Whether you want to design buildings, industrial products, or interiors; explore studio and graphic arts; plan and design for open spaces for community and ecological resilience; manage construction projects; direct public or non-profit organization programs; or manage cities, the College of Architecture and Urban Studies (CAUS) challenges you with a broad range of educational experiences that will help you develop into a highly sought-after professional.

The School of Architecture + Design has been recognized as one of America’s World-Class Schools of Architecture with highest distinction, tied with Harvard, Yale, and Columbia Universities. The multidimensional ranking by Design Intelligence, the only national college ranking survey focused exclusively on design, is based on five criteria: current rankings by professional practices; historic 10-year rankings by professional practices; rankings by academic department deans and chairs; overall campus environment and student evaluations; and program accreditation. The individual programs within the School of Architecture + Design were also nationally ranked by Design Intelligence: undergraduate architecture, #2 (#4 for analysis and planning, #2 for communication skills; #2 for computer applications, #3 for construction methods and materials and #2 for design); graduate architecture, #6; undergraduate industrial design, #13 of 47 programs; undergraduate interior design, #9 of 148 programs; and graduate interior design, #6. In the School of Public and International Affairs, U.S. News and World Report ranks undergraduate public affairs #27 in the nation.

The programs within the college are diverse, yet they share a common goal—to prepare students to engage in and manage the human environment through the processes of art, design, construction, policy-making, planning, and management.

Students who wish to combine degree options within the college, or with related disciplines in the university, are encouraged to create a program of study best suited to their individual interests.

High School Preparation & Admission to the College

A challenging college preparatory curriculum is your foundation for success in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies. Specifically, you must present a minimum of 18 units, and the breakdown of preferred courses depends on the individual program. Four units of English is a standard requirement. The university requires three units of math (including algebra II and geometry), but CAUS strongly recommends an additional unit of higher math. For building construction students, four units of math are required. Two units of social sciences (including history) are required, and additional units are preferred for students majoring in public and urban affairs. Two units of lab science (chosen from biology, chemistry, or physics) are sufficient for most majors, but additional natural science courses, particularly in biology, are recommended for landscape architecture. The completion of two or three units in a foreign or classical language is recommended.

Architecture, interior design, industrial design, and landscape architecture (known as School of Architecture + Design majors) are highly competitive, restricted majors, and admission into the programs is a demanding process, both at entrance from high school and as a transfer student.

Freshman applicants enrolled in a rigorous high school academic curriculum with a solid A average and a combined SAT (critical reading and math) score of 1250 or better or an ACT score of 28 or higher will be given preference in the admissions review process.

Transfer applicants have limited space in the School of Architecture + Design majors. Competitive transfer applicants will present A averages on all college-level work to be considered.

Curriculum & Opportunities

The College of Architecture and Urban Studies offers ten undergraduate degrees: architecture, industrial design, interior design, studio art, art history, visual communication (graphic) design, building construction, landscape architecture, public and urban affairs, and environmental policy and planning. Both architecture and landscape architecture are five-year professional programs.

In addition to on-campus programs, the college also provides opportunities for students to study in urban and foreign settings. The National Capital Region facilities in Alexandria, Va., including the Washington-Alexandria Center for Architecture, are ideal for students interested in urban issues. The Center for European Studies and Architecture, located in the village of Riva San Vitale in southern Switzerland, provides perspective on culture and its influence on the way we plan, design, and build. Many other international travel programs also exist for students.

Faculty & Facilities

The main administrative building for the college is Cowgill Hall, which contains 60,000 square feet of office and studio space. Cowgill Hall is also the main administrative building for the School of Architecture + Design and the architecture and industrial design programs, and houses the Art and Architecture Library. Burchard Hall houses architecture and industrial design studios and offices. The school’s programs in interior design and landscape architecture are based in Burruss Hall.

The Architecture Annex is the main administrative building for the School of Public and International Affairs. The school’s Center for Public Administration and Policy is located in the Thomas Conner House.

The Art Armory is the main administrative location for the School of Visual Arts. The school also has studio, office, and class space in Henderson Hall, Collegiate Square, the Art and Design Learning Center, Sandy Hall, Kent Square, and the Cyber Studio and the student-run XYZ Gallery, both in downtown Blacksburg.

The Department of Building Construction, which is part of the Myers-Lawson School of Construction, is located in Bishop-Favrao Hall.

Research and outreach centers include the Research and Demonstration Facility on Plantation Road and the Community Design Assistance Center on Main Street.
The college’s national capital region facilities include the Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center and the Northern Virginia Center in Old Town Alexandria, Va., and the Richmond Center in Richmond, Va. The Center for European Studies and Architecture is located in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland, and is home to a permanent architecture studio.

Freshman Curriculum

Courses of study will vary greatly among majors in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies. There are certain university core requirements that all students must fulfill, usually during the first year. A typical first-year schedule follows, but please contact the academic department for further information:

First Semester Second Semester
English English
Math Math
Science Science
Department-specific requirements Department-specific requirements