2017 Top Online Schools for Architecture

Scroll down to see the top not-for-profit colleges offering architecture degrees online.

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Lawrence Technological University

Lawrence Technical University offers an online Master of Architecture (M.Arch.) degree with a concentration in architectural design and practice. The 15-month program is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). The curriculum includes courses in design theory, professional practice, ecological issues, and research methods. Students who graduate from the program are eligible to sit for the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) Architectural Registration Examination to become licensed architects. It is possible to complete all the required courses for the M.Arch. degree online, with the exception of the Critical Practice Studio class. Students have to come to campus during the summer semester to take the class, which consists of five intensive weekend sessions and includes a field trip.


Boston Architectural College

Boston Architectural College offers a Distance Track Master of Architecture degree that is accredited by the National Architecture Accrediting Board (NAAB). The program can be completed in seven semesters, but students who qualify for advanced standing can complete the program in five semesters. Majority of the required courses is available online. However, students begin each semester with an 8-day residency on campus. The curriculum includes courses that cover topics such as structural systems, the history of architecture and design, research in architecture and human relations, fundamentals in urbanism, and architectural technology. Students submit a portfolio for review at the end of semester four, before proceeding with the remainder of the program. The last three semesters focus on thesis research and writing.


Philadelphia University

Students accepted to the online Master of Science in Sustainable Design (MSSD) program at Philadelphia University can earn the degree in two years following a full-time plan of study. The required courses for the degree are structured to provide students with an integrated experience that balances instruction with practical hands-on training. Students enroll in classes that cover topics such as adaptive design, green materials and life-cycle assessment, and the principles and methods of sustainable design. MSSD students have access to the Center for Sustainability, Energy Efficiency and Design (SEED), a multi-disciplinary space that offers specialized training in green product integration and sustainable building design. A nine-credit, self-directed thesis project must be completed by each student in order to graduate from the program.


University of Nebraska-Lincoln

The University of Nebraska in Lincoln offers a Master of Science in Architecture degree with a specialization in interior design that can be completed entirely online. This is a 36-credit program that provides students with the opportunity to study subject areas such as the behavioral and social factors in environmental design behavior, architectural preservation, environments for special needs, and housing issues in contemporary architecture. Students are required to complete a field research or internship program, as well as write a thesis, in order to graduate with the degree. Although courses are offered asynchronously, students are expected to complete classwork, interact online with their instructors and peers, and submit all degree requirements in a timely fashion as they progress towards the degree.

CAG Score 95.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

25,006 Students


Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC) offers an online Master of Architecture (M.Arch.) degree that is accredited by the National Architecture Accrediting Board (NAAB). Applicants must have completed at least 126 hours of credit in their undergraduate program. The M.Arch. degree is a cohort-based program that is comprised of 42 graduate credits and can be completed in 16-20 months. Some courses may require periodic on-campus sessions, which are typically scheduled on weekends (no more than one weekend in a month). The program includes both asynchronous and synchronous courses. All coursework for the degree must be earned at SIUC. The curriculum includes courses that cover a wide range of topics such as global traditions in architecture, architectural theory, and environmental behavior studies in architecture.


Chatham University

The College for Continuing and Professional Studies at Chatham University offers a Master of Science in Interior Architecture (MSIA) degree that can be pursued entirely online. Full-time students can complete the program in just one year; the degree can also be earned following a part-time plan of study. The program consists of 30 credits and offers an emphasis on design theory. It is intended for students with an undergraduate degree in architecture or interior design. Qualified graduate students are considered for the Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) program. PLA credits may be awarded after a critical assessment of a student's portfolio or after passing a challenge exam. Online students have the option of defending their thesis in residence at the university.


Western Dakota Technical Institute

Western Dakota Tech offers an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in computer-aided drafting (CAD) technology that is comprised of 71 credit hours and designed to be completed in 18 months. Students receive extensive hands-on training and acquire the skills needed to produce accurate technical drawings using the latest software and industry-standard CAD systems. The curriculum offers coursework that cover a wide range of essential topics such as drafting fundamentals, mechanical principles, introduction to mapping, 3D architectural design, and computer automated manufacturing. The program prepares students for entry-level work in the civil, mechanical, and architectural CAD fields. In addition, students gain valuable exposure to the latest software programs and different working and living environments, and learn about sustainable design issues as well.


North Dakota State College of Science

The North Dakota State College of Science offers an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in architectural drafting and estimating technology. Students accepted to the program can pursue the degree in the Wahpeton campus or online. The program provides hands-on training in computer-aided drafting (CAD) and in building information modeling (BIM). The 70-credit curriculum includes coursework that cover essential topics such as construction estimating, architectural drafting, commercial methods and materials, construction safety, and structural wood design. Emphasis is given to green and/or sustainable construction and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. Students who earn the AAS in Architectural Drafting and Estimating Technology degree can take advantage of available transfer options to four-year colleges that are in place for this program.

Evaluating Online Architecture Degrees

Since architecture is a hands-on discipline, there are almost no undergraduate programs offered online. You will, however, find a number of hybrid programs that combine online classes (e.g. general education credits) with in-school labs and coursework. Online graduate programs/certificates for architects who already have work experience or licensure are much more common.

In your initial search, avoid for-profit schools with low completion rates and high student loan default rates. Instead, we recommend you look for a university with:

  • Regional accreditation
  • NAAB accreditation for professional architecture degree programs
  • A College or School of Architecture with a strong “brick and mortar” reputation (e.g. high rankings, groundbreaking research, award-winning professors, business/government partnerships in your discipline, etc.)
  • Internships, co-ops and/or hands-on labs organized in your local area
  • The same faculty teaching both the on-campus and online courses
  • Dedicated distance learning support services
  • Career centers with strong job placement figures


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