Notre Dame Architecture Career Discovery Program

Author: Randi McQueen

Making the decision to pursue the study of architecture in higher education is not one to be taken lightly. Due to the shear amount of credit hours required to complete a degree in architecture, most programs in the United States consist of either 4 or 5 years of undergraduate followed by 2 years in graduate school. No matter which university you may choose, it is difficult to switch majors into or out of architecture and still graduate on time.

To enlighten students to the joys, struggles, and daily life of studying architecture, the Notre Dame School of Architecture offers a “career discovery” summer program to high school students every June. This 13-day program gives younger students interested in design a comprehensive experience of what life is really like as a full-time undergraduate majoring in architecture. Between site visits, design studios, and other architecture seminars and lectures, students will gain an understanding of the many facets of this rewarding major. Besides the time spent in the classroom and studios, students will learn how to manage their time outside of class while juggling the many responsibilities of an undergraduate architecture student at Notre Dame. Unlike other academic “camps,” this program is meant to be an academic experience - so students should not expect to have abundant free time.


Top professors from the School of Architecture along with the brightest, most carefully selected undergraduate students lead this rigorous course. After successfully completing his second year of studies, Matthew Hayes was a TA in last summer’s Career Discovery Program in Architecture. 

“My favorite part about working as a TA last summer was helping younger students create projects they were excited about. Introducing them to the combination of creativity and practicality that make architecture school challenging and fun was rewarding.”

Thomas Boyle, a current third-year architecture student at Notre Dame, participated in the Career Discovery Program as a high school student. 

“After participating in the Career Discovery of Architecture program at Notre Dame, I not only gained a better understanding of life as an architecture student, but I also built invaluable connections with undergraduate TA’s, Notre Dame professors, and I even met some of my current classmates before beginning college.”


Last summer, students in the Career Discovery Program designed and hand-drafted an annex for the School of Architecture. Additionally, students took a daytrip to Marshall, Michigan to analyze the residential neighborhoods firsthand.

Professor Alan DeFrees, head of the program, gives a word of advice to budding architecture students interested in the program, 

“Go out and experience interesting architecture. It could be a small country chapel, or a skyscraper, but architecture must be experienced to be loved.” 

When I asked Professor DeFrees what his favorite part about teaching young students in this program, he replied,

“Seeing the awakening of creativity. Architecture is a rigorous discipline that involves years of study, but creativity can start right away. In the end, it is the most important part of architecture.”


If you are interested in learning more about studying architecture as an undergraduate, registration for the Notre Dame Career Discovery Program in Architecture is currently open.