Colleges Similar to Virginia Tech

Hi, looking for schools that have a similar campus feel/student body to Virginia Tech. Prefer strong in engineering or architecture. Also looking in the Northeast, but not exclusively.

D liked the campus spirit and the college town feel of Tech. Also prefers colder weather.

All suggestions would be appreciated. We are making a list for our next college visits. TYIA!

I’m not entirely sure, but I would guess Penn State might have a similar feel.

Not Northeastern, but maybe Clemson?

NC State is good for architecture and engineering, but not as much of a college town as Blacksburg. It’s fun though and might be worth a look.

UMass - Amherst, perhaps.

1 Like

Iowa State. Not in the Northeast but strong in engineering and definitely cold in winter! Huge campus spirit and great college town. My sophomore son loves it and we’re from Massachusetts.

Many of the Midwestern publics would fit the bill for great college town/spirit plus strong in engineering: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan, UIUC, and Purdue immediately come to mind. In the Northeast, Cornell, Lehigh, Penn State, and Binghamton. For more targeted suggestions, it would be helpful to know your budget and your student’s profile/stats.

Thanks for all of the suggestions.

We are still early in the process, but if past performance is a fair indicator, she will finish with a GPA around 3.9 (give or take) in all honors or AP classes (Calc AB & BC, Physics 1 & C, Eng Lang & Lit, US Hist, Econ, Comp Sci. Princ., Latin) (for academic core courses). Four years of each (5 of math). Also in PLTW. No SAT yet, but based on past standardized testing she will be in the 90+ percentile. EC are strong, but not blow you away that we see on here for Ivy League type schools.

Budget is around $50k/year. State residency is New Jersey.

UC Boulder

1 Like

Syracuse would be another one to consider as it has a stellar architecture program.

I would say that Texas A&M is the closest to Virginia Tech. Large school, Big Engineering and Ag colleges, large Corps of Cadets, and in town dominated by University.

Edit to add: They both even have maroon as a school color. Chicago Maroon and Aggie Maroon. I find it funny that VIrginia Tech’s other color is Burnt Orange.

Purdue, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Texas A&M have similarly good engineering colleges to Virginia Tech. All are usually considered Top 15. Perhaps, Penn State, Maryland, Minnesota just a notch below to round it out.

None really equal the charm of Blacksburg though. Hard to match the VT student body’s love of their university.

Investigate Cornell too. Ithaca is a nice town on the lake and it gets very cold. Cornell and Virginia Tech are the standouts of this group for Architecture.

1 Like

Is VTech in state for you? If so, tough
to pass that up if budget is at all a concern.

Some excellent large public’s off hand
that are not in urban locations with colder weather and similar level eng. academics:

Michigan State
Penn State
Iowa State
Delaware(sort of suburban)

I was going to suggest Delaware as well.

1 Like

Being an Alum and just revisiting yesterday seeing tons of t-shirts/sweatshirts and talking with students, I fully agree. It made us wistful that none of our three boys went there.

Penn St is well loved by students and similar with sports, etc, so that’s my suggestion for a place to check out. They’re similar in engineering - haven’t really heard anything about them with architecture. They are rural and cold - colder than Blacksburg.

NC State popped into my head immediately. Good architecture program.

Then Syracuse, Penn State, Michigan State, UT Knoxville and WVU.

@MMB21, Could you please clarify if your daughter is looking for an engineering degree that focuses on architecture based in a school of engineering? (I guess this would mean architectural engineering but I admit my knowledge of any kind of engineering is minimal. :slight_smile: )

Or is she interested in an architecture degree such as a Bachelor of Architecture that is based in a school of architecture? Although there is some overlap between engineering and architecture, the two degrees require separate course sequences, so she’d have to choose one or the other when applying (or if allowed by the university, apply to both). It would be difficult to transfer from engineering to a BArch as the first year of the five year BArch is generally a foundational year with intensive design studios.

There are about 40 schools of architecture in the US that offer the BArch. Their curriculums generally cover the same material (they are regulated by the national architecture board) but their focus/emphasis may vary. Some, like VATech lean toward the structural and tech aspect of architecture; some are more design driven; most offer a balance of both. At some an art/design portfolio is a critical part of the admissions process. (Not required by VATech)

Other BArch programs that are similar to VA Tech would be Auburn, CalPoly, NJIT, IIT, RPI. Many of the medium sized private and large public universities already recommended in this thread would be fine choices for a BArch. You would have to research each to understand the points of differentiation, the level of selectivity, the portfolio requirements and the availability of need or merit based aid.

At many highly rated schools of architecture the undergraduate degree offered is a Bachelor of Arts or Science IN architecture, usually leading to a Master of Architecture program. The BA/BS is not a professional degree. In most states, the BArch or MArch is required in order to start the process of becoming a licensed architect. The BA/BS+MArch route is good for students interested in architecture, but not ready to commit to an intensive BArch. There are many, many choices for this sequence.


Thanks for the thorough response. D is aware of the different tracks between engineering and architecture, but she has not yet done as deep a dive into architecture as she has in engineering. If she goes the engineering route she is looking at either civil or architectural engineering.

She has a strong artistic side which is why (I think) architecture is under consideration. So long as the portfolio is general artistic as opposed to architectural specific she should be okay. She is involved in the local arts center and has won some awards for her photography, but is also into fashion and painting.

VT was my daughter’s second choice, so what they offer was quite close to what she liked.

Other’s at the top of her list were Purdue (attended), Lehigh, and Ohio State.


Architecture is a good option for people who are attracted to a profession that is both technical and creative. (Much like fashion design.) It’s also highly collaborative and social, which can either be a plus or a minus.

You don’t mention what year she is in, but if possible she might consider attending a career in architecture program over the summer to get a better idea of what the profession entails. And also to help with portfolio building.

Generally speaking application portfolios need not include architectural drawings. The objective is to demonstrate creativity and design sense, a comfort level with various media especially hand drawing and presentation and organizational skills. Most schools of architecture provide information on what they’re looking for on their websites.

The cost of attendance will be, I believe, much the same for a BArch as for engineering. If financial aid is involved you need to make sure it’s available for all 5 years. Merit aid is available at many schools, though it’s difficult to predict the amount.

I would suggest that your daughter research both BArch and BS/BA+MArch programs. The latter take longer and therefore may cost more, but allow for wider experimentation across disciplines. It’s quite common for BS/BA grads to work in architecture for a year or two before heading back to the same or a different school for an MArch.

Because BArch programs have high drop-out rates, it’s important to have a back-up plan in the event that architecture doesn’t work out. Schools of architecture tend to be generous with their time, offering multiple on-line Q&A sessions, open houses and connections to current students.

I may have misunderstood your question and focused too much on the tech aspect in listing schools similar to VA Tech. For a stronger emphasis on the design/creative aspect I would suggest the following. This is just a starting place. She’ll be able to expand and eliminate as her direction narrows.

BArch Cornell, Syracuse, CMU, Tulane, Penn State, Kansas State, USC, U of Miami
BS/BA Virginia, WUSTL, Michigan, Northeastern, Cincinnati, Colorado/Boulder


Thanks again everyone. Appreciate all of the great suggestions. Looks like the next road trip will be into New England. We will make sure UMass is one of the stops based on the suggestions above. The trip after that will probably be to the Midwest. Will hit some of the MidAtlantic ones on day trips.

Starting a family tradition of roads trips over the NJEA convention each November (We will be doing this quite awhile as this is our oldest). Everyone have a great day and thanks again.