University of Southern California

School of Architecture

Undergraduate Degrees

Global Programs and Other Enrichment Opportunities

Each year, a set of different global programs are offered to our fourth-year undergraduate students during their topic studio semesters. There are typically one to two programs offered each semester (fall, spring and summer), with recent locations being in Italy, China, France and Spain.

Each offering consists of a coordinated 17-unit, full semester program which includes a studio course in design and required seminars in history and theory; technology; and cultural studies. Students must be in good academic standing to be considered and to participate.

Some examples of recent programs include:

Spring Program in Italy: Milan-Como

For many years, selected students have been able to participate in the Anthony A. Marnell II Italian Architecture Studies Program, located in Milan, a city at the forefront of Italian modern architecture and the center of Italian design. Students are housed and have classroom and studio space in Como, a small and pleasant lakeside town about 30 miles from Milan. The Milan-Como Program is one of only two U.S. school of architecture programs in this part of Italy. Strong relationships are fostered with the place, its people and its culture. Visits are planned within Italy and throughout Europe to expose the students to the full range of historical and contemporary architecture.

Fall Program in Spain: Barcelona

The School of Architecture’s study abroad program in Barcelona provides a place for fourth year architecture students in a course of study in urbanism and architecture of the city. The goal is to provide a broad overview of that city’s major urban and architectural sites, topography and systems of urban organization. Students will be immersed in the issues of urban design and architecture that have shaped the city, and will develop critical thinking and methodologies of analysis by designing in the urban context. The course of study will examine this fascinating culture that is committed to design and architectural practices that engage and challenge European traditional and modernist orthodoxies.

Barcelona is both a modern and historical site, beginning as a small Roman colony from the time of Augustus, and surviving Visigothic, Moorish and Frankish invasions. Its political and economic history has shaped the city, with the most forceful expression of its national aspiration occurring in the 19th century, the time most associated with the architect Antonio Gaudí. It is city committed to a culture of visual design that has realized many ambitious urban plans, growing from its commitment to representing national pride. It is a dynamic site for the study of ancient and contemporary urbanism as it has achieved word-class status among cities as a locus for new world architecture. The program will combine field work, precedent analysis and discussions with the broader design community in Barcelona.

Examples of public space and architecture from antiquity to the 21st century will be studied as part of the context of a city that has successfully projected its future without neglecting its past and present. Visits are planned within Spain and throughout Europe to expose students to the full range of historical and contemporary architecture.

Fall Program in Asia: Emphasis on China and Urbanism

The Asian Architecture and Landscape Urbanism program provides participating students the opportunity to engage and comprehend the full depth and global ramifications of the rapid changes that are taking place in China and other cities in Asia. The complex and multiple factors that inform urbanism and define the built environment will be explored and analyzed both in terms of historical cultural source and contemporary manifestation. Participants in these academic engagements will include regional as well as international professionals, academics, historians, economists and local inhabitants through direct engagements required of the course curriculum. Students will bring this knowledge and point of view back to the school after their semester away to expand the discussion of urbanism to the larger community of students and faculty at the School of Architecture.

Summer Semester in South America: Emphasis on Architecture and Development

The School of Architecture offers a summer program based at the Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado (FAAP), which includes travel throughout Mexico, Argentina and Peru before arriving at São Paolo at the midterm point. USC students work on a studio project in collaboration with students from the FAAP and the Universidad Iberoamericana.

The purpose of this program is to offer students the opportunity to:

  • work on a real project in a country where development is a prime goal of the government and where opportunities for architecture students to complete internships and gain employment after graduation are expanding;
  • work with the physical requirements, governmental regulations and economic situations that affect the design of projects that can be realized;
  • become familiar with local practitioners in order to learn about architectural practice in these areas; and
  • expand appreciation of the importance of the rising status of Brazil as a world power in the current market and introduces USC students to current practitioners there.

Summer Graduate Studies Abroad

The School of Architecture offers programs for summer graduate study abroad. The purpose of the programs is to offer graduate architecture students the opportunity to study the built fabric of another culture firsthand and engage in a focused urban studies problem in that culture. The programs also strive to expand appreciation of the importance of development in the current world market and show practitioners USC graduates’ ability to engage in and contribute to international development.

Exhibits of Student Work

Throughout the year, selected students are given the opportunity to show work in organized exhibitions, as well as to be included in our ongoing student work publication INDEX. The school seeks multiple formats and opportunities to have student work shown in the community at large and at cultural institutions throughout the city and the world, with recent exhibits in Shanghai, France, Italy and Washington, DC.

Field Trips

Many field trips are organized each year in support of various aspects of the academic program. During the past several years, students have made trips to locations in the larger California region (such as San Francisco, La Jolla to see the Salk Institute) as well as throughout the United States, including New Orleans and other important cities. In addition, students regularly visit the many sites of significance in the local Los Angeles area on an almost weekly basis for their general course work and personal interest.

Lectures and Exhibitions

The school provides significant service to the community and profession through public programs, and the participation of faculty members in community and professional activities. With the support and cooperation of the Architectural Guild, the school generates a vigorous program of lectures, exhibitions and tours.

Some of the world’s most distinguished and emerging architects, landscape architects and designers have lectured at USC. These include Frank Gehry, Mario Botta, Yona Friedman, Peter Cook,Yung Ho Chang, Thom Mayne, Michael Maltzan, Hitoshi Abe, Mia Lehrer, Fumihiko Maki, Jean Nouvel, Will Bruder, Francois Roche, Enrique Norten, Adriaan Geuze, Kazuyo Sejima, Ai Wei Wei, Rem Koolhaas, Shigeru Ban, Hans Hollein, Charles Waldhem, Nader Tehrani, Cesar Pelli, Javier Sanchez, Laurie Olin, Eric Owen Moss and Pei Zhu.

The school also provides the Helen Lindhurst Architecture Gallery for major architectural exhibitions. Recent shows have included important international architects such as Christoph Kapeller, Renzo Piano, Santiago Calatrava, Herman Hertzberger and Alvaro Siza, as well as USC faculty, students and alumni.