Why Does It Take So Long to Earn an Undergraduate Degree in Architecture

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If you’ve always dreamed of designing buildings, you might be discouraged to learn that it takes a good deal of time to get started in this career path. It takes longer to earn a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.) degree than it does to earn an undergraduate degree in most other fields. Even once you graduate, you need years of training as an intern before you can take the test to become a licensed architect. However, if you really want to follow your dream, you’ll find that the time you spend studying is well spent when you enroll in one of the top undergraduate architecture degree programs in the United States. These programs offer an outstanding curriculum, including academic concentrations in the subjects that most interest you and plenty of opportunity to gain design experience.

A Five-Year Curriculum

Though bachelor’s degrees are routinely referred to as “four-year” degrees, it takes five years of full-time study to earn your B.Arch. degree, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. The Bachelor of Architecture is a professional degree, one that must equip students not only with the theoretical knowledge of architecture concepts and principles but also the skills to design buildings that are safe, functional and aesthetically pleasing.

In an accredited program, students will study the history and theory of architecture. They will learn about the design of different types of structures, the construction methods used in creating buildings, and the strategies behind operating professional practices. Undergraduate architecture students also study physical science, mathematics and the liberal arts, the BLS reported.

One reason it takes so long to earn an undergraduate degree in architecture is due to accreditation requirements. To earn accreditation from the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), professional bachelor’s degree programs in architecture must require 150 semester hours of study, compared to the 120 hours required for the typical bachelor’s degree in another subject.

A Focus on Design Experience

One of the main reasons it takes so learn to earn your architecture degree is because you need to develop your design skills. While students may be introduced to building design concepts and the use of computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) software in the classroom, it takes time and practice to refine these skills. That’s why design studio work is an integral part of most undergraduate degree programs in architecture. In the design studio setting, you will develop your own hand-drawn and computer-based sketches and create three-dimensional models of building structures.

It’s not unusual for students to take at least two design studio courses per semester for at least eight of their semesters of study. In fact, many undergraduate architecture students spend just half of their time studying in the classroom and the other half drafting, sketching and building models of structures in the design studio. If you study at one of the top B.Arch. programs in the country, you should expect to spend a good deal of your education in the design studio during every semester of college. You may even have the opportunity to work with local architectural firms or civic leaders, or even to travel abroad to do some design work overseas.

When you choose to study architecture at the bachelor’s level, you’re making a long-term commitment – but it’s a commitment that will prepare you for a well-paying career in what you might consider your “dream job.”