Frequently Asked Questions

ACSA Guide to Architectural Education

How do I know if architecture is right for me?

If you are interested in getting a better sense of our program and the profession, consider joining us in a three-week summer program for high school students, Discovering Architecture. This is a very cost-effective way to determine if architecture is the right career for you prior to enrolling in college. Discovering Architecture also provides students with three -credit hours that can be applied to their undergraduate education.


What is the difference between a Bachelor of Science in Architecture (B.S. in ARCH), a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture (B.A. in ARCH), and a Bachelor of Architecture (B. ARCH) degree?

The Bachelor of Science in Architecture and Bachelor of Arts in Architecture degrees are pre-professional degrees (like pre-law or pre-med), however when these degrees are combined with an accredited professional degree (usually the Master of Architecture degree) the degree combinations offer the recipient credentials for professional registration. The Bachelor of Architecture degree (usually a five-year degree track) is a professional degree offered at the undergraduate level.


Which is the better degree, the Bachelor of Science in Architecture or the Bachelor of Arts in Architecture?

The answer is neither. The question should be, “which is the better degree track for me?” Both degrees offer unique opportunities. Both degrees permit individuals to gain the experience needed to realize careers in architecture and a wide variety of other disciplines. The B.S. in Architecture offers an accelerated path to the professional degree, while the B.A. in Architecture offers more opportunities for tailoring a course of study that fits your personal interests and talents.


What’s an accredited degree and why is it important?

In the United States, most registration boards require a degree from an accredited professional degree program as a prerequisite for licensure. The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), which is the sole agency authorized to accredit professional degree programs in architecture offered by institutions with U.S. regional accreditation, recognizes three types of degrees: the Bachelor of Architecture, the Master of Architecture, and the Doctor of Architecture. A program may be granted an eight-year, three-year, or two-year term of accreditation, depending on the extent of its conformance with established educational standards. Doctor of Architecture and Master of Architecture degree programs may require a pre-professional undergraduate degree in architecture for admission. However, the pre-professional degree is not, by itself, recognized as an accredited degree.


Why don’t you offer a five-year Bachelor of Architecture degree at the University of Maryland?

The University of Maryland did offer a Bachelor of Architecture degree until the mid-1980’s when it transitioned to the Bachelor of Science in Architecture (4-year degree) plus the Master of Architecture (2-year degree). The most prestigious schools nationally have structured their curricula paralleling that of the law and medical professions such that students are afforded a pre-professional experience at the undergraduate level and an intensive professional degree-track at the graduate level. Our program, which is commonly referred to as a 4+2 program (referring to the typical number of years studying at the undergraduate and graduate levels respectively), was developed in response to the nation-wide trend to associate graduate study and professional education. The Bachelor of Architecture degree was developed in the 19th Century as an attempt to integrate the vocational training of architects within the structure of American universities. In the late-1960s, the “Princeton Report” and other factors in higher education suggested that the future of professional education in architecture did not reside in the nearly 100-year old Bachelor of Architecture model and was better served by a combination of undergraduate pre-professional and graduate professional education. Other benefits of the 4+2 model are:

  • Students in our pre-professional baccalaureate programs can make adjustments or changes to their undergraduate major more readily than they might in a Bachelor of Architecture program.

  • Students benefit from more coursework and electives outside of architecture that better prepares them to be leaders of a complex and dynamic design profession.

  • Students can take time off between their undergraduate coursework and graduate coursework in order to gain practical experience in an office setting as an intern.

  • Students in a pre-professional education are generally more integrated into collegiate life than their counterparts who receive professional degrees at the undergraduate level.

  • Undergraduates may elect to pursue graduate education at an institution other than Maryland.

  • The architecture program controls significant resources to financially support graduate education through scholarships and assistantships.

Is a professional degree from a NAAB-accredited program required to satisfy a state board of architects' education requirement?

The answer is complicated. Most jurisdictions in the United States require an accredited professional degree as a precondition for professional registration. Several jurisdictions do not have this requirement and will permit individuals who have worked for a predetermined number of years to become a registered architect after completing the Architect Registration Examination and other board requirements. The problem is, your state registration in this case may not be transportable. That is, if you are registered in Jurisdiction A, which does not have a professional degree requirement, and you want to seek reciprocity in nearby Jurisdiction B, which does have a professional degree requirement, you may not be able to practice in Jurisdiction B because you do not have a professional degree. This may hamper your path toward leadership in your firm and it may also limit your ability to compete for work out of state. For more information, explore (


Will I be able to become an architect with a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in Architecture?

Since our undergraduate programs are considered pre-professional architecture degrees, students holding this degree will have to complete a professional degree before being able to sit for the Architect Registration Exam (ARE). Many students continue in our professionally accredited Master of Architecture program or elect to pursue graduate studies at another institution.


What if I am not sure about my major? I like architecture, but what if I enroll in the architecture program and I change my mind?


About 80 percent of students in the United States end up changing their major at least once, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. On average, college students change their major at least three times over the course of their college career. - Yuritzy Ramos, Borderzine, March 2013

Our program is structured in such a way to allow you greater flexibility in deciding on your major, because changing majors in a traditional five-year Bachelor of Architecture program can be a challenge, cost you money, and lose time toward your degree.


What is studio?

Design studio is an intensive teaching-learning environment that involves hands-on learning. It is an integrated experience where students learn not only from faculty members, but also from their peers. Students analyze and propose innovative solutions to contemporary problems using a variety of media (hand drawing, physical modeling, and digital media). The studio environment encourages integration of knowledge gleaned from other courses taken throughout the curriculum and encourages students to work collaboratively and individually based on a “learning by doing” educational ethic.


As an architecture student, will I be able to declare a dual major?

Yes. Many architecture students hold another major to supplement their education. Since architecture is very demanding in terms of time and workload, it is difficult to major in other time-consuming disciplines such as engineering or business. Students often pick up additional majors in world languages and cultures as well as the arts because of their flexible major paths. The Bachelor of Arts degree provides much more flexibility for a dual major than the Bachelor of Science. It is wise to meet with an advisor to discuss your options before speaking with other departments.


I want to study abroad; Can I take architecture courses overseas?

Yes. The School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation recognizes that architecture is meant to be experienced and studied beyond College Park. The School offers a full semester program in Florence during junior year, three- to six-week-long programs in both the winter and summer terms, and a semester-long studio course in the third year, in addition to many other programs offered by the university. For a current list of all our study abroad programs, please visit:


Do I need a portfolio if I am applying as a freshman or a transfer student?

No, the University of Maryland does not require a portfolio for prospective first-year students or transfer students. Portfolio submissions are optional; it is more useful upon acceptance to determine your strengths in the program, but not required.


Will I get credit for my AP, IB and CLEP Scores?

Maryland will give credit for many different AP, IB and CLEP tests and scores. Generally, you must earn a minimum score on a test to receive credit. You can find a complete list of the tests and credits here:


I am applying to the graduate program. What do I put in my portfolio? Do I need to take college level drawing, painting, or digital media courses to be considered for admission?

Your portfolio represents your personal creative potential and ability to represent ideas graphically. College-level drawing courses are not required, but if you haven’t picked up a pencil, charcoal, or a brush for some time now it might be a good idea to enroll in a structured drawing course. If you have never studied architecture at the undergraduate level, you do not need to demonstrate work in digital media. Once admitted, we will provide you with instruction that improves your manual drawing and digital media skills. For more information see the portfolio requirements in the Admission section.


I am already a student at the University of Maryland. How do I become an architecture student?

Any student who is interested in architecture can become an architecture major, although we strongly encourage you to take at least one architecture class before declaring. For more information on the process and to obtain the “Declaration of Major” form, please contact the Office of Undergraduate Advising above or make an undergraduate admissions appointment.


When I was in college I never studied architecture, but I have always had a strong interest in the profession. To this day, I fashion myself as a would-be architect. I am now working as an assistant to the traveling secretary for a major league franchise. Is there any hope for me becoming an architect?

Wait a minute! You are either George Costanza,* or you are living a parallel existence. But wait, there is indeed hope for you! We offer a seven-semester program for individuals who hold a baccalaureate in a field other than architecture. We’ve had lawyers, accountants, even marine biologists and NASA scientists change careers and join us to study architecture.

* George Costanza (played by Jason Alexander) was a character in the long-running sitcom Seinfeld. In several episodes Costanza either fancied himself as an architect or tried to pass himself off as one.  By the way, it is illegal in many jurisdictions to call yourself “architect” if you are not licensed.

Newly Accepted Students

What is studio?

Design studio is an intensive teaching-learning environment that involves hands-on learning.  It is an integrated experience where students learn not only from faculty members, but also from their peers.  Students analyze and propose innovative solutions to contemporary problems using a variety of media (hand drawing, physical modeling, and digital media). The studio environment encourages integration of knowledge gleaned from other courses taken throughout the curriculum and encourages students to work collaboratively and individually based on a “learning by doing” educational ethic.

When will I take studio courses?

The first studio course takes place second semester of sophomore year. Your studio schedule will vary whether you are a B.S. or B.A. track student. Prior to beginning studio, each student will be assigned a desk in the great space. The studio culture is a lively, collaborative and supportive environment for our students and a highlight of our program.


Do I come in as a B.A. or a B.S. in architecture student?

Everybody automatically comes in as a B.A. student. If a student is interested in pursuing a B.S. in architecture, they can apply during their sophomore year. All applicants are subject to a review process. For more details, speak with your advisor or the program director.


How can I get involved in extracurricular activities, student groups and clubs?

There are hundreds of student organizations, social groups, and extracurriculars at the University of Maryland. Each fall, the university hosts a First Look Fair to introduce new students to these opportunities. For architecture students, we offer architecture-specific organizations tailored to a variety of interests, including community-focused groups, diversity, and nationally-affiliated chapters.


I am a graduate student. How do I get a graduate assistantship?

When you complete your graduate admissions application you are also invited to apply for graduate assistantships and financial aid.


How do I find internships, get help with my portfolio or resume?

Our career services advisor, Kristen Tepper is available to help our students find jobs and put their best foot forward in the professional world. For appointments, visit TerpEngage. We also hold a career fair each spring that connects our students to dozens of area firms, companies and agencies.


What sort of services do you offer students to help them navigate the complexities of college life?

While academic counseling is an important duty of our advising team, equally important is the health and wellness of our students as they begin this new chapter. Appointments are available on TerpEngage.

FAQs for Undergraduate Students with Architecture Majors

What is a registration block and how do I lift this block on my registration?

A block is a hold placed on student records to prevent registration. Each semester, students are expected to log on to Testudo and check their registration time and blocks. It is the student’s responsibility to take appropriate actions to remove those blocks in order to register on time.

Every semester, students will have a mandatory advising block on their registration. It is important that students meet with an advisor before their designated registration date. Once you have met with an advisor, they will lift the mandatory advising block that prevents you from registering. If you do not meet with your advisor, this block will not be removed and you will NOT be able to register. Since space in some classes can be competitive, it is in your best interests to get cleared of ALL blocks well in advance of your registration date.


How do I sign up for my mandatory advising session?

Students can sign up for mandatory and voluntary advising appointments online via this link. Students should follow the prompts and fill in the appropriate fields to successfully schedule an appointment. Once signed up, the student will receive an email confirming his/her scheduled appointment.


Where is the Office of Undergraduate Advising in the School of Architecture?

The Office of Undergraduate Advising is located within the main office on the second floor. When you arrive, the receptionist will be able to guide you back to our office.


How do I declare a minor?

You can find a full list of minors on campus in the Undergraduate Catalog's Minors section. You will need to see the department in charge of each minor you are interested in to declare the minor. The School of Architecture currently has two minors, Construction Project Management and Real Estate Development, but there are over 90 minors across campus to choose from as well.


How can I get permission to take classes at another institution?

Simply schedule an appointment with the Director of Student Services and request a Permission to Enroll (PTE) form. The advisors will go through which courses will transfer from other institutions and ensure you can receive credit. Typically, courses are taken during the summer or winter terms.


Can I take a course Pass/Fail?

Students should refer to the Pass/Fail Policy in the Undergraduate Catalog.


Can an undergraduate student take a graduate level class?

Students, usually junior or senior standing and who meet certain criteria, are eligible to take graduate level courses. Students first need to obtain permission from the instructor offering the graduate level class. Then students must obtain an approval from the Director of Student Services.


How many times can I repeat a course?

Students who need to repeat the course for their major for the third time must obtain an approval from the department. Permission for the third repeat is not automatically granted; students should be prepared to discuss why they seek an exception and their preparedness for doing so.