Information/Observations for Prospective Students

Collage of photos showing students and student work

From left to right and top to bottom: Kazuho Seijima, Le Corbusier, Maya Lin, Andrea Palladio, Zaha Hadid, Ted Landsmark, Frank Gehry, Billie Tsien, Rem Koolhaas, Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, and Charlotte Perriand. (Photos Google Images)


2013 DesignIntelligence Ranking



The Architecture Department is pleased to announce that the Cal Poly Architecture Program is ranked again in the top six architecture schools nationwide by the DesignIntelligence survey, positioning itself fifth after Cornell University, Southern California Institute of Architecture, Rice University and Syracuse University.

In additional to their national ranking, Cal Poly was ranked:

  • 2nd in Top Schools in the West
  • 1st by Firms in the Western Region
  • 2nd in Construction Methods and Materials (skills assessment ranking)

DesignIntelligence survey ranks public and private degree programs nationally. Cal Poly’s Architecture program has made the nation’s Top 20 list since 2003 with a ranking of sixth or better. The full report can be ordered at the America's Best Architecture & Design Schools, 2013 Edition web site.

Cal Poly Admissions


Discover why students love Cal Poly

"Cal Poly is a nationally ranked, four-year, comprehensive public university located in San Luis Obispo, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles on California's Central Coast. It is a distinctive learning community offering academically focused students a hands-on educational experience that prepares them for today's scientific and technical world."

For all important information regarding admission, go to

General Information about Admissions at Cal Poly

2012/2013 Cal Poly Student Costs

Generalities about the profession of Architecture


Becoming an Architect

A professional degree is required by most jurisdictions for licensure, the basic requirement being eight years of combined education and work experience.  Since you can only receive a maximum of five years of education credit, the Bachelor of Architecture degree offered by Cal Poly is the most efficient path to licensure.  Students completing this degree are immediately eligible to take the Architectural Registration Exams (ARE), although must work an additional three year internship before being eligible to take the oral California Supplemental Exam (CSE).  The National Council of Architectural Accrediting Boards (NCARB) has established the Intern Development Program (IDP) to ensure that interns are exposed to the broad sweep of professional experience during this time.  California has established its own Comprehensive Intern Development Program (CIDP), which overlays a requirement for evidence of experience onto the time-based IDP requirement.

There are five important steps to become an architect (per NCARB web site):

  1. Meet Education Requirement
    Earn a professional degree from a program accredited by the NAtional Architectural Board (NAAB). Most accredited architectural programs are Bachelor of ARchitecture (B.Arch) or master of Architecture (M.Arch), requiring five or six years of study.
  2. Meet Experience Requirement
    The Intern Development Program (IDP) guides you in acquiring experience in areas of architectural practice. You must start a National Council of Architectural Registration Board (NCARB) Record to document your experience.
  3. Meet Examination Requirement
    The Architect Registration Examination © (ARE ©) assesses the knowledge and skills necessary to practice architecture independently. Some jurisdictions will allow you to start the ARE while completing the IDP.
  4. Meet Licensure Requirements
    You must be licensed by a U.S. jurisdiction to be an architect. All U.S. jurisdictions required you to meet education, experience, and examination requirements prior to licensure.
  5. Get Certified
    The NCARB Certificate is the final credential you should obtain. Certification recognizes licensed architects who meet the profession's highest standards. Over half of U.S. registration boards require the NCARB Certificate for reciprocal registration.

For additional information, go to Becoming An Architect (NCARB web site)

Degree Nomenclature: B.Arch, M.Arch, and M.S in Arch


student group

(Photo by Henri T. de Hahn)

The Architecture Department at Cal Poly offers a five-year Bachelor of Architecture degree (BArch). This is a first professional degree accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB).  In addition, the department offers the Master of Science in Architecture, which is a post-professional degree in the broad field of architecture with an emphasis on environmental planning and design in an information society.  These are not the only degrees available to prospective students; other institutions offer programs leading to the following:

  • Pre-professional bachelor’s degree (BA or BS in Architecture, Architectural Studies etc.):  This is a four-year degree that usually requires a first professional master’s degree before the graduate is eligible for licensure as an architect.
  • Professional master’s degree:  Students completing a four-year undergraduate degree can enter a program granting the Master of Architecture (MArch), which is accepted in lieu of a five-year Bachelor degree for licensure.

Students interested in pursuing an advanced degree in architecture with a specialization in areas such as design theory, healthcare facilities, historic preservation, solar design, etc., can resume their studies at the graduate level to receive the MS or PhD in Architecture.  They may choose to do this either directly after receiving their undergraduate degree or after a few years in a professional office. Some choose to return after many years of professional training.

The five professional collatoral organizations

student group

(Images from respective organizations)

"Five collateral organizations represent different groups responsible for the education, training, registration, and practice of architects:


  1. (NCARB): The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards
    NCARB is the national organization representing the state registration boards responsible for establishing, interpreting, and enforcing national standards for architectural licensure.
  2. (AIA): The American Institute of Architects
    The AIA is a professional organization for architects. Membership in the AIA is open to all registered architects and other interested citizens. The AIA's mission is to serve as the voice of the architecture profession and as a resource for its members in service to society.
  3. (ACSA): The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture
    ACSA represents architectural education worldwide. Its membership includes all of the accredited degree programs in the United States and CAnada. The ACSA works to advance the quality of architectural education by encouraging dialogue among the diverse areas of discipline on issues that will affect the architectural profession in the future.
  4. (NAAB): The National Architectural Accrediting Board
    NAAB's mission is to provide leadership in the establishment of education quality-assurance standards to enhance the value, relevance, and effectiveness of the architectural profession. The NAAB board is comprised of three members each from ACSA, AIA, and NCARB, as well as two members from AIAS and two public members.
  5. (AIAS): The American Institute of Architecture Students
    AIAS is an independent, student-run organization whose mission is to promote excellence in architecture education, training, and practice. The AIAS serves as the voice of students to the educational system and the profession of architecture. AIAS representatives serve on NAAB accreditation teams and on the boards of directors of AIA and ACSA."

Milestones, Cal Poly Historical Facts

1901  Legislation founding the California Polytechnic School signed into law.

1902  Leroy Anderson appointed first director of Cal Poly.

1903  First classes held with a total enrollment of 15 women and men.

1929 Legislation passed limiting enrollment to men only.

1933 Julian A. McPhee, Chief of the Bureau of Agricultural Eduction, appointed Cal Poly President, moving the Bureau headquarters to Cal Poly.

1936 Third year of instruction added to make Cal Poly a technical school.

1937 Cal Poly renamed California State Polytechnic School by the California State Legislature.

1940 State Board of Education authorized granting of Bachelor of Science degrees upon completion of fourth year and change School to College

1942 In June, the first BS degrees awarded to 24 men.

1943 to 1946

1947 Legislation passed officially changing all Education Code references to Cal Poly from School to College.

1956 Women students again admitted to Cal Poly.

1961 On July 1, control over 17 state colleges changed from the State Board of Education to the newly created State Board of Trustees.

1966  President McPhee retired after 33 years as Chief Executive Officer.

1967  Robert E. Kennedy appointed Cal Poly President.

1972 Renamed California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

1979 Warren J. Baker appointed Cal Poly President.

1996 Cal Poly Plan implemented.

2001  New Cal Poly Master Plan approved by California State University Board of Trustees.

2002  Students approve college-based fees to support education quality.

2010  President Warren J. Baker retires after 31 years; Robert Glidden is named interim Cal Poly President.

2011  For 19th straight year, rated best public-master’s university in the West by U.S. News & World Report.

2011 Jeffrey D. Armstrong appointed 9th permanent Cal Poly President.

2011 Due to state budget cuts, state funds for Cal Poly drop below 50 percent of total resources for the first time in Cal Poly's history.

Fact Book 2011

For a more comprehensive understanding of Cal Poly's historical trend data on admissions, enrollment, degrees awarded, faculty/staff data, and financial aid., go to Fact Book 2011

Generalities about Cal Poly and the College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED)

Learn-by-Doing philosophy

Cal Poly’s historical commitment to the pedagogy of learn by doing means an emphasis on hand-on, project-based learning that amplifies the interdisciplinary design opportunities offered by the College’s five departments. Students learn to think creatively and critically, while directly applying their knowledge through a design-based education. There is a magic that comes from pursuing an intellectual questions that often finds a natural resolution within the crafted object. This balanced approach is one of the hallmarks that Cal Poly offers to its students.

College of Architecture & Environmental Design (CAED)

Architecture is one of five departments in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, along with Architectural Engineering, City and Regional Planning, Construction Management, and Landscape Architecture.  This unique combination of disciplines, all responsible in some way for the conception and production of the built environment, makes possible an integrative and interdisciplinary approach to the learning of architecture.

One of the strengths of the department is its relationship with the other four departments of the CAED. I invite you to visit each of their web sites and learn more about their programs:

For additional information, go to the CAED's web page.

The following Colleges are partners with the CAED and students might want to develop synergies with them during their tenure in the Architecture Department

CAED Design Minors

Architectural Engineering Minor

Peter Laursen
ARCE Department
Phone: 756-6303 Office: 21-221B

The minor is designed for students wishing to pursue a more in-depth education in structures. The coursework exposes students to analytical, design, and construction issues relevant to the structural design process. Students work with an advisor to develop a sequence of courses that focus on either structural design or structural analysis. The program is tailored for students majoring in architecture, construction management, and civil engineering. Enrollment is limited and acceptance into the program is dependent on the student’s performance in structure-related courses. For architecture and construction management majors, it is recommended that applications be submitted prior to enrolling in ARCE 226. Contact the department for additional information.

Real Property Development Minor

Scott Kelting
CM Department
Phone: 756-1323
Office: 186–A100

This minor is designed for students who are interested in the built environment, and want to expand their knowledge of how projects get initiated, move through the development process, and then how they are managed after construction. The program is designed to prepare students for entry-level employment with professionals engaged in real property development. Courses include aspects of practitioners’ real world experiences and knowledge of state-of-the-art practices, techniques, and challenges. Students learn about the economic, design, environmental, and regulatory factors that influence housing, office, industrial, and commercial projects. They gain a clearer understanding of how these factors impact green development, urban sprawl, place-making, and transit oriented development.

Construction Management Minor

Jessica Frazier
CM Department
Phone: 756-1323
Office: 186-100A

The Construction Management Minor provides students an introduction to the body of knowledge expected of persons pursuing careers in the construction industry. This minor will give a student a competitive edge when applying for certain jobs, by providing concepts, tools, and skills which will enhance one’s progress in a career in one of the professions involved in the built environment. The Construction Management Minor is recommended for majors in architecture, architectural engineering, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering. Enrollment in the minor is limited, and selection will be made based upon the applicant’s performance in his or her major courses.

City and Regional Planning Minor

Paul Wack
CRP Department
Phone: 756-6331 Office: 21-117C

The minor provides students with an interdisciplinary understanding of the science and the art of city planning and its relationship with other environmental design professionals. The student is provided with an understanding of how growth and change affect the physical, social, and economic aspects of the city, including the relationships among land use, transportation, housing, and the environment. It includes courses that build skills in the preparation for students interested in gaining skills at creating visions of the future through participation in government, community, organizations, and private firms. This experience enhances skills in disciplines that have linkages with cities, the build, and natural environments. The minor provides the student with the knowledge, skills, and values that help people build better communities and cities.

Sustainable Environments Minor

Margot McDonald
ARCH Department
Phone: 756-1298 Office: 05-212

This minor will educate students within the College in the principles and various aspects of sustainable environmental design with global, regional, and local perspectives and concepts. It will provide students with the knowledge and abilities needed to integrate concerns for ecology, social equity, and economics within the context of human and natural resource systems and the built environment.

Integrated Project Delivery (Design/Build) Minor

Barbara Jackson
CM Department
Phone: 756-1323 Office: 186 – A100

The Integrated Project Delivery minor is specific and intentional in its design. It is intended to provide an educational opportunity to undergraduate students in the design and construction disciplines who desire to have a comprehensive understanding of the unique relationships between the disciplines and the goals and concerns of the many project stakeholders. This opportunity will serve students who are interested in preparing for multidiscipline collaborative teamwork in an integrated services approach to design and construction. Students will gain a comprehensive understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of planning, design, construction, and the facilities management process. Each student will bring their discipline expertise into the minor and then will be exposed to all aspects of the design-build process including both the cognitive and affective components of an integrated approach.

Environmental Design Minor

(Only available to students on catalogs prior to or including 2003-2005) Environmental Studies Minor coordinated through the College of Science and Math (see college ‘s catalog section for additional information or visit the Dean’s office: 25-229 C).

CAED and Architecture Facilities

The CAED’s facilities are prominently located on campus. Most border Dexter lawn, the center of south campus and a popular place for outdoor teaching, sunbathing and Frisbee. As of Fall 2009, each design studio has new furnishings including upgraded technology. In addition to the studios and classrooms, the college has dedicated review and exhibition space, a generous wood shop, facilities for high tech laser equipment, and the Material Resource Center.

For additional information, go to the Architecture Facilities web page.

Generalities about the Architecture Department and its identity

Polytechnic Education

student group

Right frontispiece of the main entrance of the Ecole Polytechnique -located in the Hôtel de Lassay, an hôtel particulier in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. (Photo: Henri T. de Hahn)

The education offered in the Architecture Department at Cal Poly is based on the French polytechnic tradition. Graduates receive a rigorous design education that finds its identity at the intersection of art and science. This curricular approach has been central to the department’s tradition for over 45 years and provides our graduates with a balanced education enabling them to be responsible design professionals in an ever-changing world. The department continues to educate the next leaders by providing them with a state of the art intedisciplinary and integrative curriculum experience.

Program Learning Outcomes

The Program Learning Outcomes (PLO's) for the ARCH Department's first professional degree (B.Arch) are as follows and reflect the NAAB STUDENT PERFORMANCE CRITERIA. For the purpose of accreditation, graduating students must demonstrate understanding or ability in the following areas:

1. Speaking and Writing Skills Ability to read, write, listen, and speak effectively
2. Critical Thinking Skills Ability to raise clear and precise questions, use abstract ideas to interpret information, consider diverse points of view, reach well-reasoned conclusions, and test them against relevant criteria and standards.
3. Graphics Skills Ability to use appropriate representational media, including freehand drawing and computer technology, to convey essential formal elements at each stage of the programming and design process
4. Research Skills Ability to gather, assess, record, and apply relevant information in architectural coursework.
5. Formal Ordering Systems Understanding of the fundamentals of visual perception and the principles and systems of order that inform two- and three-dimensional design, architectural composition, and urban design.
6. Fundamental Design Skills Ability to use basic architectural principles in the design of buildings, interior spaces, and sites
7. Collaborative Skills Ability to recognize the varied talent found in interdisciplinary design project teams in professional practice and work in collaboration with other students as members of a design team.
8. Western Traditions Understanding of the Western architectural canons and traditions in architecture, landscape and urban design, as well as the climatic, technological, socioeconomic, and other cultural factors that have shaped and sustained them.
9. Non-Western Traditions Understanding of parallel and divergent canons and traditions of architecture and urban design in the non-Western world.
10. National and Regional Traditions Understanding of national traditions and the local regional heritage in architecture, landscape design and urban design, including the vernacular tradition.
11. Use of Precedents Ability to incorporate relevant precedents into architecture and urban design projects.
12. Human Behavior Understanding of the theories and methods of inquiry that seek to clarify the relationship between human behavior and the physical environment.
13. Human Diversity Understanding of the diverse needs, values, behavioral norms, physical ability, and social and spatial patterns that characterize different cultures and individuals and the implication of this diversity for the societal roles and responsibilities of architects.
14. Accessibility Ability to design both site and building to accommodate individuals with varying physical abilities.
15. Sustainable Design Understanding of the principles of sustainability in making architecture and urban design decisions that conserve natural and built resources, including culturally important buildings and sites, and in the creation of healthful buildings and communities.
16. Program Preparation Ability to prepare a comprehensive program for an architectural project, including assessment of client and user needs, a critical review of appropriate precedents, an inventory of space and equipment requirements, an analysis of site conditions, a review of the relevant laws and standards and assessment of their implication for the project, and a definition of site selection and design assessment criteria.
17. Site Conditions Ability to respond to natural and built site characteristics in the development of a program and the design of a project.
18. Structural Systems Understanding of principles of structural behavior in withstanding gravity and lateral forces and the evolution, range, and appropriate application of contemporary structural systems. 19. Environmental Systems Understanding of the basic principles and appropriate application and performance of environmental systems, including acoustical, lighting, and climate modification systems, and energy use, integrated with the building envelope.
20. Life Safety Understanding of the basic principles of life-safety systems with an emphasis on egress.
21. Building Envelope Systems Understanding of the basic principles and appropriate application and performance of building envelope materials and assemblies.
22. Building Service Systems Understanding of the basic principles and appropriate application and performance of plumbing, electrical, vertical transportation, communication, security, and fire protection systems.
23. Building Systems Integration Ability to assess, select, and conceptually integrate structural systems, building envelope systems, environmental systems, life-safety systems, and building service systems into building design.
24. Building Materials and Assemblies Understanding of the basic principles and appropriate application and performance of construction materials, products, components, and assemblies, including their environmental impact and reuse.
25. Construction Cost Control Understanding of the fundamentals of building cost, life-cycle cost, and construction estimating.
26. Technical Documentation Ability to make technically precise drawings and write outline specifications for a proposed design.
27. Client Role in Architecture Understanding of the responsibility of the architect to elicit, understand, and resolve the needs of the client, owner, and user.
28. Comprehensive Design Ability to produce a comprehensive architectural project based on a building program and site that includes development of programmed spaces demonstrating an understanding of structural and environmental systems, building envelope systems, life-safety provisions, wall sections and building assemblies and the principles of sustainability.
29. Architectʼs Administrative Roles Understanding of obtaining commissions and negotiating contracts, managing personnel and selecting consultants, recommending project delivery methods, and forms of service contracts.
30. Architectural Practice Understanding of the basic principles and legal aspects of practice organization, financial management, business planning, time and project management, risk mitigation, and mediation and arbitration as well as an understanding of trends that affect practice, such as globalization, outsourcing, project delivery, expanding practice settings, diversity, and others.
31. Professional Development Understanding of the role of internship in obtaining licensure and registration and the mutual rights and responsibilities of interns and employers.
32. Leadership Understanding of the need for architects to provide leadership in the building design and construction process and on issues of growth, development, and aesthetics in their communities.
33. Legal Responsibilities Understanding of the architectʼs responsibility as determined by registration law, building codes and regulations, professional service contracts, zoning and subdivision ordinances, environmental regulation, historic preservation laws, and accessibility laws.
34. Ethics and Professional Judgment Understanding of the ethical issues involved in the formation of professional judgment in architectural design and practice.


Architecture Students

The Department prides itself in recruiting students from a variety of backgrounds, and this is particularly important as you will become part of a growing number of community activist who will have a direct impact on your neighborhoods. Although most of you are from California, we have students from across the United States and overseas. In addition, our incoming freshmen students enter with some of the highest test scores and grades on campus. The resulting mix is a diverse and dynamic group who often achieve national recognition while completing their studies. Contributing to the success of the program is the mix of entering new freshmen, second year transfer, and change of major students.The student community has created a vibrant place for the learning and sharing of ideas.

The 2012-13 cohort of freshmen, transfer, and exchange students constitutes the most diverse student group ever for the Department. They represent the diverse regions of California, over 30 others states, and five countries.

  • California: Aiso Viejo, Arrroya Grande, Atascadero, Brentwood, Burlingame, Chula Vista, Corte Madera, Cupertino, Cypress, Dublin, El Dorado Hills, Elk Grove, Boleta, Irvine, Laguna Niguel, Long Beach, Manhattan Beach, Menio Park, Merced, Mountain View, Newport Beach, Oakley, Ojai, Palo Alto, Pleasant Hill, Pleasanton, Ridgecrest, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Clemente, San Diego, San Jose, San Luis Obispo, San Ramon, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Solvang, Stockton, Sunnyvale, Temecula, Truckee, Tulare, Union City, Vista, Walnut Creek, and Woodlake.
  • National: AZ, CO, CT, FL, HI ,IA, ID, IL, MD, MI, MN, MO, NJ, NV, NY, OH,OK, OR, PA, TN, TX, UT, and WA. States that are highlighted in bold represente the top four out-of-state cohort of students.
  • International: Costa Rica, China, Iran, Lebanon, New Zealand, and Hong Kong.

In addition to this very diverse student body, Cal Poly is proud that in the last "Top 100 Degree Producers 2009" rankings compiled by the magazine Diverse Issues in Higher Education, Cal Poly's students' success place the university among the Top 10. In the organization's 2009 national rankings, the Architecture Department was: No. 5 in architecture degrees to students of all minority groups; No. 5 in architecture degrees to Asian American students; and No. 5 in architecture degrees to Hispanic students.

For additional information, go to Current Students web page.
For additional information about Students' accomplishments, to to Student News web page.
To view students portfolios, go to Gallery

Architecture Faculty

The Architecture Faculty typically have multiple degrees and 98% are registered architects.  Their teaching abilities are complemented by robust scholarly agendas, giving students a unique perspective on the culture, discipline, and profession of architecture. Students share a close relationship with faculty who serve both as educators and mentors.

For additional information, go to Faculty Directory web page.
For additional information about faculty research, go to Publications web page.
For additional information about faculty accomplishments, go to Faculty News and Faculty Research web pages.

Architecture Alumni

student group

With over 850 full-time students, Cal Poly has one of the largest architectural programs in the United States.  1 out of 5 architects in California are graduates from our program and that 1 out of 20 architects in the United States are graduates from the Architecture Department. This impressive number of alumni (over 6500 and counting) offers graduating students with ample opportunities to merge smoothly with the profession. Graduates hold leadership roles as principals of national and international design firms, work for prize-winning architects, or join forces with small, creative practices in a number of metropolitan areas.

For additional information, go to Alumni & Friends web page, and the CSU Alumni Council.

Architecture Curriculum

A hallmark of this program, students learn the art of architecture through a rigorous and incremental step by step curriculum, honing their newly acquired skills through the introduction of more complex issues which lead to a three quarter thesis year, a capstone project that is required by Cal Poly. Emphasis on the entire curriculum is on an integrative learning experience that blends design issues with construction techniques, sustainable issues, and historical and theoretical precedence studies. While the Architecture Curriculum Flowchart reflects a rigorous approach to learning architecture, students are encouraged to develop additional affinities with other disciplines, thus building for themselves a very rich educational experience that may include certificates and minors (please see minor offerings under College of Architecture and Environmental Design Minors).

For additional information about the curriculum, go to 2009-2011 Architecture Curriculum Flowchart

Architecture and CAED Advising

Students' progress is an integral component in graduating on time, and the department offers a variety of advising mechanisms that assist students who seek guidance and council. In addition, the College Advising Center (05-210) is steps away from the Department's advising office (05-220), and students are welcome to drop by at their convenience during office hours: 8:00am and 5:00pm.

Advising may assist students with the following issues:

  • With course selections
  • With a plan for a balanced and realistic schedule
  • Understand graduation requirements, including major and GE
  • Understand their student records
  • Get answers to transfer and evaluation questions
  • With processes to substitute courses or change majors
  • With confidential situations
  • With plans to improve their academic performance

Faculty Advisors may help students:

  • with academic and course-related questions
  • With senior projects
  • With internship/co-op opportunities
  • With career-planning goals

In addition, students are encouraged to contact their respective faculty to discuss any concerns they might have related to their personal growth at Cal Poly. The Department Head (room 05-218) has an open door policies and welcomes students with their questions and concerns.

For additional information on advising, go to Architecture Advising

CAED and ARCH Off-Campus Programs

"Even in challenging economic times, making sure that study abroad is part of our college student's education is a vital investment. If we want a new generation of leaders and innovators who can be effective in an ever more globalized world, sending our students overseas is not a luxury. It's a necessity.

By Rick Steves: Study abroad is necessity, not luxury. USA Today 1/19/12

Following the architecture tradition of The Grand Tour within European architectural schools, a staple of Cal Poly's ARCH's fourth year, the department offers a number of permanent CSU sponsored off-campus programs in Copenhagen and Florence; based on faculty interests faculty-led programs in Rome, Thailand, Japan, Switzerland; exchange programs with institutions in Australia, France, Germany, and India; a professional design studio in San Francisco, professional studios in California, co-ops and internship opportunities nationally and internationally; and an opportunity to study in Washington D.C at the WAAC . In addition, quarter long extended faculty-led programs have brought students in major metropolitan areas of the United States, Mexico, Japan, Switzerland, and Thailand among other places.

Summer Fall Winter Spring
  Florence, Italy Program (CSU)
  Copenhagen, Denmark Program -DIS (CSU)
  Washington Alexandria Architectural Consortium -WAAC (CE)
  Paris (Exch. Prog.)
Ahmedabad, India (Exch. Prog.)    
  Bauhaus, Dessau Germany (Exch. Prog.)  
Australia (CE) Canberra (Exch. Prog.) Canberra (Exch. Prog.) Canberra (Exch. Prog.)
Independent Study Abroad Independent Study Abroad Independent Study Abroad Independent Study Abroad
  National Student Exchange -NSE National Student Exchange -NSE National Student Exchange -NSE
Co-op Program Co-op Program Co-op Program Co-op Program
  Professional Studios (CE) Professional Studios
Professional Studios
  San Francisco (CE)   San Francisco (CE)
Bay Area Comprehensive Community Design Studio (CE)      
  Rome Program Fall 2012 (CE)    
    Los Angeles (CE) Los Angeles (CE)
Lisbon and Barcelona      

For additional information, go to

Off-Campus Programs ARCH Department web page Cal Poly International Education and Programs (link: international students)

Cal Poly Financial Aid

Cal Poly's Financial Aid Office helps you plan your finances and organize your resources to cover your college costs. Whether you are in an-state, an out-of-state, or an international student, financial assistance remains an important resource designed to supplement the cost of education, and is not intended to be used as a student's sole means of income. The types and amounts of aid Cal Poly awards or recommends are subject to availability of funds, enrollment status, and financial need. Cal Poly students have a variety of financial aid programs available for assistance. Programs vary in eligibility criteria, award amounts, and repayment options.

For additional information, go to

Cal Poly Financial Aid web page US Government Cal Poly Financial Aid for International Students

Architecture and Other Scholarships

The Department is proud to offer an impressive variety of scholarships which grow in number every year. CAED scholarships; University Senior Recognition Awards; Internship, and Professional Organizational Awards complement those of the Department. All together, over fifty are given annually.
For additional information, go to ARCH Scholarships and Other Scholarships web pages

Cal Poly on-campus Housing Facilities

cerra vista apartments at Cal Poly

Cal Poly is committed to providing a two-year, high quality on-campus living and educational environment to Cal Poly students. University Housing is dedicated to providing housing to all new students; however, with student numbers varying each year, our ability to meet the demand may fluctuate.

For additional information, go to Cal Poly Housing web page

Program Admissions Statistics

image of statistic arrow

The Architecture program has been impacted for some time.  This is to say that, due to its reputation for excellence, the program receives many more applications than it can admit students. For your information, we are including the following statistics from Fall 2012:

  • We received 1,539 freshman applications, out of which104 were selected (6.23% selected and enrolled), and were enrolled as freshman that fall.
  • We received 405 applicants wishing to transfer from a community college, out of which 34 were selected (11.9% selection rate) and were enrolled in either second or third year.
  • The Average High School GPA was 4.08.
  • The Average SAT Reading score was 664.
  • The Average SAT Math score was 699.
  • The Average ACT Composite score was 31.

Our students are some of the most diverse, best and brightest in in the nation.  We encourage you to apply and join their ranks. Do not hesitate to call the ARCH Department to schedule a meeting and tour of the facilities with the Department Head Henri T. de Hahn to discuss your interests and questions about architecture and the institution's philosophy. Please contact (805) 756-1316.

DesignIntelligence Ranking

Architecture Program Ranks 4th in 2012

The Architecture Department ranked third among undergraduate programs in the 2012 DesignIntelligence survey ranking public and private degree programs nationally. Cal Poly’s Architecture program has made the nation’s Top 20 list since 2003 with a ranking of sixth or better. The full report can be ordered at the America's Best Architecture & Design Schools, 2012 Edition

The Survey also rates the best institutions at preparing students for specific skills. Cal Poly's Program continuous to be ranked the top program in the West with additional skills assessment rankings that position our program as:

  • 1st in Construction Methods and Materials,
  • 2nd in Sustainable Design Practices and Principles,
  • 3rd in Cross-Disciplinary Teamwork,
  • 4th in Analysis and Planning, and
  • 5th in Computer Applications.

In this year's introduction, James P. Cramer, writes that "... and California Polytechnic state University, San Luis Obispo continued to hold 4th place. Cal Poly deserves mention as one of the most consistently ranked schools in our research. Prior to this year’s ranking at 4, it achieved rankings as follows: 4, 3,3,4,6,3,4,3 (averaging 3.77 over the past nine years). it is impressive to see a school so highly regarded year after year."

This report gives much resonance to the integrity of our pedagogical responsibilities. Our learn by doing philosophy combines common sense and intellectual curiosity, and our graduates are well positioned to become the next team players in a world of increased complexity. In particular this year’s 2012 Design Intelligence rankings sends a clear message that practitioners recognize the importance of a polytechnic education. The Architecture Department remains ambitious in educating creative leaders who can work in an integrative and interdisciplinary manner; a professional path that continues to be demonstrated successfully by our alumni.

Cal Poly cost of attendance and comparative costs of other nationally ranked B.Arch Programs: Ranked by Tuition

The listed institutions represent twenty peer undergraduate architecture programs in the nation.

Cal Poly’s program is $36,219 below the most expensive ($44,010 Carnegie Mellon University) and $3,609 above the least expensive ($4,182 Oaklahoma State University ) as reflected in the chart below based on Fall 2011 data.

For additional information pertaining to the cost of attendance, go to at Cal Poly's Admissions' web page

Peer Undergraduate Architecture Programs

Rank University Tuition & Fees
1 Oklahoma State University $4,182
2 Virginia Polytechnic Institute $5,254
3 University of Arizona $5,933
4 University of Oregon $6,196
5 Iowa State University $8,788
6 California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo $7,791
7 University of Arkansas $8,232
8 University of Texas at Austin $10,738
9 Auburn University $13,766
10 Pennsylvania State University $18,674
11 Boston Architectural College $22,980
12 Southern California Institute of Architecture $33,976
13 Illinois Institute of Technology $36,504
14 Cooper Union $35,000
15 Rice University $35,900
16 Syracuse University $36,302
17 Pratt Institute $38,980
18 Rhode Island School of Design $39,777
19 University of Notre Dame $41,420
20 Cornell University $41,541
21 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute $42,704
22 University of Southern California $44,463
23 Carnegie Mellon University $44,010

California Programs

The listed institutions represent the Bachelor of Architecture programs in California.

Cal Poly’s program is $29,519 below the most expensive ($37310 California College of the Arts, CCA) as reflected in the chart below based on Fall 2011 data.

Rank University Tuition & Fees
1 California State Polytechnic University, Pomona $5,666
2 California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo $7,791
3 Academy of Art University (San Francisco) $20,343
4 Berkeley $22,790
5 New School of Architecture and Design (San Diego) $23,152
6 Woodbury University (Los Angeles) $30,930
7 California College of the Arts, CCA (San Francisco) $37,310