Tuesday, May 1, 2012

First of all , let me tell you that I have been following your blog posts for over a year and they are really helpful. I am an architect, and presently looking to hone my skills with a Master's in Architecture. I have been accepted into three schools of the lot that I applied to - University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign, Texas A &M University and Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago. The hardest part now is the decision making. I have gotten in touch with the students at all these universities and have a few doubts. 

I am more inclined towards UIUC as it is comparitively closer to Chicago and the program is more flexible than IIT. Can you tell me more about the M.Arch. program at UIUC? I have read online that the students can choose one of the four options - design, structures, etc. How does this work?  Also how are the teaching/ reasearch assistantship opportunities for international students? 

As to a comparison which of the three M.Arch courses is more reputable overall? Basically living in a big city like Chicago would be better in terms of the exposure I get (which is also one of the important reasons for me to come to US for education) but, how well known is IIT outside of Illinois? Would a degree from the prestigious Big Ten university(UIUC) or TAMU mean a more well known and widely accepted platform - for job placements (exp. in this economy)? 
More specifically relating to Texas A&M, I have got reviews that they only have a healthcare design focus and most of the graduate architecture students end up taking that as their final project. Is this true? Although, I am interested in healthcare but would like a more broader curriculum focusing mainly on overall building design aspect. Apart from healthcare design, how is the overall program at TAMU if I don't choose healthcare?

As for my background, I am an Indian, brought up and lived in middle east. I would like to know how the schools would compare based on the programs, quality for money, job placements and location. I welcome any pointers you can offer. It would be great to get some insight from an experienced professional like you.

I thank you for your time and look forward to hearing from you soon.
I very much appreciate that you have been following the ARCHCareers.org blog for over a year and found it helpful.  Also, congrats on your admission to UIUC, IIT, and TAMU; all three are excellent programs.

Now, the decision to determine which is the best fit for you.  To do so, you must first determine what are the criteria for making the decision -- location, reputation, facilities, faculty, program, etc.  Once you have determined the criteria, rate each program against the criteria to make a final decision.

UIUC is the second oldest program in the U.S.  With that history comes the largest alumni database and a robust awards and scholarship program.  Students do not actually choose from four options, but rather have a core curriculum that offers a tremendous amount of flexibility for choice to select courses in areas of focus such as structures, preservation, or as the student selects.  As for assistantship/research opportunities you will need to contact the program directly.

As for reputation, I suggest you possibly contact some architects.  Where do you plan to practice after graduation?  Do you plan to stay in the U.S. or return to India?  I do think IIT is known outside of Illinois, but ultimately, I believe the quality of the program is more important than reputation.

As I have never been to TAMU, I cannot speak to its focus on healthcare compared to other aspects of architecture.  Again, contact the program with your doubts.

I would suggest you keep researching by contacting faculty, students or alums of each institution.


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