Computer Requirements


All undergraduate students entering the architecture program are required to have a current laptop computer. All required software is available for both Mac and PC (Windows) platforms. If you are very experienced with either, you may choose to stay on that platform. In upper years, you may wish to run software that performs better on Windows. It is possible to run Mac and Windows operating systems simultaneously on all current Apple computers. 

The Architecture Department expects all entering students to have basic computing knowledge and skills, including the ability to use word-processing, spreadsheet, and web browsing software.


The most important criteria in evaluating a laptop is that it can easily run the software required for the program (listed below). These applications are very graphics intensive, so adequate display resolution, RAM, and graphics processing are all vital factors. 

Laptop computer must meet or exceed the following specifications:

  • 2.0 GHz Quad-Core Intel i7

  • 8GB 1600 MHz RAM

  • 256GB Hard Drive
  • High-Resolution Display, 2560-by-1600 pixels
  • Current Operating System


Students should arrive with the most current edition of:

  • Adobe Create Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, Acrobat) either as subscription or stand-alone
  • and Rhino 5 (Student Edition for 3D Modeling) for whichever operating system they use (Mac or Windows).

Cal Poly students, faculty, and staff may download various software at no cost or purchase software at a significant discount via the Kivuto "OnTheHub" website.  Please visit this site for details on how to access on the "OnTheHub":

For commonly used CAED software that is not offered "OnTheHub" look at the following suggested links or check with your professor.


  • Printer and Scanner or Printer/Scanner combination
  • Backup Hard Drive – 500GBmin
  • USB Flash Drive – 16GB min


Many projects during the course of the year have a photography component, as well as the documentation of work for quarterly portfolios. A smart phone is not sufficient for this work, but a modest point-and-shoot with a minimum 14 megapixel resolution and 4x optical zoom will cover most needs. 

Educational Pricing

Call or visit Cal Poly's El Corral Bookstore (805.756.5311) for educational pricing on both software and hardware. Prices are also published on the Cal Poly Bookstore web site.

A Word About Email

Cal Poly provides a free email account to every student. Use of this account is required, even if you also maintain an off-campus account. Cal Poly email will be used by faculty, the Architecture Department and the University as an official means of communicating with you. Make it a habit to check your account regularly, or have it forwarded to your off-campus account.


Updated 07.17.17

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