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Architecture (Five-Year B.Arch.)


Program Director: James Doerfler


The architecture program at Thomas Jefferson University prepares students to engage critically in the complex discourse of architectural practice and theory. In keeping with the University’s legacy of craft, materials and technology, the curriculum balances the creative and technical aspects of making architecture. Through research, analysis and exploration, students discover that design is found at the dynamic intersection of our social and physical environments. Faculty members with diverse perspectives guide students in their investigations of contemporary issues that supersede trends. Encouraged by interdisciplinary study, they craft varied ideas for the environment, finding passion and delight in the consideration of architecture.

Program Learning Goals

At the completion of the Bachelor of Architecture program, students will demonstrate the ability to:

  • Integrate knowledge of liberal arts and sciences with the design of the built environment.
  • Appreciate the value of collaboration, including multidisciplinary collaboration, in solving design problems.
  • Synthesize theory, function, technology and aesthetics in an integrated and creative way.
  • Understand and respect the people, places and contexts that bear upon the built environment around the world.
  • Examine the characteristics of professionalism in architectural practice.
  • Practice design as integrated process that respects existing contexts and/or inevitable transformations in the field.

Program Description

The Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.) program provides a comprehensive professional education that will develop the knowledge, skill and vision necessary for the student to understand contemporary global issues and address the varied needs of society. Fundamental to the program’s philosophy is a commitment to design excellence and innovation, including the nurturing of creative individuals. A diverse faculty, traditional campus setting and dynamic urban context combine to create an ideal environment for the development of the intellectual rigor and imagination necessary to achieve the program’s goals.

The faculty of the architecture program includes individuals accomplished in research, design and professional practice. Adjunct faculty and visiting critics complement full-time faculty, bringing contemporary theory and practical experience from the region’s leading architectural practices. In the professional architecture program, the design studio is the focus of activity where coursework and learning are synthesized and design fundamentals are stressed.

During the first year, foundation studies courses are conducted in an interdisciplinary environment, introducing principles, values and the common vocabulary necessary for effective professional teamwork. The second-year foundation studies courses continue teaching the building blocks for future design studios. Also, during the first two years, general education courses are emphasized, and digital, technical and history of architecture and interiors courses are introduced. During the last three years of the curriculum, more advanced theoretical, technical and professional courses support studio design projects of increasing complexity and scope. In the fourth year, students are encouraged to take an interdisciplinary studio or to study abroad. The architecture program’s study abroad options include: Rome, Italy, as part of a consortium of institutions at the University of Arkansas Rome Center; the Danish Institute for Study Abroad in Copenhagen; and a number of other exchange programs in Europe and Australia. Fourth-year focused research papers lead to fifth-year studio instruction emphasizing independent research, programming and critical analysis, all of which establish the theoretical basis for design work. At this level, students’ designs articulate a physically and theoretically comprehensive resolution of a capstone project.

Course options at the advanced levels are designed to encourage students to develop their individual interests and professional directions. In addition to courses in other colleges and programs, opportunities for specialization and enrichment are also available in areas such as housing, experimental structures/materials, furniture design, historic preservation, design theory, photography and visualization techniques.

The architecture program is committed to providing state-of-the-art computer technology and software to facilitate the integration of digital technologies in the design process and project development.

Professional Accreditation

In the United States, most state 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 U.S. professional degree programs in architecture, recognizes three types of degrees: the Bachelor of Architecture, the Master of Architecture and the Doctor of Architecture. A program may be granted an 8-year, 3-year or 2-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 consist of a pre-professional undergraduate degree and a professional graduate degree that, when earned sequentially, constitute an accredited professional education. However, the pre-professional degree is not, by itself, recognized as an accredited degree.

Philadelphia University’s architecture program offers the following NAAB-accredited degree program:

B. Arch. (165 undergraduate credits)

Next accreditation visit:  2026

To better understand the body of knowledge and skills that constitute a professional education in architecture, visit the college website, which provides links to the 2014 NAAB Conditions for Accreditation, The NAAB Procedures for Accreditation, and other useful resources, including additional websites.