Undergraduate Major in Architecture

The School offers an undergraduate major in architecture exclusively to students enrolled in Yale College. Students who desire this major must apply directly to Yale College.

Architecture is both a creative and intellectual pursuit that produces ideas affecting the built environment. It is an expression of cultural values and human aspiration and a way to think about the world. The purpose of the undergraduate standard major is to include the study of architecture within a comprehensive liberal arts education, drawing from the broader academic and professional environment of the Yale School of Architecture. As a liberal arts major in Yale College, it leads to a bachelor of arts degree with a major in Architecture, a nonprofessional degree, and it does not fulfill the prerequisites for architectural licensure. For accredited professional degree programs, refer to the requirements of the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) at www.naab.org.

The architecture major is structured around a broad curriculum, state of the art resources and a variety of programs and events to cultivate design exploration, visual inquiry, and critical discourse. The curriculum offers studios in design and labs in urbanism, together with lectures and seminars in the following subject categories: architectural history and theory, urbanism and landscape, materials and technology, and structures and computation. The curriculum is complemented by numerous programs, activities and informal events, which include opportunities for student travel, exhibitions of student work, and open studios. All students in the major are provided with either studio or lab space in Rudolph Hall, and given full and equal access to the unparalleled facilities and equipment at the Yale School of Architecture. Through the comprehensive range of events, resources, and curricular offerings, the major contributes to a uniquely collegial community of students and faculty, and instills a collaborative environment in which to produce work and exchange ideas.

The undergraduate major in architecture strives to create a vibrant intellectual environment to educate students who are imaginative, curious and globally aware. Students in the major are expected to:

  • think critically and express ideas visually,
  • observe and analyze architectural form through methods of representation,
  • conceptualize and design innovative solutions to challenging problems,
  • formulate questions and seek answers through research and writing, and
  • understand and engage with the complex social, political and environmental forces that shape and define architecture and the built environment.

The liberal arts education provides an ideal framework to study architecture within the broader context of culture.


Students majoring in architecture can focus their studies in one of three areas of concentration: (i) design, (ii) history, theory, and criticism, or (iii) urbanism. The three concentrations provide students with the flexibility to focus on specific areas of interest.

  1. Design, which investigates the ways in which cultural ideas, information, actions, and locations may be visually communicated in the material fabric of architecture. Design studios provide a forum for production and discourse. Studio projects address issues of architectural form, space, composition, site, tectonics, and program.
  2. History, Theory, and Criticism, which establishes a broad historical and intellectual framework for the study of architecture through the examination of written texts from classical antiquity to current debates. The students are expected to analyze rigorously and write theoretical and critical papers about the past, present, and future potential of architecture. HTC students may choose the option of a Design Studio or Urban Labs and History of Architecture courses.
  3. Urbanism, which encourages a broad, interdisciplinary investigation of the complex forces that shape the urban and physical environment. Urbanism is analyzed relative to the policies, theories and histories that govern physical, organizational and infrastructural systems at multiple scales. Urban Lab projects analyze morphological and spatial systems of cities through diverse means of representation, and students propose their own urban interventions.

Course of Study

The introductory courses to the study of architecture are open to all Yale College second years, juniors, and seniors, and are required prior to entering the architecture major.

In the Fall Semester of the Second Year students take:
ARCH 150a Introduction to Architecture*
*If you missed taking this Fall course, please see DUS.

In the Spring Semester of the Second Year students take:
ARCH 200b Scales of Design
ARCH 280b American Architecture and Urbanism

Students interested in Architecture declare their intent to major by submitting a portfolio of work from the Second Year at the end of the spring semester.
(See Declaring Intention to Major)

In the Design Concentration: Four (4) electives in specific subject areas are required for Design.

Juniors in Design should enroll in the following:
- ARCH 250a Methods and Forms in Architecture I
- ARCH 251b Methods and Forms in Architecture II
- ARCH 260a History of Architecture I
- ARCH 262b Modern Architecture

Seniors in the Design concentration must enroll in these two (2) Studios:
- ARCH 450a Senior Fall Studio
- ARCH 494b Advanced Senior Studio (spring)

In the Urbanism Concentration: Five (5) electives are required including four (4) in Urban Studies courses.

Juniors in Urban Studies should enroll in the following:
- ARCH 360 Urban Lab: An Urban World
- ARCH 362 Urban Lab: City Making
- ARCH 341 Globalization Space
- ARCH 345 Intro to Urban Design

Seniors in the Urban Studies concentration must prepare a Senior Essay/Project due in April of the Spring semester. These courses are required:
- ARCH 490a Senior Research Colloquium (fall)
- ARCH 491b Senior Essay Project (spring)

In the History, Theory, and Criticism Concentration: Five (5) electives are required including four (4) in History/Theory and also these requirements:
- ARCH 260a History of Architecture I
- ARCH 262b Modern Architecture
- ARCH 360 Urban Lab: An Urban World
- ARCH 362 Urban Lab: City Making

Seniors in the History, Theory, and Criticism concentration must prepare a Senior Essay/Project due in April of the Spring semester. These courses are required:
- ARCH 490a Senior Research Colloquium (fall)
- ARCH 491b Senior Essay Project (spring)

Declaring Intention to Major

Students interested in Architecture declare their intent to major by submitting the following materials to the Director of Undergraduate Studies by April 2023:

  1. Intent to Major Application
  2. Statement of Intent (300-500 words).
  3. Writing Sample from a Yale College class (5/10 pages).
  4. A copy of your Yale College Academic Record (unofficial copy is acceptable).
  5. A copy of your Portfolio work from Arch 200b: Scales of Design

Fellowships and Travel

Term-time Travel
Undergraduate studios often conduct field trips as an integral part of their studio projects, underscoring the value of learning from buildings firsthand and experiencing the unique conditions of a particular context. Over the years, students in their final design studio, together with their instructors, have traveled to Peru, Mexico, Spain, California, Texas and Atlanta to visit relevant precedents and sites for their final senior projects.

Students in the junior studio have visited significant architectural projects that relate to their studio projects including Philip Johnson’s Glass House, John Johansen’s Bridge House in New Canaan, CT and Paul Rudolph’s Apartment in New York.

Summer Travel
The Harvey Geiger Fellowships, established by Harvey Geiger, B.A. ‘64, M.Arch ‘69, support undergraduate travel and research in Architecture. The fellowships acknowledge the formative role of travel in the education of an architect and encourage the first hand exploration of significant issues and contexts.

The Fellowships are open to all juniors in the architecture major in Yale College. Applicants should demonstrate that their intellectual development and educational experience in architecture would be significantly enhanced through independent research and travel on a focused topic.

Students in the major also apply and receive funding for independent travel and research through numerous fellowships and grants offered through Yale College. Students typically travel during the summer after their junior year to conduct research on topics for their senior theses or independent studies.

Frequently Asked Questions

What degree will I earn if I major in Architecture at Yale?
The major includes the study of architecture within the comprehensive liberal arts education of Yale College. The undergraduate major in Architecture leads to a Bachelor of Arts degree. It is not a professional degree in architecture.

I am interested in a professional career in architecture. Why should I pursue a non-accredited undergraduate degree at Yale?
The major will provide a strong foundation for students who wish to pursue a career within or outside architecture. As architecture is both a creative and an intellectual pursuit, the liberal arts context of the major allows students to situate their studies within the broad interdisciplinary framework of the field. Students in the major are imaginative, curious, and globally aware, applying the skills of critical, analytical, and visual thinking to the problems that face the built environment.

What is the difference between the Program of Architecture at Yale College and the Yale School of Architecture?
Students at the Yale School of Architecture are pursuing a Masters or Ph.D. program. Students in the Architecture program are undergraduates studying at Yale College and pursuing one of three concentrations within the major. They are provided with either studio or lab space in Rudolph Hall. Alongside graduate students, they use the advanced technology and fabrication resources of the School and may apply to take graduate-level seminars. Students often contribute to extracurricular programs at the School such as the student journal Paprika! or the Equality in Design group. The Architecture Major provides a rigorous Yale College education while allowing students to draw on the resources, vibrant culture, and professional environment of the School of Architecture.

How many total course credits do I need to complete in the major?
Students majoring in Architecture are required to take fifteen (15) course credits in the major including all required courses. Note that this amounts to fewer than fifteen classes, because studio and lab courses count for 1.5 credits.

What is the workload and time commitment?
The Architecture Major has a rigorous workload and will comprise more than a third of a student’s course credits. Architecture’s reciprocal relationship between writing, thinking, and design is registered by the curricular balance between courses focused on history and theory and those centered on design and creation, which involve model-making and drawing. The community of the studio and lab in Rudolph Hall is a unique and essential part of the educational environment.

Can I double major?
While the Architecture Major can be challenging in its coursework, it is possible to double major. In the past, students have completed second majors in a variety of fields, including History of Art, Political Science, and Mechanical Engineering. Students interested in double majoring will work closely with the DUS to discuss coursework.

What courses may I take as a First Year student?* First Years may take various elective courses and seminars in architecture.
● ARCH 00x History of Landscape (TBD)
● ARCH 006a Architectures of Urbanism (Freshman Seminar)
● ARCH 154b Drawing Architecture
● STCY 176a Study of the City
● ARCH 260a History of Architecture I
● ARCH 312b Modern Architecture in a Global Context
● Note that in general, architecture lecture classes are open to First Year students.
*See Yale College Program of Study for course descriptions

What is the trajectory of the curriculum? When do I start one of the three concentrations in the major?
The core of the program is the spring semester of the Second Year, when all students in the major share two classes: Scales of Design and American Architecture and Urbanism. In the following year, students split into their respective concentrations; Junior courses will include either a design studio (for those in Design), an urban lab (for those in Urban Studies), or an option between the two (for those in HTC).

What are the requirements for each concentration in architecture?
Students will be exposed to the different characteristics and possibilities of each concentration through the spring prerequisites. Students are encouraged to talk to the DUS, professors in Architecture, and students in the major to determine which concentration may be appropriate.

What are the senior requirements for each concentration in Architecture?
Seniors in the Design track must enroll in these two (2) Studios:
● ARCH 450a Senior Fall Studio (1.5 cr)
● ARCH 494b Advanced Senior Studio (spring) (1.5 cr)

Seniors in the HTC and Urban Studies tracks must prepare a Senior Essay/Project due in April of the Spring semester. These courses are required:
● ARCH 490a Senior Research Colloquium (fall)
● ARCH 491b Senior Essay Project (spring)

Undergraduate Major in Urban Studies

Urban Studies is an interdisciplinary field grounded in the physical and social spaces of the city and the larger built environment. The Urban Studies major is situated within Yale’s liberal arts framework and draws on the broader academic context and expertise of the Yale School of Architecture, including the areas of urban design and development, urban and architectural history, urban theory and representation, globalization and infrastructure, transportation and mobility, heritage and preservation, and community-based planning. The major introduces students to the following bodies of knowledge: history, theory and contemporary analysis of urban morphologies, spaces, societies, and political economies; conceptual tools and analytical methods to understand urban environments and issues through spatial terms; and practices of and speculative approaches to urban planning and design.

The major prepares undergraduates for a variety of future careers and fields of graduate study related to urban planning, design, and development. These include professional and practice-oriented fields such as urban planning, law, non-profit management, public policy, real estate development, and architecture; as well as research-oriented fields such as geography, sociology, anthropology, urban planning, and architecture.

Requirements of the Major

Students in the Class of 2020 and 2021 Students interested in pursuing a major in Urban Studies should consult with the director of undergraduate studies (DUS) early in the fall 2019 term. Upon approved fulfillment of the requirements indicated below, upper-level students may earn a B.A. degree in Urban Studies.

Students in the Class of 2022 and subsequent classes Students majoring in Urban Studies must take thirteen course credits approved by the DUS. The major is organized around survey courses, methods courses, related electives, and a one- or-two term senior requirement.

Thirteen term courses are required for the major, including the senior requirement. Each student, in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies (DUS) or a departmental faculty adviser, bears the responsibility for designing a coherent program, which must include the following elements: 3 surveys, 3 methods courses, 4 or 6 electives, depending on the senior requirement; and a one- or two-term senior requirement. All students are required to take either ARCH 360 or 362, one of the Urban Lab courses.

Surveys Students choose three survey courses from the following list, of which one course in ARCH is required. Surveys should be completed by the end of the second year. Surveys: ARCH 200, ARCH 280, ARCH 341, ARCH 385, AMST 196, ANTH 414, EVST 226, HSHM 211

Methods Courses Students choose either ARCH 360 or 362 (Urban Labs) as one of the three required courses from the following list that introduces various methods of understanding and analyzing urbanism and the city. Students should consider completing at least two of these courses by the end of their junior year. Methods Courses: ARCH 230, 345, 353, 360, 362, AMST 348, ANTH 303, EVST 290, HSHM 422, SOCY 160

Electives Students choose five electives if enrolling in the two-term senior requirement; 6 electives if opting for the one-term senior requirement. Each student is responsible for selecting their elective courses from the approved list available on the Urban Studies website or by petition of the DUS. Students who take two Urban Labs (1.5 credits each) may take 4 electives.

Credit/D/Fail No course taken Credit/D/Fail may be counted toward the Urban Studies major.

Senior Requirement

All majors must satisfy a senior requirement undertaken during the senior year. Students have the option of pursuing a yearlong senior project, which includes the ARCH 490, Senior Research Colloquium in the fall and URBN 491, Senior Project in the spring. The senior project may be a written paper or a project that could encompass a variety of media. The primary adviser must be a member of the architecture faculty. Students not choosing a yearlong project may enroll in an advanced seminar (ARCH 400–490), and produce a final paper of twenty to twenty-five pages in addition to existing course work. The seminar should be selected in consultation with the DUS. Note that students pursuing this option must also take an additional elective.

Advising and Intent to Major

Students may declare their intent to major during their second year. The intent to major process will include meeting with the DUS to discuss the intended course of study; submitting a Declaration of Intent to Major form and completing the surveys by the end of the second year. More information regarding this process, the relevant forms, and submission link is available on the program’s website. Schedules for majors must be discussed with, and approved by, the DUS in Urban Studies. Only then may a schedule be submitted to the residential college dean’s office.

Courses in the School of Architecture Unless otherwise indicated in the course descriptions, all courses in the School of Architecture are open to majors and nonmajors with permission of the instructor and the graduate registrar. They are not available for the Credit/D/Fail option. Students are admitted on the basis of their previous course work and previous performance.


Prerequisites None

Number of courses 13 courses (incl senior req)

Specific courses required ARCH 360 or ARCH 362

Distribution of courses 3 surveys, inc 1 ARCH course (to be completed by second year); 3 methods courses, one of which is ARCH 360 or 362; 4–6 electives as specified

Senior Requirement ARCH 490 and URBN 491; or adv seminar (ARCH 400–490) and addt elective