usc vs rice undergrad


So the decision deadline's approaching and I was hoping someone might be able to provide some info that may help me make my college decision.

I'm between Rice and USC (B.Arch for both). I got a full scholarship at USC for the next 5 years but Rice is providing financial aid that covers the full cost of tuition for at least the 2010-2011 year, so money-wise USC is a bit better but not enough to just flat out turn down Rice and I'm having a pretty hard time weighing the pros and cons of each school.

Though Rice does offer the closely intimate relationship between students and their peers and the professors due to its small size, I feel that the same is offered at USC because it has so many professors split amongst the larger studio and I also feel that the variation in opinions and ideas from one professor (the overall versatility of the school) to the next is another benefit of the larger university, USC.

Furthermore, the location in LA seems a better area to study architecture in as it is so diverse and full of amazing works. Also, the great Trojan Network that I hear so much about and the multitude of study abroad options (in comparison with only the program in Paris as and option for Rice's school of architecture) within the school of architecture are a weighing largely on my decision. However, the preceptorship and the building workshop at Rice sounds like a pretty incredible opportunity to gain work experience and job possibilities.

I thoroughly enjoyed both atmospheres despite the obvious differences; Rice felt very at home, the people were very kind and intellectually active, and the campus is beautiful as you very well know, but I could also very clearly see myself at USC with the massive Trojan spirit that felt lacking at Rice, a diverse group of individuals from very diverse backgrounds, and the year long beautiful weather.

Thus it is coming down to each school's respective curriculum which seem pretty similar in their emphasis leaning towards design aspects (which i am most interested in) but still focusing on technical aspects as well. I'm more interested in/focused on fine arts/free hand drawing and more conceptual/experimental/progressive ideas so I would like to have the opportunity to pursue those aspects and I would also like the possibilities of pursuing double majors and minors, but once again both universities seem to provide those possibilities. Thoughts/Suggestions?

Apr 26, 10 2:09 pm

Can you double major if you're enrolled in a B.Arch program? I've been curious about this myself with some of the schools I applied but I know it's not an option where I'll be going so I kind of dropped the idea.

As for your dilemma, personally I would opt for USC because the advantage of your scholarship + being in LA is really a great thing. Have you compared the individual faculty members (and their work) at all?

Apr 26, 10 7:26 pm

I'm pretty sure that at either of the two schools (USC and Rice) a double major is allowed with B.Arch but it is without a doubt quite difficult.

Still going through the list of faculty, quite a lot of people haha but I am very interested in USC's Dean Ma, he seems to be a very innovative character and the connection that he could create with China and its architectural firms seems to be an opportunity not to be passed up on.

Apr 26, 10 7:37 pm

want to be one of 25 freshmen or one of 125 freshmen? 

Apr 26, 13 1:56 pm


Both are good architectural schools.  USC has gotten better as a university, overall, because the increased importance of Southern California on the world stage has seen to that.

LA is a better urban laboratory than Houston, though Houston is growing and doing a lot of work in terms of urban planning and infrastructure (rail) improvements.

The size of the class is sort of moot.  First, USC will not graduate all 125 of those freshmen, with one of two people I know who went to USC architecture switching from architecture to business the second year.  Also, within architecture, larger USC becomes a more intimate school and everyone probably knows each other. Rice has "Southern Ivy" status and you will get a lot of personal attention, but why turn down being an alum(na) of the best architecture school in dynamic LA and Southern California?  That's how I'd make the decision.

Apr 26, 13 5:46 pm

I would go to Rice. Having visited USC, I was not impressed with their studios or student work compared to other B.Arch programs. The arch program did not seem to have a positive environment. Rice has a stronger program, professors, and facilities. It is significantly higher ranked and has a stronger student body at least architecturally. And I am deciding between Cornell and Columbia, so I am in no way inherently biased in my assessment. 

Apr 27, 13 12:39 am

This thread is from 2010.

Apr 27, 13 10:07 am


Shit, I just saw that, and the OP never came back to say where they ended up.  Infra ... you might have a point in that the quality of the student getting into Rice is "higher" and there is more personal attention.  Still, cream rises to the top, and USC has produced some famous architects along the way - like Frank Gehry, like him or not.  I don't.  At Rice, the small  class might have an atmosphere of camaraderie and closeness to the professors.  How did you see the USC program as having less than a positive environment?  USC is known as the University of Spoiled Children, but alongside them, there are plenty of So Cal's not so privileged on scholarships.  Rice may be of high quality and I'm sure there's privileged types too but, culturally, Rice works at squelching that vibe on campus, which is a good thing.

Apr 27, 13 1:12 pm

Block this user

Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

  • ×Search in: