Architecture Program Overview

activity in the studio
activity in the studio
lecture in the studio

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.

Guiding Tenets

Spatial and Formal Design

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

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

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

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.