The most common types of building science degree programs are offered at the master's and bachelor's degree levels in building science or technology. More and more construction managers are required to have at least an undergraduate degree, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, while a graduate degree in building science can prepare individuals for management-level careers in construction, engineering and even architecture. These programs are not typically offered in a completely online format, as they include hands-on components that provide students with practical skills. Following a hybrid format, these programs typically feature in-person labs, practicums and internships. Alternatively, students may choose to pursue fully online master's degree programs in construction management.
Bachelor of Science in Building Science
A Bachelor of Science in Building Science prepares students for careers in construction or architectural technology. Concepts studied include sustainable building methods and materials as they relate to construction and renovation projects. The curriculum may include business administration, energy conservation, information technology and building performance. Most programs require lab courses that supplement classroom learning, internships or practicum for the acquisition of practical skills. Programs generally require that incoming students hold a high school diploma or the equivalent, although many schools also welcome associate's degree graduates seeking to complete a bachelor's degree.
Program Information and Requirements
A bachelor's degree program in building science usually takes four years to complete. Because of the hands-on nature of the field, on-campus programs are typical. The curriculum generally includes classroom learning, lectures and class projects, as well as lab work and internships.
A curriculum in building science is comprised of core general education requirements in English, science, mathematics and physics, as well as courses in building design, modeling, and legal issues in construction.
Through development and mastery of drafting, sketching, modeling and rendering skills, students explore building design through architecture, performance and energy efficiency. Both new projects and renovations are included. Computer-aided drafting and design skills are practiced.
Sustainable Materials and Methods
In this class, students are introduced to the theory and application of using sustainable building materials and methods for new and renovated buildings. Topics discussed include building codes and project management. This class may include an accompanying lab component.
Building Systems and Performance
Classroom lectures and coursework focus on typical building systems like heat, electric, water and ventilation. Students learn about design and installation of these systems as well as how to measure their performance and adherence to building codes.
Master's in Building Science or Technology
A Master of Science in Building Science or Master of Technology with a concentration in building science program provides students with an undergraduate engineering, architecture or related degree with the background necessary to take on management and leadership roles. With classwork and lab learning in architectural technology, structural design, lighting design, sustainable building materials and construction methods. Students may have the opportunity to specialize in construction management or architectural technology and design.
Program Information and Requirements
Most master's degrees in building science can be completed in two years or less. Since building science requires significant coursework in labs and on-site through internships, degree programs are typically offered only on campus. Students partake in lectures, classroom discussions and individual and group research and hands-on projects.
Courses in building science at the master's level continue to build upon fundamental principles learned at the undergraduate level. Students take advanced level seminar courses while increasing on-site practical knowledge of tools, materials and intangibles like project management skills.
Basics Principles of Construction Management
Students get a thorough overview of the basics of successful project management as it relates specifically to building design. Discussion topics covered are pertinent licenses, permits, scheduling logistics, securing financing and good customer service.
Energy in Building Design
Various energy-related building systems are explored, like heating and cooling, solar and water. Energy efficiency and energy conservation are discussed, along with site and building factors governing the acceptability of certain kinds of systems.
Advanced Building Science
Students look at the relationship between man-made structures and their environment. Discussion topics include optimal operation and performance of building systems, moisture damage, air quality, the durability of a given structure over time and contemporary methods of energy conservation. A hands-on component typically gives students the chance to practice using diagnostic instruments.
Graduates of bachelor's degree programs in building science may find work as construction managers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment of construction managers would increase 5% from 2014 to 2024 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported in 2014 that construction managers earned a median annual salary of $87,400, with the highest-paying jobs in depository credit intermediation.
According to the BLS, in the 2014-2024 decade, civil engineers can expect about average job growth of 8%, and architects can expect average job growth of 7%.
Graduates may also find employment working for contractors, engineers, architects, building materials companies, government agencies or environmental agencies as project managers, team leaders, analysts, consultants or researchers. Continuing education opportunities are also available at the master's degree level for those seeking career advancement.
Graduates with a master's degree in building science may be employed in industries such as construction, architecture or engineering. Construction managers are not typically required to be certified, although the Construction Management Association of America offers voluntary certification to construction managers based on experience and technical exam scores.
Students interested in engineering and architecture careers generally already hold professional degrees in their respective fields prior to enrolling in a graduate program in building science. Students with engineering backgrounds may already hold a bachelor's degree in an engineering specialty and may hold state licensing and certification through professional organizations. Students with an architecture background typically hold a Bachelor of Architecture degree and a state license if they're licensed professional architects. Voluntary certification is available through the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.
Online programs in building science can be found at the bachelor's and master's degree level, though typically these require significant in-person coursework and training. Related fields of study like construction management can be pursued fully online through a master's degree program.