Should I Get A Master’s Degree In Architecture?
If you want to work as a licensed architect, obtaining a professional degree through a bachelor of architecture program is the educational preparation you need. This usually takes five years to complete. To qualify for licensure, you need to obtain a paid internship and pass the Architect Registration Exam. If you opt for this program, you can choose to obtain a master’s degree in architecture which would allow you to specialize in a particular field, such as designing high performance buildings or healthcare facilities. Strictly speaking, however, an advanced degree is not a requirement to get into the profession for as long as you are already a licensed architect.
Designing beautiful, functional and safe structures where people can live and move in is the forte of architects. It’s a career that requires a lot of preparation due to the many technical skills and knowledge that needs to be learned for one to be able to proficiently practice the profession. The educational entry-level requirement to become an architect is the professional Bachelor of Architecture (B. Arch) degree which takes five years to complete. This will be your ticket towards an internship which will give you practical experience in the field. Passing the Architect Registration Exam is the final hurdle that will ultimately allow you to work as an architect.
If a Bachelor of Architecture degree is the educational requirement to become an architect, where does a master’s degree in architecture fit in? The following points should make it clear if you still need to pursue this postgraduate program:
You should get a master’s of architecture degree if:
- You don’t have a professional degree in architecture. If you did not graduate from a five-year Bachelor of Architecture program, you don’t have a professional degree and cannot practice as an architect. A Bachelor of Arts in Architecture or a Bachelor of Science in Architecture graduate still requires a Master’s of Architecture (M. Arch) degree in order to fulfill the educational requirements to become a professional architect. An M. Arch will take about two years to complete for those with these bachelor’s degrees.
- You have an undergraduate degree that is not related to architecture. If you have a bachelor’s degree apart from architecture, you will need to take a Master’s of Architecture degree to be able to work as an architect. It will take you anywhere from three to three-and-a-half years to complete the M. Arch if you have an undergraduate degree not related to architecture or architectural studies.
You don’t need to get a master’s of architecture degree if:
- You already graduated from a professional architecture program—that means the Bachelor of Architecture (B. Arch) degree. Take note that this is only as far as your professional qualifications are concerned. There are advanced master’s degree programs in architecture that cater to professional architects.
If you are already a professional architect and want to specialize in a particular field in architecture, you can go back to school to earn an advanced master’s degree. These postgraduate programs allow you to focus on aspects like urban design, sustainable technology and other specializations in the architectural field. Obtaining a master’s degree in architecture is also a good idea if you simply want to deepen your knowledge about architecture in general. Master’s degree programs also give students studio experience in designing structures as well as provide them the opportunity to come up with designs that address issues affecting contemporary architecture.
You will be given problems to solve which will require you to draw on the technical, environmental and aesthetic knowledge you have learned in your classes. These will enable you to become not only a good architect but will also develop you into a professional who is in touch with the evolving trends in this dynamic field.
However, a master’s degree in architecture is necessary for those who have taken a pre-professional degree in architecture or other undergraduate degrees that are not related to the field, and want to obtain a professional degree in architecture. There are a couple of ways to earn these master’s degree programs. The first is the “4+2” degree program intended for those who already hold a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree in architecture or a similar field. In this program, the “4” refers to the number of years it takes to complete an undergraduate degree while the “2” refers to the number of years it would take to finish a master’s degree in architecture.
The other method of obtaining a master’s in architecture is through the “4+3” path. This method is longer since it is for those whose undergraduate degrees are entirely in another degree and not related to architecture in any way. The “4” would be the number of years it would take to complete your bachelor’s degree in any field. Meanwhile, the “3” refers to the number of years it would take to finish your master’s degree in architecture. While this path may be a little circuitous, the good thing about it is that you get to study a bachelor’s degree program in another field that you are also interested in. No matter which path you choose, successful completion would help prepare you to experience the real world through paid internships as well as to sit for the architectural exam so you can become licensed architects.
Advanced master’s degrees in architecture are also necessary if you want to go into a research, consulting or teaching. Depending on the specialization you wish to undertake, a master’s degree program will equip you with critical writing and research skills and deepen your knowledge about a particular specialization so you can become an expert in the field you intend to focus in. A master’s degree in architecture is also the minimum requirement to land teaching positions in colleges and universities, although a doctoral degree is often necessary for fulltime positions in the academe.
The decision to pursue a master’s degree will depend on the kind of architectural training you have already undertaken for your bachelor’s degree and your desire to become a professional architect if your background is in a field not related to architecture.