Architecture is a social art. As professionals, architects develop a constructive balance and creative synthesis in the discourse between the individual and the community, between private interests and the common good, and between the natural, the social, and the technological. This requires a comprehensive education with a thorough understanding of the cultural, political, economic, ecological, and technological forces that shape our built environment.
As a top ranked professional program, the University of Minnesota provides this comprehensive education. We offer distinctive study opportunities, a strong academic and practicing faculty, and excellent facilities within the context of a top research university and a vibrant metropolitan area.
The School of Architecture’s mission is to educate professional architects and to advance architectural knowledge and creative practice through design-centered teaching and research. To support this mission it maintains a strong faculty composed of academics and practicing architects, fostering a dynamic dialogue between architecture’s identity as a discipline and a profession.
As a discipline, architecture draws heavily from the thought and ideas of the arts, the humanities, and the social and natural sciences to guide its theoretical explorations and practice. But, more than an amalgam of other fields, architecture is a discipline in its own right, with its own modes of thought, knowledge base, and operation. The complex task of planning and creating environments of cultural, sustainable and technological integrity demands distinct modes of thinking and reasoning. The design process thus fuses imagination and logic, creative exploration and systematic inquiry.
As a profession, architecture has a responsibility to serve society. The profession’s ethical obligations form an arc that encompasses a respect for our inheritance from the past, a commitment to improve the quality of life in the present, and a dedication to producing a sustainable environment for the future.
The Twin Cities: Minneapolis and St. Paul
Minneapolis-Saint Paul is an ideal setting in which to study architecture because of its strong arts and design orientation. Located just across the Mississippi River from downtown Minneapolis, the UMN School of Architecture is in the heart of a dynamic metropolitan area of 3.5 million people. The Twin Cities are home to numerous cultural institutions including the Walker Arts Center, the Guthrie Theater, and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and the area has one of the largest and most active design communities in the country with over 250 firms doing work both locally and internationally. Moreover, Minnesota has a long history of supporting innovative architecture, evident in numerous influential buildings designed by the likes of Cass Gilbert, Frank Lloyd Wright, Eero Saarinen, Marcel Breuer, Philip Johnson, Frank Gehry, Herzog and de Meuron, and Jean Nouvel, just to name a few.
Accreditation and Licensure
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 a 6-year, 3-year, or 2-year term of accreditation, depending on the extent of its conformance with established educational standards. Master's 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.
Licensure for Architects
In the state of Minnesota and in most other states an applicant for examination for registration as an architect must have a professional degree from an architectural program accredited by the NAAB and also a National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) certificate showing compliance with the Intern Development Program (IDP) training requirements.
The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) is the sole agency authorized to accredit US professional degree programs in architecture. Since most state registration boards in the United States require any applicant for licensure to have graduated from a NAAB-accredited program, obtaining such a degree is an essential aspect of preparing for the professional practice of architecture. While graduation from a NAAB-accredited program does not assure registration, the accrediting process is intended to verify that each accredited program substantially meets those standards that, as a whole, comprise an appropriate education for an architect.