UW-Madison is leveraging swaths of experience across departments — and across the University of Wisconsin system — to meet student demand for an architecture program.
UW-Madison launched its first general architectural certificate, located in the College of Engineering, in late August. Three weeks later, in mid-September, 52 students had signed on — a tiny portion of the university’s 50,000 student population, but large enough to make architecture the College of Engineering’s third-largest certificate program. With the engineering college’s second-largest certificate program at 64 students, architecture is poised to take the second-place spot within a year.
“Certificate” is UW-Madison’s word for “minor.”
UW-Madison has had many of the pieces of a robust architecture certificate for years. The College of Engineering offers civil and environmental engineering, which includes design for infrastructure such as roads and bridges and land surveying. The School of Human Ecology has programs in design studies that look at how spaces can be designed with human needs in mind. The landscape and urban planning department teaches students about sustainable land use. And UW-Madison’s art history courses already teach about historical architecture from Wisconsin and around the world.
What was missing, though, were the introductory courses. UW-Milwaukee has stepped in to provide those online. While those classes are taught by UW-Milwaukee faculty, the classes are considered native to UW-Madison and eliminate the need for students to transfer credits between institutions.
UW-Madison’s lack of a broad architecture program has cost the university prospective students in the past, architecture certificate director and civil engineering professor Greg Harrington said.
“We routinely get high school students interested in our (civil engineering) program who say, ‘I’d come here if you had something in architecture, but you don’t.’ And so that was a motivation for us to increase opportunity for students here,” Harrington said.
The certificate, though, is open to students across campus, not just those in the College of Engineering, so the classes are showing broad appeal. In a 400-level architectural design class this semester, there’s a cohort of College of Business real estate graduate students designing Italian cuisine restaurants for East Washington Avenue alongside psychology and structural engineering majors. Read more here