Online Master's Degrees in Architecture Overview
Depending on the type of architecture they work in, architects may manage building projects at any point in the project life cycle, from planning, design, and construction to finishing. While most of us imagine architects at the drawing board sketching out new ideas for buildings, this is only a small part of the architecture field. Some of the career options that may be available to architecture graduates include being a lead designer, urban designer, architecture principal, studio director, graphic renderer, architectural detailer, and job captain.
Most online architecture degrees at the bachelor's level combine theory with practical application. Students are typically required to take a certain number of general education courses, architecture-specific courses, and electives. Architecture courses may include such topics as the history of architecture, surveys & mapping, architecture theory, conceptual design studio, figure modeling, building information modeling, and materials & methods.
Master's degree programs prepare students for higher-level positions that require management of others and advanced decision making. Master's courses may include design process and 2-D media, design process and 3-D media, contemporary urban theory, architectural professional practices, construction documents and building codes, and material and methods of construction. Many master's degree programs require students to complete a thesis project in order to qualify for graduation. Certificates provide training in specific architecture specialties, such as interior architecture and design or architecture technology.
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.