Department Mission


The Architecture major establishes an intellectual context for students to interpret the relation of form, space, program, materials and media to human life and thought. Through the Architecture curriculum, students participate in the ongoing shaping of knowledge about the built environment and learn to see architecture as one among many forms of cultural production. At the same time, the major stresses the necessity of learning disciplinary-specific tools, methods, terms and critiques. Thus, work in the studio, lecture or seminar asks that students treat architecture as a form of research and speculation which complement the liberal arts mission of expansive thinking.

Undergraduate Study in Architecture
Studying Architecture at Barnard and Columbia Colleges leads to a liberal arts degree (Bachelor of Arts with a major in Architecture).  Students interested in obtaining a professional degree in Architecture will continue on to graduate programs after their undergraduate degree, and students from this program have enjoyed enormous success in their admissions to the most competitive graduate programs in the country.  Students who study Architecture as undergraduates have also pursued graduate degrees in disciplines ranging from Urban Planning to Media and Communications to Law School among others.  Barnard College is the administrative location for all undergraduate architecture studies at Columbia University and its partner institutions.  A liberal arts education in architecture holds a unique position in academia and in relation to the discipline.  If the goal of a professional education in architecture is to be able to prepare students to participate in the world as an architect - a liberal arts education begins to introduce the scope and range by which that is possible, the vast and continuously evolving landscape of architectural practices and related disciplines. The purpose of an undergraduate liberal arts education is to educate students to think about and through architecture.

The Architecture major addresses the unique goals of an undergraduate liberal arts education within a University setting that provides expanded access to superb libraries, research centers, graduate programs, and abundant intellectual resources. The faculty teaching in the undergraduate program are dedicated teachers and are also active in practice and research.  Alumni of the Department are leaders in architecture and design fields around the world. The undergraduate architecture major engages with New York City as a site for many design and research projects and frames the City as one of the key social and architectural markers of Modernity. Students are exposed to the complexity of social, political, and environmental aspects of architectural design and urbanism.  The Architecture curriculum introduces design at all scales and balances the traditions of handcrafted representation with evolving digital technologies of architectural design and communication.  Architecture students study with peers from countries around the world in one of the most diverse cities in the world. A large majority of the Architecture students will expand their education by interning in Architecture or a related field during their undergraduate studies.