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Entering the creative world of architecture and design is exciting, especially when international students are planning to attend one of the top schools in the US. But how do you choose the best architecture school for you? What are the requirements for international students wishing to enter one of the best schools in architecture?

General Requirements for all Top Architecture Schools

As an international student there will be some extra work for the application process that you'll need to complete. To help you out, here are some general requirements for most schools to ensure that applicants are prepared and have what it takes to be a successful architecture student:

Evidence of creative ability
The best schools want to see your demonstrated interest in the field of architecture. If you were able to complete projects in high school or have already obtained an internship in architecture, these architecture schools will want to see what you have done and are capable of doing in the future.
If you are just beginning to pursue your undergraduate degree, it would be helpful to have teachers or others professionals speak directly to your ability. However, if you are a transfer student, most top schools in architecture will require a portfolio of your current accomplishments.
Strong academic
It is important for international students and domestic students alike to have a high GPA, at least 3.0 (or the equivalent in your home country). This will reflect very positively on your application.
The best schools in architecture will want to learn about you and possibly even meet you in person to assess whether you are the ideal international student for their program. You will also want to ask questions and decide whether they are the best for you as well. In some cases exceptions can be made if you are not yet in the US. An example of this is Cornell University. This university will accept a written interview in lieu of a personal interview if a potential student is unable to travel to campus prior to admittance.

Now that you have some of the general requirements, here are the top undergraduate architecture and design schools in the US and a little information about each one.

The Best Architecture Schools

According to and Design Intelligence the top architecture school for 2013 is Cornell University located in Ithaca, New York. Cornell has long stood as the most accomplished and desired university for architecture. They offer three different baccalaureate degrees: a Bachelor of Architecture Professional Degree, a Bachelor's of Science in History of Architecture and a Bachelor's in Architecture Curriculum. International students in these programs will find an emphasis on design, education and history, but there is also a great deal of theory, structures, history and technology included as well.

The second top school in architecture is the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCIA) in Los Angeles, California. This school offers one undergraduate degree and it focuses on personal interaction and reflection within its program. They look at contemporary architecture and the use of “intelligent materials” as well as “sustainable practices.”

The third best school for architecture is Rice University in Houston, Texas. This school offers two undergraduate degrees. The first is a Bachelor's of Architecture and the second is a Bachelor's in Architectural Studies. In addition, Rice offers a “preceptorship” which provides students with a year-long experience with top architectural firms around the world. They focus on a global education that will prepare architecture students with a well-rounded and international focus.

There are many architecture programs available to international students, and it’s important to think about what area you want to specialize in after graduation. While there are many top tiered colleges and universities, it’s important to think about it holistically. Many schools offer both undergraduate and graduate programs that prepare students for a career in architecture including landscape architecture, urban design, exhibition design, interior design, environmental art, and other fields. Ask yourself what you want to concentrate on, what areas interest you, and where do you want to pursue your degree.

How to Decide?

Choosing from one of these three top architecture schools in the US requires careful consideration. It is essential as an international student to know where you want take your training and degree once you have successfully completed your education. Continue to research and learn about the schools that have interested you and contact those schools for better information.

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