Architecture Program Overview

The Architecture Program at USD is embedded in the liberal arts education that constitutes the core of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of San Diego. As such, all courses in the Architecture Program, be they studios, lectures, or seminars, teach our undergraduate students the skills of critical thinking and argumentative reasoning based on evidence, and encourage curiosity and free inquiry. The guiding tenets of the program are as follows:

  • Spatial and Formal Design (link to expanded definition and example assignments)
    • Students learn to recognize, conceive, and manipulate relationships between form, function, structure, and materiality, in order to produce spaces endowed with utilitarian, aesthetic, and affective value.
  • Graphic and Material Representation (link to expanded definition and example assignments)
    • Students engage different modes of representation, both graphic and verbal, in both digital and material formats; students explore these modes of representation to produce new perspectives and new meaning.
  • History, Theory, Criticism (link to expanded definition and example assignments)
    • Students learn research methods that expand their knowledge of the history, theories, and conventions of architecture, and which allow them to pursue original and open-ended lines of inquiry.
  • Architecture in Context (link to expanded definition and example assignments)
    • Students acquire cultural, social, ecological, and historical awareness; students learn how these different contexts inform design, and how design impacts them in return. 

The course of study for the Architecture Major is the product of two interrelated sequences: design studios, and history and theory lectures and seminars. The studio sequence introduces students to the graphic conventions and analysis of architecture, expanding from small-scale installations to large-scale buildings. Introductory courses on the global history of architecture and contemporary theoretical issues provide foundational knowledge for upper-division critical studies seminars. The program culminates in a year-long thesis project that combines design and history/theory.

The Architecture Program is housed in the same department as visual arts and art history. As such, students are exposed to the broader arts and humanities both within and outside the department, gaining a sound and well-rounded education. At the same time, the program provides pre-professional competencies for entry-level employment in architecture and related fields or further studies at the graduate level. Many graduates go on to obtain professional degrees in architecture and/or work in the architectural field. The goal of the Architecture Program is to provide a strong foundation in architectural knowledge while maintaining a diversity of academic and career paths.

Career Paths

The Architecture Program leads to a Bachelor’s of Art in architectural studies. This is a pre-professional degree that prepares students to enter into the field and/or apply to a professionally accredited Master’s of Architecture program. See the National Architectural Accrediting Board for more information on accreditation. See the California Architects Board and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards for more information on licensing.

Students entering the University of San Diego and/or declaring a major during 2016-2017, should follow information contained in the printed course catalog (also known as the "catalog of record") published on October 1, 2016. Access the catalog of record at http://catalogs.sandiego.edu.

Preparation for the Major

Lower Division Courses

ARCH 101Introduction to Architecture Studio4
ARCH 201Architectural Design Studio I4
Foundations in the History and Theory of Architecture
ARCH 121Introduction to Modern Architecture3
ARCH 221 Architecture and Theory since 19453
Lower-division course in Studio Arts
Select one of the following:3
Fundamentals of Drawing
Design Foundations
Introduction to Sculpture
Introduction to Video Art
Photography
Fundamentals of Theatrical Design

Upper-Division Requirements 

Architectural Design
ARCH 301Architectural Design Studio II4
ARCH 302Architectural Design Vertical Studio (may be repeated for credit)4
History and Theory of Architecture and the City
Select three of the following:9
Money By Design: Architecture and Political Economy
City and Utopia: Introduction to History of Urbanism
Memory, Monument, Museum: Studies in Historic Preservation
Special Topics in the History of Architecture and Design
Biographies of World Cities
Elective from outside the Architecture Major
Select one of the following:3
Art Since 1960
Asia Modern
Critical Methods in the Analysis of Visual Culture
Seminar (Formerly 394)
Introduction to Printmaking
Intermediate / Advanced Sculpture
Designing for Social Space
Sculpture / Landscape
Art and the Soundscape
Geospatial Information Systems for Organizations
Introduction to Maps and Spatial Data Analysis
Geographic Information Systems
Introduction to Remote Sensing
Environmental Geology
Immigration at US-Mexico Border: Ethnicity, Race & Gender
History of Germany Since 1945
Topics in Modern Europe
Art and Architecture in California
Public Policy
Scenic Design
Upper-Division Electives in Architecture, Visual Arts, Art History
Select at least 6 units from ARCH, ARTV, ARTH 301 or higher6
Architectural Research and Thesis
ARCH 495Senior Project Studio Seminar4
ARCH 496Senior Thesis in Architecture4

Architecture Study Abroad

No more than a total of two ARCH 275 and/or ARCH 375 can be counted toward Architecture major credit. ARCH 275 or ARCH 375 can be repeated once for credit. Two sections of ARCH 275 or ARCH 375 can be taken concurrently during a study abroad semester or summer.

Recommended Program of Study, Architecture

Freshman Year
Semester IHours
ARCH 101Introduction to Architecture Studio4
Core curriculum or electives 
Semester II
ARCH 121Introduction to Modern Architecture3
Select one of the following courses:3
Fundamentals of Drawing 
Design Foundations 
Introduction to Sculpture 
Introduction to Video Art 
Photography (Studio Arts elective) 
Core curriculum or electives 
Sophomore Year
Semester I
ARCH 201Architectural Design Studio I4
Core curriculum or electives  
Semester II
ARCH 221 Architecture and Theory since 19453
Core curriculum or electives  
Semester III (Summer)
ARCH 340Biographies of World Cities3
(Study Abroad course recommended but not required) 
Junior Year
Semester I
Architectural Design Studio II 
Select one of the following courses:3
Money By Design: Architecture and Political Economy 
City and Utopia: Introduction to History of Urbanism 
Memory, Monument, Museum: Studies in Historic Preservation 
Special Topics in the History of Architecture and Design 
Biographies of World Cities 
Electives 
Semester II
ARCH 302Architectural Design Vertical Studio4
Select one of the following courses:3
ARCH 320Money By Design: Architecture and Political Economy3
City and Utopia: Introduction to History of Urbanism 
Memory, Monument, Museum: Studies in Historic Preservation 
Special Topics in the History of Architecture and Design 
Biographies of World Cities 
Upper-Division elective in ENVI, ETHN, HIST, SOCI, THEA (see list) electives 
Senior Year
Semester I
ARCH 495Senior Project Studio Seminar4
Select one of the following: 3
Architectural Design Studio II 
Upper-Division Department Elective 
Electives 
Semester II
ARCH 496Senior Thesis in Architecture4
Select one of the following:3
Architectural Design Studio II (or higher) 
Upper-Division Department Elective 
Electives