With the entire world at your disposal and thousands of schools to choose from, how do you know which are the best?
If you ask someone well-versed in the subject of architectural education, you will get a variety of answers. Perhaps a definite “This school is the best” by someone with a staunch opinion, or a list of several world-class universities comparable in rank.
Whomever you decide to ask, you will probably notice some overlapping names of schools that continually lead the planet in art and innovation.
The question of which is the best architecture school for international students will ultimately boil down to personal taste and among the most affordable architecture schools. Note that the cost of living is not taken into account due to its subjectivity to differ.
Remember, financial aid and scholarships can always help with expenses if you are proactive in applying for them.
#1 University of Tokyo (Japan)
One of the best schools in Japan, the University of Tokyo, offers some of the best architecture opportunities in a city that defines modern, urban design.
While Japanese may be a difficult language to learn, the school offers plenty of courses instructed in English for international students.
Fee: Tuition is charged on a yearly basis at 535,800 yen ($5,124) plus an admission fee of 282,000 yen ($2,697) and is the same for all programs except for the school of law.
#2 University of Melbourne (Australia)
The Melbourne School of design ardently carries out design research projects that help shape the future of architecture through innovative design and technology.
A central theme of this Australian university is directed toward sustainability and resilience.
Fee: For international students, the school charges, in total, about:
- 100,000 to 140,000 AUD (71,000 to 100,500 USD) for a Bachelor of Design (majoring in Architecture), which takes 3 years to complete, and
- 135,000 AUD (97,000 USD) for a Master of Architecture, which takes another 3 years to complete.
#3 University of Sydney (Australia)
Like its peer in Melbourne, the University of Sydney School of Architecture places a great deal of emphasis on harnessing new technologies to produce sustainable structures.
Fee: For international students, the yearly rate is approximately:
- 41,000 AUD (29,400 USD) for a Bachelor of Design in Architecture, which takes 3 years to complete, and
- 42,000 AUD (30,000 USD) for a Master of Architecture, which takes 2 years to complete.
#4 University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong)
Initially established by the British Empire in the early 20th century, the school has since become world-renowned.
The school offers ten faculties, including an architecture school, and is one of the most globally-focused schools on the planet.
The primary language of instruction is English to facilitate their international rapport.
As with most professional architecture degree programs, it is divided into two parts:
- 4-year Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Studies, and
- 2-year Master of Architecture, or
- 3-year Master of Architecture (Design).
Fee: The yearly tuition fee for a bachelor’s degree translates to about 22,000 USD.
#5 The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong)
Ranks second to the University of Hong Kong in terms of prestige and one of the best architecture schools on the island city.
The program is a two-part sequence consisting of a:
- 4-year Bachelor of Social Science (Architectural Studies), and
- 2-year Master of Architecture.
Fee: The yearly tuition fee for a bachelor’s degree translate to about 18,000 USD.
#6 Tsinghua University (China)
The university describes itself as a means to address China’s rapid urbanization, with a focus on innovating future developments.
For domestic and international students alike, it is one of the best locations for modern architecture study.
Fee: Unfortunately, the costs for a bachelor’s degree are subject to a variety of conditions, and if you are interested, you can contact the school directly through the contact information on their website.
#7 National University of Singapore (Singapore)
Often considered the top school in the Asian-Pacific, the university frequently leads the continent with its research, engineering, and design programs.
In total, the school has 21 dedicated research institutes and centers.
The Bachelor of Architecture degree is a 4-year honors program, with an option to pursue the 2-year Master of Architecture, Master of Landscape Architecture, or Master of Urban Planning programs.
Fee: The yearly tuition fee for a bachelor’s degree translates to about 14,000 USD for international students.
#8 Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (Switzerland)
While the school is well known for a world-class engineering program responsible for sending the first solar-powered aircraft around the globe, the School of Architecture (ENAC) holds itself to the same impressive standards for innovation.
Their two-part architectural study consists of a bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree with a mandatory 12-month practical experience between them.
Fee: A bachelor’s degree will run an international architecture student only about 1,700 USD annually, excluding other expenses.
#9 ETH Zurich (Switzerland)
ETH Zurich is the German-speaking sibling of the previously mentioned institute in Lausanne.
The school, famous for rejecting Albert Einstein, was initially founded in the 19th century with six faculties – including civil engineering, mechanical engineering, chemistry, forestry, mathematics, and most importantly (obviously), architecture.
Fee: A bachelor’s degree costs about 1,600 USD annually, excluding other expenses.
#10 Politecnico di Milano (Italy)
As the most prominent technical university in Italy in a city surrounded by breath-taking architectural history, the school’s suitability among the list of the best needs no further clarification.
Fee: For foreigners, a bachelor’s degree costs approximately 1,850 USD annually.
#11 Politecnico di Torino (Italy)
The elder cousin of Politecnico di Milano offers many of the same high-quality design and architecture courses in a land with a reputable history of doing it best.
Also, the design of Costello del Valentino, the university’s school of architecture, attests to the quality of its instruction.
Fee: A bachelor’s degree in this university costs about 3,000 USD per year.
#12 Roma Tre University (Italy)
Compared to its countrymen, Roma Tre University is very young – established in 1992. Nevertheless, the university’s ability to rise to world-renowned status despite its youth should speak loudly of its unmatched quality.
However, don’t get your hopes up – Roma Tre University’s School of Architecture admits only 200 students every year.
Fee: Roma Tre University offers a bachelor’s degree at a rate of 1,000 USD per year.
#13 Technion – Israel Institute of Technology (Israel)
Consistently ranked as the best university in the Middle East, the school has 60 research centers and 19 academic departments, fitted with top-notch instruction for engineering and architecture degrees.
Fee: For international students, the tuition is comparatively high, at about 8,000 USD per year for a bachelor’s degree.
#14 Universidad Politecnica de Madrid (Spain)
The first lectures given in Spain’s subjectively best technical university were in the field of architecture. The school is one of 50 universities in the Top International Managers in Engineering (T.I.M.E) network.
The school is in Spain, a country with some of the world’s most beautiful structures.
Fee: Annual cost fluctuates between 600 and 1,200 USD.
#15 Universidade do Porto (Portugal)
What is arguably the most productive research school in Portugal does not slack off when it comes to educating architects.
Due to increased demand, the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto has split from the Faculty of Fine Arts. It has since been pivotal in the emergence of modernist design.
Fee: A bachelor’s degree averages about 1,250 USD for foreigners.
#16 Technical University Delft (The Netherlands)
This Dutch school is consistently ranked within the top 15 of the world’s best universities.
The largest of TU Delft’s faculties is the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, ranked as the 2nd best school for architecture overall by QS.
Fee: A bachelor’s degree runs relatively high for an international student at about 11,550 USD per year.
#17 Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (Denmark)
This small, super-selective school in Denmark may be exceptionally tough to get into, and proficiency in the Nordic language is pertinent for their considerations.
If you are one of the few who has a shot, it may be well worth it. The school is a gem thanks to its small size and world-leading student body.
Fee: The annual tuition for a bachelor’s degree is a paltry 200 USD per year, but the cost of living may exceed 1,500 USD per month.
#18 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (United States)
One of the five schools in a university renowned for computer science and robotics is the MIT School of Architecture and Planning, ranked #1 in the world by QS as of 2020.
The school is the first to offer an architecture program in a university setting and is mostly responsible for bringing modernism to America.
Fee: The yearly cost of a bachelor’s degree is a hefty 53,540 USD for international students and not much cheaper for local students.
#19 Harvard University (United States)
Usually, the first school to spring to mind when someone says the word “fancy,” Harvard University offers more than law and medical degrees.
The Harvard Graduate School of Design has turned out many famous American architects and has the oldest urban planning program in North America.
Fee: The cost is as selective as the school’s acceptance rate, at about 67,000 USD annually.
#20 University College London (England)
The Bartlett School of Architecture, a UCL faculty, is the oldest architecture and build environment school in the United Kingdom.
The school has 12 departments focusing on different architectural niches, from development planning to advanced spatial analysis.
As of 2020, the school was ranked #3 in the world by QS (down from #1 in 2019).
Fee: For foreigners, tuition is about 26,000 USD per year for those seeking a bachelor’s degree. For citizens, the tuition fee is halved.
#21 University of Cambridge (England)
Bested only by Oxford in age, and tied with Oxford in prestige, Cambridge’s Department of Architecture has a select student body with an impressive alumni repertoire.
Fee: International Students can expect to pay 25,000 USD annually for a bachelor’s degree, while citizens can expect to pay about half that.
#22 The Architectural Association (England)
Also known as the AA, the Architecture Association is the oldest autonomous School of Architecture in the United Kingdom.
Despite having less than a thousand students with no other university programs to show, the school can compete with world-renowned (and much larger) universities with its exemplary, global role in developing contemporary architecture.
Fee: The annual fee for a bachelor’s degree is set at 22,000 GBP, or 28,500 USD, for all students.
For more information, visit these school’s websites. You may be surprised at how affordable studying architecture internationally can be at some of the schools.
Once you shortlist your favorite schools, see the post on how to apply to an architecture school to identify the things you need to prepare.