Architectural Studies Major

The major in architectural studies emphasizes skills and knowledge that are fundamental to understanding, designing, and writing about buildings and spaces, both historical and contemporary.  The major can prepare students for graduate professional study in architecture.  It is also suitable for those interested in an interdisciplinary approach to architecture leading to numerous other careers.

For more information, see below, and visit our Frequently-Asked-Questions page for prospective and current students.

The learning outcomes for the BA in Architectural Studies:

  • Acquire knowledge of specific areas of learning that will prepare the student for a future career in architecture or related fields of design
  • Demonstrate the ability to read critically, to think critically, to design creatively, and to write synthetically
  • Acquire a foundation in the history and theory of architecture and urbanism
  • Master effective analysis of visual, spatial, and structural issues in architecture
  • Demonstrate the ability to conduct research, manage evidence, and construct an argument concerning a topic in architecture, landscape, or urbanism


The 11-course Architectural Studies major features 4 required and 4 core elective classes in architectural history and design; plus 3 architecture-related free electives in the humanities, arts, social sciences, urban studies, or engineering.  All major courses must be completed with a grade of C or higher.

  • CAS AH 201 Understanding Architecture
  • CAS AH 111 Introduction to Art History I: Antiquity to the Middle Ages
  • CAS AH 398 Twentieth-Century Architecture
  • Three upper-level architectural history course core electives, at least one at 400 or 500 level (not 580)*
  • CFA AR 412 Architectural Design I or CFA AR 428 Architecture Site Design I (This requirement may be satisfied by completion of an intensive summer architectural design course from an accredited architecture school, e.g., Design Discovery at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.)
  • One of selected College of Fine Arts studio art course core electives in architectural design, drawing, installation art, or other media.*
  • Three free electives on topics of architectural content or relevance.*

*Click here for a .pdf containing the current requirements and suggested course sequence for a concentration in Architectural Studies.
* Click here for a list of Architectural Studies courses being offered in Fall 2020.
* Click here for a .pdf of all eligible architectural studies courses and electives.

In addition to the major’s 11 courses, students interested in graduate studies in architecture should also take calculus (CAS MA 121 or 123) and physics (CAS PY 105), and are encouraged to take CFA TH 110 and/or COM CM 311 for public speaking and presentation skills.

Five full-time and two part-time architectural studies faculty teach numerous courses each semester in American, European, and Japanese architecture and theory, plus landscape architecture and historic preservation. Also, several adjunct faculty teach regular courses in architectural design, site planning, and materials and technology. In addition, many more faculty in this department and others teach courses of architectural content and relevance. Visit our Architectural Studies Faculty page to view profiles of our current faculty.

Undergraduate Architecture Association
Boston University’s student-run Undergraduate Architecture Association organizes frequent trips, programs, and discussions about architecture.

Still have questions?
Contact Professor Daniel Abramson, Director of Architectural Studies, or use this form for more general inquiries.

(For major requirements before September 1, 2018, see archived 2017/18 BU Bulletin.)