Source: University of Kansas

Building, making and designing — these are intrinsic to each other. Design-build supports the idea that either one strengthens and informs the expression of the other. You create architectural designs, including drawings, models, and digital renderings, and then you get involved in their actual construction. You are hands-on with the materials, tools, and construction techniques — elements that ground you in the physicality of the world in which we live.

The best architecture schools use this approach. They know studios are great places for collaboration, real-world simulation and community links. Driven by purpose and filled with engagement, they are crucial to architectural education, no matter if they’re big, small, urban or rural. The following schools follow this approach, providing students a much-needed glimpse into their future professional pursuits:


The highlight of the master’s degree at the School of Architecture & Design here is the final year professional option. Source: University of Kansas

The University of Kansas

The University of Kansas School of Architecture & Design stands out in its commitment to developing sustainable, affordable, and innovative building solutions. The NAAB-accredited Master of Architecture (M.Arch) professional degree is defined by innovative studios, world-class facilities, and real-world projects. Getting a Master of Architecture degree here is a hands-on, materials-based and experiential affair at one of the nation’s leaders in design-build education. And that’s because the programme is anchored by several award-winning studios, including Studio 804, the two-semester advanced design-build studio and recipient of numerous design awards and publications. 

Students can experience several design-build studios, including the award-winning Dirt Works Studio and Dotte Agency, all focused on community-based projects that place students in unique agency to impact the regional community with design and construction. Beyond these studios, there are furniture design, digital fabrication and robotics, and material investigations courses. 

The highlight of the M.Arch is the final year professional options. In their professional option year, students will gain a sense of real-world experience by working directly with building code officials, engineering consultants, and material suppliers or by interning with the school’s partner firms around the world. Students can participate in multiple final year options, including Studio 804, Health and Wellness Design, Urban Design, Sports & Entertainment, Gensler/GastinegerWalker &, Paris Academic Internship, and Social Entrepreneurship. Students in the year-long Studio 804 design and construct a building from scratch under faculty guidance. This involves creating construction documents, writing specifications, developing drawings, and executing the entirety of the construction process, from foundation to finishes, to better educate future architects on the process of designing and integrating innovative and sustainable systems into building designs. From Paris to Chicago, the internship-based final year options can cater to your area of interest, including health and wellness, sports and entertainment, or urban design. As KU is close to Kansas City, it’s the best-fit for sports enthusiasts. This Midwestern city is the sports architecture capital of the world and home to the first women’s stadium in the world.

The Master of Architecture degree at the University of Kansas is an approved STEM programme in Architectural and Building Sciences/Technology (CIP code 04.0902), among the STEM fields’ list. International students who graduate from KU’s Master of Architecture degree may be eligible for the 24-month Optional Practical Training (OPT) extension.

 Apply to the University of Kansas School of Architecture & Design today.


Source: UCLA

University of California, Los Angeles

A champion of ideas and their articulate expression — that’s the UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design. Here, you’ll engage with the world around you, see ideas as productive forms of response, and learn how to use design and writing as expressions of newly curated perspectives. You’ll interrogate contemporary urban issues and propose possible futures with equal measures of expertise, optimism, and vision. 

The design studio is the heart of the department. This is where you’ll see the department’s academic mission fuse with the social and cultural phenomena that surround architectural education. The department’s creative community comes from a rich variety of backgrounds and each of their unique, complex perspectives is respected and celebrated here. In this open environment, you’ll learn from, share ideas and work with them, within and beyond studio hours. 

As an MArch student, you’ll get to prepare for future practice here. Through a focused framing of today’s cultural, ecological, political, and technological questions, you’ll be equipped to not only lead the professional field but also to construct new opportunities for it by positioning your design skills within a rapidly changing world.

In your third year, you can choose from an array of one-year thematically-focused Research Studios, as well as two supplemental Advanced Topic Studios (to be completed in the first two quarters), and a number of elective courses. Led by senior design faculty and structured around specific contemporary concerns, the Research Studios comprises a first quarter of research, a second quarter of hypothesis definition and development, and a final quarter of design resolution. You’ll get to rethink existing problems, establish new directions, and make well-informed and progressive conjectures that shape the built environment.


University of British Columbia highlights its dual degree option where students can pursue a Master of Architecture and a Master of Landscape Architecture simultaneously. Source: University of British Columbia

University of British Columbia

At the University of British Columbia’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, an accomplished, multi-disciplinary faculty teaches students to become creative leaders, effective collaborators, and progressive change agents. They do this through a whole range of master’s degrees, such as Master of Architecture, Master of Landscape Architecture, Master of Urban Design, Master of Advanced Studies in Architecture, Master of Advanced Studies in Landscape Architecture, and Master of Engineering Leadership in High-Performance Buildings.

The highlight, however, is the dual degree option where students can pursue a Master of Architecture and a Master of Landscape Architecture simultaneously in a condensed time span. Studios are integral to the programme. You’ll be part of projects at different scales, correlating basic cultural and historical phenomena, issues, and events with architectural ideas and materials. You will also analyse and interpret physical and environmental contexts to develop basic notions of structure, program, and use, among others.

The dual degree is the first of its kind and admission is highly competitive. It’s all worth it, given everything you stand to gain from the campus and city you’ll be based in. Both serve as living laboratories to respond to the urgent human and environmental issues of our times. UBC is located on Canada’s west coast, connecting the university to a number of communities, from Cascadia to the Pacific Rim, and with plenty of examples of how alumni have shaped Vancouver into an internationally recognised example of sustainable urban design. 

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