College of Architecture

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Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts

The Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts is a unique collaboration in architecture, art, and design education, linking professional studio programs with one of the country's finest university art museums in the context of an internationally recognized research university.

The Sam Fox School is composed of the College of Architecture, the Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design, the College of Art, the Graduate School of Art, and the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.


Throughout history, architects have played a leading role in forming the environment and in interpreting the aspirations of societies in all parts of the world. As a practical and useful art, architecture embraces aesthetic, ethical, social and technical responsibilities. Architecture responds to the way people live and, in turn, influences their lives.

Students considering an architectural education and architecture as a potential career express an excitement about design and building as well as a commitment to the environment. If students plan to study architecture, they should have artistic ability and a good academic base. Personal interests in such areas as drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, building and the environment suggest a possible aptitude for architecture.

Architecture reflects culture; architects must know their culture deeply. To gain an understanding of all aspects of architecture and to develop the attitudes and skills necessary to deal with them, students must have a broad liberal arts education. This base of cultural understanding and critical thinking is combined with a curriculum that focuses intensely on the study of architecture.

Architecture is an absorbing, fascinating profession. Choosing architecture as a professional career requires a major educational commitment at the undergraduate level as well as further study in a professional degree program. With a professional degree in architecture, a graduate may choose to work in small or large architectural firms, in academia, in community or governmental organizations, with development teams, and in a variety of related fields.

Architecture at Washington University

Washington University established the Department of Architecture as part of the School of Engineering and Architecture in 1902. The School of Architecture became an independent division of the university in 1910. In 2005, as part of the formation of the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, the School of Architecture was reorganized as the College of Architecture and the Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design.

In 1932, Givens Hall was constructed to house the school as a result of a generous gift in memory of Joseph W. and Kate Abbey Givens.

In 1967, the School of Architecture became one of the first schools in the United States to offer a pioneering six-year joint-degree program (Bachelor of Arts and Master of Architecture).

Our four-year undergraduate degree programs emphasize the development of both making and digital skills, which help students to become more creative thinkers and designers. All architecture students take similar courses during their first three years; courses taken during the fourth year will differ depending on each student's choice of program.

The Bachelor of Science in Architecture entails a more intensive study of architecture during the senior year. Students will take a senior-level design studio focused on advanced building design along with structures courses, architectural history/theory courses that emphasize urban design issues, and technology courses in environmental systems or landscape architecture.

The Bachelor of Arts in Architecture offers greater flexibility. Its strong, adaptable undergraduate curriculum prepares students for graduate study in architecture, usually for three years. During their senior year, students may choose to take additional architecture design studios, or they may pursue courses in other areas of interest.

These undergraduate degree programs offer students the opportunity to gradually focus their undergraduate studies within the college and allow them to make an incremental commitment to a career in architecture. Both programs prepare students to move on to a master's degree, putting them on track for teaching and leadership positions in architecture and other related fields.

The College of Architecture faculty are nationally and internationally renowned practitioners and researchers who are committed to students' undergraduate experience. As academic advisors, they work with the director and the undergraduate chair to help students build an individualized curriculum, select specific courses, and chart plans for their future careers.

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