Architecture Distance Learning Degree Program Overviews
Studying architecture fully through distance learning typically isn't an option, so interested students will need to complete most classes on a school campus. Continue reading to learn more about associate's and master's degrees in architecture, which may offer select online learning through individual courses.
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The studio classes that dominate most architectural degree programs make distance-learning options in this area uncommon and hard to find. However, some accredited undergrad architectural drafting and graduate programs in architecture fields allow students to take some or all of their required classes online.
Associate's degree programs take two years to complete and are typically provide vocational training for those interested in breaking into the field. At the master's level, students learn more about conceptual theory and advanced design. Applicants must meet standard education requirements, such as holding a high school diploma for an associate degree program and bachelor's degree for a master's degree program.
Associate's Degrees in Architecture
An applied science degree program in either architecture or architectural drafting and estimating teaches students how to prepare technical drawings for commercial and residential construction projects. The emphasis is on job training instead of theoretical skills, and students receive extensive instruction in manual and computer-aided design. General education requirements are related to the major and students will take classes in English composition, public speaking, technical communications, algebra, business and the social sciences.
Architectural and computer-aided drafting classes form the core of the program. Other course topics generally include these:
- Methods and materials used in construction
- Structural steel
- Structural wood
- Electrical systems
- Estimating for construction projects
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The majority of graduates from applied science programs begin their careers as computer drafting technicians. Potential employers include architectural firms, engineering firms, manufacturers, building centers, home builders and private contractors. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that new drafting technicians can expect to earn between $20,000 and $26,000 a year depending on where they are employed (www.bls.gov ).
Second associate's degrees are available in related areas, including construction supervision, management and technology. Students who want to earn a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.) and apply for a state license will need to enroll in a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board, or NAAB (www.naab.org ). Online programs that lead to a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in architecture are rare, and only a few states will consider a degree from an unaccredited program.
Master's Degrees in Architecture
Low-residency graduate programs are viable alternatives for busy working adults who may not be able to attend a scheduled class. A small number of schools offer hybrid programs that lead to either a Master of Architecture or a Master of Science with a specialization in interior design. Both offer advanced coursework in design, theory and professional practices and build upon what students have already learned in school and through work. In addition to self-directed research, students fulfill course requirements by exchanging ideas and participating in critiques in an online 'classroom'. Those who already hold bachelor's degrees in architecture or a similar major and have industry-related experience can apply to these programs.
Hybrid programs in architecture typically require that students complete their studio work on campus. Online classes can include the following:
- Architectural design
- Architectural management and technology
- Architectural research methods
- Laws and ethics
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), over 20% of licensed architects are self-employed. Industry jobs can be found in architectural, engineering and construction services for commercial and residential buildings. As of May 2010, the median annual salary for an architect was $78, 530 (www.bls.gov ).
A NAAB-accredited Doctor of Architecture program is rare. Students who want to take their architectural studies to the highest level can earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Architecture, a Ph.D. in Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, or a Ph.D. in Educational Studies with a specialization in architecture education.