While a 5-year professional bachelor's degree (Bachelor of Architecture) may prepare students for immediate entry-level employment, individuals without a professional degree in architecture can pursue a Master of Architecture degree. This master's program can take from 1-5 years of study, depending on the student's prior training. Professional degree programs combine coursework with studio classes and internship requirements.
At the doctoral level, architects can work on original research projects and prepare for work in academia. Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Architecture students focus their studies and research on a particular area, such as sustainable architecture or computer technology. A dissertation is required.
Bachelor's degrees require students to have a high school diploma, ACT or SAT scores, transcripts, letters of recommendation and a personal statement. Master's programs are available to bachelor's graduates, while Ph.D. programs require a professional bachelor's degree or a professional master's degree, GRE scores, college transcripts, letters of recommendation and a resume. Field analyses, comprehensive examinations and/or a dissertation may be required by some programs.
Bachelor's Degree in Architecture
Bachelor's degrees in this field may result in a Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch). The latter is a professional degree that prepares graduates for immediate entry to the workforce as a junior associate at an architecture firm. All architecture majors learn how to design, plan and draw buildings for construction, which includes knowledge of physics, engineering, construction and materials. Most programs facilitate internship opportunities as well in response to employer demand for experienced entry-level hires.
Coursework typically consists of general education and elective units in addition to those which are directly related to architecture, including math and science. Classes that might appear in a baccalaureate curriculum include:
- Building construction
- CAD (computer-aided drafting)
- Chemistry of construction materials
- Integrated building systems
- Building codes
Master of Architecture
Professional master's degrees for architecture (M.Arch) are usually pursued by those who did not complete a professional bachelor's degree in architecture. For this reason, master's degree programs often offer curriculum comparable to B.Arch programs, although some programs offer advanced research opportunities or specializations. In some cases, working architects elect to enroll in employer-approved master's degree programs to secure leadership positions.
Coursework in master's degree programs for architecture focuses on design, math and engineering principles. Courses commonly found in these programs address:
- Introduction to design
- City planning
- Computer-aided modeling
- 3D graphics and animation
- Global sustainability
Ph.D. in Architecture
Those who pursue doctorates in architecture are usually working professionals with substantial experience in the field who are interested in making a significant contribution to the academic field of architecture. For this reason, programs emphasize original research. Many also focus on the rapidly growing fields of computer technology, integrated design and sustainability. The degree culminates in a dissertation, which is overseen by an advisor or advisory committee.
Ph.D. in Architecture coursework is often rigorous, featuring field analyses, language requirements and comprehensive examinations in addition to a defense of dissertation. Course topics that might appear in the curriculum include:
- Building science
- Design theory
- Design methods and practices
- History of architecture and urbanism
- Social and cultural processes in architecture
Popular Career Options
While most graduates of master's programs in architecture find work as architects, related opportunities may avail themselves. Here are some job titles these graduates may hold:
- Senior architect
- Project manager
- Urban planner
- Architecture professor
Graduates of doctorate degrees often find work in academia. However, they may also acquire senior-level positions and titles that are not available to architects with less education and experience. Examples of jobs titles for those with architecture doctorates include:
- Tenured professor
- Architectural consultant
- Director of operations
- Director of education of architecture
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted the employment of architects to grow 7% between 2014 and 2024, which matches the average for all careers. The median annual salary for architects (except landscape and naval architects) was $76,100 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov).
Professional bachelor's and master's degree programs in architecture are available, as are doctoral programs. As the degree programs intensify, students go from learning more about design to concentrating on research and the academic field of architecture.