Although an online architecture degree seems highly specialized, architecture is actually one of the most versatile and multidisciplinary majors. The discipline combines a reliance on numbers and rigid calculations with an appreciation for aesthetic and creative design. Furthermore, the utilitarian nature of the subject means that career opportunities are vast, from commercial construction to parks and recreation to environmental sustainability. And although you won’t find many full degree options available at the undergraduate level (it takes at least five years from start to finish to get all the training you need), there are several options for graduate students.
Architecture Degree Online 2020: Top 10 Values Methodology
We looked at approximately 25 colleges and universities listed online from reputable sources and from the Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) College Navigator that offered graduate-level architecture degree online programs. We narrowed our original pool of schools by applying the following criteria: Online or hybrid completion options, school or program rankings with U.S. News and World Report, and graduate tuition and fees less than $25,500 per year.
Below is our list of architecture degree online programs listed according to raw affordability.
Online Architecture Degree from the Best Architecture Schools 2020
#10 – Academy of Art University
Online Master’s in Architecture
San Francisco, California
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $25,044
Creative, art-based subjects are often difficult to teach in an online format. And it makes sense: how can you effectively use distance education to discuss topics that rely so heavily on clear visuals and interactive projects? The Academy of Art University may have found a solution. Live web conferences, online guest speakers and reviewers, and collaborative projects lend a dynamic feel to the virtual classrooms of this affordable architecture online degree. Programs are available to both bachelor’s and master’s students. The latter has earned NAAB accreditation, and the former currently holds candidacy status. The course list is also intentionally versatile, giving you a broad set of skills to support a career in architecture, urban design, or even teaching.
#9 – Boston Architectural College
Online Master of Architecture
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $24,994
Boston Architectural College offers a unique low-residency master’s in architecture degree online program that is professionally accredited and designed for students with a background in architecture. The low-residency model allows students to work full-time, continuing to gain valuable architecture experience while earning their master’s degree. Since a bachelor’s degree in architecture or design is required for admission, graduate students typically finish their master’s in two to 2.5 years. Working while earning the degree is the norm. Flexible completion options allow students to take a semester of study online or onsite. Boston Architectural College is a private institution recognized by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top arts institution.
#8 – Lawrence Technological University
Online Master of Architecture
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $20,406
For the past 80 years, Lawrence Technological University has built a name for itself as a leader in vocational education. But instead of traditional blue-collar programs, LTU is reinventing career-driven training for the modern era with degrees in IT, industrial engineering, educational technology, and others. Lawrence Tech’s select list of forward-thinking programs includes an accredited architecture online degree for graduate students. Designed specifically for working professionals with a background in design and construction, this program offers an NAAB-approved curriculum that takes only15 months to complete. And with the exception of a “Critical Practice Studio” summer class that requires face-to-face visits, you can earn an LTU Master of Architecture degree entirely online. Lawrence Technological University is also recognized by U.S. News and World Report as a top regional university in the Midwest, adding to its reputation.
#7 – Chatham University
Online Master’s in Interior Architecture
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,744
Chatham University puts a spin on the basic architecture online degree by adding a focus on interior design. Design theory and sustainability are integral aspects of the curriculum, and challenging coursework encourages students to think critically, actively engage in research, and practice mindfulness in their professional work. This unique approach is one of the reasons the American Society of Interior Designers recently praised Chatham as a “leader in sustainability.” The 100% online, 30-credit program is available to both part-time and full-time students. What’s more, Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) credits could put you ahead of schedule right out of the gate. In addition to the school’s uniqueness, Chatham ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, Chatham ranks #62 in best regional universities in the North and #82 in best value schools, making it a top choice for students seeking a reputable and ranked institution.
#6 – University of Washington
Online Master of Infrastructure Planning and Management
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,590
University of Washington’s Professional and Continuing Education offers a two-year, part-time and fully online master’s degree in infrastructure planning and management. Students enrolled in the graduate program examine infrastructure systems through the lens of strategic planning and policy analysis. While not your typical architecture degree online, the program emphasizes critical infrastructure resilience to man-made and natural threats and hazards. Courses are delivered online to provide a flexible learning environment, making it ideal for working students. By studying at UW, students gain a quality education from one of the oldest public universities on the West Coast. UW ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 59th best national university in the country.
#5 – Southern Illinois University
Online Master of Architecture
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $15,626
In addition to being one of the more affordable online architecture degrees, the Master of Architecture at Southern Illinois University Carbondale offers one of the most comprehensive and in-depth program options on our list. Students must complete 42 credits of classwork and cannot apply past work experiences toward this number. Working together in cohort-style modules, SIU architecture students take a combination of online and on-campus courses each semester. You’ll take a full studio course each term, while a combination of face-to-face activities (weekends only, no more than once a month) and asynchronous electives round out your experience. Perhaps most importantly, this NAAB-accredited architecture degree online qualifies graduates for NCARB certification. Ranked highly by U.S. News and World Report, SIU also offers a solid reputation for graduate study. In fact, U.S. News ranks SIU #226 in best national universities and #129 in top public schools.
#4 – University of Florida
Online Master’s in Sustainable Design
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,737
Ranking highly on our list of architecture online degree rankings is the University of Florida, which houses a reputable program in sustainable design. The three-semester curriculum combines a unique set of topics that will position you to be a “leader in the sustainability revolution.” Although you won’t enjoy the full convenience of 100% online courses, the degree is self-described as “low residency.” With limited on-campus requirements and a diverse structure, which melds lessons in construction and urban planning with lectures on historic preservation and landscape design, this program aims to provide a little something for everyone. And given the range of tuition prices on this list, it also ranks as one of the top affordable online architecture degrees available. UF is also ranked with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the school ranks #35 in the best national universities and #91 in best value schools, making it a top choice among competing institutions.
#3 – Arizona State University
Online Master’s in Engineering – Sustainable Engineering
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,134
For the STEM-bent student with an engineering background, the online master’s in sustainable engineering at Arizona State University is an ideal choice. According to the program’s website, the goal of sustainable engineering is to provide long-lasting improvement of the human condition. As a result, this program transcends the traditional engineering pathway and integrates economic, environmental, and social factors into engineering theory and technology design. A total of ten classes are required, which can be taken entirely online. Classes run 15 weeks and include topics like earth systems and industrial ecology, green buildings and construction practices, infrastructure systems, and introduction to systems engineering. ASU ranks with U.S. News and World Report as a top institution. In fact, ASU ranks #115 in the best national universities.
#2 – Kansas State University Global Campus
Online Master’s in Community Development
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,069
What is a program in “Community Development” doing on a list of online architecture degrees? To students at Kansas State University, the answer is obvious. Shifting the focus away from personal and commercial design, KSU’s master’s degree provides training for careers in regional planning, community housing, and outdoor design/parks and recreation. Since the degree is a part of the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance, it is uniquely accessible by students from universities all across the region. The flexibility of the program also lets you choose whether to cap your studies with a full thesis (six required credits) or less intimidating Master’s Report (two required credits). KSU ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 147th best national university and 75th top public school in the country.
#1 – University of Nebraska
Online Master’s in Architecture – Interior Design
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,588
Although this program is online and available internationally, don’t be fooled by its seemingly universal accessibility. The graduate degree in architecture and interior design is about as rigorous as they come. You’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree from a CIDA-approved program to be considered for admission, and you’ll have to maintain at least a 3.0 GPA if you want to stay. This commitment to top-notch academics has paid off for the University of Nebraska Lincoln, too. A recent survey of more than 200 design and architecture firms ranked this M.S. in Interior Design as one of the absolute best architecture degrees online. In addition to architecture program recognition, the school has received acknowledgment from major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the University of Nebraska ranks #129 in best national universities and #95 in best value schools.
By CVO Staff
This concludes our list of top value online architecture degree programs for 2020 from the best architecture schools.