Which High School Electives are Best for Architecture?

Which High School Electives are Best for Architecture?

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When you think about what architects had to go through during school, it’s easy to see that they would need to understand a variety of art and science principles. It’s amazing to see the diversity of classes they had to take, even as early as high school. So what are high school electives that can help you prepare for a future as an architect?

Future architects still in high school should take electives in art, like drawing, sculpting, photography, and studio art. They can also take technology electives, humanities, woodworking classes, molding, foreign languages, and science electives (such as physics).

There are a lot more resources to consider when you’re thinking about pursuing an architectural career. Certain electives will assist you on your path to becoming a better prepared and hard-working architect.

Art Electives

To be blunt, these will be the most important classes architects will take. Architecture is an art that combines many other arts and physical sciences. Future architects need to understand the principles of design so they can apply them in useful and beautiful ways.

With Drawing classes, you are only using pencil, paper, and if you wish, colored pencils. You learn shading, lines, and a little about 3D drawings. Learning to put 3D shapes on paper and understand perspective will be an essential skill.

Photography classes can be more helpful than you realize. Photography teaches dark versus soft lighting, the abstract and human condition, motion, color, and editing. The lighting aspect is super important because that is a major element of what makes a good picture. When you build, you want your architectural creation to have the lighting you want. Photography can also help you appreciate color schemes and the importance of blending in with your surroundings.

3D art, although sometimes used in drawing classes, will go more in-depth with the concepts. 3D classes are super important for prospective architects to take because if you can’t make a decent 3D drawing of your design, nobody will know what you want, or how you will do it. In addition to 3D art, sculpting would also be a very good idea because not only is it the literal 3D aspect of art, it’s architecture in its smallest forms. Getting a little hands-on experience will be good for the body and soul.

When you do these prerequisite classes, consider taking the Studio Art/AP Studio classes as well. They create portfolios of past and present creations and having a nice portfolio of things you have created will boost you up when you apply for colleges that accept architecture students.

Other good classes could be welding, woodworking, manufacturing, and computer and design-aided-drafting. Any class that helps you create a piece from start to finish will give you valuable skills. Ask your high school if they offer any of these types of classes.

Math Electives

Math Electives aren’t a thing for most high schoolers (because it’s mandatory anyway), but taking extra math classes kind of does put it into the elective category. These math classes will save your life in architecture. Without the math in architecture, no building would be safe, and we would all be camping outside. These classes (as well as science classes) also help you develop problem-solving skills, trial and error, and logic.

First of all, take all the required classes for high school. Algebra I and II are on the list, and so is Geometry, and they are all the foundations of more complicated math. Once those classes have been taken and aced, it is recommended that you take higher-level math classes. AP level classes are great because they can give you credits that transfer to college.

Trigonometry is a highly recommended class to take because it studies the relationships between sides and angles of triangles. Certain parts of Trig are also found in Geometry, but Geometry was only an intro to the complicated world of Trigonometry.

Calculus, another highly recommended course, is the study of how things change. You can also deduct the consequences of those changes. Knowing math like this could help a lot when laying out the design of a building on a certain stretch of land that is often exposed to earthquakes.


Physics is important within the architectural world. It is part of the Natural Sciences and it teaches force, comprehension, and tension, all of which will be used by architects to create safe structures for everyone to enjoy.

Biology is another class that teaches more about the biological part of architecture because you are building on land and forests and jungles. Learning about biology can put into perspective how you are affecting the environment. You can’t have science without math, and you need a balance of both in the architectural world.

Other Classes

Other classes that would be considered very useful, would be

  • History, preferably with art and architecture.
  • Humanities, in order to sharpen your communication skills and your ability to express your ideas out loud.
  • Technology courses, for your designs and plans.
  • English to develop and improve writing skills.
  • Possibly a foreign language, which would be super useful if you’re traveling abroad.

The architectural environment requires a lot of communication with the people you will work with. If you are a future architect who is shy or quiet, do activities and electives that will take you out of your comfort zone such as choir, band, orchestra, team sports, clubs, or a musical. There are a lot of ways to refine your skills!

Outside Resources

If there is more passion inside of you to become the greatest architect ever, carry around a notebook or a journal. Draw anything and everything you see, whether it be people, animals, birds, and buildings. Find details and observe whatever you see. It will help a lot in the artistic world of an architect.

Also, read all you can about architecture and the different cultures that surround some of the best architectural landscapes in the world! Talk and do job shadowing for people who work in these fields and learn from them. If you live in an area where you can work summer jobs or programs for architects, go for it!

Something else to be good at when it comes to architecture is to manage your time and plans. Make sure everything is finished and on schedule, and there is no better way to start than when you’re in high school.