architecture or architectural engineering?

Bilal Ozdemir

Hi everyone!! I'm a college student looking forward to be an architect. I have always desired  to be an architect since i was 14 and i have done searches about this career for years then I went beyond and learned programs like Autocad, Revit architecture, Archicad. In few days I will start college so i am starting to take classes that are equivalent to the university I am planing to  tranfer BUT!! i am undecided of whether i should go ahead to study architecture or architectural engineering. I saw that in earning the bachelor of architecture i don't need any super hard math classes and this made me anxious because i thought that being an architect was also about math, physics etc. so I'm confused whether the bachelor of architecture will give me any limitation on my career later in life?. I'll be really glad if i can get an answer to my confusion. I also want to know the major differences between architecture and architectural engineering? and some helpful advices? before I can make up my mind. Thank you so much.

Aug 26, 13 12:50 am

I feel like a lot of people get sucked into AE because they have a similar confusion, but lets be clear, AE is not an architecture degree it is an engineering degree. Unless your intent is to get a 3 year master degree in architecture after your AE degree you will not be able to become a licensed architect to my knowledge, and you will probably be better suited for working in engineering than architecture.

If you get the arch degree you will take physics and structures courses most likely, which are the "math" classes. Physics is just applied calculus anyway, and structures is a more pointed version of physics in most cases. That said, architecture requires only so much math, more often than not the brunt of it is left to engineers. If you really want to become an architect the B Arch would probably be the better route (is it a B Arch or a BS Arch?), but that's not to say you couldn't make the AE degree work.

Aug 26, 13 12:21 pm

barch is a 5 year arch degree. bs arch is something i think naab would not approve of, and it would imply a 4 year pre-professional degree if there is such a thing.

i started out with an architectural engineering degree, but then switched schools after a couple years and stayed with architecture.  the math classes for architectural engineering are more difficult.  if you're interested in an architectural engineering degree, i think there are only a few schools that offer that.  i'm sure observant would know more about which schools have such a program.  call their admissions office, and ask if the degree is adequate to prepare you for both the PE (professional engineer exam) and the ARE (architect registration exam).  unless i'm mistaken, you just need 4 years of experience to take the PE, but for the ARE  you need the appropriate degree, plus an NCARB record, plus IDP experience.  I would venture to guess that there are schools with an AE degree that is accredited, or at least allows you to do the 4+2 (which means 4 year bachelors, then 2 year masters program).

Aug 26, 13 1:24 pm
Bilal Ozdemir

I believe its a B Arch because on the  website where I'm looking, under programs, it lists as  Bachelor of Architecture, there nothing about BS Arch. (maybe that goes into the engineering programs?) I think I am more into the designing and the art part rather than the heavy math part in engineering so I will go ahead for the B Arch degree probably. Thank you for the all the information.

Aug 26, 13 1:25 pm

If it's a 5 year degree then it's a B.Arch.  Either way the AE is really more for someone who wnat's to do Engineering.

@Curtkram: I think BSArch + MArch is a more common route than BArch in most places. BS is not a professional degree, you do have to get your MArch after, but normally the program is shorter than if you are coming from an outside major like AE, which is not a professional arch degree.

As for the 4+2. I am not sure if this acctually the case.  If you were to do LTU to UMich (which was what i did with arch programs) it would be a 5 and 3. Some integrated programs might be shorter, but I question their depth.

Aug 26, 13 7:15 pm

i'm sure observant would know more about which schools have such a program.

Haha.  You rang and I heard.  I'm the walking directory, I guess.  For this topic, not so much, though.  The only schools I've know Arch. Eng. grads from are Cal Poly SLO, Penn State, and Drexel.  They also tend to work in Ae or aE firms, more so than in architectural offices.  I've never had one as a coworker.

Here's a link to the programs.  Some surprised me, meaning I didn't know some of these schools had this offering.  The only one which does not have NAAB architecture on the premises is Colorado - Boulder - the NAAB program is downtown, at Denver.

I have not looked at an Arch. Eng. curriculum since it wouldn't interest me, though CM would.  I am almost sure that there is not a design sequence similar to that in a pre-professional program, which vary in length and strength to begin with.  If a person does Arch. Eng. and then chooses the M.Arch. for grad school, I am sure they would go into the 3+ year program.  I say this because a CM undergrad I knew was in our program, but not in my year.  Civil engineering undergrads are also placed in the 3+ programs. The reason is the lack of enough, if any, design studios.  What happens is that they are given minimal advanced standing for courses in construction and structures which are clearly redundant.  This could, and should, chip 2 to 5 classes (6 to 15 sem. cr. hrs.) from the total time for M.Arch.  If the school is cool, they will treat those subject areas as if completed and shorten the program for the candidate.  If the school is NOT cool, they may ask that the student replace those credit hours with electives.  If I had gone in with CM or Arch. Eng., and they wanted students to take more electives to fill those credit hours, that's not an a-school I would consider.   That's just plain greedy.

Aug 26, 13 7:51 pm

LTU has an AE program too.

Aug 26, 13 8:06 pm


The list seemed way too short for 50 states.  I would imagine.  I know a civil engineering grad from Lawrence Tech.  He's kind of a jerk.  He didn't know I was entertaining M.Arch. and once said "The biggest thing architects have to worry about is picking out colors."  On second thought, he IS a jerk.  Sometimes, it's because some architects have the brains to have become engineers, yet the converse for the design ability to have become architects does not hold.

Aug 26, 13 8:34 pm

yeah. obviously there are more. I was just adding one I knew of.

haha. I think their is an almosty rivialry like nature between A and E at LTU. The school is around 30% of each so there is a high level of interaction with the other. Unlike UofM where the programs are all north-quad but most of the E students don't even know where the arch building is.

I feel like there is more often a tendency for E students to disrespect architecture (which is reflected in the general social disrespect of A over E). I think your last sentence makes a good point. However, I think what is really the problem there is that E is just easier to understand than A, and as such people will always appreciate it more in general.

Aug 26, 13 10:31 pm

I think u t Austin has a dual b.arch and bs ae degree and there may be a few others 

Aug 26, 13 11:11 pm
Bilal Ozdemir

I'm planing to go to Illinois Institute of Technology for B Arch it's 5 years in length. They say its NAAB accredited so i think i don't have to worry about the 6 year (4+2) program. Will this 5 year B Arch degree be enough for me to be an registered architect or is there anything more in addition. What do you guys think about IIT as an architecture school?

Aug 26, 13 11:42 pm

An accredited BArch is what you need for a degree. You still need to 3ish years of IDP and a bunch of ARE exams :)

Aug 27, 13 12:00 am
Bilal Ozdemir

:) so total of 8 years then i can call myself an architect, very long time longer than i thought.

Aug 27, 13 12:13 am

yep. only thing that really takes longer is becoming a doctor.

Aug 27, 13 12:45 am

eh, its not that long.  school is one thing, and then you really have to collect experience in order to even know what you're doing.  buildings are complex and involve a million different disciplines... you need to know engineering, mechanical/electrical/plumbing systems, building codes, design, and bunch of other things.  5 years of school is just not enough time to learn it all.  its like that for every job really, but ours involves the life safety of the people that occupy our end product, and they're also pretty capital intensive.

in school you'll basically only be learning about design and the teachers will skim everything else with a class here and a class there, teaching just the basics of the basics on non-design related items like structure, heating and cooling, and well... how to actually build a building.  its very light on the practical knowledge, more on the big idea.  you'll take all your design skills and be able to directly apply them as soon as you start working.  unfortunately the technical knowledge will just have to be learned as you go.

the thing is, architects don't do a lot of the engineering work, because its just too specialized and would take years to learn.  that's what consultants are for.  the big thing is that we have to understand what it is they're doing, why, and how it affects what we're doing.  ultimately, architects coordinate with and manage multiple disciplines to make an idea become a reality.  we come up with the ideas, and pull together a team to execute them.

Aug 27, 13 12:47 am

Can we apply for Fe exam and pe exam 

I have 5 years of study in  architecture , different country ( Syria) 

I don't know what we called her BArch or architectural engineering 

And I don't know if we have to de ARE exams or Fe and PE exam 

Aug 31, 16 12:22 pm

@Bilal I think IIT is a great choice for you. I've toured the school and the program seems geared towards a more technical/traditional approach to architecture, but don't get me wrong you can still definitely make the experience what you want to make it. Chicago is also a perfect city to study in.

And although becoming an architect takes 8 years or so, you can work at a firm and keep yourself entertained in many ways. One of the reason why it takes people more then 8 years. They just don't have the largest need to get licensed. 

Aug 31, 16 2:56 pm

FYI AXP takes 3 years if you are very proactive and can get the right opportunities/jobs that allow you to access the category hours you need. It can, and usually does take more time to get access to a couple of the categories.

Aug 31, 16 3:07 pm


An architectural engineering program will prepare you to take the FE and PE exams.  Most AE's I know go into structural or mechanical (HVAC) concentrations. 

Aug 31, 16 5:55 pm

Hi, I am an Artist with no doubt of creativity and an Architectural Technology’s student. What I figure out is not really creativity in Architectural program. Real creativity is not limit to color or texture or limited form. It’s absolute a new structure. But I see it’s not possible for an architect because they would limited you to mostly codes . Memorize engineer results. And they would criticize you. And new structure or design  would be risk to most owners even if that be acceptable to engineers. I believe generally creating and designing comes from whoever mastered it.  Illustrated to PHD degree in education  when you need represent new theories or Ideas or research for your final essay. So Architect suppose to be engineer first to understand harmony and natural laws and then develop it. I see most people express like Art is just not logic expression but I absolutely criticize it. Because it’s absolutely logical and if you just mastered you would reach the level you would have your own style. And that sometimes seems like wild and no rules in it. But need to study it. So I decided to transfer to AE rather than just living in this limitation. I want to present an Idea that be acceptable for all. Owner and engineering. I like to be limit to designing but I don’t like copy and reputations , this is different . For me all mathematicians or physicists or any engineers that record new theories are Artist. Understanding what science or physics we learn let you bring new concepts.  It should be interesting and fun for an architect or designer to learn natural laws not scary. And in other hand is designing actually is responses to problems but wider than engineering concepts. If you have fear from math or physics and chemistry and you like be a real creator the problem is not you is teachers that they can not transfer their loves to you. Don’t cheated by businesses that they try prove art just useless . Remember the time that art was a language to represent science or story in renaissance age since technology take this duty art becomes much more useless in views but it’s not true. Art should comes from craft and philosophy or emotions. Structure systems should serve this beauty not predominate it. Minds should be beautiful first and then start to creat because we would destroy the natural beauty. Architect should have self confidence and character to represent at least an object. 

Apr 22, 19 12:47 pm

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