The future of architectural engineering is full of opportunity. From artificial intelligence to sustainability, many trends are fueling this unique and exciting career path. Whether you are considering a career in architectural engineering or already have work experience, a master’s degree in architectural engineering can open many doors.
This guide covers everything you need to know about this career path, the top master’s in architectural engineering degree programs, common courses, costs, and more.
What Is Architectural Engineering?
Architectural engineering applies practical and theoretical know-how to design buildings and building systems successfully. The primary responsibility of architectural engineers is to focus on a building’s engineering aspects. However, there are many possible areas of specialization.
As reported by Penn State College of Engineering, since people spend 86% of their time indoors, architectural engineers have a lasting impact on society.
Graduates of architectural engineering are seen as creative engineers. With formal training in architectural design and solid engineering education, these individuals can engineer high-performance buildings, focusing on sustainability, safety, comfort, economics, and the productivity of occupants.
With a degree in architectural engineering, you can work for governments, builders, mechanical contractors, manufacturers, and consulting firms. Some architectural engineers specialize in structural technology, whereas others gravitate toward mechanical systems or commercial development. There are many possible avenues as you focus on the mechanical and structural systems of a building while managing the challenges of electrical systems.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are many architectural and engineering occupations available, with most of the projected job growth in engineering occupations.
Some of the niche areas of focus will include:
- Rebuilding and infrastructure
- Renewable energy
- Oil and gas extraction
These niches will involve three broader areas of specialization: structural systems, MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing) Systems, and construction. You may find a possible career as a fire protection engineer, building inspector, technical architect, plant engineer, HVAC systems specialist, electrical systems engineer, etc.
Why Get a Master’s Degree in Architectural Engineering?
Architectural engineering students come from unique backgrounds and have individualized interests. However, most students have one key thing in common — their goal is to design structures, applying engineering and technology principles. Some seek a master’s degree in architectural engineering to prepare for a specific career, whereas others want to contribute to an expanding industry, focusing on a particular field of study.
A Master’s in Architectural Engineering degree will prepare you to become a professional engineer. You will get technical expertise that architects do not, opening the door to several high-paying job positions. Although the industry’s most common entry-level degree requirement is a bachelor’s degree, an engineering master’s degree will lead to several benefits.
You can expect to have:
- The advanced capability to apply your knowledge to complex engineering problems
- Advanced technical knowledge in at least one specialty area of architectural engineering
Both of these achievements will result in:
- A higher salary
- More flexible options concerning positions and locations
- More opportunities to work on exciting projects that require specialized, technical knowledge and experience
How Much Does an Architectural Engineering Master’s Degree Cost?
The cost of a master’s degree in architectural engineering will depend on many variables, including the school you attend. According to Data USA, in 2019, the average in-state public tuition for architectural engineering was $9,120, growing at 5.59%. The average out-of-state private tuition costs $48,850, growing at a rate of 3.42%.
To help offset some of the costs of getting a degree in architectural engineering, many students are now opting for online education programs. This option helps reduce a student’s cost of living, as they can study from home without needing to pay for residence fees and meal plans.
10 Online Architectural Engineering Master’s Programs
1. Arizona State University – Online Graduate Engineering Programs
If you have an area of specialization you’re interested in, Arizona State University offers 19 online graduate engineering programs, including Construction Management and Technology (MS), Electrical Engineering (MSE), Systems Engineering (MEng), and Sustainable Engineering (MSE). These programs require you to complete 30 credit hours, and once complete, your degree will not specify that it was completed online.
Your transcript will say “Arizona State University” because you’ll receive the same course content as in-person students. Courses will vary depending on the program. For example, Construction Management offers courses such as Construction Productivity, Building Energy Management, and Trenchless Construction Methods.
2. Auburn University – Master’s in Architectural Engineering
Architectural Engineering is one of the majors in the engineering program offered by Auburn University, located in Auburn, Alabama. During the 2021–2022 academic year, the engineering tuition is the same for residents and non-residents of Alabama. The per semester credit hour rate is $949, and students require an average of 30-35 credits. Financial aid is available.
Auburn University offers a wide range of online Master of Science degrees for remote learning opportunities, covering various engineering majors, such as Geotechnical Engineering and Civil Engineering.
3. Illinois Institute of Technology – Master of Engineering in Architectural Engineering
The Master of Engineering in Architectural Engineering degree at Illinois Tech provides an opportunity for students of all backgrounds, including those with academic backgrounds in architectural, civil, mechanical, or environmental engineering and those in construction management or environmental design.
This program is thesis-based, and students are required to specialize in one field of concentration, choosing from building systems, construction management, or structures. Starting in spring 2020, Illinois Tech began offering online courses for engineering students.
4. International University of Applied Sciences – Master in Engineering Management
This state-approved and accredited program aims to provide management skills and engineering expertise so that you can become an in-demand professional. At the University of Applied Sciences, you will earn your Master of Engineering after 12-24 months. Tuition fees start from 251 euros per month.
You can expect full support, online tutorials, individual study coaching, access to the online campus, no charge for extension of course duration, and career coaching. If you already have a background in architectural engineering and want to move into a management position, this would be an ideal program for you.
5. Penn State World Campus – Online Master of Engineering Degrees
Although Penn State’s College of Engineering offers a Master of Engineering in Architectural Engineering degree, you can also opt for one of several Master of Engineering degrees online, focusing on various areas of specialization. Some of these specializations include Engineering Management, Industrial Engineering, Systems Engineering, and Acoustics.
Nationally recognized as one of the best online programs, Penn State’s graduate engineering programs will prepare you for a successful career. The curriculum is 33 credits, costing $996 per credit.
6. University of Cincinnati – Master of Engineering (MEng) in Architectural Engineering
At the University of Cincinnati, the Master of Engineering in Architectural Engineering program provides the skills and expertise required to enhance your ability to contribute to the technical workforce. Students have up to 18 months to complete the degree. However, it is possible to complete it in one year. You can complete a Master of Engineering degree for online studies, which focuses on direct industry application more than research.
For the 2021–2022 academic year, the rates for graduate students are $746 per credit hour for in-state students and $1,333 for students uneligible for Ohio or Metro rates (those from outside of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana).
7. The University of Kansas – MS in Architectural Engineering
Earn your Master’s in Architectural Engineering at the University of Kansas 100% online. This degree requires 30 credit hours, including a three-hour practical design project in your area of specialization and a final presentation project. This program is designed for busy adults, offering online instructor-led classes.
Some of the courses include Architectural Acoustics, Energy Management, Advanced Lighting Design, Advanced Thermal Analysis of Buildings, and Solar Energy Systems Design. The tuition fee is the same for residents and non-residents, $660 per credit hour.
8. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign – Master of Science in Civil Engineering
At the University of Illinois, there are two online Master of Science degrees for engineering students — Civil Engineering and Environmental Engineering. The MS degree in Civil Engineering focuses on construction management, energy-water-environment sustainability, geotechnical engineering, infrastructure, structural engineering, sustainability, etc.
You can complete this degree entirely online. However, a blended approach is also possible (involving on-campus and online credits). Graduate tuition rates for engineering-related degrees are $18,998/year for residents and $36,150/year for international students.
9. University of Southern California – Master of Science in Systems Architecting and Engineering
A Master of Science in Architecting and Engineering degree at the University of Southern California can be obtained both on-campus and online. This is just one of many online engineering programs, including a Master’s in Engineering Management and a Master’s in Industrial and Systems Engineering. Some of the required courses include Engineering Economics and Model-Based Systems.
To earn your degree, you must obtain a minimum grade point average of 3.0 across 27 units (15 units of required courses, three units of electives, three units in technical management, and six units in a technical specialization area).
10. Wentworth Institute of Technology – Architectural Engineering (Master of Science)
Wentworth Institute of Technology offers an accelerated 4+1 Master’s program. You can earn your Master’s in as little as one year, covering a range of majors, including Construction Management, Electrical Engineering, Architecture, Civil Engineering, and Project Management. The online format features 36 graduate-level credits with seven required courses. These courses include Construction Law, Advanced Steel Structures, and Foundations in Electrical Systems. You can view the full curriculum here.
Common Courses in Architectural Engineering Degree Programs
Depending on the school you attend and your area of interest, many possible courses are available. These include, but are not limited to:
- Structural Timber Design
- Structure and Properties of Materials
- Architectural Acoustics
- Construction Management
- Building Mechanical Systems
- Building Electrical Systems
- Steel Design
- Sustainability and the Built Environment
- Building Energy Conservation Technologies
Other FAQs About Architectural Engineering Degrees and Programs
How much do Architectural Engineering graduates typically earn in salary?
As reported by the BLS, in May 2020, the median average wage for architecture and engineering occupations was $83,160. This salary is significantly higher than the median of $41,950 for all occupations. However, if you become an architectural and engineering manager, the 2020 median pay was $149,530 per year.
What is the job outlook for architectural engineers?
According to the BLS, employment in architecture and engineering is projected to grow by 6% from 2020 to 2030, creating 146,000 new jobs.
What GPA is required for a Master’s in Architectural Engineering program?
The specific requirements for a Master’s in Architectural Engineering degree will depend on the school you attend and your program. However, most programs require a minimum GPA of 3.0.