Online Masters Degree


Has anyone been seeing an influx of new kids with this new online architecture master degree? We have two kids in our office with this online master degrees. WTF is this bullshit? Personally think it’s a crock of shit and a student loan mill. It offends me really... i dedicate and sacrifice so much and hear these kids say it was a breeze walk. What had our profession come too? Plus NCARB making the exams easier in my opinion... what are we doing flooding the market with architects? My university you had to make the cut after the first year... now if you have a pulse your are in!

What is your opinion on this crockery? 

May 14, 18 5:56 pm

sorry for grammar... fuming here 

May 14, 18 6:01 pm

I would be interested in how they perform compared to the traditional graduates that you hire? Is it noticeably different ?


"what are we doing flooding the market with architects?"

Are we [they] flooding the market with architects? My understanding is that a lot of the changes, especially on NCARB's side, were in response to dwindling numbers, not simply bar-lowering to bring in the masses.

I've never heard of an online degree program. Do you have examples? Are they accredited? 

May 14, 18 6:13 pm

They are a few where you don’t even need to be near campus. You just show up to “studio” for like 5 days and that’s it. Yes they are accredited somehow.


oneLOSTarchitect, There are about 3 or so online/distance learning architecture programs that are NAAB accredited. One is BAC (Boston Architecture College) online M.Arch and they have an on-campus intensive session every semester which is an 8 day residency intensive per semester. Another one is LTU which has a distance/online M.Arch which is NAAB accredited and has a similar deal where over the summer is what they call the "Critical Practice Studio" ( ). The next one is the AAU (Academy of Arts University) online architecture degree program. They offer both a B.Arch and an M.Arch program online. AAU does not require any on-campus attendance. ALL THREE OF THESE INSTITUTIONS HAVE ON-CAMPUS VERSION OF THEIR DEGREE PROGRAMS. ALL OF THREE OF THEM ARE NAAB ACCREDITED. As I wrote this, ACSA indicated there is yet another online M.Arch (NAAB accredited) program by the Southern Illinois University. In that program, it is indicated that some courses may utilize on-campus sessions from time to time on weekends but no more than once per month. This program is really geared for students who may live too far to be on-campus on a regular daily basis but isn't really intended for national to international level as the travel can be challenging. Students are usually regional but not in the immediate area of the campus. There are rational reasons for attending online programs in some situations. Say, you are licensed in a state that didn't require an NAAB accredited degree to get license and you now have an office... and you need to take an NAAB accredited degree to further your ability for reciprocity. You live too far away to go to campus on a daily basis. You have an office so you can't just uproot and leave to a place where you are not licensed and don't have a name in that locale. There are also students who may be working for an employer willing to work around their classes but they live too far from an NAAB accredited architecture school program to on campus on the traditional level. You might say, "just quit that job, move to the campus and get a job there." That could be irresponsible advice. It depends on a lot of factors in each person's life. Bottom line: There are some situations where it maybe appropriate. If the student performs comparable to that of those coming out of on-campus architecture schools that are NAAB accredited, I don't see an issue to complain about. Sometimes what people are saying they would miss out in.... (staying up all night getting drunk with fellow students while working architectural studio projects?... I think students can do just fine missing out on some of that.) I would say that group projects maybe more difficult over an online platform but it isn't impossible and we have technology today that can make it seemless if you and your team members are adept with these technologies so that it's kind of second nature. There would be a different work process. In my opinion, students in these online programs will need to work in a manner where they can be in instant communication using programs like Skype and other programs to keep in contact via voice or even video conferencing. I did group projects via IRC (instant textual chat communication). You would need to use computer technology to keep a relatively close to real-time communication line between you and your team members for efficiency. In this day and age, we have that technology. Much of it is relatively free in that it doesn't add to the basic costs because you would already have internet. It is more than possible but it won't be the same as in-person but it would be an equivalent alternative when used effectively.


I was thinking this would be a more cost-effective option, but that LTU program is still $41k!! That's not cheap!


Rick, Now that you're an expert on online university options, are you going to complete a degree?  I think you mentioned that you were making progress awhile ago, not sure where that stands anymore.


shellarchitect, I have completed an associates degree a long time ago, and some. What is in progress (nearing completion) is a second associates in historic preservation as to complete that. When I'm saying nearing completion, I mean it like by mid-June of this year. As for a bachelor's degree, I'll worry about it later. Another note of completion, all of the Direct Stafford student loans are paid off now. Just saying. In addition, the goal is to save up some money so I wouldn't have to depend entirely on student loans to pay for it. I would prefer to not have to use them. The reason I had used student loans for classes at University of Oregon was because of the housing and food allowance because the expense because the grants parts only covered tuition, fees, and only a paltry part of the books/supplies and personal expenses. Therefore, it wouldn't cover a B.Arch type program. Paying off the loans also resets the available amount of money for student loans that I could take if I need it but I would rather not use the student loans unless absolutely necessary. I rather not be back into a swollen debt situation for student loans.

Non Sequitur

I've seen/heard of them mostly through interns and college kids who either can't or won't do the formal 2 to 4y M.arch.  There is apparently one offered out of some uni in Detroit (I think) with quite a low bar for entry.    I don't think these online wankers are coming for my job.

May 14, 18 7:56 pm

Yes one in Detroit suburbs.


There are accredited online degrees from the usual arch diploma-mill suspects (Boston, Academy of Art, etc.).

Not sure why you're mad about it though unless you see them as a threat to your position. If online degree kids are threatening your position then.. well.. lol sorry bud you probably suck.

May 14, 18 9:11 pm

Not threatened and no I don’t suck. Just pissed off about making this profession a joke now.


Many degrees can be obtained online nowadays... and not just joke professions at joke schools. MBA, engineering, computer science, nursing, etc are just some of the degrees offered online from many legit schools such as Columbia, NYU, USC, Berkeley, CMU, etc. This is a trend that will only get more popular. So get used to it old man. Evolve or die.


Well I think it’s a joke when I hear ASU online courses being advertised on Michigan radio


My Master's in Architecture is from an 'on-line' school. It is a traditional school that offers on line degrees. I had to fly to the school for 5 weekends (which wasn't cheap or easy). I received my undergrad from a traditional non-on line school. If I had to compare the two, I learned more from the on-line school than the traditional school. I couldn't go the traditional route for my master's because I am married with two kids. I had to work while going to school and there are no local architecture schools that would work for me. I enjoyed every minute of doing my master's and wouldn't trade that experience for the world. It was a necessary step towards getting my license.

May 16, 18 8:25 am

I believe that you learned a lot. I've taken online language courses (although they were community college so much lower caliber) and I learned a ton. What did you do during the 5 weekends? Were you creating, presenting, critiquing projects? Or something else?? I'm just curious how this works out. I've seen some hypotheticals on how the curriculum for an online MArch could be structured but never met anyone who's gone through one.

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The online colleges need to be made to put a bar sinister on the online degree they award to distinguish themselves from the $60,000 a year tuition Ivy crowd. Perhaps the graduates, female anyway, could start out as scullery maids in the break room?

May 16, 18 8:27 am

I did some research on this 4 or 5 years ago for an article (which ended up having a somewhat different focus, because of the difficulty in getting info about grads from online architecture programs - see below).  At the time the Academy of Art University was offering the only truly online NAAB-accredited degree.  All of the others required some amount of in-person crits each semester, and/or some minimum of in-person short courses or summer intensives.

I'm surprised you're seeing anything approaching an "influx" of grads from online programs.  When I contacted the Academy of Art they couldn't put me in touch with even one person who had successfully completed the degree program or any current students, and they hemmed and hawed about "unavailable statistics" regarding how many architecture grads they had - so I wasn't sure there were any at all. I located a few current and former students, none of whom had stayed long enough to receive a degree.  At least some of the prospective architecture students were required to complete several courses of remedial or general college liberal arts "prerequisites" before they were allowed to enter the architecture degree program, despite having completed previous degrees - so maybe there is some gate-keeping, and on the other hand maybe that is a scheme to keep students in the for-profit university longer.

May 16, 18 11:35 am

It might be an institutional policy to not disclose private information of students who have graduated and are no longer attending the college. In part is, they can not confirm the accuracy because when students graduate and are on their career journey, they might simply not be keeping the AAU up to date on their contact information. No college will give that information to some stranger over the phone or email. 

Have you tried LinkedIn? or or or or

This is just to name a few. Since I'm not bound by such things like FERPA or institutional policies in connection with disclosing Linkedin profiles. If you want to interview them, there is a place to start.


As I stated: my research was for an article that I wrote approximately 5 years ago. All but one of the links you provided are profiles of people who graduated or left this school within the last two years. In 2013 when I sought this information, I could only find a few current or former students - no graduates.


They had only started introducing some courses of their M.Arch degree program in 2009. It wasn't until around 2010-2011 or 2011-2012 academic year that they begun to have a full online M.Arch program. (Internet Archive is your friend in this case) I suppose people weren't as prominent on disclosing their education on LinkedIn. Add to that, those who did take an online M.Arch probably didn't want to say they took it online in fear of being derided or harassed about it. You should have waited until about 2015 or even now for a pool of students. As for whether they took the degree online or on-campus depends. When you have students from the international front obtaining an NAAB accredited degree in architecture so they can practice in the U.S. and abroad as these degrees are usually recognized outside the U.S. and they may have their own online social networks popular in their countries. So who the hell knows. Not everyone in the architecture field even has a LinkedIn profile. There is also Facebook which may or may not have the listing of one's education. The online M.Arch began shortly after my community college began it's historic preservation program. When I applied to UO and their architecture program, there wasn't yet an entirely online M.Arch. They only recently started an online B.Arch program. It is still only fairly new.


my M.Arch is from LTU, which offers an online degree.  I have a low opinion of the online program.  there were some good professors at LTU, but the online students don't really have access to them.

My undergrad is from Detroit Mercy, which seems like a much better program by every measure.

May 16, 18 12:19 pm

LTU isn't completely online - the "Critical Practice Studio" requires several weekends of in-person attendance in the summer.


Do you live in Detroit metro? I currently have my feelers out in the market and have run into a lot of LTU

OneLostArchitect master grads... I also went to UDM on 6 mile for acouple classes


I am in metro Detroit, shouldn't be too hard to find a spot here if you are looking to move back.


i'm not sure I can give advice on great firms to work at, but I can certainly tell you where not to go. I've worked at 7 firms since 2004, a couple were pretty short stays


Hi Shell we might have crossed paths at one of those firms.


oneLOSTarchitect, BTW: many LTU students who are living in the area close to LTU are taking the M.Arch the traditional on-campus way. Considering LTU is in the Detroit area, you should expect to see LTU graduates in the area.


I agree it is quite a departure from when we needed to have cots under our studio desks. But that part probably wasn't part of the accreditation req's. :)

May 16, 18 12:55 pm

Probably not. But I remember going through the accreditation visits at my schools, both as a student and as faculty, and some of the requirements were things like having at least 10,000 architecture books in the school's library, having a minimally appointed wood shop, and other facilities-related criteria. I wonder how a program that's completely online can meet those things.


I don't know. I wonder the same.


Pfft, it's just a piece of paper...or a pdf for that matter. Lighten up, thought you anyhow hated your job and were planning to work for Yeezy, so what does it matter to you? If they have the skills, ideas and determination it doesn't really matter if they have a degree or not, why even bother, I'd focus on my own career if I were you.

May 18, 18 2:52 am



As soon as GSD's online program is up, I am there.  

Ivy Via Wi Fi.

May 18, 18 7:50 pm

Me too.


Is there one in the works?


Not sure if an online degree in architecture is as useful or can make you skillful as going to a physical university. I think these colleges just want the $$$$.

May 22, 18 5:23 am

I dont see anything special about that

Aug 3, 18 3:26 am
Technology is changing so should you
Aug 3, 18 6:14 am
Brian is one of the on-line students
Aug 3, 18 6:24 pm

Godspeed Brian!

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