Saturday, April 13, 2013

Syracuse U or Ball State U

I am hoping you can provide some guidance to my daughter.  She is considering two very different schools and programs.  The largest difference is cost.  One, our state school, Ball State is a 4&2 program with the Master's program accredited.  The second is Syracuse, a 5 year B Arch program.  She feels like she fits in better at Syracuse, but the cost is 5x what the cost is for Ball State.  Knowing she wishes to eventually work and live on the East coast, she feels she stands a better chance of interning and working on the East coast if she attends school there.
As a parent, the cost difference is huge.  Knowing she will have significant debt following school at Syracuse, and virtually none at Ball State I am having a difficult time endorsing school out east.
It is our understanding a B Arch is equivalent to an M Arch in most circumstances.  Or are we in error, is the M Arch more financially rewarding?
Any advice would be appreciated.


First, congrats on your daughter being admitted to Ball State and Syracuse University; that is truly great news and you should be proud.

Next, let me explain the differences in degrees -- both the five year Bachelor of Architecture (BArch) and 4+2 Master of Architecture (MArch) are equivalent in one sense as they are both first professional degrees accredited by NAAB ( However, as you might imagine, the two degrees are quite different in how they teach architecture.

NAAB dictates the "what" is to be taught in architecture degress, but not the "how."  This is why it is extremely difficult to compare programs.

With that said, neither degree is necessarily better than the other - they are just different.  With my almost 20 years of experience, I would suggest you discuss which is a better fit for your daughter.  The BArch is best suited for individuals who have a STRONG desire to pursue architecture as you pursue studio immediately.  The 4+2 MArch is better for choice and option as you typically do not start studio until sophomore or junior year allowing you to pursue more liberal arts courses.  Plus, many graduates at the undergraduate level may pursue a different institution for the +2 or pursue another discipline.

She is probably right in that SU will have a better reputation for positions on the East Coast, but to what end - large debt.

May I offer the following --

1) As I shared, the 4+2 allows choice - she could attend Ball State at the undergraduate level, do extremely well and pursue SU for their Master of Architecture.  In this way, you save monies but she still graduates from SU.

2) Depending on Ball State, she could attend a community college for a year while living at home to save monies but to allow her to apply to other four year programs; in the region (Michigan, MiamiU, Ohio State, Cincinnati, Illinois, Wisconsin-Milwaukee).  From each of these she could pursue SU or any other graduate program as her pursuits might change through her studies.

With the details you have shared, option 1 above is probably the best choice for both of you.  Option 2 is a viable option depending on what other programs you considered this past year.  Regardless, have a conversation with SU about her chances for admission at the graduate level coming from Ball State or other undergraduate programs.

If you wish to contact me and discuss, we can do this - do let me know the decision.


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