What is the difference between BA in Arch, BArch, and BS in Arch


I'm a high school graduate looking to apply to university in the fall but I'm still very confused on the subject of types of degrees. I want to pursue a degree that has a focus on drafting, primarily hand-drafting but I'm fine with autocad as well, but I don't know what degree type would suit me since I don't really know what they are in general. Could someone explain? Please feel free to give lots of detail.

May 21, 20 12:56 pm

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Non Sequitur

hand-drafting?  I think first you'll need to get into a different line of studies and develop a time machine.  Then, go back 30ish years and apply for a B.Arch.  Besides that, hand-drafting is, in general, treated as nostalgia rather than a teachable skill.  Some schools still have high regards for the practice since it develops important sketching/thinking skills and work discipline but it's not very common anymore.

As for the type of architecture degree... you need to look at the requirements for license in your area.  If you're in the usa, then it's an accredited B.arch.  Any other university degree will need an accredited M.arch after the fact.  If all you want to do is draft, then look at your local college for technologist diplomas.

May 21, 20 1:02 pm  · 

1 - a BArch is a professional degree. You'll be able to begin your path to licensure directly from undergrad. It's (I believe) always a 5 year program. BS or BA in Architecture (or other names) are not professional (aka "pre-professional") degrees that don't qualify as a prerequisite for licensure. Usually they're 4 year programs, after which you'll need to earn a Masters degree in order to be eligible for licensure.

2 - Not to burst your bubble but if you want to focus on hand drafting & autocad you should study time travel. If you want to get a technician job in this decade, focus on BIM. 

Also worth noting than technical jobs like BIM managers and production staff don't typically require a professional Architecture degree or a license (though I guess it couldn't hurt). If you want to be an Architect, go get an architectural degree. If you want to be a tech, get a two-year certificate from your local community college and save yourself a hundred grand.

May 21, 20 1:05 pm  · 
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Non replied while I was typing this comment. Jinx, Non.

May 21, 20 1:06 pm  · 
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Non Sequitur

so... we both recommended time travel? Are we the same person?

May 21, 20 1:06 pm  · 

It just means our advice is objectively correct.

May 21, 20 1:26 pm  · 
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While it's true that there are many alternative routes to a license in some states, they add a lot of limitations to the careers and mobility of a lot of people. You only need to scroll through this forum to see 20 years of laments from those who had no idea how difficult it would be (or impossible in some states) to get an initial license without an NAAB-accredited degree, or to get hired by some firms, or to move to and/or practice in additional states.

Rick you yourself have posted many times about your frustrations that employers often advertise for applicants with NAAB degrees - it's been one of your most oft-repeated excuses over the years for why you would not be able to find a job in an architecture firm.  It's mind-boggling that you have spent 15+ years and counting encouraging people to take alternative routes that have not worked out for you yet in all that time, despite your constant spelling out of various schemes and resolutions (I recall your plan to be licensed by 2011!) 

May 21, 20 1:45 pm  · 
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Rick is an excellent example of that. OR won't let him get licensed without the education. He could get licensed in CA or WA without the accredited degree, but needs work experience. He can't get the work experience because no one will hire him (not that he looks, he's made it clear he won't work for someone).

May 21, 20 1:50 pm  · 

Rick, if that was really your goal in all this, all you had to do was say, "NS and tduds are correct. Check with NCARB and your state for licensing paths and education requirments."

May 21, 20 1:56 pm  · 
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Rick I have an idea for you: there are far more forums about the legal profession, full of prospective students looking for advice. Those questions are nearly always answered with information about attending law school - and virtually never answered with information about alternative routes, though a few people do still use those routes to become lawyers. Why don't you take your censorship concerns to those forums, and apply your time to finding every post about law school and appending to it the information that it's still possible in four states to sit for the bar and become a lawyer without first obtaining a degree? You'll have a much larger world of places to put that information, and a much larger audience. 

May 21, 20 2:07 pm  · 

Rick, what year did you begin your plan for finishing up licensure by 2011? ... 2008? ... 2009? ... 2010? ...earlier? Because 2011 is the first year that I recall things actually were starting to pick up and firms were beginning to hire again.

May 21, 20 2:25 pm  · 

Rick, I know the west region lagged behind a bit compared to others, but following a lot of my classmates who went out and got jobs in the west, including a fair number in Portland, OR around that time ... well, I think you're simply making excuses like you usually do. The reality is, in the time since you got your first associates degree, I've completed an undergrad degree, MArch degree, multiple certifications, been licensed, been employed at a handful of firms, including a couple of the ARCHITECT Top 50 firms, and have made my way up to quite a valued position (in both expertise and salary) at both of those firms. If I wanted to, I could start my own business as a consultant to some of the top firms in the nation and would probably have the ability to turn away work because I would be so busy (I've even had former coworkers ask that if I do this, that I hire them so they can work with me again). 

None of this is an exaggeration. Yet I'd guess that most people familiar with you would say that your "business" is mostly exaggeration. If you don't want to, or can't get licensed, that's fine. Just stop pretending like it's always some other issue (economy, location, etc.) that's held you back ... you've been making basically a decade of excuses at this point. And even if you don't do that, stop pretending like you're an expert in how to get licensed because it's pretty clear you are not. Simply direct people to the appropriate resources.

May 22, 20 12:14 pm  · 

Anticipating some Balkins comeback excuses here ... I graduated from a state school (no private school connections to get me where I'm at now) where I graduated with a little more than $25K in student loan debt (mostly because I worked multiple jobs through college to pay for it). The most my parents gave me was $300 to put toward some textbooks my first semester (though I should also thank them for not making a lot of money so I got some decent Federal Pell Grants until I was no longer eligible). I've always been able to afford the loan payments and was this close to paying the rest of the loans off with savings before COVID-19, mainly because I make too much now and the IRS won't let me deduct student loan interest paid from my taxes. However, now with 0% interest on them because of the federal response to the pandemic, I have some extra time to pay them off without any penalty so I'm keeping that money saved away in case I need it.

May 22, 20 12:23 pm  · 
Featured Comment

The short answer:

A Bachelors of Architecture (BArch) from an accredited college is all that you need.

The long answer:

It's a long process to becoming an architect.  There are alternative methods to becoming an architect however the process outlined below is the quickest and allows you the most options to obtain licenses in other states. 


BArch from an accredited college- 5 years

Become a member of NCARB (just costs money - is required if you want to be able to be licensed in any of the 50 states).  I'd suggest becoming a member in your last year of college as the dues are initially cheaper. 

Do the same thing with AIA (yeah it sucks but it's easier for the continuing education, see below)

Working - Pre license

Internship Development Program (IDP) while you work -3-5 years.  You are allowed to count some of your work experiences (if you have any) before you graduate. 


Take your licensing exams (believe there are 5 separate exams now).  Some of the exams can be taken before you finish your IDP. 

You're now licensed in the state you live in and can become licensed in the other 49 states by applying and paying a fee. 

Maintaining your license

Once you're licensed you need to pay yearly fees / dues to NCARB , AIA, and to each state you're licensed in.  In addition you need to complete a certain number of continuing education credits each year to maintain your licenses in each state and to maintain you membership in NCARB and AIA.  

May 21, 20 2:56 pm  · 
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Forgot to add that to start your IDP you need to create a 'record' or account - this costs money.

Also, once licensed you can not be a member of NCARB or AIA but some states require it for licenseture.  Also being a member of these organizations make getting future licenses and maintaining your continuing education way easier. 

May 21, 20 3:05 pm  · 

Thanks for the post quincyhawkins,

I'm glad you came here to seek some guidance. Sounds like you've already done some research which is great. The different degree offerings and pathways can be quite confusing when you're just diving in. Chad Miller's response is a good one. 

Essentially, you want to pursue a NAAB accredited degree if you want to become a licensed architect and that would be a 5-year B.Arch in terms of undergrad. But, I get the sense that you may not be familiar with what the field of architecture has to offer you. 

Why do you want to focus on hand-drafting? Is it because that's what comes to mind for you wen you think of architecture? There is so much more that you could pursue if you broaden your lens a bit.

I'd recommend checking out some of your local architecture schools. It's a little hard to visit in person right now, but try to reach out to a NAAB accredited school and tell them your interests. I recommend a NAAB accredited program because I think it would be good for you to see what it would be like to pursue the full package (in terms of becoming an architect) before you decide you only want to do drafting. 

Perhaps you can even find a summer program that will let you get your hands a little dirty. Your first step I think should be to investigate a little bit more deeply what is out there for you to pursue in architecture. You might also want to reach out to a local firm and see if you can do an informational interview of some kind. Just say you're a high school kid who is trying to decide if you should pursue architecture. Some people may not want to talk to you, but there will for sure be those who would be happy to help you learn a bit.

Lastly, I think you might dig some of these articles:

Good Luck!

May 21, 20 3:40 pm  · 
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As usual, the kid asks a simple question and gets a bunch of unnecessary information.

Quincy, if you want to become an architect some day, you will eventually want a NAAB-accredited degree. If you're in a state like California, that's not essential but will make your life a whole lot easier. You will not want a BS-Arch unless you don't care to get licensed or you accept the fact that you will also need an MArch. 

But enough of that for two reasons.

The first is simple. It's May. You will never get into an accredited school for an architecture degree this fall. Way too late to apply. Your best bet is to go to a community college that hopefully has drafting/architecture courses, or the nearest 4-yr state school to get general ed out of the way. But on that score, don't spin your wheels taking courses that don't transfer.

Most importantly, the second reason is knowing what you want to do career-wise. If you intend to be a draftsman, then be a draftsman. Architecture grads are a dime a dozen and most of them can't draw for shit. If you're a top-notch cad technician you'll be coveted by many firms. To that end, a good community college program is all you need and a whole lot cheaper. And please! DO NOT go to a private trade school!!!

Frankly, I hope you do find a place that still teaches hand drafting -- basic 2D cad at least. A big part of why recent grads are relatively useless putting plans together is because all they know is BIM. But that's another story.

May 22, 20 8:41 am  · 
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Respectfully I don't think the issue with recent grads not being able to put a drawing set together is because they only know BIM. Putting a drawing set together requires specific knowledge the construction process and building science. You're ability to know any type of modeling / drafting software will not improve those skills by themselves.

May 22, 20 9:54 am  · 
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Non Sequitur

I will add on the Chad and says that the average fresh grads does not know BIM (even if they self-grade themselves 9.5 out 10 in their silly resume sheet). All they know is what they needed to know to make their portfolio images... not document a building.

May 22, 20 10:26 am  · 
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Adding on that the reason they don't know BIM is because that's not what the curriculum is designed to teach. An architecture degree isn't meant to teach you software, it's meant to teach you to think critically and how to design.

May 22, 20 10:42 am  · 
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Non Sequitur

Design skills mean nothing if you can’t put a wall assembly together.

May 22, 20 10:45 am  · 
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It’s disappointing that there still aren’t a lot of options for students if they’re interested in learning the basics of this profession. A lot of fluff classes in other soft skills that would take a competent student a week or two to become adequate at though.

May 22, 20 10:49 am  · 
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ARECoach is getting at something, though i don't think BIM is to blame. i'm old enough to have gone to a program that rigorously taught drafting, and i'm thankful for it because it allows me to think better in plan, section, etc and then eventually develop a design into a more complex 3-dimensional manifestation later. i think the complete domination of digital 3dmodeling in general has produced students who are more comfortable modeling something first and then producing plans and sections from that model, meaning they have a weaker understanding of generating 2-dimensional drawings themselves.

May 22, 20 10:50 am  · 
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We had a semester of construction documents and detailing in college. Obviously I still wasn't great at it but I could put a wall assembly together and not put the vapor barrier (now a vapor retarder) on the correct side. Don't programs teach this type of stuff anymore?

May 22, 20 10:50 am  · 
Non Sequitur

I think square makes a great point. I too had a heavy hand drafting and hand modeling education. It’s amazing how much easier it is having the undo and copy/paste commands. 8-)

May 22, 20 10:53 am  · 

yeah- i've been on some reviews lately and i'm honestly pretty shocked at how thin alot of the plans and sections are.. it's incredibly obvious when one was produced in rhino vs constructed through drawing, which to me has a lot to do with the ability to make a good wall section

May 22, 20 11:02 am  · 
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I wish the schools taught more building science and how to put a wall assembly together. I think the programs generally focus way too much energy on the design (read that as SD level work and renderings) and should probably get rid of a couple of studio courses and replace them with some building science. When I was going through school, we still had one course that focused on hand drafting as an entry-level studio. If fact, there was more time spent in that class than any other class to teach autocad, revit, or 3D modeling software ... but it quickly became apparent that if you wanted to look good for final reviews, you needed to have fancy renderings so everyone picked up rhino, sketchup, revit, vray, etc., etc., etc. It was a type of equalizer as a poor design could be dressed up to look better. Only the best students stuck with the hand drawing and drafting techniques. Even then, if they didn't have a flashing rendering, the final presentation went over as fairly blah. I'm sure they got good grades though.

May 22, 20 11:30 am  · 

I think school are just responding to the profession. The firms and projects that get published and hyped aren't because of good detailing, building science, or keeping the water out. It's because of flashy renderings and good ideas. We may bemoan that but I'm not sure what most of us are doing to change it?

May 22, 20 1:06 pm  · 

I don't understand why more schools don't try to incorporate building science topics into studios. Want to design a glass box library? Cool, but tell me where the water goes. Want to design a crinkled looking art museum? Fine, but tell me what kind of roofing system you're going to use. IMO I'd like to see year-long studios where the first half is the traditional SD/renderings, and second half is technical detailing/producing CD-level documentation. 

May 22, 20 3:54 pm  · 

BA- Bachelor of Arts (in architecture). This is literally the most useless degree. Can’t do anything with it. It’s like majoring in English/Art/History.

BS- Bachelor of Science. By itself also a bullshit degree, but you can combine with an M.Arch to get your license etc. 

B.Arch: same as M.Arch, but with a “B” and not an “M”. Lease expensive option; professional degree (don’t need an M.Arch to sit for license) You can’t teach with it, but you can practice- no problem.

May 22, 20 2:46 pm  · 

If you just want to draft, get an associates degree, and work for some fabricator, contractor, or engineering firm.

Like everyone else said though... hand drafting is dead. 

May 26, 20 2:25 am  · 

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