Last Updated: May 19, 2021
Studying Architecture in the US
The study of Architecture has become increasingly complicated over the years due to the involvement of concepts like environmental sustainability and population growth. The aesthetic appeal of architecture has given way to comfortable structures of living that can accommodate a vast number of people all the while being ecologically sustainable.
Students have the option of choosing both professional and non-professional degrees in the subject. The courses they choose have to be accredited by the National Council of Architectural Registration Board. Architects have been in demand from the early 90s and continue to be so due to the requirements in planning and designing construction documents.
In the year 2019, 6,145 students have been awarded a degree in Architecture and the average in-state public tuition fee for the course is around $8,208 while the average out-of-state private tuition is around $49,035 according to Data USA. It is also considered to be a high-paying field considering how even freshers start with a salary of $70,000 and above depending on their specialization.
Benefits of Studying Architecture
Studying Architecture when compared with other courses relating to construction and design, is a job that combines both art and intelligence with technology in order to create the best environment for a suitable task. They often have to remove themselves from conventional standards and construct masterpieces from the information and requirements they are provided with. Most of their job includes construction projects that include alterations and redevelopments of existing projects.
When aesthetics is a huge part of this profession, it has to be noted that the functionality of their constructed design is most judged since they are keen on providing environments that are safe and sustainable depending on the project they are working on.
Even though the job does not pay on par with professions in law and medicine, it does provide the candidate the option to travel the world and create things that are unique while working with sketches, models, 3d drawings, photographs, etc. In contrast with courses like Civil Engineering, they have to think out of the box and offer solutions to problems relating to construction and the like.
The works under Architecture while focusing on sustainable living provides the Architect with a feeling of helping the world heal one step at a time by involving elements of nature in their designs and plans instead of only dealing with the interior and exterior of the structure at hand.
Different Courses under Architecture
Architecture is a broad field encompassing different kinds of architectural works that include certain parts of the sustainable development they focus on. Architecture may focus either only on the interior of a construction worker, the exterior of it, restoration and preservation of certain architectural masterpieces, or even the inclusion of sustainable elements to pre-existing architectural wonders.
The different areas under the broad field of Architecture include-
- Commercial Architecture
- Landscape Architecture
- Urban Designer
- Industrial Architecture
- Conservation Architecture
- Interior Architecture
- Restoration Architecture
- Research Architecture
Undergraduate Programs in Architecture
Students who wish to take a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture will have the choice of taking a professional course like B.Arch. which takes a minimum of 5 years to be completed or they could choose between non-professional courses like BA in Architecture, BS in Architecture, BFA in Architecture, or Bachelor of Environmental Design.
Non-professional degrees are chosen by students due to the comparatively lesser number of years they have to take up while studying the course. A non-professional program typically can be completed within 4 years though it is mandatory that students have to complete their Master’s degree after this to get a license to practice.
Common Courses in Undergraduate Programs of Architecture
The courses that are to be expected while taking up an undergraduate program in architecture are-
- Architectural Theory
- Architectural Design History
- Graphic Design
- Liberal Arts
Graduate Programs in Architecture
Taking a Master’s degree in Architecture is a different process for students from a different background and for students from an architectural background. Students who have completed their undergraduate course in Architecture will be able to complete their Master’s within one or two years. But for students who come from another discipline, the course might take above 3 years to be completed depending upon the university they are in.
Students who are studying in the US will have to ensure that the M.Arch. course they are joining has been accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board. The course will include subjects like the history of architecture along with the theoretical training that architects require. During their Master’s, students will be able to continue learning about concepts like environmental designs, architectural principles, etc. and at the same time concentrate on any one specialization like urban studies, architectural history, etc. based on which they can choose their career.
Common Courses in Graduate Programs of Architecture
The common courses that are present in most Master’s degrees in Architecture are-
- Architectural Engineering
- Design Theory
- Architectural History
- Environmental System
- Building Simulation
- Structural Design
- Contemporary Construction
Doctoral Programs in Architecture
Research scholars will be able to complete their doctoral degree in Architecture within a duration of 3 to 4 years. Most students do not move us forward as taking D.Arch. This is due to the fact that the subject is professional in nature and often requires over 8 years to complete both Bachelors and Masters. Another factor is that the is only one University in the US that NAAB has accredited for D.Arch. This is the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
The course at the University of Hawaii includes both coursework and professional office practice in a combined manner. This is followed by a capstone project that has to be completed in order to receive the Ph.D. Most often, it is a requirement for students to have a pre-professional/non-professional degree in order to apply for the D.Arch. But these courses are in themselves not accredited by the NAAB. Students will be able to join the doctoral program after their 5-year undergraduate program in architecture.
Another option that students have is to take a Ph.D. in Architecture which is different from the D.Arch. in the sense that it is more academic in nature than professional. Also, a Ph.D. in Architecture is not accredited by NAAB. The only programs accredited by NAAB are B.Arch., M.Arch., and D.Arch. While students who have a Ph.D. in Architecture may not be able to practice Architecture, they will be able to take up teaching jobs at universities for similar courses.
Top Universities for Architecture
The best Schools of Architecture in the US according to the QS Rankings are-
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Harvard University
- University of California, Berkeley
- Columbia University
- University of California, Los Angeles
- Georgia Institute of Technology
- Cornell University
- University of Pennsylvania
Career Opportunities after Architecture
Candidates who have completed their NAAB accredited Bachelor’s degree in Architecture will be able to practice their academic knowledge in the professional sphere by taking the Architectural Registration Examination
. The requirements for the exam vary from state to state. When some states require them to graduate from a NAAB accredited place, others also require them to have professional experience prior to taking the test.
The career options available to architects are as follows-
- Architect- They deal with the planning, design, and upkeep of buildings and other structures. Their job includes both site visits and office work along with meetings with their clientele.
Median Salary: $82,320
- Construction Manager- Their job requires them to stay on the worksite and manage the constructional works from start to finish.
Median Salary: $97,180
- Facility Manager- They deal with all tasks associated with installations and refurbishments in order to maintain the standards for health and safety. Their work will include conducting inspections of buildings to state whether they require repairs.
Median Salary: $83,142-$110,950
- Urban/Regional Planner- They deal with the planning and creation of programs that can both deal with population growth and create communities.
Median Salary: $75,950
Salary Outlook for Architects
Department of Labor predicts that over the next ten years, the employment of architects will increase more rapidly than the average for all occupations.
According to most recent US Department of Labor statistics, architects in the USA earn between ~$40,000 and ~$130,000 a year. The mean annual wage is ~$75,000 per year, and the mean hourly rate is $37.
Popular Architecture Firms
Some top-rated Architecture firms are-
- William Rawn Associates
- Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
- Rafael Vinoly Architects
- Perkins + Will
- Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects