If you’re considering pursuing a career in architecture, you already know that where you study can be just as important as what you study.
Los Angeles is a hub for cutting-edge architecture, and choosing the right school can give you the edge you need to succeed in the field. But with so many options to choose from, how do you know which schools are truly the best?
In this post, we’ll take a look at the top architecture schools in Los Angeles, including their strengths and specialties, to help you make an informed decision about where to pursue your architectural education.
We have handpicked and reviewed these top schools by utilizing data from the U.S Department of Education, particularly focusing on graduation rates, program popularity, student retention rate, and admissions yield.
List of the best Architecture Schools in Los Angeles
While several colleges in Los Angeles offer the course of Architecture, a few colleges stand out in terms of study standards, projects, and exposure.
For this reason, making the right choice is always necessary. And we’ve handpicked the best institutions to focus on in Los Angeles so you can easily shortlist your options and make informed decisions:
- University of Southern California
- Southern California Institute of Architecture
- Woodbury University
- Otis College of Art and Design
- California State Polytechnic University – Pomona
- Art Center College of Design
University of Southern California
- University of Southern California Admission Requirement Page
- University of Southern California Tuition Details page
The University of Southern California is one of the most prominent schools that’s hard to ignore when it comes to pursuing a degree in architecture in LA right now.
The university offers a 5-year professional Bachelor of Architecture program and it is administered through its School of Architecture, accredited by the NAAB. (they also offer a non-professional Bachelor of Science in Architecture program – it’s 4-year and not NAAB-accredited.)
When you get into the 5-year professional Bachelor of Architecture program, you will go through didactic and design studio work and participate in a studio project in the fall of the third year ends. The fifth year of this program at the University of Southern California ends with comprehensive research, documentation, and a proposed project.
The University of Southern California tuition fee is $61,503 per year and it requires a High school diploma; SAT or ACT scores as admission requirements, including an online portfolio of examples of your creative pursuits, 1-3 letters of recommendation, as well as advanced placement test scores
With about 19,900 undergraduate and 27,400 graduate students, the University of Southern California is a wonderful option for prospective architecture students planning to study in Los Angeles.
Southern California Institute of Architecture
- Southern California Institute of Architecture Admission Requirement Page
- Southern California Institute of Architecture Tuition Details page
Southern California Institute of Architecture is another great place to study architecture and it’s located five miles from the center of LA. The university offers a 5-year, NAAB-accredited, professional Bachelor of Architecture program and the admission is quite competitive with only 70 students taken each year.
In this program, you also get to study core subjects such as history and theory of architecture, media and technology applications in architecture, visual studies, and design studio sessions.
Students in the Architecture program at Southern California Institute of Architecture pay a tuition fee of $25,982 per semester for the 2023-2024 session.
The institution requires new students to present a statement of purpose portfolio of creative work, and three letters of recommendation. The prerequisite also includes a high school diploma (ACT or SAT scores)
It is a private not-for-profit school that boasts 260 undergraduate and 250 graduate students.
The uniqueness of studying architecture at Woodbury University is that they offer several faculty-based initiatives that provide community research and design, arid land investigation, and international study opportunities.
The university is located in Burbank, outside LA, and offers a 5-year, NAAB-accredited program that consists of general education and architecture core courses.
The downside is that the school has strict requirements but it is a solid option.
Being a private not-for-profit university, Woodbury University has about 1,100 undergraduate and 100 graduate students and takes $44,886 as a tuition fee per year.
Special requirements to get into this university include an interview, a 7-week transition to Woodbury course that you have to complete, then a portfolio of artistic work in any format.
Otis College of Art and Design
- Otis College of Art and Design Admission Requirement Page
- Otis College of Art and Design Tuition Details page
If you prefer a private art school and design school in the Westchester neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, then the Otis College of Art and Design is your top pick.
The acceptance rate at Otis College of Art and Design is 91 percent with an enrollment of over 199 bachelor’s degree candidates.
Based on rigorous and in-depth analysis of key statistics from the U.S. Department of Education, the Otis College of Art and Design currently ranks 793 of 6828 as 2023 Best Colleges in California, and then 71st of 703 in Best Design Colleges & Universities in America
The main campus of Otis College of Art and Design is in the former IBM Aerospace Headquarters at 9045 Lincoln Boulevard in Westchester, Los Angeles, and the architecture programs offered here are accredited by WASC and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.
The program includes four-year BFA degrees in illustration, fine arts, interior design, fashion design, digital media, architecture, landscape design, product design, toy design, and graphic design.
As an undergraduate student, you will be able to choose a major after completing a battery of composition, traditional drawing, painting, and construction classes in your first year.
California State Polytechnic University – Pomona
- California State Polytechnic University – Pomona Admission Requirement Page
- California State Polytechnic University – Pomona Tuition Details page
There are multiple architecture degrees to consider at California State Polytechnic University – Pomona. These include Bachelor of Architecture, Master of Architecture, and Master of Interior Architecture – all vetted and accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board.
It is one of the best options for architecture students to consider today as it allows students to experience many tenets of architectural design, especially in the Bachelor of Architecture program.
Art Center College of Design
- Art Center College of Design Admission Requirement Page
- Art Center College of Design Tuition Details page
Art Center College of Design isn’t just like every other architecture school in LA. Here, you can enroll in the Bachelor of Science in Spatial Experience Design program which will expose you to a more artistic approach to architecture that is purely practical.
The course offered at Art Center College of Design is centered around human-related designs, allowing you to try on building different environments and working with interiors, furniture, and lighting.
The best part is that the university offers multiple study opportunities. A good example is the Transdisciplinary Studio courses. But in addition, you are offered study abroad opportunities, and sponsored projects.
After completing this program, students usually venture into Architect, Interior Design, Exhibit, Event & Trade Design, Mobile Interiors, In-House Design, and even Branded Environments Design as career opportunities.
What to consider when choosing the best school for architecture in Los Angeles
It is not enough to have a list of top recommended schools where you can get cutting-edge education in Los Angeles. Knowing the exact metrics to shape your decision-making will also help.
The theme you may have to necessarily consider include campus size, student-to-faculty ratio, Program-specific opportunities, presence of graduates, and then campus life and culture.
- As for the campus size, you’d want to know if the university is large or relatively small. Many students begin to narrow their options starting from the size of the college before considering the architecture programs offered.
- You also want to prioritize universities where that have a smaller student-to-faculty ratio because it hints at the personalized attention that students receive in the school. This allows for a closer relationship with your faculty that brings internship offers.
- Most of the ideal universities with architecture programs reviewed above have a Master of Architecture program available. So the best college for this field may not necessarily include graduate programs.
- The average class population is another salient factor. Do you picture your lectures with hundreds of students sitting? Or would you prefer a smaller class environment? Your choice will determine your college pick.
The top recommendations on best architecture schools can vary across major global benchmarks such as the US News, and Niche among others.
However, we have been able to select some of the best based on analyzed reviews and data from the US department of education, and if you prioritize sound education in Architecture while schooling in LA, our final verdict is in favor of the USC School of Architecture and Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning.