritize those that offer these opportunities. 

A robust career services program supports students in areas like resume writing and professional networking. Faculty working in the field will also help make introductions and create professional opportunities for graduating students. 

Equally as important is gaining hands-on experience in a professional setting, which allows students to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world projects and gain valuable insights into the architectural profession. 

Architecture and design colleges like NewSchool are known for being extremely practical and allowing their students to actively work in the field as they near completion of their degree. This type of experience sets students apart from peers who have graduated from other programs.

Fit & community

Finally, finding a college that feels like the right fit in terms of location, culture, and community is as important as evaluating its academic offerings. A school that aligns with your values and lifestyle can enhance your motivation, happiness, and success.

Whether a school is situated in a bustling city with easy access to internship opportunities or in a quieter, more scenic area that inspires creativity through its natural surroundings, where a school is located can influence your experience. So reflect on how well each institution's campus and location align with your personal preferences and lifestyle.

Another aspect to evaluate is the college's culture. Each institution has a unique vibe, from more competitive environments to collaborative and supportive communities. Consider what atmosphere will best support your learning style and personal growth. 

Final thoughts on choosing an architecture school

Selecting the right architecture school is a multifaceted decision. It requires evaluating various factors, including the program's accreditation, curriculum, faculty expertise, facilities, career support, and the overall community and culture of the institution. 

By carefully considering these elements, you can choose a school that meets your educational and professional needs and supports your personal development and well-being. 

Appily can help you research & evaluate schools

Now that you know what to look for in an architecture program, Appily’s robust college search database is where you can find and connect with schools. Here, you can see architecture programs nationwide, like NewSchool.

Simply click the button below to create a free account. You can research colleges and compare data points like cost, financial aid, acceptance rates, and more. 

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