High school students with passions for the aesthetics and mechanics of structures face a tough choice regarding university major programs. They could major in architecture, leading to a bachelor of arts/bachelor of design degree, or engineering, leading to a bachelor of science degree. Increasingly, however, they have other options. Many schools let students pursue both the degrees at once. While "dual majors" do not exist, the two similar-sounding options are the dual degree and the double major.
A dual degree requires working toward a bachelor of design, arts or fine arts in architecture, depending on which degree is associated with the school's undergraduate architecture program, while concurrently working toward a bachelor of science in engineering. Upon graduation, you'd receive two bachelor degrees. The advantage of this route is that you can attend almost any institution that has majors in architecture and engineering because most schools offer a dual degree option. A disadvantage of this method is that an architecture program is usually extremely rigorous, making courses beyond the required architecture courses difficult to complete. Additionally, the dual degree almost invariably takes longer than four years to complete because the two programs have virtually no overlapping courses, and it often requires written consent from one or both programs or colleges, architecture and/or engineering.
To earn a double major, you work toward two majors within the same program, college or faculty. You graduate with a bachelor of science in engineering and architecture or a variant of that degree. The major advantage of this option is that the program is pre-arranged and pre-approved for success, removing the guesswork regarding which classes to take in which school year. This program, however, has a few downsides. While most universities offer the option of a double major, not all allow a double major across two programs, colleges or faculties. Additionally, these programs are often quite inflexible because they have so many required courses. Students usually have only a few electives during undergraduate years.
Schools with Double Majors
While a dual degree can be attempted at any school, only certain schools offer pre-approved architecture/engineering double majors. Tufts University, Illinois Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Texas at Austin are among schools that offer the combined degree. Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers a bachelor of science degree in art and design, which is essentially an architecture major with a possible concentration in building technology. Similarly, the University of Southern California offers a bachelor of science in civil engineering with an emphasis in building science, and Drexel University offers a bachelor of science in architectural engineering. Stanford University also offers a bachelor of science in engineering with a concentration in architectural design, which is essentially a double major. The University of Miami has a six-year bachelor of architectural engineering/master of architecture combined program.
Graduate School and Careers
Several options are open to either dual degree or double major graduates. An undergraduate school double major or dual degree gives you the option to pursue postgraduate work and ultimately a career in either architecture or engineering. Graduating from an undergraduate program, however, is not enough to work as an architect or engineer. Master of architecture and master of engineering programs are the foundation of the licensing process for both careers. The careers require the completion of internship hours and written examinations before applying for licensing. Licensed professionals plan and build the homes and other buildings that become part of the architectural fabric of towns and cities.
- Tufts University: Bachelor of Science in Engineering and Architectural Studies
- University of Southern California: Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering -- Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, Emphasis in Building Science
- Stanford University: Architectural Design; 2010
- Drexel University: Architectural Engineering; 2010