Architecture Programs vs. Construction Management Programs

Architecture Programs vs. Construction Management Programs

The difference between construction management and architecture.

“The nature of buildings, spaces, landscapes and construction methods play a critical role in how people feel, behave, interact and communicate” –Gregory Kessler, the director of the School of Architecture and Construction Management at Washington State University

While some people may never have ever considered this point, those of you who have, may be the perfect candidate for a graduate program in architecture or construction management.

Whether you’re overseeing the construction of a skyscraper or drawing the designs for it, you have the power to make a considerable difference in the quality of our lives. But what are the differences between architecture and construction management? Why should you choose one program and career path over the other?

Architecture Graduate Programs

According to the Pratt Institute, a graduate program in architecture focuses on educating “the future leaders of the design, planning and management disciplines in the professional fields of architecture.” In short, this degree focuses on the designing of buildings and structures, as well as ensuring their safety and functionality.

As you consider masters of Architecture graduate programs (also referred to as an M. Arch program) decide which program aligns with your educational background. If you previously earned a bachelor’s of Architecture, or a degree in a related field, then you may be eligible for a 2 year master of Architecture degree program. If you hold a bachelor’s degree in a field outside of architecture, you may be eligible for a 3 to 4 year master of Architecture degree program.

When researching potential universities, it is important to make sure the institution is accredited by the National Architectural Accreditation Board (NAAB). Otherwise, you won’t be able to sit for the Architect Registration Exam (ARE’s), which is required to become a licensed architect.

Construction Management Graduate Programs

A graduate program in construction management builds and expands upon students’ existing knowledge to develop the necessary skills needed to manage, supervise and coordinate the construction process from the conception stage to the completion of the final project. Construction managers must oversee and foster key relationships with everyone from the architects to the subcontractors.

The School of Architecture at Pratt University describes construction management as a triangle.

“The owner [is] at one point the architect, an engineer at another point, and the construction manager at the third point.” 

Construction managers play an important and necessary in the building process, this is due in large part to the increasingly complex designs and construction of structures in today’s world. Construction managers hold the primary responsibility of orchestrating and executing the visions of the owner and the designs of the architect.

When evaluating construction management graduate programs, make sure the coursework clearly aligns with your career goals. Carl Sciple, director of the Master of Science in Construction Management program Wentworth Institute of Technology, explains that programs differ between institutions:

“Our MSCM program, for example, is business oriented and designed for people who aspire to be senior executives in the construction industry. As a result, we developed business-heavy courses and concentrations to best prepare our graduates to meet their career goals. If students aren’t clear about their goals, they won’t be able to select a program that best meets their needs.”

Which Degree Is Best For You?

Both architects and construction managers are integral professionals in the modern building industry.  Archtects are responsible for the design of buildings and other structures, while constructions managers are responsible for putting it together.  The simple question an individual considering either course of study might ask themselves is whether they more of a designer or an organizer and problem solver.  Designers may be more attracted to master’s in architecture (M.Arch) degree programs, while organizers may be more interested in earning a master’s degree in construction management.