Top 5 Best Online Doctor of Architecture Degrees

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Updated: March 13, 2024, Reading time: 9 minutes

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Structures often make up the fabric of a place, telling us about their varied cultures, values, and successes. Considered both an art and a science, architecture is at the core of this built environment. It is the key to solving pressing issues brought about by poverty, land depletion, and overcrowding.

Many architecture professionals seek to acquire more advanced essential knowledge and skills in the field to boost their credentials and enhance their job prospects, and this can be done by successfully completing a doctor of architecture degree. This highest academic degree in Architecture programs is often focused on planning, design, and construction of buildings.

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Working professionals who wish to pursue a doctorate to increase their job prospects in Architecture will find the online research degree suitable.

Often, the Ph.D. programs in architecture require the completion and publication of a research project or final thesis. Sometimes, students may be allowed to choose an area of focus, which allows them to tailor their coursework based on their professional and personal goals. 


We picked these Architecture Studies advanced degree programs based on these factors:

Please check out our Methodology for more details on our ranking process.

Grad School Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Top 5 Online Doctoral Programs in Architecture

Atlantic International University

Atlantic International University
Doctor of Architecture

Offered under the School of Science and Engineering, the Doctor of Architecture at Atlantic International University is a program customized for working professionals. Its distance learning feature makes this degree flexible and convenient, with courses designed to students’ needs. The online option offers the same subjects as its traditional Doctor of Architecture Ph.D. counterpart.

Some of the courses in the doctorate program include architectural history, visual studies, design theories and methods, urban places, and environmental design in developing countries. Students explore specialty courses such as building technology, construction and materials, and design computing, among others.

Each graduate student at Atlantic International University is encouraged to complete a research project in architecture. This will include a doctoral dissertation project. Research papers should be published either online in the public domain or through professional journals and periodicals.

Texas A&M University

Texas A&M University
Ph.D. in Architecture 

Students who wish to advance professionally in the field of architecture may want to consider earning a Ph.D. in Architecture at Texas A&M University. The program goal is to help one gain new and essential knowledge relevant to architecture and other related areas of focus. They are expected to produce doctoral research through the guidance of graduate faculty members whose experience in the field is valuable.

Several areas of emphasis are offered as options. This includes healthcare design, design computation, heritage conservation, building information modeling, sustainability, digital fabrication, advanced visual communications, lighting, and energy efficiency, among others.

The Ph.D. in Architecture curriculum requires the completion of 64 credit hours before one can earn the degree program. While the core courses make up the bulk of the curriculum, this degree requires students to choose elective courses specific to their area of research. The latter is flexible, allowing one to customize their electives according to their goals and interests.

The program is available online, which means working professionals will be able to juggle their personal and professional responsibilities along with their pursuit of advanced education. Students seeking to earn this research program can complete the degree in 5 years, depending on how quickly they will be able to complete their coursework, oral and written preliminary examination, dissertation proposal, and dissertation defense.

Missouri Online

University of Missouri - Online
Ph.D. in Human Environmental Sciences – Architectural Studies

Missouri University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Architectural Studies, which contains 73 credit hours and can be completed in 5 years. The degree program’s official name is Doctor of Philosophy in Human Environmental Sciences with an emphasis on Architectural Studies.

The architecture program is aimed at preparing its students for taking leadership positions in design and consulting practice as part of the government, private industry, or in an educator role, particularly in higher education and research.

The program is 100% online and there are no required campus visits, however, students can also participate in the optional yearly on-campus workshop, where they can present their proposed research and obtain feedback. 

The program’s courses are semester-based, and the course design dwells on several emphasis areas, which include a Design Foundation, Facility Management, and Design, Inclusive Design/Accessibility, Aesthetics of Design, Housing & Neighborhood Design, and Sustainable Design.

Being a doctorate degree, the program’s culmination is a comprehensive examination and a written dissertation that features original and significant investigation.

Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University
Doctor of Design (DDes)

Carnegie Mellon University, through its School of Architecture, offers a Doctor of Design (DDes) degree program, which is delivered both on-campus and online and is even open to international students. 

The 3-year architecture program is a collaborative effort with the Université Paul Sabatier of Toulouse, France, and cohorts in the program come from various fields in AEC (Architecture-Engineering-Construction) in the US and from all over the world.

A unique feature of Carnegie Mellon’s DDes is that it is designed for mid-career architecture, engineering, and construction professionals, who aspire to solve problems in their fields that they may have encountered over the course of their practice.

The architecture studies degree program is anchored on the core assumption that mid-career professionals are capable of developing doctoral-level research, by virtue of their in-depth essential knowledge gained through years of professional practice. The DDes program’s curriculum is anchored on 8 learning areas, namely:

  1. Research Methods
  2. Sustainability and Building Science
  3. Computational Design for Building Performance
  4. BIM, Computational Design and Design Thinking
  5. Advanced Construction
  6. Project Management
  7. Integrated Practice & Systems Integration
  8. Computational Design & Manufacturing

North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University
Doctor of Design

Based in the City of Raleigh, the North Carolina State University offers a Doctor of Design program. While it is largely an art & design degree and isn’t a purely architecture-oriented program, it is still relevant to the fields of architecture and landscape architecture, along with graphic design and industrial design which are parallel and related fields.

The Doctor of Design degree program is designed for practicing designers looking for high-level expertise and professional development in these areas. As it is a doctoral program aimed at active design practitioners, applicants to the program must hold a Master’s Degree and at least one other degree from an accredited fine art, design, or equivalent program.

Lastly, as proof of practice and mastery, applicants to the program must be able to provide a portfolio of their work that highlights relevant professional experience and accomplishments whether this was done as part of a design firm/studio, a public or private museum, or government agencies that are involved in design and planning.

The Doctor of Design is an online/distance learning degree program, and NC State also offers a parallel on-campus equivalent, the Ph.D. in Design degree program.

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What are the typical requirements for a Doctor in Architecture or related degree programs?

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the typical requirements for a Doctor in Architecture or related degree programs?

Being a doctoral program, you should have a Master’s Degree, from an accredited university or college. In-depth experience from practice goes toward your dissertation and other doctorate work, and most schools would require some proof of work, such as a portfolio, in order to pass admission into the program. 

Lastly, most schools would also prefer if applicants already have a research problem they would like to explore before entering the program.

How much can one earn as an Architect?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, architects with an entry-level education can earn around $80,000 annually. With a Ph.D., this salary can be higher, especially if one opts to pursue teaching and work in the academe. 

It also depends on the positions one is aiming for when one chooses to practice as an architect, whether it is teaching or working with a construction team to build a condominium complex.

In what way do Architects have an impact on society?

When we think of architects and the work they do, we often immediately think of tall beautiful skyscrapers and striking structures that become symbols of the cities they are built in, but experienced architects work on far more aspects of our public and private spaces.

Architects together with Urban Planners (some architects also have urban planning credentials) and Civil Engineers also help shape the invisible ways in which we use our urban spaces.

Key Takeaways

Earning an online doctor of architecture degree can be beneficial in a variety of ways. This research degree is ideal for students seeking to land a job in academia or work in advanced and specialized research in the architectural arena. 

Indeed, successfully completing this program will give one a wealth of opportunities to reach their personal and professional goals as a contemporary architect.

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