Students can choose from professional master's degree programs in architecture or landscape architecture, or professional architects may continue their education with non-professional master's degree programs in a particular area of interest. Licensing requires completion of a professional program and passing an exam.
Professional Master of Architecture
Master of Architecture programs prepare students to become licensed professional architects. They learn about structural design, aesthetics, planning, and theories of architecture. Students also participate in design studios where they work on architectural plans.
Programs typically require between 2-3 years for completion, depending on how much foundational coursework was completed during undergraduate study. Courses and topics of study include:
- Architectural theory and analysis
- Design studio
- Professional practices
- Structures and spaces
- Architectural history
Master of Landscape Architecture
Master of Landscape Architecture degree programs are professional programs preparing students to become licensed landscape architects. Students study landscape design, history, theory, ecology, technology, urbanism, and industry practices.
Many schools offering Master in Landscape Architecture degrees provide separate tracks. Students who are pursuing a professional degree need to hold a bachelor's degree and may require introductory coursework. Post-professional degree tracks are designed for students who already hold professional degrees in architecture.
Programs in landscape architecture emphasize the development of external spaces. Students learn theories of design as well as history and technical skills. Courses cover topics such as:
- Landscape design
- Design theory
- History of architectural landscape
- Technology tools and materials in landscape architecture
Master of Science in Architecture
Master of Science degree programs in architecture are non-professional degree programs, meaning they do not prepare students for licensing. Most are designed for students who have already completed a professional degree program and who are interested in advanced research and study. These programs allow students to focus on sub-specialty within the field of architecture and may include historic preservation and architectural history.
Programs typically required between 30-35 credit hours of coursework for students who already have professional degrees in architecture. Most programs require a thesis or research project. The curriculum varies depending on the sub-specialty being studied. Topics of study may include:
- Environmental design
- Architectural history
- Islamic architecture
- Cultural processes in architecture
Popular Career Options
A Master of Science in Architecture is a post-professional program. Programs allow students to concentrate on a particular area of architecture. Graduates may continue on to take a Ph.D. A student may enroll in the program to update their skill or learn about new opportunities in the field. Possible careers may include a teacher, specialist, consultant, and researcher.
Salary Information and Employment Outlook
Although architects will face competition for jobs at prestigious firms, employment growth in the field will lead to more job openings, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Median annual salaries for architects were $76,100, as of May 2015. Job growth for all architects is expected to increase 7% for the years 2014 through 2024, according to the BLS.
The median annual salary for landscape architects was $63,810 in May 2015, according to the BLS. The highest-paid ten percent of workers made $104,710 yearly in that same time frame.
Continuing Education Information
All states require licensing for architects. After graduating from an accredited professional program, students must work under the supervision of a licensed architect for a period of time before taking the Architect Registration Examination and obtaining a license. Architects may also pursue voluntary certification from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. Maintenance of both licensing and certification may require continuing education.
Almost all states require that landscape architects pass the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Board Landscape Architect Registration Exam in order to obtain licensure. Many states require continuing education to maintain licensure.
Aspiring architects can take Professional Master of Architecture or Master of Landscape Architecture programs, as well as a Master of Science degree program. The former two programs allow students to obtain licensing in order to pursue successful careers in the field.