Architecture is a profession that trains students to solve problems that directly impact the built environment. It is a field that has the power to shape our surroundings, making lasting impact on the world. However, despite the importance of architecture, obtaining an architectural education can be challenging. The cost of tuition, combined with the expenses of stationery, printing, and model-making, often exceeds the budget compared to acquiring other degrees. This raises the question of whether architecture education is truly accessible to everyone, despite its seemingly inclusive and utopian pretense. It is important to address these barriers and find ways to make architecture education more affordable and accessible to individuals from all backgrounds who have a passion for shaping the built environment.

History of Architectural Education 

Before the 1800s, anyone could have become an Architect without formal regulations or governing bodies that safeguarded the term. All one had to do was self-study, read, and most importantly earn the admiration of the ruling class. The great marvels we see today, from the pyramids to the temples to the Gothic cathedrals, were all outputs of high nobility. One of the first education systems to teach architecture came in the form of the Ecole De Beaux Arts in Europe and pupilage in Britain.

Is Architectural education only for a certain economic group? - Sheet1
Ecole De Beaux Arts in the 1970s_©

It is interesting to note that pupilage was paid for, and similarly, the Ecole De Beaux Arts was a prestigious art school. Although scholarships and sponsorships have now been introduced, the total cost due to external causes still required for each deliverable is still very high. Laser cutting, 3D Printing, Panel Printing, and CNC Cutting are just some of the processes that even scholarship students must bear, including the cost of materials. In the digital age, why do most schools still follow the process of printing out and using physical models? Physical models do help to showcase and bring to life the student’s design, but are they sustainable for the long term?

Is Architectural education only for a certain economic group? - Sheet2
Physical Model Making_ ©Shutterstock_734287003

Impact of Architectural Education on the Market   

To attain the title of Architect, multiple governing bodies established regulations. The first was the Royal Building Administration in France, formed during Charles V’s reign for builders and masons. Other countries followed, creating their institutes, such as the Royal Institute of British Architects (1834), the Royal Institute of Dutch Architects (1842), the American Institute of Architects (1857), and the Indian Institute of Architects (1972). Despite the formal recognition of architecture as a profession and its availability as an educational option, are architects widely utilized by the general public for their services? In some regions, engineers, doctors, and lawyers are the preferred choice for construction and design services. This trend is particularly evident in Southeast Asia.

Is Architectural education only for a certain economic group? - Sheet3
Architectural Education Remark_©ZAP Architects

Architects have traditionally served wealthy clients and continue to do so. Although architectural education covers low-cost housing, sustainable design, and community-based solutions, these theories are rarely put into practice. The architecture profession remains limited to serving the high-income group, making the use of an architect a niche service. Despite government initiatives for low-income housing, many middle-income families are unaware of the architectural profession. They find it intimidating, expensive, and unnecessary. They often bypass architects and go directly to laborers and contractors, ignoring the fact that architectural solutions can be cost-effective and make their homes more durable and problem-free.Thus, architects are perceived as unattainable for middle and lower-class groups, contrary to the inclusive principles taught in architectural education.

New Trends 

The cost of an architectural master’s degree can be quite high, with an average of $50,000 in the US and £30,000 in the UK (oneistox, 2023). These costs don’t include additional expenses such as application fees, living costs, materials, hardware, and software. However, alternatives are being proposed to make architectural education more affordable and accessible.

After obtaining a license, architects can take additional courses in areas such as computational design, urban design, interior design, and more at a lower cost. Apprenticeships are also a viable option, providing hands-on training under a renowned architect. Obtaining grants for higher education is also becoming more accessible, as solutions are being developed to make architectural education more affordable. The COVID-19 pandemic has also brought about major changes in the way architectural education is delivered, with traditional model printing being replaced by more advanced technologies such as projectors, holograms, and VR displays. With advancements in technology, the focus of architectural education is shifting towards sustainable design, renewable energy, smart cities, and efficient use of resources. 

VR to Visualize Designs_©Austin Baker

Architects are now considering the needs of the wider environment and communities, designing buildings with a focus on reducing waste, conserving energy, and improving access to health and public services.By embracing these new trends and techniques, the image of the architect can be transformed and made more inclusive, both in terms of education and practice.

Is Architectural education only for a certain economic group? - Sheet5
Smart City Concept_ ©Nei Grando

Architecture education faces challenges of cost and accessibility, despite its impact on shaping the built environment. Historically, architectural education originated from prestigious and costly institutions like the Ecole De Beaux Arts and pupilage. Regulations by governing bodies established architecture as a profession. However, architects continue to serve mostly wealthy clients, and middle- and lower-class groups see them as unattainable. To address these barriers, alternatives like apprenticeships, grants, and technology advancements in education delivery are being explored. The shift towards sustainable design and reduced waste, along with more accessible education, can help transform the perception of architects and make their education and services more inclusive.


Designing Buildings (no date) The architects’ profession, The architects’ profession – Designing Buildings. Available at:,Painters%2C%20Sculptors%20and%20Architects (Accessed: January 31, 2023). 

Michaud, A. (2021) When did architecture become a profession?, When did architecture become a profession? – Home Design Institute – Paris. Available at:,the%20definition%20changed%20over%20time (Accessed: January 31, 2023). 

Thapa , A. (2022) What does the future for Architecture and architects look like , Times of India Blog. Available at: (Accessed: January 31, 2023). 

Think Architecture (2022) 5 trends shaping the future of Architecture, Think Architecture. Available at:,projects%20in%20the%20conceptual%20stage (Accessed: January 31, 2023). 

“Instagram Post by oneistox on January 27,2023.” Instagram, oneistox. 


Sara is a final year student pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Pakistan. As an Urban Design enthusiast, her main interest lies in identifying the relationship between sociology and architecture. She believes that exploring rich dialogues between people and the environment are the catalysts for fostering healthy solutions to adversities.