Bachelor of Arts in Architecture vs Bachelor of Architecture

If you’re considering a degree in architecture, you may be wondering what the difference is between a bachelor of arts in architecture degree versus a bachelor of architecture degree. While there are certain similarities between the two, it’s important to know the distinctions and how they can apply to your future. Depending on your career goals and particular skill set, one degree may be a better fit than the other. In this article, we’ll discuss the specifics of each, including program requirements, career information and continuing education options.

How To Choose Your Degree: An Overview

For students looking to earn their undergraduate degree as a licensed architect, choosing a Bachelor of Architecture degree is the preferred program of choice. Also referred to as a B.Arch, this professional degree typically takes a minimum of five years to complete. Additionally, there are certain states that require prospective architects to complete a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board to work as professionals, typically completed as an internship.

In the instance that you’re looking to become a paraprofessional within an architectural firm or related industry (such as a project manager or project designer), a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture is a suitable program for you. Since this is considered a pre-professional degree, Bachelor of Arts in Architecture students who wish to pursue their architectural license at a later date would need to complete a professional Master of Architecture degree or comparable graduate program in order to receive certification.

Program Requirements: What To Expect

Although B.A. and B.Arch programs both include similar introductory coursework that encompasses architectural design, building construction and the history of architecture, requirements for students who remain in a B.A. program typically include architectural computer graphic classes, as well as study of structures and environments and design studio classes. Schools that offer both program types may allow students who are enrolled in a B.A. program to transfer into a B.Arch program after they’ve completed their first two years of study.

Students enrolled in a B.Arch program are traditionally required to complete the following types of coursework:

  • Classes in professional development
  • An extensive array of studio courses, which generally culminate in professional practice projects
  • A study-abroad period of at least one semester
  • An internship after graduation in order to fulfill state licensing requirements

Upon successful completion of this phase, prospective architects may sit for the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) and become fully licensed.

Career Opportunities: Looking Ahead

For students who complete their B.A. in Architecture and choose not to continue within a professional architecture program, they may decide to pursue jobs in areas including computer-aided design, drafting, or even construction management, depending on their specific interests and professional aspirations. However, most graduates of B.Arch programs go on to become licensed architects.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for construction managers are expected to increase by 5%, while those who work as drafters are projected to see a 3% decline in employment during the 2014-2024 decade. During this time, employment for architects, excluding landscape and naval, is projected to grow by 7%.

The BLS also reported that as of May 2016, the average salary was $99,510 for construction managers, $54,290 for architectural and civil drafters and $84,470 for architects, excluding landscape and naval.

Continuing Education: Exploring Your Options

For individuals who have completed a B.A. in Architecture, aspiring architects can enroll in a professional Master of Architecture (M.Arch) program to prepare for licensure in the field. Alternately, certain schools offer separate accelerated tracks for those with a B.A. in Architecture, as compared to those with a B.S. or B.A. in a different field. For B.Arch program graduates who wish to broaden their area of expertise, post-professional Master of Architecture (M.Arch. II) degrees are available. Both B.A. in Architecture and B.Arch. program graduates may also pursue non-professional M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in architecture and related topics, such as the history of architecture, computer science, and matter design computation.

In summary, prospective architecture students can choose between B.Arch and B.A. in Architecture programs based on their academic interests, educational goals, individual skill sets and long-term career aspirations. A B.Arch degree is advantageous if you are serious about becoming an architect – since this is a highly-focused program, you are immediately immersed in relevant coursework right from the start.  However, if you’re uncertain as to your career path, the B.A./M.Arch route allows you a bit more flexibility with regard to coursework and pursuing a major before you commit to the M.Arch program.