Prospective Students

Degrees Offered

The Architecture Department at Cal Poly offers the five-year, 225-credit Bachelor of Architecture (BARCH) degree. 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 (MS ARCH), which is a post-professional degree (not NAAB-accredited). 

For more information about our degrees, see the Undergraduate Program link at the right. 

Statement on NAAB Accredited Degrees

In the United States, most registration boards require a degree from an accredited professional degree program as a prerequisite for licensure. The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), which is the sole agency authorized to accredit professional degree programs in architecture offered by institutions with U.S. regional accreditation, recognizes three types of degrees: the Bachelor of Architecture (BARCH), the Master of Architecture, and the Doctor of Architecture. A program may be granted an eight-year, three-year, or two-year term of accreditation, depending on the extent of its conformance with established educational standards. 

Doctor of Architecture and Master of Architecture degree programs may require a preprofessional undergraduate degree in architecture for admission. However, the preprofessional degree is not, by itself, recognized as an accredited degree. 

Last accreditation visit: April 2017.

For access to NAAB conditions and procedures, as well as various program reports, visiting team reports, and the most recent NAAB decision letter, see the Administration webpage. 

B. Arch Program Expenses

For Cal Poly University tuition fees and housing estimates, please see

Additional B. Arch. Expenses

Year Level Additional program expenses Average Low High
1st year supply kit $339 at Art Central    
  supplies and printing $200    
  Design Village entry fee $90    
  laptop computer $2500    
  software $125    
2nd year supplies and printing   $150 $400
3rd year supplies and printing   $200 $600
  field trip   $200 $500
4th year (on campus) supplies and printing   $200 $500
4th year (off campus) varies by program (see Off-Campus Program LINK)      
5th year supplies   $1000 $1400
  thesis book   $50 $100
  field trips   $600 $2000
  Vellum   $100 $500

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, although they must work an additional three year internship before being eligible to take the California Supplemental Exam.  The National Council of Architectural Accrediting Boards has established the Intern Development Program to ensure that interns are exposed to the broad sweep of professional experience during this time. For more information about licensure in California, see the California Architects Board's webpage “Becoming a Licensed Architect” at

Architectural Registration Examination

As developed by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), the Architectural Registration Examination (ARE) assesses a candidate’s knowledge, skills, and abilities to provide the various services required in the practice of architecture. The ARE has been adopted for use by all U.S. registration boards and the Canadian provincial architectural associations as the registration examination for all candidates seeking architectural licensing. For more information about the exam, go to NCARB's web site titled Pass the Architect's Registration Exam.

The National Architectural Accrediting Board considers the ARE pass rates to be useful information for current and prospective students. For the latest Cal Poly rates, go to

Summer Career Workshop

The Architecture Department offers an intensive 4-week in-residence workshop designed for high school students considering architecture as a career or developing a design portfolio. The Workshop provides an in-depth view of the career through hands-on experience in studio design exercises, lectures, projects and field trips. Activities cover architectural design and history, computer applications, building science, structural engineering and site planning. Studios and lectures are taught by the faculty of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design. Education and career advising are integral elements of the program. For more details visit the Summer Career Workshop page.

Mentors: Faculty

The Architecture Faculty typically have multiple degrees and 98% are registered or licensed 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.

Peers: Students

Our students enter with some of the highest test scores and grades on campus. Although most are from California, we have students from across the United States and overseas. 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 with second year transfer students. For additional information, go to Current Students web page.

Legacy and Network: Alumnistudent 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 offers graduating students with ample opportunity 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.

Learning Context: 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. In addition to the studios and classrooms, the college has dedicated review and exhibition space, a generous wood shop, facilities for digital fabrication, and the Material Resource Center. For additional information, go to Facilities web page.

See the World: Off-Campus Programs

A staple of fourth year, the department offers a number of off-campus programs both domestically and internationally.The domestic programs include Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington DC. Study abroad opportunities include year-long programs in Copenhagen and Florence and quarter-long programs in Rome, Mexico, Japan, and Switzerland among other locations.For additional information, go to Off-Campus Programs.


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 Architecture Department Scholarships & Awards and Other Scholarships web pages.

  • Cal Poly Admissions Homepage:
  • Assist (an online student-transfer information system that shows how course credits earned at one public California college or university can be applied when transferred to another):

Additional Information

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Updated 07.27.23

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