University of Notre Dame, RISD, or UC Berkeley for architecture?

Got accepted for the B.Arch program for both ND and RISD. Sustainable Environmental Design major for Cal, will probably transfer to BA architecture.

Right now leaning towards big universities, as they offer opportunities for me to take classes outside of my major.​ Will minor in Real Estate at ND. Will try applying for Simultaneous Degrees on business at Cal.

RISD ranks well on DI, but will its program be too experimental and artsy? ND’s approach seems pretty traditional…the only architecture program that still puts much weight on hand drawing. Cal is a really top and well-known school, but its architecture…not much to talk about haha. Plan to go to graduate school though.​

@decazzzz In the US, BArch curriculums are regulated by the architecture board so that they cover the same material: design, structures, sustainability, technology. The difference from school to school is more in emphasis than content, and, of course, an art school will have a greater art/design focus than a school like Notre Dame, though I wouldn’t necessarily call RISD “artsy” or "experimental.

ND definitely has a niche focus in classical architecture enhanced by a unique emphasis on hand drawing. If this approach is of interest to you, then ND is an excellent choice. If it isn’t, then there’s your answer. I’m not familiar with ND’s minor in real estate. You should make sure that that is doable as the BArch curriculum is quite demanding.

UCB offers a 4.0 year BA in architecture under their College of Environmental Design. You’ll need to be clear that a transfer from sustainable design to architecture is doable and that a simultaneous degree in business is an option. (Sounds like a stretch to me.) With a BA in architecture you could continue on to a 2.0 year Master of Architecture at Berkeley or at another school of architecture. Acceptance to UCB’s MArch program is competitive and may not be guaranteed. Either way, be sure to factor in the cost of the MArch in your decision.

I’m not sure what you mean by Berkeley’s “architecture is not much to talk about.” Do you mean the buildings themselves or the reputation of the School of Architecture?

Attending RISD would not limit your ability to take classes outside of your major. RISD is affiliated with Brown University, whose campus is immediately adjacent to RISD’s. Not only are RISD students able to cross register at Brown but the 2 schools actually offer a joint BA/BFA degree, and all Brown facilities are open for use to RISD students.

Thank you so much for the detailed information! Speaking of UCB, people are telling me that UCB archi graduates are not so competitive as graduates from other BArch programs when it comes to graduate school application, as it is a 4-year program, and its undergraduate resources are relatively limited compared to private schools.
I’m also eager to know how’s the reputation of ND, UCB, and RISD in the architecture field.

@decazzzz, It’s difficult to compare UCB’s undergraduate BA to ND’s or RISD’s BArch as they are different degrees. Graduates of all three programs have the potential to be admitted to top rated MArch programs, though not all BArch holders will get MArchs. UCB’s MArch program has remarkable resources, but as I mentioned earlier, the BA in architecture is not an automatic admit to their MArch.

It’s difficult to predict MArch admission as there are multiple factors involved, not just the prestige of the undergraduate institution. The applicant’s portfolio and work/internship experience will be important as will recommendations from employers and professors. MArch programs also seek to put together a balanced class and consider various diversity factors such as gender, ethnicity, age, life and work experience, educational background.

You might ask all three which MArch programs their graduates have been accepted to and see how this information aligns with your aspirations.

Architecture is a very broad field with many, many different types of firms building many, many different types of buildings so there is no general consensus on which school produces the most hireable graduates. These are all excellent opportunities. The decision depends on what you are looking for in your undergraduate degree and environment.