How Long Do You Go To School For Architecture

How Long Do You Go To School For Architecture?

Studying architecture is one of the most difficult, yet sought-after and rewarding fields of study. It requires dedication, hard work and a passion to create a visual representation of one’s innermost thoughts and design aspirations. Becoming an architect does not come easy, requiring a deep level of knowledge about not only the sciences and mathematics that go into designing a structure but also cultural influence, understanding materials and methods of construction, and other important factors that go into the creation of a building or space.

Typically, the schooling that one has to undertake in order to become a certified architect lasts an estimated five to six years, but depending on the institution, this timeframe can stretch till seven or even more years. A full-time architecture student may have to commit to anywhere between 30-40 hours of study on a weekly basis with classes that go beyond the regular hours. It is difficult to condense such large knowledge into a few small years and hence, the need for an elongated process.

A typical educational path for those interested in learning architecture involves standardized tests like the SAT or GRE that may qualify a student for admission into university or graduate-level program. According to the American Institute of Architects (AIA) one has to take the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) in order to get a full license and employment opportunities as a professional architect.

Furthermore, for every jurisdiction, the education qualifications and experience requirements for licensure vary and depend on the state. There is also a prerequisite of having architecture work experience for up to three years in order to pass the test. Taking all of these factors into account it can be expected that the entire duration to become an architect runs up to six to seven years.

The journey of studying architecture is demanding yet thrilling. It requires imagination, creativity, and the hunger to learn something new every day. The road ahead though not easy, is laden with the rewards of a job well done. The joy of collaboration and accomplishment that comes from creating something tangible with one’s own two hands is priceless.

Architecture Programs

A wide range of architecture programs are offered by universities and colleges around the world. The bare minimum qualification needed to get accepted into such a program is a high school diploma or equivalent. There are three levels of architecture degrees: the five-year Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch), the two-year Master of Architecture (M.Arch), and the Doctor of Architecture (D.Arch) which requires an additional three to five years of study.

In general, if one is aiming to become an independent professional architect successfully, then a Bachelor of Architecture is recommended. It is a full-time degree requiring one to take general as well as specialized courses throughout college. Some common courses include architectural history, design and representation, construction methods, and engineering principles.

Apart from the traditional route, there are numerous online architecture courses available as well. Some courses offer access to virtual studios and project spaces that allow students to collaborate and explore the field of design at their own speed, with their own distinctive style. These provide a great feel to the ones who are not able to attend the regular colleges.

Additionally, early college programs like the High School of the Art Institute of Chicago provide a firm foundation to the aspiring architects, by introducing them to architecture, urban design and the diverse aspects of the field. This helps them decide early on if they are willing to pursue the field at a deeper level.

Practice Obligations

In order to get licensed as a professional architect, there are several practice obligations and requirements to be met. Depending on the exact rules of the state in which one resides, the practice obligation authority may be the Architect Registration Board, Architect Examining Board, or the Architects Licensing Board.

The main aim of these boards is to ensure that a practicing architect has the minimum qualifications necessary to practice architecture with safety and competence. Hence, apart from the academic requirements, practice obligations may involve participation in workshops, seminars and webinars related to the profession, as well as participation and practice in different roles within the profession.

At the end of the day, there is no easy way to become an architect. It requires hard work, dedication and passion, and can take quite a while to complete the study and practice obligations. But it is a field that is not only rewarding in many ways, but also has no limits to creativity. For all that it has to offer, many feel that the length and effort is well worth the reward.


Studying architecture is an intense and rigorous process. It is vital to gain a deep understanding of the profession and build a solid foundation for the practice you will later undertake. Although the exact amount of time required to complete an architecture program varies from person to person, it typically takes five to seven years of study and a set of prescribed qualifications needs to be fulfilled.

Skill Sets Required

Good architects have soft skills like creativity, problem solving, attention to detail and collaboration which are as important as the technical abilities. Drawing and sketching is a critical activity in the development and visualization of designs and architecture. This requires a fundamental understanding of the use of various computer-aided design (CAD) software such as AutoCAD, SketchUp and so on. Another skill that cannot be undermined is the ability to compile a set of plans, blueprints, and sketches by hand. Time management, writing skills, research skills and the ability to communicate ideas effectively are other necessary ingredients for a successful career in the profession.

Industry Knowledge

Gaining an understanding of the architectural industry and its processes is crucial to becoming a successful architect. It is important to be aware of the different architecture ‘styles’, know the types of tools and materials that are used in the construction process, and to learn the techniques of structural engineering as this will ultimately help architects bring their designs to life.

It is also necessary to be mindful of the different requirements in different localities and states when it comes to building codes and regulations in order to ensure that the building projects are in line with the legal standards. A knowledge of material science and an ability to identify the various strengths and weaknesses of different types of materials is also essential.

Knowledge of Humans

Architecture is fundamentally a human-centric field and so it is essential to be well versed in the behavior and practices of the people who use certain spaces. Knowing the humans that will be using any space is the most vital part of creating a well-functioning structure. This includes being aware of the different lifestyles of varied sections of the population, the cultural backgrounds, common sensitivities and the daily habits that define how humans interact with their immediate surroundings.

The needs and requirements of people are ever-evolving and understanding their perspectives allows an architect to create works that match up to their expectations. Only then is one able to craft an optimal design that fulfills the intended purpose of the building or variable space.

Anita Johnson is an award-winning author and editor with over 15 years of experience in the fields of architecture, design, and urbanism. She has contributed articles and reviews to a variety of print and online publications on topics related to culture, art, architecture, and design from the late 19th century to the present day. Johnson's deep interest in these topics has informed both her writing and curatorial practice as she seeks to connect readers to the built environment around them.

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