Notre Dame was the first Catholic University in the United States to establish a program and award a degree in architecture. Courses in drawing and design were offered as early as 1969, but the degree-granting program was not formally initiated until 1898.
Since 1989, the School of Architecture has focused solely on traditional and classical architecture and sustainable urbanism. Classical architecture is the best of a given tradition and culture. Urbanism is the counterpart to architecture, looking at the way we live, build, and go through our daily lives.
Instruction teaches the skills, cultivates the talents, and imparts the knowledge necessary to produce buildings that represent innovation within long-standing traditions, to use nature’s materials responsibly, and to contribute to building livable communities. The School believes this is best done by learning how recurring problems in designing and constructing buildings and fitting them into existing urban and rural settings have been addressed in the past and adapting those lessons to the ever-changing circumstances of the modern world.
The program leading to the degree of Bachelor of Architecture is a five-year professional program that is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board. The primary objective of this program is professional education, but its flexibility will allow a student to enter into architecturally allied areas of business, engineering, science, environmental design, liberal arts, and fine arts.
The five-year curriculum consists of 163 credits that include the University requirements, opportunity for free and directed electives, certain basic engineering courses, and approximately 20 courses in architecture. A concentration in furniture design, historic preservation, architectural practice and enterprise, or building arts is also available. Each begins during the fourth year. This five-year curriculum allows students to sit for the architectural licensing exam after graduation, without needing to earn a Master of Architecture, as they would after attending a four-year program.
The first year of the architecture undergraduate program focuses on an introduction to the program and the studio environment. Students considering the five-year architecture major take three first-year courses: Graphics I–Drawing in the fall, and in the spring both Graphics II–Drafting and Analysis of Architectural Writings. These develop the drawing skills necessary for design studio courses in the second year and introduce the student to vital architectural concepts. All course requirements can be found in the School of Architecture requirements table. One of the courses marked by an asterisk(*) will be taken as a University Seminar.
Students continuing in the School of Architecture delve further into their architecture courses, including a stronger emphasis on studio work and studying Italian in preparation for their third year, which is spent in Rome. The Rome Studies Program offers students and unparalleled opportunity to live in and study the Eternal City. Students apply the principles studied in Rome throughout the rest of their time in the School. In the fifth year, students apply the knowledge they have gained over the previous four years in a terminal thesis project of their choosing.
The architectural profession includes, in addition to the traditional function of building design, the understanding and coordination of social, economic, and technological forces that affect the shape of the environment and its subsequent effect upon society.