uc berkeley architecture ranking

Last Updated on August 28, 2023

For over a century, the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley has been a global leader in both design education and research. Today, we are proud to be recognized as one of the top four architecture schools in the world. Our faculty and students are unified by their search to understand and plan for the future of humankind’s relationship to our environment — urban and ecological, physical and virtual.

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UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design - Wikipedia

uc berkeley architecture ranking

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UC Berkeley Ranked #2 in US, #5 Worldwide in Architecture/Built Environment by QS Ranking. UC Berkeley was ranked second in the United States and fifth in the world for the subject area of architecture/built environment by global higher education analysis firm Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) for 2018.

The College of Environmental Design, also known as the Berkeley CED, or simply CED, is one of 14 schools and colleges at the University of California, Berkeley. The school is located in Bauer Wurster Hall on the southeast corner of the main UC Berkeley campus. It is composed of three departments:

  • Architecture
  • City and Regional Planning
  • Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning

CED is consistently ranked as one of the most prestigious design schools in the U.S. and the world. The Graduate Program in Architecture is currently ranked No. 6 in the world through QS World University Rankings subject rankings. The Architecture program has also been recognized as the top public program by the journal DesignIntelligence and is currently ranked No. 6 in the United States. The Urban Planning program is currently ranked No. 2 by Planetizen.


In 1894, Bernard Maybeck was appointed instructor in drawing at the Civil Engineering College of the University of California. A school of architecture did not yet exist. The School of Architecture at Berkeley was developed by John Galen Howard in 1903 followed by the School of Landscape Architecture, established by John William Gregg, which began instruction in 1913 and City Planning in 1948. In order to encourage an atmosphere of interdisciplinary study, the three schools, with the Department of Decorative Arts, were brought under one roof and the College of Environmental Design was founded in 1959 by, William Wurster, T.J Kent, Catherine Bauer Wurster, and Vernon DeMars. Originally, the school was located in North Gate Hall. Bauer Wurster Hall, the building which currently houses the college opened in 1964 and was designed by Joseph Esherick, Vernon DeMars, and Donald Olsen, members of the CED faculty.

One of the CED’s early innovations during the 1960s was the development of the “four-plus-two” (“4+2”) course of study for architecture students, meaning a four-year non-professional Bachelor of Arts in Architecture degree followed by a two-year professional Master of Architecture (M.Arch) degree. The 4+2 program was meant to address the shortfalls of the traditional 5-year professional Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) program, which many architecture educators felt was too rushed and neglected the undergraduate’s intellectual development in favor of a strong emphasis on practical design knowledge. The 4+2 program allowed one to receive a broader education including exposure to the liberal arts as an undergraduate and thus a deeper and more thorough education in architectural design as a graduate student. CED was also an early proponent of design for disability and green architecture, and is home to the Center for the Built Environment.

In 2009–2010, the College of Environmental Design marked its 50th anniversary with a year-long series of events that paid tribute to CED’s history and legacy, and engaged the college community in a lively discussion about its future.

In March 2015, the college unveiled a 9-foot-tall (2.7 m) 3D-printed sculpture, entitled “Bloom”, which was composed of an iron oxide-free Portland cement powder. This was the first printed structure of its type.

Undergraduate programs

  • Bachelor of Arts, Architecture
  • Bachelor of Arts, Landscape Architecture
  • Bachelor of Arts, Sustainable Environmental Design
  • Bachelor of Arts, Urban Studies

Graduate programs

  • Master of Architecture
  • Master of Design
  • Master of Urban Design
  • Master of City Planning
  • Master of Landscape Architecture
  • Master of Real Estate Development and Design
  • Master of Science, Architecture
  • Ph.D., Architecture
  • Ph.D., City and Regional Planning
  • Ph.D., Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning
Top Architecture Schools of 2019 | 2018-09-01 | Architectural Record

uc berkeley architecture admission requirements

Major Requirements

In addition to the University, campus, and college requirements outlined on the College Requirements tab, students must fulfill the following requirements specific to the major program.

The Architecture major requirements differ by students’ admit year to UC Berkeley. The major requirements listed below are the most recent. In the Berkeley Academic Guide Archive, refer to the year you were admitted to UC Berkeley for your major requirements.

General Guidelines

  1. All lower division courses taken in fulfillment of major requirements must be completed with a letter grade of C- or better.
  2. Courses taken to fulfill lower division major requirements may also be used to fulfill Seven Course Breadth.
  3. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 must be maintained in upper and lower division courses used to fulfill the major requirements.
  4. A minimum overall GPA of 2.0 for all courses taken at UC Berkeley is required for graduation.
  5. Courses used to fulfill an upper division major requirement may not simultaneously fulfill a breadth requirement. 
  6. Up to two upper division courses taken at another institution, including an approved study abroad program, may be applied to the major requirements below (if transferable and approved in advance).

For information regarding residence and unit requirements, please see the College Requirements tab.

Lower Division Major Requirements, Freshman and Sophomore Year

ARCH 11AIntroduction to Visual Representation and Drawing (formerly ENV DES 11A)4
ARCH 11BIntroduction to Design (formerly ENV DES 11B)5
ARCH 98BCBerkeley Connect (recommended)1
MATH 16AAnalytic Geometry and Calculus3
or MATH 1ACalculus
PHYSICS 8AIntroductory Physics4
or PHYSICS 7APhysics for Scientists and Engineers

Upper Division Major Requirements, Junior Year

Architectural Design & Representation:
ARCH 100AFundamentals of Architectural Design6
ARCH 100BFundamentals of Architectural Design6
Architectural History, Culture, & Society:
ARCH 170AAn Historical Survey of Architecture and Urbanism4
ARCH 170BAn Historical Survey of Architecture and Urbanism4
ARCH 112The Social Life of Building3-4
or ARCH 130Introduction to Architectural Design Theory and Criticism
Architectural Technologies & Building Performance:
ARCH 140Energy and Environment 14
or ARCH 160Introduction to Construction
ARCH 198BCBerkeley Connect1
1Both ARCH 140 and ARCH 160 are required for studio track.

Upper Division Requirements, Senior Year

Prior to the course enrollment period early in the spring semester of the junior year, students must select one of the following two tracks for the senior year:  

Senior Year, Research Track 1
ARCH 102ACapstone Project Preparation Seminar3
ARCH 102BArchitecture Capstone Project5
Capstone Elective 1 of 3 (see department for course list)3-4
Capstone Elective 2 of 3 (see department for course list)2-4
Capstone Elective 3 of 3 (see department for course list)3-4
Senior Year, Studio Track 2
ARCH 100CArchitectural Design III5
ARCH 100DArchitectural Design IV5
ARCH 140Energy and Environment (whichever not chosen above) 14
or ARCH 160Introduction to Construction
ARCH 150Introduction to Structures4
1Research Track theme and electives vary each year.
2Both ARCH 140 and ARCH 160 are required for studio track.

Note that upper division major courses cannot be used to fulfill multiple requirements. For example, a course cannot be used for both the Architecture Research Track elective and the upper division CED outside major requirement; a separate course must fulfill each requirement.

Minor Requirements


Students who have a strong interest in an area of study outside their major often decide to complete a minor program. When completing the final requirements for the minor, students must submit the CED Minor Completion Form, available on the CED website.

General Guidelines

  1. All minors must be declared no later than one semester before a student’s Expected Graduation Term (EGT).
  2. A letter grade of C- or higher is required in ENV DES 1 to declare the minor. To declare, submit the CED Request to Add Minor Form, available on the CED website.
  3. All courses used to fulfill minor requirements must be completed with a letter grade of C- or above.
  4. Students must earn a 2.0 GPA in the upper division requirements for the minor.
  5. Any course used in fulfillment of minor requirements may also be used to fulfill major and upper division CED non-major requirements.
  6. Courses used to fulfill a breadth requirement may also be used to satisfy minor requirements.
  7. Students may apply the non-CED version of a CED cross-listed course towards the minor.
  8. Students may use up to two courses taken abroad to fulfill upper division minor requirements, with faculty approval of the individual courses.


Lower Division (3 Courses)
ENV DES 1Introduction to Environmental Design (A letter grade of C- or higher is required to declare the minor.)3
ARCH 11AIntroduction to Visual Representation and Drawing (formerly ENV DES 11A)4
ARCH 11BIntroduction to Design (formerly ENV DES 11B)5
Upper Division (5 Courses)
ARCH 100AFundamentals of Architectural Design6
ARCH 170AAn Historical Survey of Architecture and Urbanism4
or ARCH 170BAn Historical Survey of Architecture and Urbanism
ARCH 112The Social Life of Building3-4
or ARCH 130Introduction to Architectural Design Theory and Criticism
ARCH 140Energy and Environment4
or ARCH 150Introduction to Structures
or ARCH 160Introduction to Construction
One additional upper division Architecture course (must be at least 2 units, taken for a letter grade)
Wurster Hall

best architecture schools in the world

The recently released QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020 features 201 of the top higher education institutions to study architecture.

The QS University Rankings by Subject are based on four indicators: academic reputation, employer reputation, research citations per paper and the H-index (a way of measuring the productivity and published work of a scientist or scholar). You can find more details about the methodology behind the subject rankings here.

Top 10 Universities for Architecture in the WorldBased on the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020
RankName of InstitutionCountry
1Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)United States
2Delft University of TechnologyNetherlands
3The Bartlett School of Architecture | UCL (University College London)United Kingdom
4ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)Switzerland
5Harvard UniversityUnited States
6University of California, Berkeley (UCB)United States
7Politecnico di MilanoItaly
8Manchester School of ArchitectureUnited Kingdom
9University of CambridgeUnited Kingdom
10Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)Switzerland

Top universities for architecture in the US and Canada

Of the 201 schools featured in the architecture subject rankings, 38 of these universities are found in the US, including 12 featuring in the top 50 worldwide – the largest amount in any one country. Aside from those in the top 10 (shown above), other high ranking universities in the US include Columbia University (13th place), University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA, 15th place) and Cornell University (28th place).

Heading north to Canada, there are eight universities featured in the subject rankings for architecture. Although none of these are featured in the top ten, the University of British Columbia ranks well in the research citations per paper and H index indicators, placing 32nd overall. Other Canadian universities in the top 50 include University of Toronto (joint 38th place) and McGill University (up four places to joint 41st place).

Top universities for architecture in Europe

The UK is home to 19 of the best architecture schools in the world, with three of these schools featuring in the top 10 in the QS World University Rankings by Subject for architecture. Outside of the top ten, we have the University of Sheffield (23rd place) and Cardiff University (joint 38th place). Ireland’s University College Dublin scores particularly well in the research citations per paper indicator, ranking 101-150 this year.

In France we have one entrant this year – Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, which ranks 151-200. Spain has five ranked universities this year, with Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and Universidad Politécnica de Madrid ranking within the top 40, in 21st and 35th place respectively.

Germany also scores well this year, with seven universities featuring in the QS World University Ranking by Subject for architecture this year, including Technische Universität Berlin (up eight places this year to 24th) and Technische Universität München (in 26th place).

Italy also performs well in the architecture subject rankings in 2020, with eight ranked universities, two of which are in the top 50; Politecnico di Milano (7th) and Politecnico di Torino (33rd). Switzerland’s two entrants are both within the top 10 in the world.

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