Because of the hands-on nature of professional architecture programs, it is not possible to earn a degree fully online. But there are a few schools that offer programs in part-time formats. The selection of campus-based programs is much broader. There are only two schools that offer accredited, partially online architecture programs: Lawrence Technological University and Boston Architectural College. Although the coursework in both of these programs is completed primarily online, each school does require some time on campus. Rice University and Virginia Tech do not offer online architecture programs, but they are the only two schools to make it onto both the undergraduate and graduate lists of the top architecture schools in the country per Design Intelligence in 2017.
Boston Architectural College
The Boston Architectural College (BAC) offers and online Master of Architecture program that is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board, also known as NAAB. This four-semester program consists entirely of online coursework but students must also spend a week-long residency on campus during each semester. Students must also complete 2,200 hours of practical work experience during the first year. The program culminates with an architecture thesis. BAC has strong ties to the professional community, and students are encouraged to earn credit hours by working for a practicing firm.
Southern Illinois University
Southern Illinois University offers an NAAB-accredited Master of Architecture program that can be completed mostly online. Some of the most popular graduate electives, such as the course on designing outdoors spaces, are available online. Over the course of 16 to 20 months, students take 42 credits of advanced architecture courses, which are the same as those included in the school's on-campus program. While some courses do require period on-campus sessions, they are only held on weekends and students are not required to be on campus for more than one weekend per month. There are no work experience requirements for this degree.
Rice University in Houston
Rice University offers NAAB-accredited professional architecture programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Design Intelligence ranked the school the #5 top undergraduate program in architecture and the #8 top graduate school. Students in the Rice Building Workshop get hands-on experience on building sites throughout Houston, typically on projects with local non-profit organizations. The Bachelor of Architecture program lasts for five years. The first four years consist of general education and professional architecture coursework and then the fifth year, students complete a preceptorship at an architecture firm, which may be located in the United States or abroad. At the master's degree level, the school offers two Master of Architecture tracks. One is five-semester program for students with a strong undergraduate background in architecture, while the other is a seven-semester program for students who majored in a different field.
Virginia Polytechnic University
In 2017, Design Intelligence ranked Virginia Tech the #3 best undergraduate architecture program and the #9 best graduate architecture program. At Virginia Tech, the five-year professional Bachelor of Architecture program begins with a series of foundational courses that are required for all students within the School of Architecture and Design. From there, students take lecture and studio-based courses in architecture. During the fourth year, students may choose an off-campus internship in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Europe, or an approved location of the student's choice. The fifth year is an independent study. At the master's level, there are Master of Architecture programs available for students with no previous experience in architecture, students with an undergraduate background in the field, and licensed architects who have already completed a Bachelor of Architecture program.
Top Architecture Schools
Let's discuss a few more schools that were highly ranked for their architecture programs by Design Intelligence in 2017.
|Columbia University||Students can spend a semester in New York and a semester in Paris studying design and urban studies||New York, NY|
|Cornell University||In addition to professional master's degrees in architecture, the university has a history of architecture and urban development program at the master's and doctoral levels||Ithaca, NY|
|Harvard University||Students can pursue training and research in a location like Rotterdam, Netherlands, through the Study Abroad program||Cambridge, MA|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||Offers a program in which, over the course of three semesters, students study design through studios that include work in Boston, as well as locations like India, Brazil, China, Japan, and Iceland||Cambridge, MA|
|University of Michigan in Ann Arbor||Along with its Master of Architecture and Ph.D. in Architecture programs, the university offers a Master of Science in architecture dedicated to design research, though it won't meet qualifications for licensure||Ann Arbor, MI|
|Yale University||Students can pursue a joint degree combining a Master of Architecture with a master's degree in business, management, or environmental design||New Haven, CT|
|Syracuse University||School of Architecture sponsors a visiting critic program that brings in professors from around the world to lead studios||Syracuse, NY|
|Rhode Island School of Design||All Bachelor and Master of Architecture students must complete an eight-week summer internship||Providence, RI|
|Carnegie Mellon University||Undergraduate architecture students can tailor their coursework to support interdisciplinary study with other subjects of interest||Pittsburgh, PA|
|University of Southern California||Ranked #10 on the Design Intelligence list of the best undergraduate architecture school||Los Angeles, CA|
Although it is not possible to earn an architecture degree entirely online, there are two schools that offer accredited programs in hybrid format. There are also many schools around the country with top-notch on-campus programs.