Online Degree Options to Become an Architect

Find out about online architecture courses and in which degree programs they're most commonly offered. Get course descriptions, program info and online requirements to make an informed decision.

Essential Information

Online associate's and bachelor's degree programs in architecture are scarce; online architecture master's degree programs are more readily available, but not common, either. Most online degree programs in architecture are hybrid programs, with some classes taught online and others requiring attendance on campus. Many require internships in an architectural firm. Students looking to complete online programs may be required to purchase AutoCAD or CADD software.

Fully-online associate's degree programs in architecture typically contain the general education and introductory architecture courses contained within the first two years of an architecture bachelor's degree program. It does not prepare a graduate to work as an architect.

Bachelor's degree programs typically take five years to complete and are designed for students with no architectural training. Master's degrees require one to five years of study, depending upon previous education and experience. The bachelor's and master's degrees are considered professional architecture degrees for licensing purposes.

Architects in the United States must be licensed. While requirements vary, most state architectural registration boards require that an applicant have graduated from a professional architectural program at an accredited school. Making certain of accreditation is important when choosing an online program. Aspiring architects must meet a training or internship requirement and pass each portion of the Architect Registration Examination.

Associate's Degree in Architecture

Online architecture associate's degree programs lay the necessary groundwork for students to either transfer to bachelor's degree programs or to enter the workforce as an architect's assistant. Prior to enrolling in an online associate's architecture degree program, students are required to have a high school diploma or GED. Distance learning architecture courses at the associate's degree level help students hone their drawing and drafting skills, gain a better understanding of visual communication and become familiar with various building materials.

Program Information and Requirements

Like their on-campus counterparts, distance learning architect associate's degrees typically take two years to complete. Some programs may be completed entirely online, while other programs are hybrids and allow students to combine distance learning with classroom interaction. Both online and hybrid programs may use some form of virtual classroom instruction tool allowing students and teachers to communicate using audio, whiteboard, chat and video functions.

To fully participate in a distance learning architect associate's degree program, students should have computers with recent operating systems and Internet access. Some courses may require the student to purchase additional software or hardware, such as AutoCAD and a webcam.

Course Topics

In addition to general education courses, students enrolled in online associate's degree programs in architecture must pass core courses with a minimum 2.0 grade point average. Core architect courses include drafting, sketching, cost estimating and design foundation.

Architectural Graphics

Distance learning architectural graphics courses teach students the basics of line weight, dimensioning and lettering. Students also learn various drafting techniques.

Architectural Estimating

The online architectural estimating course is designed to train students in analyzing conditions, material costs, footage and quantities. Students will use this information to estimate job costs.

Architectural Design and Production

This distance learning course introduces students to actual architectural design and design implementation. This is where most architect students first begin compiling a portfolio.

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Bachelor's Degree in Architecture

Online bachelor's degree programs in architecture require students to have either a high school diploma or GED prior to enrollment. Students who have already earned an associate's degree in architecture may be able to transfer credits to the bachelor's degree program. Bachelor's degree programs in architecture offer more advanced classes than those in an associate's degree curriculum and prepare students to move on to a master's degree program in architecture.

Students enrolled in distance learning architect bachelor's degree programs learn to design projects from sketches to final construction. Interested students should look for online architecture bachelor's degree programs that are accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board or an equally-respected accrediting agency.

Program Information and Requirements

Distance learning bachelor's degree programs in architecture are not widely available. Some hybrid programs exist that allow students to study online, but require them to attend class on campus on occasion. Hybrid degree programs often require students to come to class once per week or to take tests or exams on campus.

Since many online architecture bachelor's degree programs incorporate computer-aided drafting and design (CADD) courses into their curricula, students may be required to purchase CADD software.

Course Topics

Students must study the many facets of architectural design and construction. Students are trained in surveying, preparing land for construction and determining which materials to use based on purpose and situation.

History of Western Architecture

This distance learning architecture course introduces students to a variety of architectural styles based on zoning, economy and social expectations. Based on historical architects' ideas, students will attempt to see the patterns of design in form and aesthetics based on the influences of the day.

Steel and Wood Architectural Structures

The online architectural structures course pertaining to steel and wood construction teaches students the importance of beams, compression members and columns. The course stresses the vitality of proper form design and framework.

Virtual Architectural Modeling

The online virtual architecture modeling course is designed to train students in creating to-scale models to determine whether or not their designs are feasible. Students use digital design techniques to reach proper design measurements.

Master's Degree in Architecture

Online Master of Architecture programs are designed for architects who wish to further their education. Distance learning Master of Architecture programs provide students the opportunity to gain the additional skills necessary to take on an administrative or entrepreneurial architecture role.

Students enrolled in this program study architectural law, ethics, environmental issues, architecture quality control and architecture preservation.

Program Information and Requirements

Distance learning architect master's degree programs are typically hybrid programs. While the majority of the coursework may be completed online, students visit campus periodically for more intensive study and research sessions. Students embarking upon a distance learning architect master's degree program need a computer with high-speed Internet access. Specialized software may be required to complete computer-aided design courses or to accommodate phone or video conferencing.

Course Topics

Distance learning master's degree in architecture programs are research driven. The programs ensure that graduates will be prepared to effectively run their own architectural firm.

Architectural Research

Distance learning architectural research courses train students to utilize research methods in environmental design, contemporary design and behavioral sciences. Students learn to gather information from private, professional and governmental agencies.

Architectural Graphics

An online architectural graphics course introduces students to various methods used to design, produce and reproduce marketing materials. Image transfer photography, graphic design and layout are all topics of study.

Environmental Issues in Architecture

This course explores individual, political and social environmental concerns and responsibilities with regard to architecture and construction. Students are taught to incorporate environmentally friendly aspects into their designs.

Career Information

Students who have completed a distance learning architecture associate's degree program don't have the training required to become a licensed architect. If a student's goal is to become an architect, then he or she should transfer the credits earned in the associate's degree program to a bachelor's degree program. Career options for graduates interested in immediately entering the workforce include positions as a CAD operator, architect assistant or construction supervisor.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (, most architects hold a Bachelor of Architecture degree. All 50 states and the District of Columbia require architects to be licensed. In addition to successfully completing an online bachelor's degree in architecture program, students must pass the Architect Registration Examination and complete a training or internship program. In a May 2015 report, the Bureau stated that the median wage for architects was $76,100 (

Successfully completing an online master's degree in architecture program helps students to not only become better architects but to become certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. Although certification is voluntary, it facilitates licensing throughout the nation. Licensed and experienced architects are able to manage more complex designs and to advance to higher-level positions within an existing architectural firm. Distance learning master's degree in architecture programs may also allow students to specialize in a particular architecture concentration.

Aspiring architects may find online degree programs in architecture, though fully-online programs are usually only available at the associate's level. A bachelor's degree is the minimum education required for licensure as an architect, and a master's program typically offers further knowledge and certification.

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