Thanks for taking the time to read my email. I graduated last year with a BA in Japanese, but am seriously considering pursuing architecture as a career. The problem is that I'm having a hard time deciding what route to take. My alma mater offers a (expensive) summer program in architecture that is "designed toward the production of architectural projects that can serve as portfolio material in the graduate school application process." This would be the first option, to take this program and apply directly to grad school. The other (far cheaper) option would be to go to community college for a 1.5 year Associate degree in architecture and either build a portfolio in the process, or thereafter work in the field long enough to build one such that I can apply for an M.Arch program.
I have a professional background in photography, and Japanese aesthetics inform and inspire a lot of my interest in architecture, so I feel like I can create a strong enough application to get into a good program. I realize that this email is becoming convoluted, so I guess what my question boils down to is, does an Associate degree in architecture have much value for my career, or is it better to step up to the graduate level since I already have a BA?
Thank you again,
If your goal is to become an architect and you have an undergraduate degree, your next task is to pursue the Master of Architecture (3-4 years) for those that have a degree in an unrelated discipline. As you note, almost all graduate programs will require you to submit a portfolio as part of your application.
I would NOT pursue an associate's degree -- that is moving backward. You are NOT obligated to enter the summer program unless you think it would be helpful for your portfolio or letter of recommendation. As you point out, there are other ways to create material for your portfolio. Simply take a drawing course. Also, why not visit the studios at UCBerkeley and meet with some students of the program. Meet with faculty of the program.
Check out Portfolio Design -- www.portfoliodesign.com for ideas as well.