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Master's Degree Programs in Architectural Design

Learn about master's programs in architectural design and the classes offered in them. Find out about career outlook for professionals with this education along with salary data.

Can I Earn a Master's Degree in Architectural Design?

Many schools offer Master of Architecture (M.Arch) programs that cover both the practical and theoretical aspects of architectural design. Unlike most master's degree programs, an M.Arch program is likely to take you three years to complete. During that time, you will study architectural history, problem solving, fundamental design and comprehensive design. The coursework is split between the classroom and the design studio. Most schools will require you to present a final design project to complete the program.

Degree Level Master of Architecture
Common Courses Decorative design, construction, environmental systems, history of architecture, structural technology
Learning Environment Traditional classroom and online degree options are available
Possible Career Architect
Median Salary (2018)$79,380* (for architects, except landscape and naval)
Job Outlook (2016-26)4% growth* (for all architects, except landscape and naval)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Kind of Courses Will I Take?

Most M.Arch programs combine design courses with history and theory classes that provide a contextual framework for the work you complete in the studio. A typical M.Arch curriculum will include courses like:

  • Environmental systems
  • Construction
  • Structural technology
  • Decorative design
  • History of architecture

During your final year or two in the program, most of your time will be spend in advanced design studios, working with faculty advisors to complete a final project. Some schools also offer opportunities to study abroad or provide internship opportunities with professional studios.

Can I Complete This Degree Online?

Although rare, some schools do offer online M.Arch programs. These programs are highly interactive and include real-time critiques of designs through software like Virtual Office, as well as video or text chat capabilities. To get started in an online program you will need a broadband Internet connection and an updated browser like Internet Explorer or Firefox. Some schools may require you to use software like Microsoft Word or Excel to complete assignments and you may also need access to AutoCAD to complete your design ideas.

What Is the Career Outlook for Architects?

What you may earn as an architect is dependent on which area of architectural design you are interested. According to studies conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2018 architects earned a median annual salary of around $79,380. The BLS also projected that professional opportunities for architects would grow about four percent between 2016 and 2026 (www.bls.gov).