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Earn a Diploma in Architecture: Program Overview

Diploma programs in architecture aren't prevalent in the United States, but interested students can earn an associate's degree and/or a bachelor's degree in the field.

Essential Information

Associate's degree programs expose students to the fundamental skills and concepts involved in architecture, including drafting, planning and design. For admission into a two-year associates program, students need a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Architecture is a preprofessional program that prepares students for admission to professional master's programs in architecture. The Bachelor of Architecture is a professional program that typically includes more studio courses than preprofessional bachelor's programs and takes five years to complete. Experiential learning is a major requirement of the professional program.

Admission requirements for both bachelors' programs include a high school education, portfolio and completion of prerequisite courses in math. A professional degree is required in most states to become a licensed architect, along with an internship and the passing of a national examination.


Associate Degree in Pre-Architecture

Associate of Arts, Associate of Science and Associate of Applied Science degrees are offered in pre-architecture. Programs focus on the artistic and engineering foundations of professional architecture, including the technical aspects of construction, design process and building functionality. Core architecture study includes multiple courses in mathematics, studio work and computer drafting, as well as topics such as to the following:

  • Introduction to architectural design
  • Architectural history
  • Architectural drawing and planning
  • Architectural construction methods
  • Computer design

Bachelor of Science in Architecture

A Bachelor of Science in Architecture program provides students with a preprofessional education in the architecture field, along with liberal arts study. Bachelor's programs may also offer two different types of options such as professional or nonprofessional. Students who choose the professional track can continue on to professional graduate study. Students who select the nonprofessional program can take more electives in other disciplines. Architectural studio coursework is explored through multiple levels of drawing, drafting and computer design. Architectural history and theory courses are also common. Other topics of study include:

  • Studio design
  • Construction methods and technology
  • Building design
  • Advanced architecture design
  • Site planning and urban design

Bachelor of Architecture

Bachelors of Architecture (B.Arch.) degree programs are five-year professional programs that prep students to become licensed architects. These bachelor's degree programs are highly focused in professional studio work and architectural practice. Students are introduced to architectural fundamentals during the first few years of study, and eventually move on to advanced architectural design and applications.

Multiple studio courses, internships and a cumulative thesis project are commonly required by these programs. Core architecture courses include:

  • Architecture professional practice
  • Building structure design
  • Planning and design theory
  • Architectural analysis
  • Digital and visual media
  • Computer-aided design and drafting

Popular Career Options

With an associate's degree, students are qualified for entry-level jobs in the architectural field, as well as other related industries, including building engineering and construction. Those who have received a B.S. in Architecture may either pursue a professional master's degree in architecture or choose to work in related fields, such as interior design. Related careers include landscape architecture, historic preservation and urban planning, all of which may require higher education. Possible jobs include:

  • Architectural drafter
  • Contractor
  • Architectural designer
  • Construction worker
  • Architect

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a 7% increase in employment for architects is expected between 2014 and 2024, which is about as fast as average compared to other occupations. The BLS also reported that the median annual wage for architects, except landscape and naval specialties, in 2015 was $76,100. In addition, the BLS predicted that the employment for architectural and civil drafters is expected to decline 3% from 2014 to 2024. As of May 2015, architectural and civil drafters made a median annual income of $50,710.

Continuing Education

Those wishing to become licensed architects after completing a B.S. program can seek a Master of Architecture professional degree from an accredited school. The path toward licensure continues with an internship period, followed by passing the Architect Registration Examination. Each state has different licensing requirements and applicants should consult their state licensing boards.

Even though diplomas in architecture are not offered, undergraduates can be introduced to the field through an associate's degree or bachelor's degree program. There are both professional and nonprofessional bachelor's degree options in this subject, which the student may choose based on their educational and career goals.


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