An Architectural Mecca: Studying Architecture in Chicago

by Damian McKnight, Contributing Writer
An Architectural Mecca: Studying Architecture in Chicago
Chicago Architecture Degree Programs

Architecture students in Chicago can study the design and structure of buildings through numerous undergraduate and graduate architecture degree programs. There are different degree choices depending on the area of concentration the prospective student is interested in. An undergraduate, Bachelor of Architecture degree may take five years to earn, requiring a thesis and internship. By contrast, a student interested in an interior architectural design career may choose between a full Bachelors degree or a certification program, some taking as little as one year. Most areas of study also offer graduate degrees. An architecture degree student may be expected to take courses in art, design, history, math and the physical sciences as well as courses focusing on building construction and engineering.

All states require individuals to be licensed before they can call themselves architects. In order to be licensed the candidate must pass the Architect Registration Examination (ARE). Since these licenses are bestowed by each state individually, the licensee is only allowed to conduct business as an architect in the state he is licensed in.


An architect must have the eye of an artist and the pragmatism of an engineer. They must be able to synthesis the often vague needs and desires of their clients into solid, functional, three-dimensional structures. To do this they must create and demonstrate their ideas, through renderings, models and construction plans. However, it is not just the aesthetics to be considered. The end product must be in compliance with all zoning and building codes and regulations. The architect must literally take into account the movements of celestial bodies and the prevailing winds in planning a structure. Everything in the environment influences the design of the structure. Conversely, everything about the structure, from the methods of construction to the materials used also have an effect on the environment that surrounds it.

The work of an architect is very diverse. An architect must be knowledgeable in history, art, design, engineering and physics and must be able to manage and coordinate different groups of people towards a common goal. The majority of their time is spent in an office environment, but they may have to make frequent trips to construction sites, clients' locations and the outlet sources for the materials they intend to use. Computers and the internet are increasingly important tools and labor savers in the architecture profession.

Architecture students can specialize in a variety of areas, such as home or business office drafting and design. Those interested in landscape architecture can concentrate on city, business or residential landscape design. Students can also choose to pursue government jobs like city or regional planners. Earning a degree or certification in Architecture may open a variety of doors for anyone interested in pursuing this career.

Related Career Fields
  • Architecture
  • Interior Design
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Civil Engineering
  • Building Construction
  • Urban and Industrial Planning
Top-Ranked Architecture Schools
  • New York University
  • California Polytechnic State University
  • University of Arizona
  • Michigan State University
  • University of California, Berkeley
For more information on architecture in Chicago, visit the The Chicago Architecture Foundation. (CAF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing public interest and education in architecture and design. CAF presents a comprehensive program of tours, exhibitions, lectures, special events, and adult and youth education activities, all designed to enhance the public’s awareness and appreciation of Chicago’s outstanding architectural legacy.

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