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Online Doctoral Programs in Architecture: Program Overviews

Learn about online doctoral programs with architecture courses. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

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Essential Information

Although rare, it is possible to find an online Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Architecture program. These are programs for licensed, experienced architects with master's degrees. A Ph.D. in Architecture is a research degree that prepares graduates for academic or research positions.

These degrees can be obtained totally through distance learning, but some programs do require students to visit campus to take exams or defend their dissertation. Special types of software are often needed, so students should check with the school to make sure their computers are properly equipped.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Architectural History
  • Architectural Technology
  • Environmental Design
  • Interior Architecture
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Urban and Regional Planning

Ph.D. in Architecture

In pursuing an online Ph.D. degree in architecture, students learn the information and skills necessary to develop new theories and methodologies and to perform research. In addition, students become proficient in writing about or teaching the results of their research. Each student usually chooses an area of specialization upon which to base his or her final dissertation.

Prerequisites and Program Requirements

In most cases, students who apply to an online Ph.D. degree program should have completed their architectural education at the baccalaureate and master's degree levels. Full-time students will take approximately two years to their doctoral education completely online. However, when taking the final exam or defending their final dissertation, students may be required to do so in person.

Depending on the school, a specific set of software may be required, such as Microsoft Office, Autodesk AutoCAD or Adobe Creative Suite. Computers should be able to access reliable, high-speed Internet connections. In addition, students' computers should have sufficient memory and hard drive to run potentially large software applications or display streaming video (for online classes). Software plug-ins, such as Java or Flash, may be necessary to access the school's course management software.

Course Topics

Core courses may include urban architecture, architecture history and computer design. Students generally choose a specialization for their dissertation, such as building construction or regional planning.

Interior and Exterior Products and Materials

This course focuses on choosing materials for interior and exterior design that are environmentally sensitive. Students also learn about the proper methods for applying or installing the material.

Architectural Research Methods

Students learn qualitative research methods as a basis for studying their area of specialization or dissertation subject. This is the course in which students formulate research proposals for their dissertation projects.

Dissertation Development

Students work with their advisors to research and write their final dissertations. Students apply the methods learned in the research course to develop their projects.


Career information

Job opportunities in academia are possible for Ph.D. graduates. Doctoral graduates can also look for leadership roles in government agencies, community organizations and construction firms. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecast 7% job growth for architects between 2014 and 2024, which is about as fast as the average for all jobs nationwide.

Fully online Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Architecture programs are rare, but hybrid programs are much more common for licensed, experienced architects. Common courses include topics about research, products and materials used in the field.

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