Undergraduate Overview


The Rice School of Architecture offers an extremely innovative undergraduate program designed to educate architects who will act on a global stage and transform the field in the coming decades. Rice's Bachelor of Architecture degree is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) and qualifies graduates to take the state professional licensing exams after completing the required internship in an architectural office. The undergraduate program approaches professional study as a way of synthesizing and focusing the broad and pressing questions of the 21st century through the lens of the architectural discipline so that its practice gains renewed agency, vitality and relevance for our shared environment.

We offer:

  • The smallest professional degree program situated within a top research university, allowing individual attention with the breadth of study afforded by a major university
  • Rice’s unique landmark Preceptorship program places students in leading offices around the world for a year of experience as an integral part of the curriculum.
  • One of the oldest accredited professional degree programs in the country
  • Generous facilities on a beautiful campus located in the heart of Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States and which is an global, thriving and extremely diverse metropolis.
  • A commitment to a well rounded education with a focus on advancing the state of the art of architecture.
  • Opportunities to travel and study abroad. 

Our undergraduate students bring an extremely diverse set of backgrounds and experiences. Each Autumn about 24 freshmen students from across the country and globe arrive on our lush campus and bring with them their diverse experiences and backgrounds. They join an undergraduate program of around 125 students total, in addition to about 75 graduate students. Together with a dynamic and respected faculty, they create a close knit but cosmopolitan community with a true passion for architecture. We think of architecture not just as a job but as a culture, a rich and deep field of knowledge that offers a unique way of understanding the world--and improving it.

Students take architectural studio beginning in the first semester, followed by studios in each of the following semesters that carefully lay the foundations for advanced study in later years. Within this sequence, each studio offers the opportunity explore a different facet of architecture in order to develop specific skills and critical knowledge. Complementing design studios, students take course sequences in the histories and theories of architecture, technology and practice. Students also take flexible and broad range of general studies and electives outside Architecture, including fine arts, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences.

In their third year, students engage civic leaders in Houston and travel to other emerging and global cities as part of their studios. In their fourth year, students take a design research seminar the first semester, which relates to their studio the following semester. This two-semester cycle allows them to follow and develop a more in-depth research and design proposal.

The fifth year consists of the Preceptorship program, in which each student works at one of the best architecture firms in the world. These architecture firms are selected by the RSA administration, with input from the student, from a select list of firms with which the RSA has relationships. The Preceptorship is fully integrated into the curriculum and is a key part of every student’s education. Students work at offices for a minimum of nine months, which allows them to get involved with long-term projects in a meaningful way. Many of our Preceptor firms have been taking Rice Precepetees for many years and eagerly anticipate the arrival of each year’s new student.

Upon their return to Rice for their final year of study for the B.Arch., students take graduate-level studios that foster the integration of their professional experience in order to advance the knowledge of architecture and its practice. During this year, students may study abroad for a semester in our Paris program, interact with community leaders and gain hands-on experience through the award-winning Rice Building Workshop program, or take studios with visiting professors from around the world. 

Throughout these five years, formal instruction is enriched by lectures by world famous architects, symposia with international scholars, and workshops. The RSA also offers a rich variety of social and cultural activities through out student association, including events such as the Archi-Arts Party, exhibitions of student work, and community outreach.

Of course architecture students also participate in other academics, their residential colleges, cultural and extracurricular activities at the University. Houston offers a panalopy of vibrant and multicultural events and culture, easily accessible from campus via a growing light-rail system.
There are two undergraduate tracks of study for architecture at Rice: 


Bachelor of Art in Architecture leading to a Bachelor of Architecture


The B.A. - B.Arch. professional track is the primary course of study for undergraduate architectural study at Rice. All students who successfully apply to the university and the School of Architecture (please see Admissions) enter into this program. This program leads to a degree of Bachelor of Arts with a major in Architecture after four years, followed immediately by the two year long professional Bachelor of Architecture (B. Arch.) degree sequence.

The curriculum has three stages: a foundation sequence, taken in the freshman and sophomore years; an intermediate stage in the junior and senior years; and finally the two year professional B.Arch. sequence that includes a preceptorship. During their first four years time, students must also complete university graduation requirements for the B.A.

At the end of the first stage, students apply for the approval of their major in Architecture by the RSA. This is an opportunity for the student and the school to reflect on academic performance thus far and to confirm whether continuing the professional degree track at that time is advisable.

At the end of the intermediate stage, students who have successfully completed all major and university requirements receive a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture. Students wishing to pursue the professional degree in architecture also apply for admission to the Bachelor of Architecture sequence during the second semester of the fourth year. As with the declaration of major two years before, this process is not intended to “weed” any percentage of the class out but rather to ensure academic progress within architecture warrants continued study or if the student wishes to pursue alternative paths.

Upon approval for the B.Arch. sequence, students are assigned a Preceptorship in a process that takes their preference into account as one of many factors. The Preceptorship involves at least of nine months of professional experience immediately after the receipt of the Bachelor of Arts in Architecture degree. Students then return to Rice for a final year of study. The Bachelor of Architecture sequence is only open to students who have completed the undergraduate program at Rice.

Complete graduation requirements for the major and the university as well as class listings and other regulations can be found in the University General Announcements.  


Bachelor of Art in Architectural Studies

Students who have been admitted to the school of architecture can elect at the end of their second year or any time thereafter to pursue the Bachelor of Art in Architectural Studies major. This major does not lead to a professional degree, requires fewer studios and is designed to allow students to pursue other academic interests in greater depth. This major is only open as an alternative to students admitted to the professional program by the School of Architecture; students cannot apply as freshmen for this track of study.