*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Architects, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/architects.htm (visited March 24, 2022).
It will take you approximately four years to earn an Architecture bachelor's degree online. However, many programs are designed to take five years. If you forgo taking a semester off each summer, you could reduce that time frame.
A typical bachelor's degree can cost a student around $30,000 or more, for an in-state, public university. Since architecture students are often enrolled in five-year programs, you can expect to pay up to 25% more for your degree. If you opt for a private institution, you could pay much more.
Architecture programs tend to be quite rigid in their course offerings. Many programs offer few, if any, course options each semester. Thus, all students in a given cohort work through the same courses at the same time.
There are few, if any, substitutes for an architecture degree. Unlike many fields where you can use a related bachelor's degree to enter a master's program, architecture requires that you complete your undergraduate work as an architecture student.
Since most architecture programs are designed to take 5 years instead of four, it is important to calculate that into your plans. However, you should also do some research into the graduation rate of the colleges you are interested in attending. This information should be available on the college’s website, or by calling the department you want to join.
If you find that most students are not graduating on time, it may indicate some issue within the program itself. The graduation rate can be indicative of your future experience, so be sure to take this into account.
If you are considering becoming state-licensed, you will need to ensure that your program is accredited by NAAB. This accreditation is the gold-standard for architecture programs, but it does not pave the only path to becoming an architect. That is, if your major from a non-NAAB-accredited program was in a field closely related to architecture, you can possibly still be able to receive a certificate through the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB.)
Your program should have some community outreach in place to help your academic, and post-academic progress. During your studies, you may find it beneficial to work as an intern for area firms. These internships can be for credit, or paid jobs that help you make your way through school.
Then, when you are nearing graduation, you want to be in a position to interview with potential employers. Most architectural programs will arrange job fairs that invite top firms from your state and nationwide. Make sure you have business attire and your portfolio handy so that you can nab the very best entry-level position available.
Not only will your program's accreditation and scholastic ratings affect your ability to seek licensure in your state, but it may well impact your starting salary. That is, many employers will place a high value on incoming workers from top schools. They believe that the better schools produce higher-quality, harder workers and thus they are prepared to pay well for that labor. While great architects can come from nearly any institution, employers use ratings and accreditation as a handy guide for hiring and compensation.
If you are ready to pursue a career as an architect, you will first need to choose an accredited college. Ideally, you will have a NAAB-accredited program in your local area. If that is not possible, seek out a program that will prepare you with the skills you need to progress into the field. If you do academic work that is related to architecture, but not in a NAAB-approved program, you can possibly qualify for a certificate from NCARB. With an NCARB certificate, you can begin working with an architectural firm and sit for the ARE.
If you cannot travel to attend school, or if you are involved in a job or family situation that requires much of your time, there are online programs available. The ASCA lists four architectural programs on their website, three of which offer undergraduate degrees, and one offering a Master of Architecture.