Top 3 Best Online Doctor of Architecture Degrees in 2022

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It may take students up to ten years to earn a Doctor of Philosophy – the highest academic degree there is. PhDs may be difficult and expensive, but they can also be very rewarding in the knowledge gained, job prospects, and career advancement opportunities they offer. All studies point to how a Ph.D. is beneficial in today’s market and pays off in the long run.

Although a Doctorate in Architecture isn’t a requirement to become a certified and licensed architect, this advanced education is perfect for people who want to create fresh knowledge while discovering and developing new skills. 

Architecture is defined as the process of devising and planning a space or building according to criteria related to aesthetics, social aspects, and the environment. Architecture is thus often categorized based on its overarching style. The Bureau of Labor Statistics foresees a 3% increase in the employment of architects within the years 2020 to 2030. Therefore, it can be expected that businesses and different sectors will continue to employ architects for establishments, properties, and real estate.

Currently, only a few schools in the US offer the Doctor of Architecture (D.Arch.) degree. Even fewer offer it in distance learning formats. Architecture can be demanding in that you need to be physically present to experience 3D art and administer designs in actuality. However, many advanced tech and educational tools can now support graduate students to learn a doctorate in Architecture online. 

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Architect courses

What are the Roles of an Architect?

The job of an architect is to design buildings, real properties, vacation houses, lawns, and other architectural structures. In the beginning, concepts are drawn on paper and then made into three-dimensional models in plastic, cardboard, or other software. The interior of any structure is just as important as the structure itself. So architects are also responsible for ensuring that every detail of a property or establishment is well put together. Their plan organizes space into rooms and compartments and suggests furniture in line with the overarching theme. When necessary, people work together in teams to make sure clients are satisfied. 

In addition to architects and engineers, there are other professionals on the construction team, such as interior designers. Architects select construction materials during a project, but they consider the client’s budget during the selection process. They create and prepare proposals that clients will approve until it’s released for implementation. Finally, they form a team with other key people in the construction project. 

Overall, architects give attention to all details, from exterior paints to the lighting details of the ceiling. For instance, several natural factors are considered in the design of a condominium complex, such as shadows, sunrises, sunsets, airflows, the existence of water, and disaster risks such as fault lines and coastal hazards. Architecture these days emphasizes sustainability and minimizes pollution and disturbances to the public. Sustainable architecture designs are receiving praises from many clients and business prospects. 

Contemporary architects today consider building communities as an integral entity as well as stand-alone structures. These professionals turn villages into well-developed cities and towns and neighborhoods. Through transportation routes and mobility facilities, they connect public and private spaces through the design of a city. Architects also contribute to societal transformation by drafting policies and laws that govern the construction of buildings. These kinds of projects require an urban architect-planner. Since most cities and towns today continue to be developed and transformed, demand for urban architects will continue to rise. 

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Why do People Pursue a Ph.D. in Architecture?

Students cite reasons or a personal affinity or a sense of passion for a particular field of study and the desire to contribute to that field as the most common reasons for pursuing a Ph.D. Even though many of these reasons seem academic in nature, there are also many career-related or even personal reasons. While some may feel it’s their life’s purpose, others may want to gain greener pastures by accelerating job positions and acquiring higher earnings.

With a broad and deep knowledge of your area of study, you become an authority figure in that field, making you the ideal person to consult when help is needed. As a result, you develop valuable skills such as project management, leadership, teamwork, and the way to measure it, as well as communication skills, since Ph.D.’s are skilled in making presentations. Hence, you’ll be able to play out various and diverse job roles involving architecture expertise, research, and consultations. 

What are the Benefits of Having a Ph.D.?

The first advantage is that you will be called a “doctor,” although it doesn’t hold the exact meaning of a medical physician. A title like this allows you to change your name displayed on your documents, credit cards, IDs, and other records. The title in itself gives you that sense of accomplishment and pride. 

The benefits of being an academic ‘Dr.’ go beyond the prestige and the opportunity to show off. It is the first step towards building a career in academia. Professors and researchers usually hold this title as they become people of high authority in their respective fields of expertise. A Ph.D. on your CV will impress nearly all employers, regardless of whether you pursue a career in academia or work in a large corporation. 

Acquiring a Ph.D. can be challenging, but it’ll be an excellent life experience for you. You’ll put in years of hard work, but you’ll also spend time with people who are passionate about the same things you are. Many Ph.D. students also get the chance to travel. There is a possibility that you will attend a prestigious conference surrounded by leading experts in your field or be part of a research project in an adventure-worthy location. 

What are some Architecture Jobs?

Architects specialize in various fields, including drawing plans and supervising construction, designing lighting systems, infrastructure, plazas, sidewalks, and other public spaces to integrate a project with its surroundings. As soon as you obtain your architect license, you have several options at your disposal. Consider the following architectural jobs:

  • Research Architect

Research architects typically work as consultants and do theoretical work. They offer solutions to complex problems that architectural processes face. As part of the engineering team, they give technical guidance for development, testing, and design.

  • Residential architect

Residential Architects work on residential buildings, houses, condominiums, and other structures where people live, developing building ideas and concepts. They specialize in the construction of custom-designed homes. These architects provide a complete service, from developing the design brief to managing the construction site.

  • Commercial architect

Architects specializing in designing non-residential buildings, such as retail shops, office towers, hotels, museums, hospitals, and public facilities, are commercial architects. The architecture of this type is often based on the public’s interests and societal developments.

  • Restoration architect

Architects who specialize in restoration work are responsible for preserving and conserving historic buildings and monuments. They alter or restore these structures to prevent decay. Architects of this type must be able to maneuver through the planning and legal systems and understand the historical significance.

  • Interior architect

As a general rule, an interior architect plans the interiors of buildings, whereas an interior designer focuses on how those interiors are furnished and decorated. It is the responsibility of interior architects to ensure that a building is functional, safe, and attractive. They usually work for large and high-end firms.

  • Lighting architect

Lighting designers create, integrate, infuse, and organize lighting into a coordinated system and factoring in natural light, electric light, or both to serve and advance human actions. They’re the designers for all the lighting fixtures and hardware used on building premises and all facilities included. 

Become an Architect
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A doctoral program in architecture can be found online, although it is rare. The programs are for experienced, licensed architects with a master’s degree. Architecture Ph.D. graduates are prepared for careers in academia or research, although this will depend on the personal and professional goals of an incoming Ph.D. student. Students can obtain these degrees entirely through distance learning, although some programs require students to come to campus for exams or dissertation defenses. The school will make sure students’ computers are equipped with the necessary software types.

Pursuing a Ph.D. in Architecture studies is a surefire way to anchor your career to stable grounds. You’ll be positioned to land promising high-level architectural positions in the industry as well as in the education sector. If you’re interested in obtaining in-depth knowledge and skills in architectural history and methodologies, a Ph.D. is the soundest decision for you. Right after graduation, most of the students pursue high-level architectural research that benefits society and many sectors.

Get ready to respond to a higher calling by pursuing one of our listed online Doctor of Architecture degrees. These programs were handpicked with curriculum quality, unique offerings, financial aid opportunities, and accreditation status in mind. By choosing one of these reputable institutions, you’ll undoubtedly make the most of your doctorate education journey. 

Please see our Methodology page for more details.

List of 3 Best Online Doctor of Architecture Degrees

Atlantic International University

Best Online Doctor of Architecture Degrees 1

Graduates with a Doctor of Architecture (Ph.D.) at Atlantic University can pursue careers in teaching, scholarship, or government positions that require specialized knowledge and research experience. By extending their architectural expertise and providing them with broader research and architectural process skills, the Architecture (Ph.D.) program advances the professional development of experienced architects and practitioners in the architectural arena, enabling them to be key leaders in their different fields. 

You and your advisor will design your individual AIU Distance Learning Doctorate program in Architecture. No other distance learning program offers such flexibility. Students do not study the same subjects or use the same books or other learning materials in this program. Instead, each program is personalized to meet your needs. The programs are tailored to your specific needs and help you achieve your professional and personal goals.


  • Honolulu, Hawaii


  • Accreditation Service for International Schools, Colleges and Universities (ASIC)

Program Features:

  • Requires master’s degree
  • Can be completed in 4 years

Course Options:

  • Design and Computer Analysis of Structure
  • Introduction to Energy and Environmental Management
  • Visual Studies
  • Architectural History

Admission Requirements:

  • Application
  • Application fee of $150
  • CV 
  • Master’s Degree plus five years of field/life experience.


  • $18,700 – whole program

Financial Aid:

  • Payment plans

What’s Unique About The Program:

  • Program flow and progress are monitored online. Students get access to video guides, step-by-step instructions, sample assignments, and academic resources.
  • Virtualized and modular online courses.
  • They come with a TV and Radio Channel that faculties manage.
  • Faculty-selected readings are selected for your major each week.

University of Pennsylvania

Best Online Doctor of Architecture Degrees 2

The Weitzman School of Design at UPenn offers the Ph.D. in Architecture program. For the degree to be granted, students must complete twenty approved courses, take two language exams, pass a qualifying examination, a preliminary examination, complete a dissertation, and defend it at the end.

Students typically spend between three and four semesters on campus to meet requirements and progress to dissertation status. The coursework from previous graduate-level programs can reduce the number of required courses for the Ph.D. 


  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Program Features:

  • Takes 4 to 5 years
  • 20 approved courses 
  • Dissertation and the final defense

Course Options:

  • Design Studio I
  • History and Theory I
  • Construction I
  • Experiments in Structures
  • Daylighting

Admission Requirements:

  • Online application
  • Application fee of $80
  • Portfolio
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement 
  • Transcripts
  • Writing samples 
  • Research statement
  • Resume
  • GRE
  • English proficiency


  • $38,732 – the whole program

Financial Aid:

  • Scholarships and prizes
  • Work programs
  • Loan/repayment
  • Veteran and military benefits

What’s Unique About The Program:

  • Students are assigned an advisor. During their first year, they would choose their dissertation advisor.
  • Advisory committees consist of experts within the university and the broader academic community.
  • Ph.D. in Architecture candidates working on their dissertations get access to resources available exclusively to UPenn students.

University of Missouri

Best Online Doctor of Architecture Degrees 3

With a doctorate from MU, you can develop the competency you need to contribute to architecture and interior design research. This graduate program, officially called Doctor of Philosophy in Human Environmental Sciences with an emphasis in Architectural Studies, maybe for you if you are interested in learning how specialized research improves theoretical and methodological foundations for architectural studies.

Typically, PhDs can be completed within five years, but depending on the number of courses per semester and the dissertation process, the duration of this online graduate program varies. Some Architectural courses require no campus visits, but students may present their research line of inquiry at a workshop on-campus during the last week of June (Sunday through Friday), where you can get feedback. 


  • Columbia, Missouri


  • Higher Learning Commission

Program Features:

  • 72 credits required for completion
  • Can be completed within five years
  • Semester-based

Course Options:

  • Materials, Methods, and Products
  • Design Research and Service Design
  • Philosophy of Environmental Design Research
  • Doctoral Research in Environmental Design
  • Problems in Environmental Design

Admission Requirements:

  • BS degree from an accredited school
  • GPA of 3.0
  • English proficiency
  • Transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose


  • $711.60 / credit hour or $56,887.20 – whole program

Financial Aid:

  • Scholarships
  • Grants
  • Loans
  • Work-study

What’s Unique About The Program:

  • Missouri Online features conveniently accessible, readily available, and easy-to-navigate web-based tools to assist online graduate students in their coursework.

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