Mel Ferris Scholarship Criteria

The California Architectural Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of architecture and the science and art of environmental design, and is managed by a volunteer Board of Regents composed of architects and members of the public with the purpose of administering grants and scholarships relating to the architectural profession and education in California. CAF bridges the gap between the academic and professional worlds – between our workplaces and our wide open spaces.

The Foundation has been a strong advocate for architectural education in California through its support of programs such as the Mel Ferris Scholarship Program, named for Mel Ferris, Hon. AIA, who served as executive director of the AIA California Council from 1953 until his retirement in 1978. The scholarship is funded by contributions from California architects, their firms and friends who have join in this effort to recognize Ferris’ contribution to the profession of architecture and to California architects.


The Mel Ferris Scholarship program provides scholarships to qualified architecture students studying at one of the ten accredited Architecture universities in California. The scholarships are awarded based upon demonstrated financial need, as well as academic and design achievements, and are awarded without regard to race, gender, age, physical abilities or religious beliefs. The scholarships are awarded by the California Architectural Foundation. It is the goal of the CAF Board of Regents to award scholarships to offset tuition expenses.


$2,500 Prize (two will be awarded)
$500 Dean’s Choice Award*

* Deans Choice Award. The Deans Choice Award is a $500 prize award that will be available to the Dean of each of the ten accredited architectural schools in California. The Dean will then choose among the applicants from their school, and award one applicant a $500 scholarship.


  • January 9, 2015 – Applications Open
  • February 13, 2015 – Submissions Due to Schools
  • March 4, 2015 – Projects Evaluated by Schools
  • March 18, 2015 – Scholarship Recipients Notified


Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited architecture programs at one of the following schools:

Academy of Art University (SF)
California College of the Arts, San Francisco
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo
New School of Architecture and Design
Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-ARC)
University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, Berkeley
University of Southern California
Woodbury University (Burbank and San Diego locations)

Applicants must be enrolled at one of the California Architectural schools at the time of application. Applicants may be enrolled in a graduate degree program. However, it must be their first accredited professional architecture degree program.

Conditions of the Scholarship

Applicants must agree to the conditions of the scholarship. The purpose of the program is to provide financial assistance to architecture students in California. CAF will make checks payable to the applicant in the amount of the awarded scholarship, paid at intervals as requested by the applicant.

The applicant agrees that any refunds will be returned to CAF. Applicants must identify all other scholarships, grants or similar financial aid currently awarded. Applicants may receive multiple Mel Ferris Scholarships.

Method of Selection

Submissions will first be judged at their enrolled school, where a selection committee will pick one winner to represent their school as Dean’s Choice. Those 10 winners will each receive a scholarship ($500-$1,000) and will be submitted as finalists to CAF. The Mel Ferris Scholarship Jury will convene to select up to two, grand prize winner(s) from the 10 finalists.


The Mel Ferris Scholarship Jury will review all 10 finalists and select strong submission(s) that demonstrates at least six (6) of the AIA Committee On The Environment’s Ten Measures of Sustainable Design and Performance Metrics:

  • Sustainable Design Intent & Innovation
  • Regional/Community Design & Connectivity
  • Land Use & Site Ecology
  • Bioclimatic Design
  • Light & Air
  • Water Cycle
  • Energy Flows & Energy Future
  • Materials & Construction
  • Long Life, Loose Fit
  • Collective Wisdom & Feedback Loops

How to Enter

  1. Meet the basic requirements for application.
  2. Download the Mel Ferris Scholarship application form and entry template on the CAF website.
  3. Check the guidelines to make sure you include all necessary items.
  4. Save submission in PowerPoint or PDF format according to your school process.
  5. Submit no later than March 4, 2015.

Submittal guidelines

Each entry shall be submitted in a ZIP file containing the Power Point presentation and the Application Form. Submissions should be no larger than 8MB. Your application package should:

  • Start with a clearly written and complete Application Form;
  • Contain a narrative description (max: 500 words) including basic project information and an explanation of the sustainable features;
  • Use jpg or png images that are not larger than 92 dpi, nor exceeding space on 15 slides;
  • Be labeled on each slide and titled with your entry number assigned upon registration,
  • Avoid using your name, except on the Application Form;

Files you will need

  • Complete submittal guidelines
  • Application Forms
  • Entry Template

If you have any questions regarding the Scholarship, contact Christy Sinclair