Which program should I apply to?
The School of Architecture offers two undergraduate degrees: the Bachelor of Science in Architecture (BSArch) and the Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Architectural Studies. The BSArch is a four-year pre-professional degree that includes eight semesters of studio courses. Students who know they are interested in pursuing a career in architecture and who would enter as first-year students should apply to the BSArch program.
The BA is an upper-level program for juniors and seniors, both those already studying at UIC and those transferring from another school. The BA program introduces students to the design studio and culture of architecture while preparing them to pursue a professional (graduate-level) degree.
Graduates of both programs are able to find work in architecture and related fields, but BSArch students have significantly more design studio experience, which means they are more likely to be hired in design-focused roles.
Do I need a portfolio to apply to undergrad programs in the School of Architecture?
Students applying to the first year of the Bachelor of Science in Architecture program or the Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Studies program do not need to submit portfolios. The only applicants who are required to submit a portfolio are those who seek advanced placement in the undergraduate architecture studio sequence. For guidelines on portfolio content and format, refer to the portfolio requirements page.
Do I need to write an essay? What should it say?
Yes. You will need to write two essays as part of your application. One essay will be in response to a broader prompt related to your reasons for applying to the university, and one essay will be related to the program you are applying to specifically. This program essay is especially important to our admissions committee: this is the place to discuss your individual interest in architecture and your educational and professional goals in the field. We read these essays closely for insight into who you are as a creative student.
Do I need experience in architecture to be accepted?
We don’t expect students to come into our undergraduate programs with any experience in the field; in fact, we are happy when students arrive without preconceptions. However, please note that applicants to the Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Studies must take Arch 200 as a prerequisite. BA applicants who are currently students at UIC must take Arch 200 before applying; applicants transferring from other institutions can take Arch 200 their first year here.
Do I need any experience with software before I start the program? What kinds of technology does the program require?
No, we do not expect students to start our programs with any specific technological knowledge. Faculty will be in contact with you each semester with more information about which equipment and software you need to participate in each course.
Who will be teaching me? What should I know about the faculty?
The school draws much of its energy from its award-winning, international faculty, 40 percent of whom were born or educated abroad. The majority of our faculty teach studios in the undergraduate program each year. In studio courses, the ratio of faculty of students is typically one to twelve. You can find more information on each faculty member’s interest and research on our Faculty and Staff profiles page.
What will I learn in studio classes?
The first-year studio curriculum introduces techniques for using analog drawing, models, and digital software to analyze and design at architectural and urban scales. Design exercises emphasize critical observation and thinking methods and build on one another, familiarizing students with concepts like form, space, proportion, and scale. BSArch students take eight studio courses, one every semester, in a unique sequence that is specifically targeted to advance your abilities as a designer and secure you advanced standing in a professional master’s program. This studio experience means that our Bachelor of Science graduates are able to be successful in the field and take on responsibility for design projects even without a master’s degree. BA students take the first two studios in the sequence.
Will I be able to get an internship?
Yes. Internships are not required, but many opportunities are available. BSArch students are also able to apply for the Cooperative Work Study Program.
What can I do with my degree?
Because of their experience in the design studio, Bachelor of Science in Architecture students are often able to find work in architecture firms and take on responsibility for design projects. Graduates have been hired at practices of all scales in Chicago, nationally, and internationally, including Cannon Design, FGM, Gensler, Henning Larsen, Herzog & de Meuron, JGMA, Koo and Associates, Perkins & Will, SOM, Studio Gang Architects, and UNStudio. Many students who work after graduation choose to return to graduate studies after several years. BA graduates are well equipped to work in cultural and creative industries or to continue on to a master’s degree in architecture, related design fields, law, public policy, or business.
What if I want to get licensed?
The school’s undergraduate degrees are pre-professional, which means that our undergrad alumni must complete a professional Master of Architecture degree in order to be licensed. The studio curriculum at UIC positions BSArch students to apply for advanced standing in professional programs, which may mean attending only two years instead of the typical three. The BA in Architectural Studies program is designed to provide alumni with a portfolio that would be favorably received by three-year Master of Architecture programs like the one at UIC. Around one-third of our graduates go on to graduate school, and our alumni have attended the most competitive programs in the country, including schools like Princeton, UCLA, the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Columbia, and MIT.