Saturday, July 11, 2009

BArch vs. MArch: Pros and Cons

My daughter and I are becoming more and more confused with the positives and negatives of a professional BArch vs. non-professional Bachelor of Science in Architecture. She would most likely follow up with the MArch, so which one would be more beneficial? We live in the State of CT, and the only 2 schools that offer (accredited) architecture programs are Yale and Univ. of Hartford. Both only offer the MArch though. It looks like several east coast schools are getting away from offering the BArch (Roger Williams for example). Can you offer any pros and cons?

I have a few more questions...hope you don't mind. In looking at some of the non-professional degrees, I have seen (so far) Bachelor of Fine Arts, as well as Bachelor of Science. Is one better than the other when going on for the MArch?

Also, do you have a list of schools that offer the co-op program? We visited Northeastern and Drexel, and both offer the co-op. In the Northeastern paperwork, it says that the 1 year of internship can apply towards some of the required IDP requirements. How many hours of IDP are required before one can sit for the test?

Thank you for your time.

First, the different degrees - BArch vs. MArch.

NAAB accredits three professional degrees in architecture - Bachelor of Architecture, Master of Architecture and Doctor of Architecture. With due respect, compare the BArch and MArch not the BArch and the Bachelor of Science in Architecture because it is not apples vs. apples.

An overview -- the Bachelor of Architecture is the quickest way to an accredited degree (5 years) and students typically begin taking design studio courses immediately upon entry from high school. The BArch has been around for over a century is well-suited if your daughter is very confident about becoming an architect.

The MArch approach with the previous B.S. degree typically known as a 4+2 has its advantages in flexibilty. The 4+2 allows students to attend one program for their undergraduate degree and a different program for their graduate program; as well, if students choose not to pursue a graduate program in architecture, their B.S. degree is excellent preparation for employment in the field or attending a graduate program in another discipline. Students can also take time between their undergraduate and graduate degrees if desired to work, travel, etc.

Also, the 4+2 programs typically start with general education courses allowing students to transition to architecture and truly decide if architecture is for them. It also provides a better overall education than a BArch (my opinion).

You are correct in that many programs around the country have recently switched from the BArch to the MArch.

As for programs with coop, there is not a list but many programs do require work as part of their curriculum. In addition to those you mentioned, consider

Boston Architectural College (the ultimate)
University of Detroit - Mercy
University of Cincinnati
Rice University
Ball State University

There are others, but I do not know have them all memorized. To research programs visit -- -- and -- As well, I encourage you to attend the Boston Career Day for Architecture scheduled for Saturday, October 3 held at Wentworth Institute of Technology (next to Northeastern). You can visit with about 35 programs in one morning. --

To learn the details of IDP, visit NCARB -- -- For the most part, IDP requires about three years of experience with specific requirements.

Finally, I strongly encourage you to obtain Becoming an Architect: A Guide to Careers in Design, a book that outlines the full process of becoming an architect. The first edition is available now and the second edition is coming out in December.

Dr. Architecture


Anonymous said...

Many people think that a BA or BS in Architecture will get them a license, only to find that they need to return to school for the Masters degree...I have many friends in the industry who have fallen victim to this misunderstanding.

Anonymous said...

a BA in architecture is all you need education-wise to get your license. you do not need a masters like the above misinformed comment states.

JNL said...

A BA (Bachelor in Arts) or BS (Bachelor in Science) of Architecture do not offer the type of degree that you need to get licensed. To become licensed, one must hold a B.Arch or an M.Arch (either I o II will work for this matter). So, yes, the first comment IS correct.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion B.Arch will get you prepared for your license if you follow the program to the letter. And to be honest in some cases the B.Arch prepares you much better than the M.Arch take these schools for example:

most schools/works prefer a student that has a B.Arch and has gone to Cal Poly Slo than someone who's obtain their M.Arch at Berkley.

Anonymous said...

While a 4+2 M.Arch most likely offers the best overall education, a B.Arch will more thoroughly prepare a young person for a career in architecture. You simply cannot pack five years worth of learning into two.