Architectural education was offered at Texas Tech University beginning in 1927 within the College of Engineering. The catalog of the first year stated that the major emphasis of the program was advanced construction and the mechanical equipment of buildings. There was one instructor for all the architecture courses. In 1928, Professor Florian A. Kleinschmidt was appointed Head of the newly created Department of Architectural Engineering. That year also marked the first time a specialization in architectural design was offered.
Four years later, the architecture program became the Department of Architecture and Allied Arts. The emphasis expanded from engineering and structures to design. A Bachelor of Commercial Art was offered in addition to a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering. In 1933, the first Bachelor of Architecture degree was offered. The program was expanded from a four-year to a five-year program the following year.
The department joined the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture in 1948. It had also been a member of the Beaux Arts Institute of Design. Beginning in 1949, students were encouraged to spend the summer working in professional architectural offices. That same year saw the introduction of a thesis project for the final semester of study.
Professor Nolan E. Barrick, FAIA, became Chairman of the Department of Architecture and Allied Arts in 1955. Within two years, the program was accredited by the NAAB and has been continuously accredited. Professor Barrick was Chairman of the department for 22 years.
In 1971, the program occupied its current building which was designed by the firm of Ford Powell and Carson. Four years later, the regents designated the architecture program as the Division of Architecture and gave the chairman additional duties as an Associate Dean in the College of Engineering.
Upon Professor Barrick's retirement in 1977, administration of the program was assumed by W. Lawrence Garvin, AIA (1977-1983; Chairman), followed by A. Dudley Thompson (1984-1986, Interim Chairman). The Division of Architecture became an independent college in 1986 with the following administration of the program: A. Dudley Thompson (1986-1987, Interim Dean); R. Wayne Drummond, AIA (1987-1990, Dean); Willard B. Robinson (1990-1991; Interim Dean); Michael A. Jones, Ph.D., RIBA, AIA (1991, Interim Dean); Martin J. Harms, Ph.D., AIA (1992 to 1997, Dean); James E. White, AIA (May 1997-Oct. 1997, Interim Dean) (Dean, Oct. 1997-Jan. 2003); John Borrelli, BSAE, MSAE, Ph.D., (Jan. 2003 - July, 2003, Interim Dean), Andrew Vernooy, AIA (Dean, July, 2003 - 2016), and James P. Williamson (Dean, August 2016 - Present).
In 1981 the Master of Architecture degree (currently known as the Master of Science in Architecture as a post-professional degree) program was approved by the State Coordinating Board with the first M.Arch. (MS) degree conferred in 1985. In 1990 the Dean of the College assumed direction of the Ph.D. interdisciplinary program in Land-use, Planning, Management and Design. The Master of Architecture professional degree program was first awarded a full five-year accreditation in 1992.
In 1996, Texas Tech University College of Architecture became the first architecture education program to offer a 173 credit hour Master of Architecture first professional degree. The new program consisted of two parts: 131 credit hours at the undergraduate level followed by 42 credit hours at the graduate level. Students completing the required 131 hours of the pre-professional architecture curriculum receive the Bachelor of Science in Architecture, a degree requiring further coursework to qualify for professional licensure.
The admission procedures to the graduate level architecture coursework include a formal review near the end of the undergraduate work. The review criteria includes application and acceptance into the Texas Tech University Graduate School, followed by an internal review of the Graduate Record Examination scores, grade point average, and a portfolio of work; ranked on a sliding scale. Students admitted to the graduate level program, having entered at the undergraduate level, will receive an undergraduate degree at the completion of undergraduate level requirements, typically 3 years after entering the College.
Students accepted into the Graduate School and meeting the entrance requirements for the College of Architecture Master of Architecture program generally complete the 42 graduate course credits within 18 months to two years.
The College houses its own shops and digital fabrication equipment, computer labs, and a print bureau. The College of Architecture also contains the only fully-lending branch library outside of the main library on campus.