Cover Photo Image


*According to U.S. News & World Report's "Best Jobs Rankings,"Architectural Design jobs were ranked as the 7th best engineering job and job market in our country based on salary, available jobs, and work/life balance.


New careers include employment at top firms in New York City, New Jersey, Connecticut, Washington D.C. and Virginia, including designing the construction documents for nine new Starbucks.

100 percent of our architectural design students complete internships in the field at award-winning companies like Robert Stern Architects, Anthropology (designing and building store installations), and the Wolf Trap Theater (designing theatre sets), and locally at Blue Ridge Architects.

Approximately 90 percent of our architectural design graduates seeking employment are employed in the field by the end of the summer following graduation.  

Our architectural design students go on to top-ranking graduate programs at Cornell University, University of Pennsylvania, Parsons New School of Design, Rhode Island School of Design, Pratt Institute, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Southern California Institute of Architecture.

Embrace bold design thinking.

Our studio courses are exploratory laboratories for innovative work and critical perspectives.  Our students learn to create ambitious drawings, imaginative models and constructed objects that are provocative visions: they both reflect our world and contribute fully to its unknown future.

We supplement the studios with charged and relevant courses in professional practice, digital design, history and theory, and building materials and methods.  

All of our graduates complete a professional internship and a thesis project; both serve as defining experiences that help to positively shape and impact our students’ lives as future leaders in the field.

Experience architectural design firsthand.

Every semester our students travel to visit projects and firms in the mid-Atlantic region; in recent years, we've also visted Philadelphia, New York, Louisiana and Chicago. Our faculty and students often travel internationally – to China, Costa Rica, Austria and Japan.

We believe that the experience and exposure to a wide-range of architecture through travel beyond the JMU campus is part of the contemporary milieu. As a form of engaged learning, our students begin to see design as a fundamental part of the world, at many scales and within multiple contexts.

We believe in life-long learning, personal exploration and growth, and the richness of cultural diversity.

mueller.jpgArchitectural design major Megan Mueller received the $1,000 2021 AIA Central Virginia Scholarship, given to "encourage the development of students into young professionals looking to advance the architectural practice in Virginia towards an equitable, just and purposeful future." See the work sample she submitted that took her to the top of the applicant list.

 "...There was something about JMU and the people I talked to there. Something about JMU just felt different. It felt personal. I don’t really think I knew what I was getting myself into, or that it would be so impactful to how I thought. I don’t think I had any expectation of that. I chose it, and then the program ended up being, obviously, so unique and so great." -SARAH ROZMAN ('14)


Work within a larger context.

Our students work side-by-side with graphic designers, fiber-artists, printmakers, industrial designers, painters, and sculptors. In addition to required foundations courses in art, architectural design majors at JMU have the opportunity to take art and design classes across the School of Art, Design and Art History. Many of our students take a minor in art or art history, or pursue an art-teaching licensure.

Architectural design students at JMU think creatively through acts of making: the techniques and medias are varied, exploratory, and iterative – from handcraft to digital fabrication, orthographic drawing to material prototypes.

The scope of our work is broad -- from the small scale of objects and furniture, to the middle scale of buildings (including both interior and exterior space), to the largest questions of urbanism and landscape.

Our teaching balances a critical understanding of the world as it is today (ecologically, culturally, materially, technologically), while simultaneously challenging conventions and the status quo, in order to imagine bold new futures. We aspire to face and shape that future with cunning, generosity, good-humor, sensitivity, rigor and criticality. 

Architectural design at JMU is a pre-professional, four-year degree that positions our graduates to work as interns in architectural design, interior architecture, graphics, furniture design, or landscape architecture studios, among other creative applied fields.  

Many of our students continue on to graduate school for a Masters in Architecture professional degree, and they frequently win admission to the most competitive and high-ranking schools in the nation.

Architectural design at JMU is a place where you will be empowered to imagine and realize aspiring architectural design projects, and to build rich and sustaining friendships with your classmates and collaborators. Here, you will be encouraged to develop and practice your work through diverse venues and opportunities: to enter design competitions, to publish research papers, to draw beautiful drawings, to apply for design grants, to build and construct installations, spaces, and objects.

You will find unexpected ways to solve hard problems, learn to thoughtfully and radically frame the important issues of tomorrow, and launch into a bold professional future.

Architectural Design Area Coordinator

Nick Brinen

Architectural Design Area Coordinator, Assistant Professor of Architectural Design

Architectural Design Faculty

Dijia Chen

Visiting Professor of Architectural Design


Jori Erdman

Professor of Architectural Design

Lizzie Shepherd

Lizzie Shepherd

Instructor of Architectural Design


William Tate

Professor of Architectural and Industrial Design


Traci Wile

Visiting Professor of Architectural Design

Back to Top