Architectural history courses

June 8, 2014
Architectural history

Architectural history is the study of the built environment across cultures and time periods. Bachelor's and master's degree programs are available in this field, as well as a number of shorter certificate programs. Most students in graduate programs choose a region or time period to focus their studies. These training options often include core architectural classes, as well as urban planning and art courses. Career paths for graduates may span from teachers and curators to historians and researchers.

  • Program Levels in Architectural History: Bachelor's degree, master's degree and certificate programs are all available in this field
  • Prerequisites: A bachelor's degree is required for admittance into a master's program

Bachelor's Degree Programs in Architectural History

Bachelor's degree programs in architectural history include the Bachelor of Architecture with an Architectural History focus, a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Architectural History and a Bachelor of Arts in Architectural History. Combined art and architectural history degree programs are more common than exclusive architectural history programs. Students enrolling in a BFA program may be required to take art courses and build a portfolio during the course of their studies. The coursework in a bachelor's degree program in architectural history aims to teach students to analyze, in a modern context, how architecture around the world evolved into what it is today. A few examples of classes are:

  • Modern American architecture
  • Medieval architecture and art
  • Global urban architecture
  • Ancient architecture
  • Baroque architecture

Master's Degree Programs in Architectural History

To enroll in a Master of Arts or Master of Fine Arts in Architectural History, a student must have a bachelor's degree in a related field, or and have completed prerequisite courses in the history of architecture or architectural design studio. Graduate programs may have varied focuses, such as historic preservation or design. Some schools allow graduate schools to dually major in architectural history and architecture, landscape architecture or urban planning. Master's degree courses in architectural history prepare students for advanced research in the field and for Ph.D. programs. General research courses are coupled with electives in architectural styles and time periods. Courses include:

  • Architectural history research methods
  • Architectural criticism and theory
  • Post-1750 European architecture
  • History of architecture and art
  • Asian architecture

Certificate Programs in Architectural History

Colleges and universities offer undergraduate and graduate certificate programs in architectural history. Certificate programs typically require twelve to fifteen credit hours and offered as a specialty in addition to a student's primary discipline. In a typical certificate program in architectural history, students choose a specific time period and focus in addition to required coursework. Some classes one might expect are:

  • Ancient Greek architecture
  • Italian architecture and art
  • Frank Lloyd Wright
  • Prehistoric architecture
  • Islamic architecture and urbanism

Popular Careers

It is common for architectural history majors to continue their education in a master's or Ph.D. program. However, entry-level positions are available in a variety of professions. A few possibilities are:

  • Postgraduate teacher's assistant
  • Research assistant
  • Visual resources curator
  • Historic preservation planner

Careers available to graduates with various majors who choose to attain certificates in architectural history include

  • Museum curator
  • Art historian
  • Architect
  • Historical preservation specialist

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

A career in academia is a common choice for graduates with a master's or doctorate degree in architectural history. In 2014, postsecondary architecture teachers made an average of $84, 470 annually, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also reported that the job growth for all postsecondary teachers from 2012-2022 will be at a rate of 17% (

Continuing Education

Often architectural history students enter a doctorate program after achieving a master's degree. Doctorate programs in disciplines related to architectural history typically have fiercely competitive admissions processes. Ph.D. students complete a dissertation in their area of expertise.

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