If you enjoy designing buildings and are interested in advancing your qualifications and earning potential, you may want to consider returning to school for a master in architecture.
A Master of Architecture (M.Arch) may lead to more opportunities for advancement. If you do not already work as an architect, this degree can also help you transfer into this lucrative field.
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This masters degree could be the gateway to professional autonomy, an enhanced reputation in your field, or improved business opportunities as an emerging entrepreneur.
Online Masters in Architecture Programs
Most states require that you earn a professional degree in architecture in order to be licensed. Since most candidates for a master’s program have already earned a bachelor’s degree, they may already be working in the field when they decide to enroll.
Many architecture graduate schools offer their degree programs online for students who plan to work in the field while continuing their education. An architecture master’s degree program offers you the chance to deepen your understanding of architectural history, theory, and practice. While enrolled, you are likely to encounter coursework in the following areas:
- Architecture history
- Architectural design
- Architectural technology
- Architectural theory
- Architectural structures
- Project management
- Professional communications
You can learn more about how buildings have been made through the ages, and you’ll also study how technological advances in building materials have influenced architectural design. A master’s program in architecture can cover how to create safer, more ecologically efficient buildings.
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Your coursework will also give you a greater understanding of construction techniques, as you learn how to incorporate electricity and plumbing into the buildings you design. If you are enrolled in a graduate architecture program, you may be able to improve your technical skills as well.
Architecture classes can help you heighten your spatial awareness, hone your math aptitude, and give you an opportunity to practice advanced drafting skills. You are also likely to improve your analysis skills, and you may even learn how to do some computer programming.
Architecture Careers & Salaries
Once you have completed your MA in Architecture, there are many different career opportunities you may be able to pursue.
If you don’t yet have your architect license, you can check with your state and begin fulfilling the rest of your state board’s requirements. Some architects with advanced training open up their own architecture firms, working alone or with partners.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some potential careers related to the field of architecture.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Architectural and Engineering Managers||$152,350|
|Postsecondary Architecture Teachers||$95,160|
|Urban and Regional Planners||$78,500|
|Construction and Building Inspectors||$61,640|
Those who have a desire to teach may find work as an architecture professor at a community college. Some even conduct further research in the field.
Some professionals with a background in architecture not only design buildings but also plan and renovate cities. Others who have earned an M.Arch degree have gone on to work in civil engineering, urban planning, landscape design, interior design, and even commercial drafting, depending on their experience.
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The field of architecture may open you up to new opportunities to create and manage beautiful, innovative spaces—both inside and outside—in which people work, play, or live.
Architecture Master’s Curriculum & Courses
Architecture coursework at the master’s level will likely include theoretical classes in history and design as well as more practical classes on skills such as computer-aided drafting techniques.
Here are some examples of classes you make take while enrolled in an architecture masters degree program:
- Architectural Representation: This class instructs you on the origins and development of architectural norms and techniques.
- Environmental Systems: In this class, you’ll learn how such elements as climate and weather influence the architectural design of buildings.
- Building Simulation: This class can help you analyze the best way to design building systems through computer simulation.
- History of Architecture and Interior Design: In this class, you’ll learn more about how architectural theory developed through history.
- Architectural Graphics: Graphics classes can help develop your skills in architectural drafting.
- Construction Materials and Methods: This class teaches you how materials are combined and assembled during building construction.
- Professional Practice: Many universities offer practical classes on the legal and professional norms of the architecture profession.
- Advanced Physics and Trigonometry: Architecture programs offer advanced mathematics classes.
- Social and Behavioral Factors in Design: This class explores how social issues, including privacy and crowding, can influence architectural design.
- Sustainable Architecture: A class in sustainable architecture explores environmentally friendly ways to design and construct new buildings.
Coursework will differ by institution, and some degree plans require that students complete both basic and advanced classes in some areas.
Master of Architecture Admissions Requirements
Different architecture programs have different admissions criteria, but here are some of the most commonly required prerequisites:
- Bachelor’s degree. This degree is preferably in a liberal arts discipline. This does not necessarily have to be from an architectural program.
- Test scores. GRE or GMAT scores are required by some, but not all, institutions.
- Letters of recommendation. Some schools request letters of recommendation from colleagues and advisors stating your qualifications for this program.
- Resume. Many schools ask you to submit a resume or CV.
Most schools also require that you turn in an application form and pay an accompanying fee.
Architecture Graduate Programs Accreditation
Regional accreditation is the gold standard for higher education accreditation in the US. Regionally accredited graduate programs undergo regular evaluation procedures from regional accrediting boards. These boards evaluate a school’s curriculum and teaching methods to ensure an acceptable level of academic rigor and mastery in the field.
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You are more likely to be able to transfer credits from school to school if your credits come from an accredited university. Most credible architecture programs are also accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). An NAAB accredited degree is a common requirement for architect licensure. You can consult the US Department of Education to find out if your chosen school is accredited.
Architecture Licensure and Certifications
Here are the common steps to licensure:
- Earn an accredited degree in architecture. Some states accept professional experience to fulfill this requirement.
- Complete required training hours. Most students complete their training through the Architectural Experience Program. Similar to an apprenticeship, this program gives you the opportunity to work under a licensed professional architect.
- Pass the Architect Registration Examination. This exam tests you on issues of health, welfare, and safety.
- Apply for your license. Most states require you to pay a state fee, and some also request that you take extra classes specific to the state.
Some of the requirements for licensing differ from state to state, but most use standard requirements set by the National Council of Architectural Registration Board (NCARB).
Financial Aid and Scholarships
There are many different kinds of financial aid options for students who qualify. Here are some of the funding opportunities that you can explore:
- Scholarships. Many professional and nonprofit organizations offer need-based or merit-based scholarships to students enrolling in an architecture program.
- Work-study programs. The federal work-study program connects students with part-time jobs while they go to school. Admittance for these programs is often need-based.
- Student loans. The federal government often lends money to qualifying students for their school expenses. These funds must be repaid at a later date.
To apply for government financial aid, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You can also contact your school’s financial aid office for more information.
What Degree Do You Need to Be an Architect?
While some US states allow aspiring architects to get a license based on years of professional experience, that is not the case everywhere.
Traditionally, there are two different types of professional degrees that can help you qualify for an architect license:
- Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch). Students who decide to pursue architecture as a career straight out of high school may earn a B.Arch. This is often a 5 year degree.
- Master of Architecture (M.Arch). Students who want to turn to architecture as a career but who earned their bachelors in another discipline can earn their M. Arch degree.
Most states require architects to earn a professional degree accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) in order to get licensed.
What Can You Do with a Master’s Degree in Architecture?
Architecture graduates may go on to have careers in a wide variety of areas. Some find work designing different kinds of structures as licensed architects or interior decorators.
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Some professionals find work in related fields, such as construction management, urban and regional planning, and industrial design. There are also potential openings for careers in landscape architecture. People with more academic interests might choose to conduct advanced research or teach at community colleges or vocational schools.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Masters Degree in Architecture Online?
The length of time it will take you to earn your Master of Architecture typically depends on your undergraduate background.
If you have already earned a B.Arch or a degree in a related field, an M.Arch program can typically be completed in 1 or 2 years. If you earned an undergraduate degree in a different discipline, it may take you an extra year or so to earn your masters in architecture. Not all universities have the same requirements, though.
In your final year of graduate school, you will typically be required to write a thesis. Some schools also offer you the opportunity to serve in an internship before graduation.
Is a Master Degree in Architecture Worth It?
Yes, a master degree in architecture is worth it for many students. If you have an undergraduate degree in a different discipline, the Master of Architecture is a strategic educational route to licensure in this field. It is also an essential prerequisite if you want to teach or do research at the postsecondary level.
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Some professionals with an M. Arch degree have gone on to be landscape architects, city planners, interior designers, and architectural managers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects steady growth for architect jobs over the next ten years. A graduate degree can often increase your chances of qualifying for more senior or leadership positions.
Universities Offering Online Masters in Architecture Degree Program
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Arizona State University offers an online program for a Master of Architecture. Classes are 7.5 weeks long. There is a 2 year track for students with bachelor’s degrees in architecture, and a 3 year track for students with bachelor’s degrees in something else. The curriculum covers studies in architecture from both theoretical and practical perspectives.
Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Boston Architectural College offers an online program for a Master of Architecture. The degree can generally be finished in 4 to 6 semesters. The program is designed to allow students to work full-time while completing the degree. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in architecture and submit portfolios of their work.
The Boston Architectural College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
California State Polytechnic University—Pomona offers an online program for a Master of Interior Architecture. Classes can be taken part-time or full-time. Required courses include Understanding Building Codes, Interior Detailing and Building Systems, The Ecology of Design, and more. Elective options include Residential Remodeling, Furniture Design, and Photographing Architecture and Interiors.
Cal Poly Pomona is accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Chatham University offers a Master of Interior Architecture that lasts 5 terms, including one summer. The program requires the completion of 72 credit hours of coursework and is intended for students who have not already studied architecture at the undergraduate level. Coursework includes Environment and Behavior, Green and Sustainable Design, Building Codes, and more.
Chatham University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Lawrence Technological University offers a Master of Architecture online program. Courses include both synchronous and asynchronous components. Tracks are available for students with and without bachelor’s degrees in architecture. The program is designed to allow students to continue working while earning their degrees.
LTU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The Rochester Institute of Technology offers an online program for a Master of Architecture. The program does not require previous education in architecture, but there is an advanced standing pathway for students with bachelor’s degrees in architecture. Students can typically finish in 32 to 44 months. In addition to coursework, students are required to participate in professional co-ops locally.
Rochester Institute of Technology is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Southern Illinois University offers an online program for a Master of Architecture. Students in the program progress through it with a cohort and communicate with classmates via chat rooms and messaging. The curriculum consists of both lecture and studio courses. To graduate, students must complete 42 credit hours.
SIU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of California—Los Angeles offers a Master of Interior Architecture. Part-time scheduling options are available to accommodate working professionals. Full-time students usually finish in 1 year, and part-time students typically finish in 2 years. Students in the program are given opportunities to develop their portfolios and can complete coursework entirely online. Internship opportunities are also available.
UCLA is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
The University of Florida offers a Master of Science in Architectural Studies with a concentration in Sustainable Design that can be completed in a low-residency online format. The program lasts three semesters and includes courses such as International Sustainable Development, Design Studio in Sustainability, and Research Design in Sustainability.
The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Nebraska—Lincoln offers a Master of Science in Architecture with a specialization in Interior Design. The program requires 36 credit hours of coursework that can be completed online. The degree can typically be earned in 2 years. Students in the program are given opportunities to participate in internships and fieldwork experiences.
The University of Nebraska – Lincoln is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Getting Your Masters in Architecture Online
If you have proficient math skills, an artistic aptitude, and a passion for creating structures that are functional, beautiful, and sustainable, then you might consider pursuing an M. Arch degree.
While earning your masters in architecture, you can have the opportunity to deepen your theoretical and practical knowledge of architectural design. You might also choose a professional specialization. In some cases, an NAAB accredited degree could be essential for licensure.
If you’re interested in becoming a professional architect or advancing your current career in the field, you might want to explore the various M. Arch program options from accredited universities.