Bachelor of Arts Architectural Studies

The Bachelor of Arts degree in Architectural Studies (ARCS) builds a humanities-based foundation for master’s degrees in architecture or other design disciplines. By focusing on historical and contemporary design thinking, it links design to art, culture, society, environment and urbanism. It prepares students to be innovative, active, well-rounded, critical and informed designers.


Why choose the BA in Architectural Studies?

  • Because ARCS will allow you to explore and hone your passions for design. It will give you knowledge to choose which design field interests you most. And it will prepare you for professional graduate education (a master’s degree) in that field.
  • Because ARCS will teach you to be a confident and well-informed voice, and it will equip you to critique, evaluate, question and reimagine the design of the built environment.
  • Because ARCS will train you up as a researcher and an intellectual who infuses the design process with critical thinking, sound logic and a willingness to explore untested and innovative ideas.
  • Because the program requires many more electives than most undergraduate programs.  ARCS students choose which electives best suit their interests, so you will quickly learn to be self-motivated and develop a deep sense of ownership over your design education.
  • Because in ARCS you will come to understand the importance of reading, writing, research, observation, discourse, debate and criticism as essential components of the design process.


What's the difference between the BS in Architecture and the BA in Architectural Studies?





During the first two years, ARCS students take courses in architectural history, art history, foreign language and critical thinking. They also take four thematic design studios that immerse them in design culture. These hands-on, project-based studios introduce them to making in the architectural design process as a means of creative inquiry. The studios focus on:

  • The principles and techniques of design in two and three dimensions;
  • Human perception of interior, architectural and urban space;
  • Exploration and innovation with architectural materials;
  • Use and interpretation of data systems as a means of generating design ideas;
  • The relationship between designed objects and places, and the cultures that produce them; and
  • The role of reading, writing, research and critique in the architectural design process.

During the first year students begin to consider their options for minors, double majors or dual degrees (such as the dual-degree option with Construction Management), which they declare by the end of the second year. Simultaneously, they learn about multiple design and design-related disciplines to help them determine which field they want to pursue at the master’s level. As long as they fulfill the requirements, ARCS students may study in the education abroad program in Florence (Italy) any semester during their second, third or fourth years.

The focus of ARCS shifts during the third and fourth years to developing the student’s understanding of the role of language, logic and rhetoric in the design process, and to completing their minors, double majors or dual degrees. They continue to hone their creative skills by investigating, challenging and rethinking the process by which designers create and represent two- and three-dimensional objects. Third- and fourth-year students take core ARCS courses that challenge and expand their views on topics relevant to architecture such as structures, sustainability, urbanism and media through the lenses of typology, debate, discourse and criticism. Throughout these courses they learn that reading and writing are essential components of good design. 

During the fourth year students take several upper-division architecture electives.  And as they begin to identify master’s programs that suit their interests, CAED’s faculty and staff advise them in the process of applying for graduate school.


What do you do with a BA in Architectural Studies?

After completing their bachelor’s degree, graduates of the BA in Architectural Studies pursue professional master’s degrees in architecture, historic preservation, industrial design, interior design, landscape architecture, museum/curatorial studies, urban design, urban planning and many other design and design-related fields.

Student pointing to an architecture project