Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

General Questions

For High School Students

For Current Pitt Students Who Are Potential Majors

For Students Interested in Transferring Into Pitt

For Prospective Students with Pre-existing Undergraduate Degrees

General Questions

1. What university-level education do I need to become a licensed architect?

In general, individuals who wish to be licensed as architects in the United States (and Canada) must have completed an accredited, professional degree in architecture. There are a number of paths you can take towards that goal:

 (1) 4-year B.A. in any subject + 3.5-year M.Arch. degree at an accredited program.

 (2) 4-year B.Sc. in architecture + 2-year M.Arch. degree at an accredited program.

 (3) 5-year B.Arch. at an accredited program.

2. Does the University of Pittsburgh offer an accredited professional degree in architecture?

No. The University of Pittsburgh does not have a professional School of Architecture.  Our students who wish to become licensed as architects enroll in accredited professional programs after graduating from Pitt.  Usually, our students apply to first-professional M.Arch programs and expect to complete 3 additional years of study.

3. Where does Architectural Studies fit into the University of Pittsburgh?

The Architectural Studies program is housed in the Department of History of Art and Architecture in the School of Arts and Sciences.

4. How do I apply to Architectural Studies at Pitt?

You must be enrolled as a student in the School of Arts and Sciences at the Oakland campus of the University of Pittsburgh; then you can declare Architectural Studies as your major.

5. What are the admissions requirements for the Architectural Studies program?

There are no separate admissions criteria for the Architectural Studies program.  Once a student is accepted into the School of Arts and Sciences, he or she can elect to become an Architectural Studies major.


6. Is there a portfolio review for admissions to Pitt’s Architectural Studies program?

No; however, the development of a portfolio of creative work is a central element of the Architectural Studies program and is required for admissions to most graduate programs in architecture.  The development of a portfolio of creative should begin as early as possible.

7. What degree do I receive if I attend Pitt’s Architectural Studies program?

Students who complete the Architectural Studies major at Pitt receive a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.).

8. What can I do with a B.A. in Architectural Studies?

Our program is intended to prepare students to apply to any first-professional Masters of Architecture (M.Arch.) program or Masters of Historic Preservation program in the United States or Canada.

9. What are students who graduate from Pitt with a B.A. in Architectural Studies doing after graduation?  What percent of students who graduate continue on to M.Arch programs and at what schools?

Our website lists all recent Architectural Studies graduates along with information on their graduate school, future plans, and careers.


10. What does a dual major in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the Swanson School of Engineering and Architectural Studies entail?

In order to pursue the dual degree, students must complete 150 credits, which typically takes 5 years.  This includes the requirements for both majors and the General Education requirements for both schools; however, there may be some General Education requirements that overlap for both schools.  In order to pursue this, the student enrolls simultaneously in both schools.

11. If a student wishes to concentrate studying architecture within the History of Art and Architecture major (the other undergraduate program housed with the History of Art and Architecture department), is this possible?

Yes, students can find classes that satisfy the HAA major requirements that focus on architectural history.  For example, for the ‘modern/contemporary across the globe’ requirement, you could take HAA 0480, Modern Architecture. To satisfy the ‘Europe pre-1750’ requirement, you could enroll in a class on Renaissance Architecture. You could take Chinese Architecture for the Asian requirement.  There are several options for many of the HAA requirements.  See the HAA website for more detailed course descriptions and program requirements.

For High School Students

1. What should I study in high school to prepare for a career in architecture?

Students should be well-rounded, inquisitive, and have excellent communication skills. Communication takes several forms in architectural practice: (1) you should be at ease expressing ideas orally in front of a group of people; (2) you should be able to write a well-structured, clearly articulated argument; (3) you should be able to present ideas through a variety of graphic media (including drawings, sketches, photography, and three-dimensional models).

Three areas where we recommend that students should demonstrate they have committed continual and substantial effort throughout high school: (1) gaining a high level of proficiency in a foreign language; (2) gaining competence in math. It is highly recommended that students complete courses in calculus and physics; (3) pursuing work in creative fields such as art and music.

2. Should I take physics and/or calculus?
Architectural Studies majors are required to take two semesters of college-level physics here: usually PHYS 0110 and PHYS 0111. In addition, we highly recommend that students in the program who intend on applying to graduate schools complete at least one semester of college-level calculus. As these courses are rigorous here at the Oakland campus, we urge high school students who intend to study architecture at Pitt to enroll in advanced physics and mathematics courses in high school. For the latter, it would be ideal if students take calculus in high school, or at least a pre-calculus class.

For Current Pitt Students Who Are Potential Majors

1. How can a current Pitt student declare his or her major in Architectural Studies?

The earliest a student can declare a major is after the freshman year (in some instances, students declare in the spring semester of their first year).  Your general advisor in the main Arts and Sciences advising office in Thackeray Hall should be notified of your intentions so the proper paperwork can be completed. In general, students can declare a major, or change a major, by visiting the Student Records office in 140 Thackeray Hall or the Advising Center in 201 Thackeray Hall.  Students who are committed to declaring Architectural Studies as a major should seek to initiate this process as early as possible so they can enroll in courses in their sophomore year that are restricted to official Architectural Studies majors.

2. If a Pitt student is thinking about declaring his or her major in Architectural Studies, what courses can the student take to get an idea of what the major is like?


  • Courses that give students a good start on the major requirements and an introduction to the curriculum include:
    • Introduction to Western Architecture (HAA 0040)
    • Introduction to Design (SA 0110)
    • Introduction to Drawing (0130)
    • Approaches to the Built Environment (HAA 0940)
    • Architectural Studies Seminar (HAA 1913)
  • In addition, students are also strongly encouraged to pursue the required physics sequence early, taking PHYS 0110 and PHYS 0111 (or PHYS 0174 and PHYS 0175 if they are pursuing the Civil Engineering certificate).
  • While calculus is not required for the Architectural Studies major, many graduate programs desire that students complete at least one semester of college-level calculus before they apply. 
  • Look here for detailed information about the recommended sequence in which students should pursue the major requirements.


For Students Interested in Transferring Into Pitt

General Questions about transferring into the University of Pittsburgh can be answered here. Any student who is admitted into the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh Oakland campus can pursue the Architectural Studies major.  There are no separate admissions criteria for the Architectural Studies program.

1. What classes will transfer from my current school and be accepted for credit at Pitt and what is their equivalent?

All questions pertaining to transcripts and whether prior coursework will be accepted at Pitt can only be answered by the Office of the Undergraduate Dean’s Student Records Office located at 140 Thackeray Hall.  This office will also determine if past coursework can be applied toward the General Education requirements at Pitt.  This office can be contacted at 412-624-6776.

All students who transfer into the Architectural Studies Program's Design track will be asked to complete the foundation courses for the program: HAA 0940 Approaches to the Built Environment and HAA 1913 Architectural Studies Seminar. If students wish to have past coursework considered for transfer credit for other design track requirements, they must submit a portfolio of graphic and design work along with syllabi for each past course that the student wants us to consider as a substitute for one of our courses. The portfolio should clearly identify the courses in which the work was produced. Portfolios along with a clear statement about how the student wants us to consider past coursework as substitution for our requirements should be submitted to the program director, Drew Armstrong at cda68@pitt.edu. We are only able to review prior coursework for transfer credit after the student has been accepted to the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences at Pitt¹s Oakland campus.

Any student who transfers into the Architectural Studies program must complete at least half of the credits that constitute our major requirements here before he or she is eligible to graduate.

2. Will credits from a non-American University transfer to the University of Pittsburgh?

Pitt usually accepts credits from international programs, but you should check with the general Office of Admissions. The website that helps guide international transfer students can be found here.

3. How can students that are attending a community college, another college or university, or one of the branch campuses of the University of Pittsburgh prepare to a transfer to Pitt’s Oakland campus and major in Architectural Studies?

Students can prepare for the Architectural Studies major before transferring to Pitt by trying to complete courses that will fulfill General Education requirements and requirements for the major. 

  • Some courses that will help prepare the student for the Architectural Studies program include:
    • 2 semesters of college-level physics (these do not have to be calculus-based physics)
    • 1 semester of calculus (recommended though not required)
    • Basic, introductory and/or foundation level studio arts classes in drawing, two-dimensional design and/or sculpture.
    • Broad survey courses on architectural history (For example, Introduction to Architecture or Introduction to Western Architecture)
  • We recommend that potential transfer students work to complete some of Pitt’s General Education requirements that are not typically covered by courses taken for the architectural studies major at their initial institutions.  These include courses that could be applied toward the following requirements:
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Social Science
    • Foreign Language (2 semesters of college-level language)
  • If a student takes courses that can be applied toward these General Education requirements before arriving at our campus, then more time and attention can be devoted to courses offered in our program once a student arrives.  Further information about Pitt’s General Education requirements can be found here.
  • To determine what kinds of classes count toward the General Education requirements, go to www.courses.as.pitt.edu or consult the General Education Catalog.
  • Detailed information on the requirements for the Architectural Studies major can be found here.

4. What steps does a student from a branch campus of the University of Pittsburgh have to take in order to initiate the transfer process to Pitt’s main campus?

Transferring from a branch campus to the Oakland campus must be initiated by the branch campus.  You either need to see the main advising office at your branch campus or your registrar’s office.  Tell them that you want to start the transfer process and that you would like to complete a “Program Change Form.”  You may be able to specify what major you plan on choosing.  If you were not originally admitted to the Oakland campus, you cannot transfer until you have completed a total of 60 credits with a 3.0 GPA.

For Prospective Students with Pre-existing Undergraduate Degrees

1. What should a prospective student do if he or she already has an undergraduate degree and wants to become an architect?

It is important to know that Pitt does not license students to be practicing architects.  Pitt’s Architectural Studies program prepares students for graduate programs that are professionally certified and train students to take the licensing exam.  If the degree already attained is unrelated to architecture, there are still graduate programs that accept students of many backgrounds; however, a portfolio is needed for admission and you should contact the graduate programs in which you are interested to find out their specific admissions requirements and how they accommodate students coming from diverse academic backgrounds.

2. If the prospective student wishes to enroll as an Architectural Studies student at Pitt as a way to prepare for admissions to a graduate program, the student has two options as a returning student with a degree:

Enroll in Pitt’s College of General Studies (CGS) who works with nontraditional students to help them return to school.  This admissions process is faster and less complicated, BUT CGS students often have trouble enrolling in the architectural studies classes they need and want because they are not recognized in the system as pursuing our major.  (Seats in many of our classes are reserved only for Architectural Studies majors.)   For more information about this process, contact CGS at 412-624-6600.

A better option may be to enroll directly in the School of Arts and Sciences as a non-degree seeking post-baccalaureate student or as a student seeking a second degree.  If you do the latter, you can immediately declare Architectural Studies as your major and begin taking the classes we offer.  Students who have already earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh can reenroll to pursue a second major without retaking the General Education requirements.  But they must complete at least 30 credits before they can apply to graduate with the new major. For more information, contact the Student Records Office at 412-624-6776.

Students inquiring about the program who have concerns or questions not answered by the information above should consult with Drew Armstrong, the Director of the Architectural Studies program.  He can be contacted at cda68@pitt.edu or 412-648-2400.

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