Thursday, August 12, 2010

Undergrad Major to Prepare for Architecture

First of all, I'd like to thank you for having such a helpful and informative website. It cleared up so much for me.

I am a high school senior aspiring to become an architect, and I'll soon be applying to many different colleges. Yet I'm having some difficulty.

When choosing a college or university, is it encouraged, recommended, or even absolutely necessary for me to apply somewhere that has an architectural program for undergraduates? If I applied somewhere with an undergraduate architecture program, will it give me a head start on my years of NAAB accredited education? Is it even possible to begin education in an NAAB accredited program as an undergraduate and still get credit?

Many schools that I have been thinking of applying to don't have an architectural program. What do you think about majoring in Art as an undergraduate and then pursuing a M.Arch after graduation? How would this compare to majoring in architecture as an undergraduate? Would I be behind? And if my school ended up WITHOUT an architectural program, would you more suggest majoring in engineering or arts?

And kind of a side question here: Is it unusual for an architect to also pursue a side career as an interior designer or an industrial designer? I'm very drawn to designing in general, architectural or not.

Sorry for the drastic number of questions. Thanks in advance!

To best answer your questions, you must understand the various paths to an accredited degree. -- There are basically three paths - 1) Bachelor of Architecture (5 years), 2) Master of Architecture (4+2 years), and 3) Master of Architecture (4 + 3-4 years). You may certainly begin an undergraduate degree in architecture paths 1 or 2, but you are not required to do so.

As you suggest, you may gain a degree in another discipline at the undergraduate level and pursue architecture strictly at the graduate level. Your idea to pursue a degree in art first is certainly valid, but understand that it will take longer to obtain the Master of Architecture. You will NOT be behind, but you will want need to submit a portfolio for your graduate program. Pursuing engineering, art, or another discipline is entirely up to you.

Architects are involved in many careers related to design - interior, furniture, etc. Perhaps not so much product design. If interested in design, I would suggest you consider disciplines in applied arts more than fine arts.

Feel free to ask more questions if needed.

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