Top Architecture Schools in Hawaii: Your Guide to Programs and Degrees

Want to study architecture in Hawaii? The University of Hawaii at Manoa offers the state’s leading accredited architecture programs, from undergraduate to doctorate levels, making it one of the top architecture schools in Hawaii. This guide will cover their programs, admissions, and what you can expect as a student.

  • The University of Hawaii at Manoa’s School of Architecture offers a unique blend of design innovation and sustainability, facilitated by its strategic location and strong commitment to both local and global architectural practices.
  • UH Manoa provides accredited graduate programs in architecture, including the Doctor of Architecture (DArch), Master of Architecture (MArch), and Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA), all emphasizing a blend of technology, science, and hands-on professional experience.
  • Graduates from UH Manoa’s architecture programs benefit from comprehensive career opportunities, with pathways to licensure and high-level roles in various sectors, underscored by a solid foundation in sustainable and community-focused architectural education.

University of Hawaii at Manoa Overview

Nestled in the heart of Honolulu, the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s School of Architecture embodies a world of opportunities where students are immersed in an environment that fosters design innovation and sustainability. With a unique geographical location bridging the West and Asia, the university paves the way for a global collaborative approach to architecture education. Students and faculty alike benefit from a rich cultural diversity, engaging with a curriculum and research that reflect a deep commitment to the natural and built environment of Hawaii, the Pacific, and Asia.

As the sole provider of an accredited architecture degree in Hawaii, the School is a beacon of innovative architectural education. Its mission includes:

  • Promoting design excellence
  • Integrating global connections
  • Offering a unique blend of intellectual inquiry and creative problem-solving
  • Maintaining a strong outreach and commitment to the local and international communities.

Graduate Programs at UH Manoa

At the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the pursuit of advanced knowledge in architecture is both a mission and a passion. The School of Architecture offers a suite of graduate programs, including the Doctor of Architecture (DArch), Master of Architecture (MArch), and Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA). Each program holds a STEM designation, underscoring the university’s commitment to integrating technology, science, and research into the fabric of its innovative architectural education.

DArch Program Highlights

Students who earn a Doctor of Architecture (DArch) at UH Manoa find themselves propelled into the architectural profession’s highest echelons. Accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), this program ensures adherence to rigorous academic and professional standards. It is crafted to prepare students for advanced positions, with a curriculum steeped in professional studio classes that offer hands-on experience, critical for navigating the complexities of the architectural industry.

The program’s global collaborative approach serves as a cornerstone. Students are encouraged to broaden their horizons by engaging with international practices and perspectives, fostering a rich understanding of architecture’s diverse global landscape.

MArch Program Highlights

Aspirants with a four-year pre-professional architecture degree will find the Master of Architecture (MArch) program tailored to their needs. With its two-year duration, the MArch program at UH Manoa is a deep dive into architecture’s future, accredited by NAAB and culminating in a capstone project that seamlessly combines design with applied research.

This capstone project is a testament to the student’s ability to synthesize knowledge and apply it to real-world scenarios, symbolizing the transition from professional education to professional practice.

MLA Program Highlights

The Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) program at UH Manoa provides an accredited path to mastery for those keen on shaping the natural and built environments. The MLA program, accredited by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB), centers on the analysis, planning, design, and management of landscapes, preparing students to become stewards of the environment.

The program’s comprehensive curriculum equips graduates to address contemporary environmental challenges in the natural environment founded field of landscape architecture, ensuring that they are well-prepared to make a significant impact.

Undergraduate Programs at UH Manoa

The Bachelor of Environmental Design (BEnvD) at UH Manoa serves as the cornerstone for budding architects and designers. This pre-professional undergraduate degree is a rich tapestry of coursework that includes design communication, technology, and the history and theory of architecture and urbanism. Emphasizing sustainability and community resilience, the program integrates the unique contexts of Hawaii, Asia, and the Pacific into its curriculum.

By engaging with the undergraduate studio sequence, students develop design skills and methodologies, preparing them to meet architectural, landscape, and community design challenges. In their senior year, immersive place-based projects and a capstone project that integrates the essence of environmental design education await them, marking the culmination of a transformative four-year journey.

Admissions Process

The structured and enlightening admissions process marks the beginning of the architectural journey at UH Manoa. Prospective students must navigate through an online application system, adhering to specific deadlines and criteria set forth by the respective programs. With a priority deadline for undergraduate fall applications on January 5 and a final deadline on March 1, the path to enrollment is clearly delineated.

Application Requirements

The gateway to a future in architecture at UH Manoa is marked by specific application requirements that vary across programs. For the Doctor of Architecture (DArch) program, applicants must demonstrate their readiness through a Supplemental Information for Admission form, alongside required documents. The application deadlines for this program mirror the undergraduate schedule, ensuring a streamlined process for all candidates.

Prospective Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) students face a fall-only admission cycle, with a January 1 deadline, while those aiming for the spring deadline should be aware of different application requirements. Their application must include:

  • A statement of interest
  • A resume
  • A portfolio
  • Letters of recommendation

These components paint a holistic picture of their ambition and qualifications.

Meanwhile, the Master of Architecture (MArch) program beckons with a similar set of requirements and deadlines, adhering to the rigorous standards of the School of Architecture.

Transfer Students

A personalized evaluation process that considers their unique academic history welcomes transfer students aspiring to join the architecture programs at UH Manoa. The Office of Admissions takes a detailed look at post-secondary and Advanced Placement coursework to determine the appropriate transfer credits. The School of Architecture then steps in to assess architecture design and related subjects, ensuring that each student’s path to completion reflects their prior experience and academic progress.

This meticulous approach to credit evaluation ensures that transfer students can smoothly integrate into the academic community, carving out a path that is both challenging and rewarding.

Faculty and Research

A group of seasoned professionals and academics, the distinguished faculty of UH Manoa’s School of Architecture, bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the classroom, serving as its backbone. With specializations ranging from Architectural Theory to Urban Ecological Design, each faculty member contributes to the rich educational tapestry that the school offers. Some notable faculty members include:

  • Christian Bergum, who exemplifies the school’s dedication to intellectual inquiry and public interest design
  • Cathi Ho Schar, who also focuses on public interest design and community engagement
  • Martin Despang, who advances critical practice and construction systems
  • Yasushi Ishida, who specializes in sustainable design and building technology

These faculty members, along with others, contribute to the vibrant and diverse learning environment at UH Manoa’s School of Architecture.

The faculty’s ongoing research projects are a testament to the school’s commitment to addressing challenges in sustainable architecture, tropical architecture, and public interest design. These projects not only enhance the learning experience but also contribute to the broader architectural discourse, locally and globally.

Student Life and Community

Beyond the classroom, the journey through the School of Architecture at UH Manoa extends into a vibrant student life, enriched by more than 200 clubs and organizations. Here, students can explore their interests in:

Building relationships and developing skills that complement their architectural studies in the context of the built and natural environment.

Additionally, the university offers enriching international study opportunities through the Manoa International Exchange Program (MIX) and the UHM Study Abroad Center (SAC). These programs provide students with a global perspective and the chance to engage with diverse cultures and architectural practices, further shaping their professional and personal growth.

Career Opportunities

Graduation from UH Manoa opens up a myriad of career opportunities for architecture students, both in Hawaii and beyond. Sustainable architecture, federal projects, and roles within significant state departments are just a few of the avenues available for our graduates. With the potential for professional growth and advancement, positions such as Architect V and Principal Architect become achievable milestones for our alumni.

The Bachelor of Environmental Design (BEnvD) degree serves as a stepping stone to licensure in Hawaii and, with additional graduate education, in other U.S. jurisdictions. This solid foundation enables our graduates to play a vital role in creating safe, healthy, and resilient community environments.

Location and Contact Information

Situated at 2410 Campus Road, Honolulu, the School of Architecture provides a picturesque setting for innovation and learning for those ready to step into the world of architecture at UH Manoa. Potential applicants and interested individuals can connect with the school via phone at (808) 956-7225 or email at [email protected], and explore further details on their website at