Why the Sam Fox School?
The College of Architecture is an ideal environment for intellectual, creative, and personal growth—a place where architects, designers, and artists come together. We’ve pioneered an undergraduate course of study that integrates architecture with the liberal arts, allowing you to acquire a rigorous design education while exploring other academic areas across Washington University. Our classes are taught by faculty who are leaders in their fields.
Why Study Architecture?
Architectural education changes your mind—and the world. Our courses engage actual sites and projects that tackle complex social, cultural, and environmental challenges. You’ll graduate with the tools to design innovative and sustainable architectural environments and to be an effective communicator across a broad range of topics.
We strongly believe that a “learn-by-doing” methodology is one of the best ways to develop your skills as an architect. Our program is centered around the design studio, where small groups of students and a faculty member work together on design projects. You’ll progress from foundation studios to more advanced ones, gradually acquiring the visual and technical skills needed for architectural practice. The design studio emphasizes craft and making, exposing you to a wide array of media—including freehand drawing and computer-aided design—in order to help you become a more creative thinker and designer. Each studio course results in your own design proposal that is a response to a specific urban or environmental context; it could be a building—such as a school or a residence—or a larger urban or landscape architecture proposal. Each studio also offers an opportunity for in-depth exploration of a particular aspect of architecture—such as a novel mode of construction or fabrication, or a particular social or environmental issue—and is often informed by a faculty member’s research agenda or professional practice.
Our curriculum offers a broad range of courses that provide a foundation for lifelong success in architecture and other related fields. These include courses in history and theory, as well as technical courses in structures and building systems. Elective course work ranges in scale and topic, from furniture design to community engagement, loosely reflecting the broadness of the field of architecture itself.
Degree Programs: BS in Architecture + BDes in Architecture
All architecture students take similar courses their first three years; however, courses during the fourth year will differ depending on your choice of degree program.
The Bachelor of Science in Architecture entails a more intensive study of architecture that includes:
- Senior-level design studios focused on advanced building design and modes of assembly
- Advanced seminars in architectural history and theory
- Advanced technology courses in structures and environmental systems
The Bachelor of Design in Architecture offers greater flexibility, and includes:
- Student-directed capstone project
- Ultimate flexibility to complete a second major or additional minor, or to explore other areas of interest
- Option to take additional architecture courses, including your choice of studios and theory classes
Courses Across Campus
Architecture is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing from various forms of knowledge and requiring collaboration with other fields. Our curriculum provides all students with a strong liberal arts base. You can choose from offerings across WashU’s undergraduate divisions: Art, Arts & Sciences, Business, and Engineering & Applied Science. With proper planning, you can pursue a minor or a second major across the university. Dual degrees are also possible and typically take five years to complete.
Within the College of Architecture, you can pursue one of three minors:
- Architectural history: Explore the broader cultural context of the discipline of architecture, learning about complex sociopolitical, cultural, and aesthetic issues around the world
- Landscape architecture: Investigate issues that are vital to architectural and urban design—such as vegetation strategies and water management—at the local and regional scales.
- Urban design: Develop your skills as an architect through direct involvement with the community, including an advanced urban design studio and courses focused on urban policy, sustainable development, and urban infrastructure.
The College of Architecture provides a close-knit environment for learning. Studio class sizes are typically 15 or fewer students to one professor throughout your undergraduate program. That allows you to interact more closely with our nationally and internationally distinguished faculty—all researchers and practitioners actively contributing to the growth of the profession. Their work covers a wide range of topics—global challenges and opportunities for architectural practice, ecological and environmental issues, modernity and post-World War II architecture and urbanism, industrial design, community engagement, digital fabrication, building systems—and highlights the innumerable paths you can pursue with an architecture degree.
We offer two study abroad options in Florence, Italy, a city that is key to the field of architecture—and the birthplace of Western cultural modernity. Both our semester-long program and our nine-week summer program make use of the Italian language, as well as the rich artistic and cultural environ-ment, urban and architectural history, and contemporary aspects of Florence, using the city as a hub for broader explorations in Europe. Courses are taught by Sam Fox School faculty as well as local faculty.
Beyond the Studio
The Sam Fox School provides numerous opportunities to apply lessons learned in the classroom to real-world situations. Our students, faculty, and staff are committed to working with communities to address systemic social, environmental, and economic challenges. Our Office for Socially Engaged Practice provides a hub and resources to support these initiatives, which include curricular, research, and co-curricular activities. Highlights include:
- Community Building, Building Community, a course in which students examine the intersection of the built environment and the social fabric of communities in order to more fully understand the role of architecture in a neighborhood and a city.
- Service learning courses such as the Alberti Program, which give WashU students the opportunity to serve as teaching assistants, designing and leading hands-on problem-solving workshops about architecture and environmental issues for grade-school students.
- CityStudioSTL, which supports a series of community engagement and outreach projects in St. Louis, and allows students to conceive, plan, design, and ultimately construct publicly minded projects.
- Design for America at WashU, which brings together students from majors across campus and challenges them to use human-centered design for local impact.
Internships & Careers
The College of Architecture has a dedicated Career Services office. Our career advisers will guide you through specialized programs, help you structure your career search, and give you the tools you need to reach the best prospects for internships, residencies, fellowships, graduate schools, jobs, or other professional placements. They’ll also facilitate connections with leaders in the field, including our extensive network of alumni working worldwide.