Online Architectural Design Degree Program Overviews

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

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Essential Information

Many schools offer online associate's degree programs in architectural design, often called architectural drafting. They are usually hybrid programs that require students to take some courses on campus as well as allowing them to complete courses as their schedules permit through distance education. Students looking to complete a program completely online in this field may elect to enroll in a computer aided drafting program. These programs are designed to be completed in two years of full-time study.

In an online associate's degree program in architectural design, students learn to create working building plans using drawing and design software. They'll become familiar with building regulations and learn about estimating construction costs. Other courses cover design principles and architectural theory. For an associate's degree, general education courses such as science, social studies and English are required.

Associate's Degree in Architectural Design

An online associate's degree program in architectural design trains students to draw scaled working plans for building frames and other structures. Students develop their skills with both conventional drawing tools and drafting software, enhance their capacity for precision and gain knowledge about building codes and cost estimating. Applicants need a high school diploma or GED to enroll in an associate's degree program.

Program Information and Requirements

Courses in an associate's degree program in architectural design are a mix of online and traditional instruction. Students can access lectures, readings and other materials at their convenience through a school's website, and submit finished assignments and exams by the same means. Online forums and email facilitate interaction with instructors and other students. An associate's degree can typically be earned in two years.

The minimum technical requirements for participation in an online course include a relatively new personal computer, Internet access and drawing and drafting software. Schools may use content management systems such as Desire2Learn or Blackboard.

List of Common Architectural Design Courses

Associate's degree programs generally include a liberal arts component. Courses specific to architectural design may be organized into core and elective courses.

Architecture Theory

This course surveys the history and evolution of architecture and current perspectives on function and design. Topics include construction materials, construction technology and drafting techniques.

Architectural Presentations

Students develop their drawing skills with an eye towards the effective communication of architectural concepts. Course work emphasizes the use of drawing implements such as pencils, colored pencils and markers.

Design Concepts

This course applies 2D and 3D design principles learned in earlier courses to the design of whole buildings. Air circulation, use of space, function and human behavior are points of emphasis.

AutoCAD Modeling

Students in this course are introduced to the use of computer aided design (CAD) software for mechanical design. Course work focuses on lines, planes, wire models, solid models, spatial relationships and orthographic projections.

Career Information for Architectural Design Graduates

Graduates who earn an online associate's degree in architectural design are qualified for a variety of drafting and CAD positions. Construction firms, government agencies, architectural firms and engineering firms are among the entities that employ architectural drafters. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( predicts employment of architectural drafters will decline by 3% between the years of 2014 and 2024. This slow growth is due to the increased efficiency of computer-aided drafting tools. The median salary of architectural and civil drafters was $50,710 as of May 2015.

Continuing Education Information

Licensing is not a requirement for drafters, but they can demonstrate their skills by earning professional certification. They also may be able to apply credits earned in the associate's degree program towards a bachelor's degree.

Architectural drafters who want to become architects need to earn a 5-year bachelor's degree in architecture, or earn a bachelor's completion degree in a related subject and then a master's degree in architecture. Online programs in architecture are more widely available at the master's degree than bachelor's degree level.

Associate's degree programs in architectural design are available online but do require students to take some courses on campus. Fully online formats can be found within computer aided drafting programs. Common courses cover topics in theory, presentation, and modeling.

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