Majoring in History of Art & Architecture

The major in Architectural Studies emphasizes skills and knowledge that are fundamental to understanding, designing, and writing about historical and contemporary buildings and spaces, as well as to careers and graduate study in architecture, landscape architecture, historic preservation, and urban planning. The major takes advantage of Boston’s vibrant architectural scene and is especially appropriate for students considering graduate study leading to careers in the design professions.

The Architectural Studies major includes a study abroad opportunity through the BU Venice Studio Arts program, as well as internship opportunities through the Architecture Capstone course (CAS AH 486). Students are also encouraged to take as free electives for the major classes of architectural content or in related areas such as archaeology, anthropology, philosophy, history, sociology, engineering, and urban affairs. Opportunities exist for dual majors or major/minor combinations and are encouraged for those who wish to pursue an interdisciplinary liberal arts education. The opportunity to complete the major with honors is also available (see Architectural Studies website for guidelines). Each student works closely and regularly with their chosen advisor in developing a coherent and meaningful program of study suited to their needs and interests. In addition to the major’s 11 courses, students considering graduate studies in architecture should take calculus (CAS MA 121 or 123) and physics (CAS PY 105), and are also encouraged to take CFA TH 110 and/or COM CM 311 for public speaking and presentation skills.

Details for prospective and current students are on the Frequently-Asked-Questions page, and below.

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  Pyramids to Cathedrals: An Introduction to Ancient and Medieval Art
  • CAS AH 398 Twentieth-Century Architecture
  • Three upper-level architectural history course 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 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 current requirements, suggested course sequence, and how to fulfill HUB requirements using Architectural Studies courses.
* Click here for a .pdf of Architectural Studies courses being offered in Fall 2023.
* 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.)