Guide to Online Architecture Degrees

By Jennifer King Logan | Updated 3/29/2021
Quick Facts
Accreditation: NAAB
Average Tuition: $30,230
Average Salary: $74,806

Architects design and plan all types of buildings, from commercial and retail spaces to residential homes. Professionals in this field are responsible for how our man-made environment looks. Thus, architecture is an excellent career path for people who enjoy applying their creativity to complex solutions for physical structures. Architects can expect to earn about $80,000 annually. Online architecture degrees are available at the bachelor's and master's levels. This page highlights popular online schools to help you launch your career as an architect. Additional details on accreditation, educational options, and job outlook for architects are also provided below.

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Most Popular Accredited Online Architecture Bachelor's Degrees

Visitors to our site are most interested in these schools
Rank School Annual Tuition Recommend Rate
# 1 #1 Academy of Art University $22,308 31% (36 reviews)
# 2 #2 Boston Architectural College $21,924 100% (1 review)
# 3 #3 University of Arizona $11,800 100% (2 reviews)
# 4 #4 Ohio University-Zanesville Campus $8,482 Add Review

Online Bachelor's Degrees in Architecture Overview

An online bachelor's degree in architecture is a four-year degree that is specifically designed to prepare students for careers as architectural planners, designers, or engineers. The curriculum for these degrees is demanding, but students can complete them in four years if they are enrolled full-time. Those planning to study undergraduate architecture must earn high school diplomas, taking courses in math, science, and art. Some schools ask students to complete prerequisite courses before they start the actual architecture curriculum.

People who study architecture at the undergraduate level must master very complex mathematics and physics courses, including calculus and geometry. These will lead into general engineering courses, including architectural engineering. Computer-aided drafting and computer modeling courses are essential to the success of an architect. Programs will often start with basic art and drawing classes. Some schools include internships in their required curriculum, allowing students to practice with the guidance of architects and learn what it actually takes to work in the field.

Graduates of bachelor's in architecture programs go on to apprenticeships or entry-level jobs with existing architectural agencies. It is essential for graduates to get real-world experience, usually aiding in architectural drafting and modeling to help complete a design for another architect. Until they have several years of experience, architects will not be able to design their own buildings, bridges, or houses. These positions are competitive, and most architects are contracted to a specific agency. A few established architects are able to contract individually.

Most Popular Accredited Online Master's in Architecture Schools

Visitors to our site are most interested in these schools
Rank School Annual Tuition Recommend Rate
# 1 #1 Philadelphia University Not Provided Add Review
# 2 #2 Villanova University $19,005 100% (1 review)
# 3 #3 Lawrence Technological University $20,406 100% (1 review)
# 4 #4 New Jersey Institute of Technology $33,102 Add Review
# 5 #5 Thomas Jefferson University $21,600 Add Review
# 6 #6 University of Wisconsin-River Falls $18,205 Add Review
# 7 #7 Southern Illinois University - Carbondale $32,528 Add Review
# 8 #8 Academy of Art University $25,044 31% (36 reviews)
# 9 #9 Boston Architectural College $24,994 100% (1 review)
# 10 #10 Chatham University $17,744 100% (1 review)
# 11 #11 University of Central Florida $28,657 88% (8 reviews)
# 12 #12 University of Missouri $25,351 Add Review
# 13 #13 University of Nebraska-Lincoln $18,424 Add Review
# 14 #14 Kent State University at Ashtabula Not Provided Add Review

Online Master's Degrees in Architecture Overview

The architecture master’s degree is a professional graduate degree that teaches students the theory and practice of designing structures. The length of the degree varies, depending on the applicant’s background. Those with a non-architecture bachelor’s degree usually need to complete a three-year program, while those with a professional or non-professional architecture bachelor’s can complete a one- to two-year master’s degree. Applicants generally need to submit a portfolio of art or design work, along with their undergraduate transcripts.

The curriculum in the architecture professional degree includes courses in theory and technology, as well as design labs. Architecture theory courses discuss topics such as construction technology, spatial reasoning, and architecture and the environment. Design practice labs and workshops require students to practice creating designs for different types of structures, such as housing and urban architecture. Most architecture programs require the completion of a thesis, where students design a complex structure for a specific site to prepare for postgraduate professional practice.

After completing the architecture master’s degree program, most graduates go on to intern at a design or architecture firm. All states require several years of internship work under an experienced architect before new graduates can take the architecture licensing exam. After interning and passing the Architecture Registration Exam, architects can enter staff-level positions in architectural, engineering, and related industries.

Online Architecture Degree Accreditation

Accreditation is an evaluation process that schools and degree programs may choose to go through to demonstrate that they meet acceptable higher education standards. They are evaluated by independent agencies on the merits of their curricula, faculty, research programs, student resources, and more. Attending an accredited school can help you feel confident that you'll be receiving a quality education and that your degree will be valued by future employers; employers typically look upon candidates with degrees from accredited schools and programs more favorably than those without. Students who plan to apply for federal financial aid or transfer credits to other higher education institutions are required to attend accredited program in most cases.

Accreditation is particularly important for students who plan to become a licensed architect. All US states require architects to obtain a license, and in order to be licensed, you typically must have a degree from a program that has been accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). The NAAB accredits bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in architecture. Attending an NAAB-accredited program will also provide you with the best opportunity to gain the skills and education needed to be an effective and competent architect, since accredited programs must meet strict teaching standards.

The NAAB, US Department of Education, and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation all offer current lists of accredited schools and programs. Please visit OnlineU's accreditation hub for more information.

Architect Certification & Licensure

Professional architects must be licensed in all 50 US states, but the requirements to become licensed vary from state to state. In general, prospective architects should have a bachelor's or master's degree in architecture from an NAAB-accredited program, paid internship experience, and a passing score on the NCARB Architect Registration Exam. Some states may allow candidates to substitute work experience for an accredited degree. Most states also require registered architects to complete continuing education hours either every year or every two years. It's always best to check with your particular state's registration board to verify their exact licensing requirements. The NCARB offers a list of state registration board contacts.

The main professional agency offering certification for architects is the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). In order to earn this certification, candidates must fulfill all of the requirements that enable them to work as an architect in any particular jurisdiction. Once they have done so, candidates can apply for certification with this agency by submitting an online application and payment. Candidates must also provide official documentation stating that they have fulfilled all of the requirements to work as an architect. Since NCARB is made up of varying architecture boards in different states and regions, some of these boards may have individual requirements that necessitate individuals taking exams on specific areas of architecture.

Types of Architecture Courses

The following courses are common requirements in architecture bachelor's degree programs:

  • Architectural Design: This project-based class teaches students to use technical skills, such as computer-aided design, to design simple architectural projects.
  • Building Design: This course discusses standards for building design, codes and regulations, and how systems of common building materials perform.
  • Design Communication: Students learn about different methods for describing the built environment, such as drawing, modeling, and photography.
  • History of Architecture: This survey of architecture discusses how buildings throughout the world have evolved throughout history on technical and aesthetic levels.
  • Seismic Design: Students learn about the ways in which physics and mechanics apply to buildings and how various materials work in different seismic environments.

Frequently Asked Questions About Architecture Degrees

How much can I expect to earn with a degree in architecture?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the salary range for architects as of May 2019 was $48,700 to $137,620, with a median annual salary of $80,750. Salaries for architects working for the government tend to be higher than salaries for those working for construction companies or architectural and engineering firms.

How do I become an architect?

Although there is some variation in state requirements for licensed architects, many have the same three requirements: the completion of at least a bachelor's degree in architecture, fulfillment of a paid internship generally lasting about three years, and a passing score on the Architect Registration Examination. In some states, however, the degree requirements and/or internship requirements may differ, which can open the door to some professionals who want to switch careers into architecture.

What is the difference between an architect and a civil engineer?

Although both roles contribute to the design and planning of constructed spaces, their focus is very different. The architect tends to focus on the design of the project, especially in terms of function, style, and appearance. The civil engineer's perspective is far more technical in nature, with an eye toward construction logistics and project safety. Careers in both fields usually require bachelor's degrees, and higher-paying positions usually go to those with advanced degrees. Additionally, the typical salaries for both roles is comparable, with averages around $80,000 to $90,000.

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