Undergraduate Study in Architecture
Studying Architecture at Barnard and Columbia Colleges leads to a liberal arts degree – a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Architecture. 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 enable students to participate directly in the world as an architect – a liberal arts education asks that students consider the broader and myriad conditions in which architecture is conceived and practiced and, in turn, to understand how architecture inevitably alters those conditions. Students are asked to confront and interpret the complex social, cultural, political, and environmental processes that weave through architectural design and urbanism. The purpose of an undergraduate liberal arts degree in architecture is to educate students to think about the world through architecture.
The Architecture curriculum introduces design at a variety of scales, acknowledging that integrated design thinking is effective for problem solving at any scale and in any discipline. Students will experiment with full-scale installations and devices and make small-scale models of urban conditions from which they extract, interpret and invent new possibilities of inhabitation and use. The curriculum intentionally balances the traditions of handcrafted representation with evolving digital technologies of architectural design and communication.
The Architecture major complements, and makes great use of its University setting. With access to superb libraries, research centers, graduate programs, and abundant intellectual resources, our students have the opportunity to follow their creative instincts to great depth and breadth – and they do. The major depends on New York City as more than a convenient site for many design and research projects and frames the City as one of the key social and architectural, and thus didactic, markers of Modernity. 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 expand their education by interning in Architecture or a related field during their undergraduate studies. Alumni of the Department are leaders in architecture and design fields around the world. The faculty teaching in the undergraduate program are dedicated teachers who are also at the forefront of practice and research and are similarly drawn to New York City as a nexus of global design thinking.
Students interested in obtaining a professional degree in Architecture continue on to graduate programs after their undergraduate degree, and students from the Barnard-Columbia 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 a wide variety of disciplines including Urban Planning, Law, and Media and Communications.
National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB)
In the United States, most state registration boards require a degree from an accredited professional degree program as a prerequisite for architectural licensure. The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), which is the sole agency authorized to accredit U.S. professional degree programs in architecture, recognizes three types of degrees: the Bachelor of Architecture, the Master of Architecture, and the Doctor of Architecture.
The Barnard and Columbia College Department of Architecture program leads to a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Architecture and is limited to students enrolled in Barnard College, Columbia College, or the School of General Studies at Columbia University. As a liberal arts major within Columbia University, it is not considered an accredited professional degree program. For accredited professional degree programs, please refer to The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) requirements.
Students who desire this major must apply directly to Barnard College, Columbia College, or the School of General Studies. Please note that the Architecture Department does not participate in the admissions process or decisions for any of these schools. For detailed information on all aspects of the application process, please visit the admissions website for Barnard College, Columbia College, or the School of General Studies. Similarly, all inquiries regarding institutional, federal, and state financial aid should be directed to the appropriate Office of Financial Aid.
Inquiries regarding graduate studies in architecture should be made directly to the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University.