Iowa State University
Source: Iowa State University

A career in architecture and landscape architecture can be lucrative, fulfilling, and secure. In the US, an architect and a landscape architect can earn up to US$139,988 and US$107,500 respectively annually. Whether it is designing new structures, re-inventing designs, or restoring an old building, architects, landscape architects and built environmental experts are needed for their technical know-how, creative mindset, and critical thinking skills. 

Today, the field is evolving quickly in response to the climate crisis. From 3D printing to automation and artificial intelligence, emerging technology is also reducing the number of mundane tasks and allowing architects and landscape architects to focus on more creative endeavours. It’s a necessary change — one that will be crucial in a world racing to limit global temperature rise and stave off natural disasters. The US experienced 23 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in the first eight months of 2023. 

For aspiring architects and landscape architects, this is an opportunity to make a world of difference while pursuing a meaningful and rewarding career. Here are three top architecture schools that will help you shape tomorrow’s world for the better:

Iowa State University

The Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) degree, offered by the College of Design, is an accredited three-year professional programme for students with or without an undergraduate degree in landscape architecture. Source: Iowa State University

Iowa State University

Iowa State University’s Department of Landscape Architecture is in the College of Design, one of the nation’s most comprehensive design institutions for art and design and home to 2000 undergraduate and graduate students. The Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) is a professional degree that can take your career to the next level.

Through this Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board-accredited programme, you’ll engage with some of the most renowned landscape architecture faculty members to explore and advance your skills through hands-on instruction and interdisciplinary opportunities. As a student, you are encouraged to pursue an in-depth study of disciplinary specialty areas via coursework or a thesis project. Faculty areas of expertise supporting student work include landscape theory, parametric modelling, ecology, advocacy, and community engagement.

The programme’s STEM-designation, allows international students to extend their F-1 visas for up to three years after graduation to work in the US. With a degree that will take you anywhere, you’re set to join past ISU graduates who are using their creative critical thinking and problem-solving skills, to understand natural and cultural systems. Our graduates are designing parks, trails, plazas, residences, and other outdoor environments that impact the quality of life of people in Iowa, the US, and the world.

The MLA is a studio-based programme, and departmental course offerings feature small class sizes that allow instructors to foster a culture of professor-student engagement, stronger peer learning, and the nurturing of student success. The Landscape Architecture programme is the highest-ranked programme in Iowa State’s College of Design and ranks in the top 25 accredited graduate MLA programs in the U.S.

This dynamic path to success is set in a Carnegie R1 institution, a designation granted to only 146 US institutions at the forefront of research and innovation. The campus community is filled with researchers and students finding solutions to grand challenges and creating community along the way. Step beyond the fifth most beautiful campus in the country and you’re in the city of Ames home to an exciting blend of arts, culture, and entertainment with a stunning natural backdrop no matter the season. Tour Iowa State University and design your future today.

University of Southern California

Programmes at the School of Architecture give students numerous options to pursue their individual interests and goals. Source: University of Southern California/Facebook

University of Southern California

For a century, faculty and graduates at the University of Southern California’s School of Architecture have pushed beyond the field’s traditional boundaries to pioneer many paradigm-shifting new practices in architecture. Embedded in one of the nation’s most respected research universities, you’ll learn in an environment where collaboration takes place across disciplines.

Faculty members comprise a diverse spectrum of experts. They bring their expertise and experience to studios and seminars. Tenured academics teach alongside practising award-winning professionals. Plus, invited visiting faculty and critics are selected from elite schools and design practices from Los Angeles and around the world and have recently included Paffard Keatinge-Clay, Thomas Phifer, Wendell Burnette, and many more.

Undergraduate programmes include a five-year Bachelor of Architecture, Bachelor of Science in Geodesign, Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies, and Bachelor of Science in Architecture + Inventive Technologies. The B.Arch, rooted in 100 years of history, is a STEM programme in Architectural and Building Sciences/Technology, allowing international graduates to apply for a 24-month extension of post-completion Optional Practical Training.

At the graduate level, five master’s and dual master’s programmes are offered. The Master of Architecture is helmed by a renowned academic faculty and award-winning practitioners. Built on three levels, the M.Arch here starts with an introduction to the disciplinary knowledge and the basic skills required for the NAAB-accredited degree. This is followed by increasingly refined vocational knowledge and advanced professional capability. The programme culminates with a year of self-directed work with classes and a directed design research project (thesis).

Iowa State University

Stuart Weitzman School of Design is committed to advancing the public good — both locally and globally — through art, design, planning, and preservation. Source: University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania

Academics at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) are boosted by its culture and ecosystem of innovation. Grounded in the liberal arts and sciences and enriched by the integrated resources of four undergraduate and 12 graduate schools, UPenn offers an unparalleled education informed by inclusivity, intellectual rigour, research, and the impetus to create new knowledge for the benefit of individuals and communities around the world.

At the Stuart Weitzman School of Design, students address complex sociocultural and environmental issues through thoughtful inquiry, creative expression, and innovation. As a diverse community of scholars and practitioners, the school is committed to advancing the public good — locally, nationally, and globally — through architecture, city and regional planning, the fine arts, historic preservation, landscape architecture, and urban spatial analytics.

Weitzman Architecture offers an immersion in next-generation design research facilitated by visionary architects and thinkers from around the world. Students enjoy a multi-interdisciplinary approach to the design and interpretation of the built environment and the breadth and depth of knowledge that only a leading research university can offer.

The Department of Landscape Architecture is recognised internationally for its innovative ecological approach to the design of landscapes, public works, public spaces, and infrastructures. Faculty and students here advance the discipline through design research at multiple scales, from seeds to systems, from urban to rural, and from various positions.

*Some of the institutions featured on this article are commercial partners of Study International