In the United States the Bachelor of Architecture is considered a professional degree and is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), the only authority in the the U.S. authorized by the Department of Education to accredit professional architecture degree programs. The NAAB has developed thorough and comprehensive education and training standards that architecture schools must meet in order to ensure the effectiveness of their programs and become accredited. The accreditation standards employed by the NAAB were developed in cooperation with working professionals in the industry, architecture organizations and societies, state registration boards, the public, students and schools themselves. In order to qualify to sit for Architectural Registration Examination (ARE) and become licensed as a professional architect, students must graduate from a NAAB accredited program.
Many colleges and universities offer four-year academic programs in architecture that are not NAAB-accredited, such as the Bachelor of Art in Architectural Studies (B.A.Arch) and Bachelor of Science in Architecture (B.S.Arch). While these programs provide valuable instruction they will not qualify students to sit for the ARE or become a practicing architect. Students who earn a B.A.Arch or B.S.Arch and desire to obtain professional licensure must also complete an accredited Master of Architect (M.Arch) program. However, students who complete a B.A.Arch or B.S.Arch often qualify to enroll in an accelerated M.Arch program which can be complete in less time than a traditional M.Arch program.
Students who plan on pursuing a Bachelor of Architecture degree can look foward to participating in both studio and practical courses in architecture and construction. Studio courses typically cover topics relating to design and aesthetic theory, while practical coursework will includes instruction in building mechanical systems, structures, plumbing, electrical systems and general construction. While some written papers are required, the majority of a student work will be in the form of computer-aided design, drafting, hand drawings and other digital renderings. Students will also be involved in developing and constructing physical architectural models and replicas of buildings and other structures, as well as various drawings, graphics and presentation boards.
While both studio and practical courses make up the B.A.Arch program, most student work will revolve around a studio class. All others aspects of a student’s curriculum, coursework and projects are based on the concepts and instruction provided in the studio. One of the most noteworthy aspects of studio classis the “critique”. The critique is a process where students must design and present their models, drawings and renderings to other students and professors for peer review, consideration, and critique. The “critique” can be a rigorous and stressful process–but ultimately very constructive.