FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – Fresno State has added a new bachelor degree that is increasing opportunities for its students.

The university’s Architectural Studies Program is helping to grow local architects.

Professor Michele Randel gets excited talking to her students about design and shapes.  An architect by profession, she’s thrilled to see the development of the architectural studies program at Fresno State.

“It is exciting to build it because architecture has always been an emphasis here in the construction management department, so there’s always been people interested in it.  They’ve gone on to be architects but they haven’t had the degree,” said Randel.

Many of the students in this design class are the first group of freshmen to directly apply to the architectural studies program. It is the only four-year pre-professional degree in the CSU system

“So, it’s a state-run major in architecture.  There is the bachelor of architecture which are professional degrees but there were no bachelor of science or bachelor of arts in architecture or architectural studies, so that’s exciting.”

This is great news for students like Rene Garcia-Rios.

“I was really happy to hear that because a lot of students want to major in architecture here in the Central Valley, but there’s most of the schools that offer architecture are pretty far away from us, so it’s really cool to see that Fresno State is offering it now,” said Garcia-Rios.

Garcia-Rios, who went to high school in Merced, says a lot of students from the Central Valley can’t afford to go away to college.

Fresno State is giving them an affordable option, and the program is getting a lot of support from local architects.

“We have a lot of local architects that are excited to have students learning and coming and staying in the valley, that’s really important.”

Those partnerships provide a lot of networking opportunities for students.

I already have a lot of architects and construction management professionals that are at my disposal, so I really enjoy the fact that it’s all very local and that I don’t feel afraid to seek out more opportunities,” explained Fresno State student Francine Velasco.

With help from a local donor, the program has a new architecture studio and Professor Randel says the curriculum will include the latest technology to accommodate a changing industry.

“We’re really trying to promote a program that will build licensed architects in California and other states.