Online MArch.


Hello all, I have a BArch (abroad) and an MLA (USA) and now I want to get my MArch (Online) in order to get licensed. I've applied to the Boston Architectural College (Private) = 75K for entire program but could be 55K if I get scholarshipLawrence Technological University (Private) = 23K for entire program; and Southern Illinois University (Public) = $20K for entire program. Please see attached image for comparison chart.

So far I got into the BAC and LTU, which were the two main in my radar anyway. I'm not sure what to decide. Important facts are:


  • The BAC and LTU have been offering the online MArch since about 7-8 years, SIU has only offered for 1 year. 
  • All three schools offer NAAB-accredited programs and around 5 semesters (2.5 years) to complete. All schools assure I will be able to sit through the ARE exams and they all claim to have great success rates. 
  • The BAC requires me to work at an architectural setting for the program length (which can be a 2-edged sword), and those hours will be credited towards IDP. On the other hand, LTU does not require this. 

I've done research on why the BAC is three times more expensive than the other two with no success. I am not sure if it is because of the reputation or the networking chances or what, but I am really confused as to where to go. If it is because of networking, I must remember this is an online program with only 5 weekly visits at the BAC and 5 weekends at LTU.

Financially, it looks like a no-brainer, but I need advice from those who have done an online MArch, and it'd be better if they considered these three schools or went to them. I  need to make a decision ASAP. Thanks!

Apr 27, 14 1:41 pm

Like you said, a no brainer if your only ambition is to take an online programe to get license - go cheap.

BTW, most likely the online shit won't get you a job no matter what spin the websites say - certain when you think job, you're thinking OMA or HOK or something.  When they say job them mean, Extruded Metal Systems, inc., who will not offer visas in the end.

Speculation, but real. Anyone who thinks they can become an architect with online is nuts.  Don't waste your money - just go find a job.

Apr 27, 14 7:52 pm  · 

An online M.Arch is an unbelievably horrible idea and will not be taken seriously by almost anyone. 

As TED said, if you just want a license, get the cheapest one you can. But there's no 'reputation' to speak of when it comes to these programs. They basically exist to take the money of the ignorant and/or lazy.

Apr 27, 14 10:18 pm  · 

Actually, I remember reading a post on here where someone mentioned he did his masters online at Lawrence Technological University.  He completed his masters while working part-time, went on to get his architect's license and now runs a firm in partnership with one of his mate working on custom homes. :)

Apr 27, 14 10:32 pm  · 

Thanks everyone for your comments.

TED and placebeyondthesplines, I don't agree when you say an online MArch have no reputation since both online and on-campus programs have been NAAB-accredited for over 7 years. They both have the same curriculum online than on-campus and they both have the same professors teach the two program models; that's how they got accredited.

My debate isn't whether I should start the online MArch or not, but which school to select and why the BAC is three times more expensive. I don't know if the value they offer (networking and relations) is reflected on the 75K, or if it's just an excuse for real estate, since they are located in Boston. 

I do have a job in an architecture company, and I am not a lazy/ignorant person. Not a lot of people have 8 years of education under their belt and over 6 years of experience, and looking to get another master and get licensed. I don't need a visa either. 

Dear accesskb, I appreciate your positive comment, and I have searched on Archinect to see if I could find that post you mentioned. I did not find it, however I found other helpful ones about LTU and the BAC. I believe I will go to LTU due to the proximity to where I live, and obviously due to the program cost. 

All I want is to learn about the experience people have had t LTU and the BAC. I need to speak to these people and ask them if they would do it all over again. Thanks again for the time and advice :)

Apr 28, 14 8:44 am  · 

BAC is quite respectable in the Boston area and greater Northeast US.

Also any firm who simply judges your resume by the university you attended isn't worth working for. 

Best of luck. 

Apr 28, 14 11:21 am  · 

Online courses get you a degree which may be all you want-I really question why you want to be an architect - go into something to make lots of money - finance is good.

there is no substitute for the thousands of collaborative interactions you would have within a design studio setting, seeing others work and creativity

I am very familiar with online programmes - architecture is not a course that should be taught that way.  You are far better off going to the least expensive school in a city where engages the debates of the world such as NY where you can have a face to face engagement with other students and you can see out experts to bring into your projects -

Apr 28, 14 12:29 pm  · 

NAAB is no badge of honour nor quality nor are simple metrics on who has a job or who has passed the ARE - if thats all you want - then go as cheap as possible - it makes no difference to what you are going to learn. Just some are pink, others are blue and I will take mine skinny double mocha latte, please.  Customers are always right.

Apr 28, 14 12:32 pm  · 

if the original poster is already working for an architectural firm and already has a master's degree in landscape architecture as well as a bachelor's in architecture I can appreciate him not wanting to quit his job to go make look-like cardboard copies of Gehry's latest offense for a year or so.  As far as the design studio bit, he is working in a design studio already, and getting paid no less! In his position (EMPLOYED) it makes perfect sense to go the on-line route. A better question would be why do not most master's programs offer evening classes for their students who are working during the day?

Apr 28, 14 1:55 pm  · 

Having taught students who were in work taking part time route to architecture, those students come in and ask tell me what to do, no reflection, no relevance, no experimentation, no questions  - that not a postgraduate course nor what masters' study is about.  There are stages of cognitive abilities that a PGT programme has to develop - not on those programmes. 

Like I said, if its about just getting license go the cheapest possible route with the least amount of time possible and accept the fact an online programme will not deliver postgraduate study. It won't.

We run a programme at my Uni since 2002 called RIBA Office Based Exam - need to be in full time employment, certain num of years experience, work with an external tutor during the course of your studies.  Where normal Part I is 3 years, Office based exam is 5. Where normal Part II is 2 years, Office based exam is 3. Fees are really really cheap. Real people. It understands that students in employment need different learning experiences - BAC does that but only the face to face programme - an online programme is just a cheap profit center for universities - avoid it like the plague.

If NCARB was smart, they would set up a proper programme like OBE that works with staff in practice and builds on that specific learning experience not mucking it up with students looking for cheap degrees -

Apr 28, 14 2:51 pm  · 

As an update, I just received the email from the BAC saying my tuition dropped to 55K for the program, which is still double the amount compared to the other two. On the other hand, I also called the NCARB and they said I could pay 2K to do the EESA which would compare my international degree to a US degree, but that option could still require for me to take additional classes. So, I am definitely doing the MArch, since I have been wanting to fro some time now. 

I still don't understand why the heck does the BAC charges so much? What am I missing? They are not even ranked in the top ten as a graduate school. 

Dear LITS4FormZ, thanks for your comment, I agree with you and I have been told by practicing and licensed colleagues that no one will even look at the school name as long as I am a licensed architect, which is my goal :)

TED, I appreciate all your time and comments, I feel the same way about going as cheap as possible, although I am a bit confused by the other points you make, which I am sure are very valid. Regarding architecture being an online degree, I would not agree if it were an undergrad, then students would definitely need the studio experience, which I have had for 7 years; I have intensive experience with the 5-year BArch degree, where I had two 4-hours studios per week, and two 4-hours studios per week in the MLA program.

Having done a master's program already, I know that they are focused more towards research and thesis projects, so I am not concerned about lack of studio time. In addition, there are mandatory on-campus workshops with these three online programs.   

Dear Volunteer, I agree with you 100%, I am definitely staying in this career, since I have devoted my life to it, even though I am only 27 (female). I agree that the online track is the best option for me, in addition to living in the middle of nowhere, where the nearest school that offers a MArch is about 200 mi away. And yes, every school should offer an evening option, considering that people still need to make a living while pursuing a master's program.

More comments are welcome. Thanks again everyone. 

Apr 28, 14 3:52 pm  · 

NAAB accreditation is literally about meeting minimum requirements; there is a checklist that the accrediting board runs through to ensure those minimum requirements are being met. It is in no way a measure of the quality of the school, and any school that doesn't require any kind of portfolio for admission is a fucking joke.

Apr 28, 14 4:41 pm  · 

And employers who look at the name of your school instead of your portfolio are A-OK? mjlloreda seems well aware of her position (finance, education, and career-wise) so it's a little silly to attack a choice she's already made. We do love our romantic notions of the profession though, don't we?

Apr 28, 14 6:48 pm  · 

If I was considering spending $55k on a master's program, I'd personally prefer that my degree not be an embarrassment on my resume. If you want to call that romanticizing the profession, have at it, but I call it wasting money on a pretend education instead of using that academic opportunity to learn something new from a real school.

Apr 28, 14 7:20 pm  · 

Maybe after her undergraduate degree in architecture and her masters in landscape architecture the lady is tired of playing the name game. She could very well be capable of TEACHING some of the courses at your name institutions. At this point in her life she just wants to fill the squares and move on. If she lives in one of the states that allows it she would probably just go for the experience before taking the licensing tests.

Apr 28, 14 7:34 pm  · 

If you ca get your foreign degree waived I would say just do that, you already have enough education more than probably half the people who are commenting on this. a BArch and an MLA are enough, just work and if they will not accept your foreign education they sometimes give you a list of deficiencies to make up so you could only have to take a couple classes if any. But if you need to get the degree to obtain the license I would say the fastest and the cheapest is the way, after 7 years of studios and work you will not learn that much more, ad most the people in this forum only care about what IVY you went graduated from. Just having a fancy degree does not mean that you will be a good architect, or any better than someone from a state school or even no architecture degree, I have worked with a few people we did not have an NAAB degree that were 5X the architects most people will ever be.

Apr 28, 14 8:48 pm  · 

If you are doing an M.Arch online the only goal is to be licensed, not the quality of the education or the networking as there is none, so just go with the cheapest option.

Jun 10, 14 3:32 pm  · 

Medians, why did you just bump this?

Mjlloreda - did you end up accepting any of the programs? I wish I would have posted a while ago, but I missed this. I took the online M.Arch program at LTU and really enjoyed it. I completely disagree with anyone knocking an online program and I think their comments are very short sighted. The online program allowed me to work full time and make headway on my IDP. I found that working and studying at the same time made the experience that much more rich. The program at LTU had a virtual studio with video feeds to your studio and prof. There was plenty of 1-1 time and let's face it, in a Masters program, you should be fairly self sufficient anyways. We a mid semester and final reviews in person so it's not entirely online anyways. 

Good luck! 

Jun 10, 14 5:36 pm  · 
Non Sequitur

an online degree is worthless unless it's certified. LTU is certified but there are many more online M.arch wannabe which are not. In the end, it's the portfolio that counts.

Jun 11, 14 8:32 am  · 

Lets get right at this issue. When you are just starting a career in the field of architecture such as changing careers from another career into architecture. If so, what portfolio. What portfolio is a computer programmer becoming an Architect?

You might question why would someone from another field choose this field. When you look at this field in a pessimistic perspective, any field including flipping burgers at McDonald's seems like 'greener' pastures. Are they, really? 

People leave careers because they are no longer employable in their previous careers.

I know this, myself. I would not want to pursue computer software development as a career because its corporatised. You need to be deep pocket corporations to develop software commercially. I don't want to do that because I alone wuld never get the capital needed.

In building design / architecture, I can pursue this field as a business and as a living. If we are self-demeaning of ourselves... how can anyone take us seriously as professionals let alone take us seriously enough financially.

Jul 1, 14 3:02 am  · 

Thanks for all the new comments.

Dear Benjamin, I did end up enrolling at LTU, and I am happier than ever. It's convenient price-wise, and distance-wise. I am almost done with my on-campus summer semester, which required only 4 trips to Southfield. I would do it again (it was only a 6 hour drive for me).

Hope this helps anyone out there looking for an online MArch; there's no need to be in the hole by 75K when you graduate, when you can get a great, accredited degree for 25K at LTU.

M Juliana L.

Jul 16, 14 9:42 pm  · 
1  · 

This was very helpful, I was interested in BAC but I am leaning towards LTU after having read the above. thank you for sharing.

Dec 26, 23 5:22 am  · 

I can somewhat relate about which school (online/physical) to select for my M.Arch. 

I have an Associate's in Civil Engineering/Architecture and a B.S. in Architecture (pre-professional 4 year program) with 2 years of architectural working experience and I am half way through my IDP hours. I'm currently living in Fort Lauderdale and working for an architectural firm. My goal is to become a licensed architect and I know I need an accredited degree to do so, however I want to be able to keep my job to pay for all my students loans and living expenses since I live alone. 

I was admitted into the M.Arch program at LTU but because I have the pre-professional degree, the university is telling me it would probably take me another 3 years to complete the M.Arch program and I find it a bit unfair since I thought the 3 year program was for the non-architectural degree holders. 

I am currently 27 years old and with all the social pressure of getting married, buying a house, having kids, etc. Is really getting to me and I want to be able to complete my masters ASAP. I was hoping someone out there would be able to give me some advice/tips on what to do. Do I really have to quit my job and go to an actual school for whoever knows how many more years to achieve my goals? Or can I do so while gaining real life experience at an actual architectural firm, studying at the same time and paying for all my bills?

At the end, my goal is to get my M.Arch without quitting my job and to complete the program as soon as possible to have a "killer" resume.

Sep 6, 18 10:34 am  · 
1  · 

I love architecture, but it is sad to see how narrow minded many architects are... This is my 5th year in this field after a career in fashion design. Design wise I know I am ways ahead of architects who had a traditional path simply due to how ma liable and vast my way of thinking is thanks to my diverse design background. It's really sad to see this feels get constrained by such superficial aspects. 

Good luck everyone.

Dec 26, 23 5:28 am  · 

I love architecture, but it is sad to see how narrow minded many architects are... This is my 5th year in this field after a career in fashion design. Design wise I know I am ways ahead of architects who had a traditional path simply due to how malleable and vast my way of thinking is, thanks to my diverse design background. It's really sad to see this field get constrained by such superficial aspects!!

Dec 26, 23 6:15 am  · 

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