The Architecture Program is an intimate academic environment committed to developing future leaders who apply design-thinking skills to contemporary architectural and urban issues. The School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation is a small academic unit providing individual advising and focused instruction within the context of the University of Maryland, one of the nation’s largest and most respected public research institutions.
Our graduates are highly sought after because their education provides unparalleled opportunities to gain critical insights into sustainable technologies, building craft, architectural history and theory, and urban design. The Washington - Baltimore region is one of the finest places in North America to study architecture. The history, culture, architecture, and urbanism in our regional context is complemented by a variety of foreign educational opportunities that prepare our students to live and work in a global environment.
We offer a pre-professional Bachelor of Science in Architecture at the undergraduate level and our professional degree the Master of Architecture at the graduate level. We also offer post-professional and doctoral educational opportunities. The tabs below can provide you with valuable information about architectural education and our programs here at the University of Maryland.
To learn more, please submit one of the following:
Visiting the School
The best way to get to know us is to visit us in person. We have scheduled a series of informative open house events to show you the Architecture Program in action. The best time to visit the School is on a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday when you will see studio courses in action. Please make an online appointment for a School tour.
We host an Open House for prospective graduate students every year in the Fall. Information about our Fall 2016 Open House will be available next summer.
Architectural Education 101 -- Understanding Your Options
Architecture is a dynamic and rewarding profession that requires both a broad liberal education as well as a comprehensive technical skills and knowledge. Understanding the many tracks toward becoming an architect can be confusing. So here are the basics:
Architecture is a regulated profession, which means you need a license to practice and call yourself an architect. The profession is regulated in order to protect the public health, safety, and welfare, that is, architects need to demonstrate that they have the skills and knowledge to practice as competent professionals. Architects are licensed on a jurisdictional (state-by-state) basis.
Once registered, architects can apply for reciprocity from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, meaning your license in, for example, Maryland is recognized in another state. The National Council on Architectural Registration boards (NCARB) is the best source of information on this topic. www.ncarb.org
The path toward licensure involves several components they are:
Accredited Professional Degree -- Most jurisdictions require candidates for licensure to possess an accredited professional degree. In the United States, the National Architectural Accrediting Board is the entity that accredits degree programs. www.naab.org. The NAAB recognizes three types of degrees:
Bachelor of Architecture (Usually a 5-year degree program.)*
Master of Architecture (Usually a 2-year degree program when coupled with a BS in Architecture or its equivalent, or a 3+ year degree when coupled with a baccalaureate in another discipline.)*
Doctor of Architecture
Intern Development Program (IDP) – The IDP program involves practical educational experience as a paid intern working under the supervision of a licensed architect. For more information about IDP see www.ncarb.org
Architectural Registration Examination (ARE) – The ARE is a comprehensive examination that is administered in order to determine if candidates for licensure have the requisite skills and professional knowledge required for the practice of architecture. More information about the ARE can be found at www.ncarb.org
*The two most widely offered professional degrees in the United States are the Bachelor of Architecture and the Master of Architecture. The Doctor of Architecture is currently offered at only one institution in the United States.
Is Architecture a Good Profession for Me?
Contemporary architectural practice engages a wide range of issues beyond simply making plans for buildings. Architects are leaders in the design, construction, and stewardship of our environment. Consequently, architects need a wide range of skills and knowledge in order to practice their profession. Maryland’s architecture program provides students with the types of skills and knowledge required to engage architecture in competitive global context.
Before jumping into the deep end of the pre-professional and professional education pool, you should do a bit of research about architectural education and the profession. We can recommend several resources that will enable you to gain greater insights into these issues:
Lewis, Roger K. Architect? A Candid Guide to the Profession, Third Edition. Cambridge Mass: The MIT Press, 2013. Roger K. Lewis, FAIA, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, writes "Shaping the City" a regular column in the Washington Post, and a regular guest on WAMU Radio's Kojo Nnamdi Show.
Waldrep, Lee W. Becoming an Architect: A Guide to Careers in Design, Third Edition. Hoboken, N.J.: J. Wiley & Sons, 2014. Lee Waldrep, PhD, is Administrator of Undergraduate Student Services at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the former Associate Dean for Student Services at the University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation.
We also highly recommend that potential students of architecture engage in a pre-collegiate career program such as our own three-week summer program Discovering Architecture. This is a very cost-effective way to determine if architecture is the right career for you or your child prior to enrolling in college. Our program provides students with three-credit hours that can be applied to their undergraduate education.
B ARCH vs 4+2: Which Degree Track is Right for Me?
Whether to pursue a five-year Bachelor of Architecture (B ARCH) or a Bachelor of Science in Architecture plus a Master of Architecture (4+2) is a common question that many prospective students and their families wrestle with as they begin the selection process for architecture programs. Let’s see if the information below can help you to understand the many dimensions of this issue.
Initially the B ARCH would appear to be the most efficient and perhaps most cost-effective type of program as it is a year shorter in duration than a 4+2 degree track. Indeed the B ARCH may be a good match for a student coming out of high school with a very high degree of certainty that architecture is going to be her or his career of choice. It provides a seemingly direct track to the profession (5 years undergraduate plus about three years of internship).
The no-frills B ARCH provides a fast-track to the professional degree, but what suffers?
The drawback of a B ARCH degree is that it packs professional skills and knowledge into a more compact package than the 4+2 track. Most B ARCH programs take five-years to complete typically a minimum of 150 semester credit hours while 4+2 programs, as the short-hand abbreviation suggests, are typically 6 years in duration and require completion of 120 undergraduate semester credit hours plus 60 graduate credit hours (180 semester credit hours in all).
The B ARCH was developed in the 19th century principally as a vocational career track. With the professionalization of architecture in the 20th century, architecture programs nation-wide began to explore the idea that liberal pre-professional education should be an objective of undergraduate education while professional education should be reserved for graduate study. The 4+2 degree track answered this new objective for architectural education and for the most part reflects contemporary trends in architectural education. Through much of the 20th century the B ARCH has served us well in training new professionals for the conventional practice of architecture, but the 4+2 degree track educates future leaders in the dynamic and ever changing modes of practice that contemporary architects face today. You might think of it this way, the B ARCH provided good preparation for your grandfather’s mode of practice, but the 4+2 degree track offers substantially more preparation for you or your daughter’s future engagement in a 21st century professional context.
The additional year of education allows students in a 4+2 program to have a broader based educational experience at the undergraduate level. Bluntly put, students in 4+2 programs receive more opportunity for a rigorous liberal education, which means they are being better prepared to work their way through the host of unknowns will be faced in an evolving professional context. It permits students to minor in areas such as foreign language (read preparation for practice in a global economy) project management, sustainability, and a host of other subject areas that provide insights into the big issues of our age. The 4+2 degree also provides flexibility that most B ARCH degrees simply can’t provide. For example, we know that many high school students will share their career preferences but after a year or two of college (with first-hand educational experience under their belt) they come to the conclusion that their passion lies elsewhere. In a 4+2 program we can more readily shift a student from an architecture career path to urban planning, historic preservation, real estate development, business, or a host of disciplines. Many B ARCH programs do not provide this kind of flexibility because their pedagogical content is necessarily more narrowly professional.
One of the great advantages that we can offer with our 4+2 program here at Maryland is the possibility to complete a dual degree at the Master’s level, in nearly the same time that it takes to complete the Master of Architecture degree. At Maryland you can easily combine the Master of Architecture with a Masters in Urban Planning, Historic Preservation, or Real Estate Development.
How Can I Find Information About the Quality of a Program?
Ultimately your decision regarding a degree program is a very personal matter. You should look carefully at the institutions and the programs that they offer. Since there is no reliable ranking system for higher education, should avail yourself to the public information that can provide you with an insight into the health of a program.
All programs accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board are required to share their most recent accreditation documents online.
The two most important documents are the Architecture Program Report (APR), which is an internally authored self-assessment of a program. Teams of visiting educators, professionals, and students periodically visit schools in order to determine whether a program complies with the conditions of accreditation. During these visits, the APR serves as a guide for the team’s investigations and deliberations.
When a team has completed its work, it submits a Visiting Team Report (VTR) to the NAAB board of directors for review and determination of the accreditation status. Once this process is complete, both the APR and VTR are public documents and both can offer you insight into the strengths, weaknesses, and causes for concern surrounding a program. The NAAB annually posts VTRs at: http://naab.org/f/documents/home.aspx?path=Public+Documents (select the folder "Public VTRs).
In a sense, the APR and VTR provide you with a means to understand the performance of a program at a given point in time. We are confident that you will find our program to be high performing. To access our APR, VTR, and annual reports, visit: http://www.arch.umd.edu/arch/naab-accreditation.
By reading and comparing these accreditation documents you can make a more infomed choice about the quality of the institution and its architecture programs.
Can I Have Meaningful Career and a be Financially Secure as an Architect?
The United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the growth of the architecture profession by 17% over the period between 2012 and 2022. The Bureau has classified this as faster than average growth in comparison to other professions. From this data we can intuit that the profession is experiencing growth, it needs young architects to replace the baby boomers who are now moving into retirement. So the profession is expanding, not contracting, and that is good news for the would-be-architect.
US News and World Report echoes the Bureau of Labor Statistics with their designation of Architect as one of the Best Creative Jobs in 2014. Coming in at #3, US News and World Report gives Architecture as a "thumbs up" for being a profession with an anticipated 18,600 new jobs by 2022. In a recent Forbes article, "The College Majors with the Highest Starting Salaries," Architecture and Planning ranked tenth (average starting salary of $47,400 of recent graduates based on a Looksharp survey), countering the myth that architects don't make good money. Interestingly enough, Architecture and Planning outpaced Law, which came in at 12th place on the ranking.
However, where you choose to practice architecture can make a big difference. The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture has compiled interesting data about the profession that illustrates architects practicing in the Washington, DC region have among the highest wages (scroll down to the map titled "Architect Wages in U.S. and Canadian Cities") to be found anywhere in the United States (second only to San Francisco).
This is where Maryland’s inside the Beltway advantage comes into play. We are located only a short Metro ride from the center of Washington and have strong connections with nearly all of the important DC area firms. Sure you can study architecture at a variety of locations throughout the US, but consider the value of being connected to professionals from top DC area firms throughout your Maryland education. What's more, DC isn't the only locale within easy reach. In addition to the DC market, Northern Virginia, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston are all easily accessible along the northeast corridor. So studying architecture at Maryland is a good geographic preparation for moving into a vibrant architectural market place.
Technology Requirements (Computer Hardware and Software)
The School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation requires that all students studying architecture purchase a laptop computer. Specific requirements for students studying architecture are listed below for both hardware and software. In addition to these requirements, many students also purchase monitors so that they can expand their digital workspace.
We provide the following technical specifications to define the baseline requirements. Many software applications are available to all matriculated students. We recommend you check the following website to see a complete list, https://terpware.umd.edu/. A list of required and recommended software is listed below. Please take advantage of student discounts for software.
Hardware -- Approximately $ 2,600.00 Total
- Apple MacBook Pro
- Processor Intel Core i5 or i7
- Memory (RAM) 16 GB or greater
- Display 13 or 15 -inch widescreen
- HardDrive 500 GB HD @ 7200 RPM or 512 Flash Storage or greater
- Wireless + Bluetooth
- Warranty 3-year AppleCare protection plan
- Dell XPS 15 (or equivalent) approx $2600
- Processor Intel Core i5 or i7
- Memory (RAM) 16 GB
- Display 14 or 15 inch widescreen
- HardDrive 500 GB HD @ 7200 RPM or 512 Flash Storage or greater
- Wireless + Bluetooth
- Video Card 2 GB memory (RAM) or greater
- Warranty 3 year ProSupport on-site plan
Many students also purchase monitors so that they can expand their digital workspace. Also additional external storage and peripherals are recommended for workability and backup purposes.
- External Monitor 27-inch flat panel or 40+ inch LCD/LED HDTV via HDMI if equipped
- External Storage 1TB mini USB 3.0 hard drive
- Mouse 3-button wired or bluetooth wireless mouse
Software -- Approximately $ 244.00 Total
The following are the required software applications for architecture students:
Adobe Creative Suite (or Adobe Creative Cloud) -- FREE through UMD TERPware program:
- Adobe Photoshop
- Adobe inDesign
- Adobe Illustrator
Autodesk -- FREE through Autodesk student software program
- Autodesk AutoCAD
- Autodesk Revit
Microsoft Office -- FREE through UMD TERPware program
- Microsoft Word
- Microsoft Powerpoint
- Microsoft Excel
Bentley -- FREE through Bentley student software program
- Bentley MicroStation
- Bentley STAAD
SketchUp Pro $49