Saturday, December 26, 2009

Coming to the U.S.

I appreciate your efforts to guide those who want to become an architect. I am have a M.Architecture, a registered architect and a faculty member here in Iran. It's my pleasure if can get your help determing the best way to continue my practice and academic career in US.

I had worked as a design assistant and architectural programmer in our own firm for 5 years before joining to a larger well-known firm 5 years ago. My spouse is majoring Interior Design in Chicago and we are planning to live and work in US; so that I am considering various options and provisions such as getting professional license, continuing my education in NAAB accredited programs, PhD, etc… .

So considering these facts:

1. I already hold M.Arch and I am interested and talented in both practical and academic areas

2. As far as I heard, it would be difficult for a new-comer architect to adapt profession without getting a professional degree within the US.

3. For teaching in a university, you need to have a PhD in Architecture or a reliable practical record in architectural profession.

As far as I experienced these two are not in separate directions: academy and profession,

But If I apply for a PhD program would it be difficult to find a job in an architecture firm? Will I be considered overqualified for architecture job positions? I am between sixes and sevens in choosing between M.Arch and PhD. Can you help me to choose?


If you desire is to be a licensed architect in the U. S., I suggest you contact NCARB - As you have a professional degree, there is no need to obtain a NAAB accredited degree in the U.S. Instead, you can have your education evaluated by EESA ( against the NCARB Education Standard to meet the education requirement.

In terms of teaching within an accredited program in the U.S., it is not necessary to have a Ph.D. unless you are seeking an Architectural History teaching position. Most programs allow candidates with a Master of Architecture to be considered. Visit the following for possible positions -- --.

As far as having a Ph.D. and applying to a firm, I do not have any great insight, but most firms hire based on skill sets not necessarily on education. I do not think you would be overqualified just because of your degree. However, you would be best to discuss with those in firms who do hiring.

I hope this is helpful! You may certainly email again if you have any additional questions.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Graduate Admissions

I am so confused where to start as I make this transition. Would a B.S. in biology help in any way for admissions into a graduate program for architecture? What do I need to apply and what is the portfolio made up of? How can I prepare a competitive resume in the next year, since I have probably missed the application deadlines for 2010. Do you think I can get into a program such as Princeton?
I would appreciate your advice! Thanks again for your help.

In applying to a graduate Master of Architecture, what is important in possessing an undergraduate degree regardless of the major; thus, your B. S. in Biology is sufficient in applying.

Most graduate programs require the following but check with each program for specific requirements:

Statement of Purpose
2-3 Letters of Recommendation

For what to include in your portfolio, contact each program to which you are applying, but you will want to include creative work - drawing, artwork, painting, etc. Do not worry about if the work is architectural. Consider taking a freehand drawing course at an area community college to build your portfolio. Another source is --.

As for your likely admission to Princeton, you will need to contact them directly. I am not in a position to comment.

Dr. Architecture

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Architecture Career

I always wanted to be an architect, since I was 10/12 year old. I recently bought your book "Becoming an Architect", which is helping me a lot. But I still have some concerns about the path that I need to take to become an architect. I hope that I'm not bothering you with so many questions but I hope that you can help me.

I have a bachelor degree in Economics that I was awarded in my country Brazil. Even though I am 41 years old, I really want to pursue this career. I now live in New York City and I'm thinking of applying to The City College of New York. I am just not sure if I should apply for the Bachelor's degree or for the Master degree program. I think I can learn more if I pursue the bachelor's degree, but it will take longer and my classmates would be much younger than me, which could be a little uncomfortable to me. On the other hand, if I pursue for the master's degree, I'm worried that it can be difficult because I have a very different degree (Economics). What's your opinion? Do you think I should start with a Associate degree in Interior Design (2 years) and then go to the Master Architecture (3 years)? Or should I go straight to the Masters degree? If the MArch is the best, should I take freehand drawing (or technical drawing) and math (or physics) classes prior to starting the Master?

Finally, although I'm a legal U.S. resident, do I have to take the TOEFL anyway, as English is not my first language?


Given that you have an undergraduate degree, albeit in Economics, you should consider pursuing the Master of Architecture (3-4 years). These particular degrees are targeted and designed for individuals with degrees in other disciplines. Most of all, simply make sure the degree is accredited by NAAB; this will ensure that you can later obtain licensure.

As for courses prior, consult the architecture program. Many do require freehand drawing in addition to either or both calculus and physics. The freehand drawing course will assist you in creating materials for your portfolio.

As for the TOEFL, again, check with the institution. Most will require candidates to take the TOEFL if their undergraduate degree is from a foreign country.

Dr. Architecture

Monday, December 21, 2009

Degree/Career Path in Architecture

Hi Dr. Architecture,
I have a question about becoming a licence architect. I went online to but I couldn't find any guide or answer about my career path. I'm planning to go back to school and finish my undergraduate program in architecture at Academy of Arts University. The question is what is my path to follow if I have a BFA in Architecture?

First, to become an architect, you need to accomplish three tasks 1) obtain a professional accredited degree in architecture, 2) complete the requirements of Intern Development Program (IDP), and 3) pass the Architect Registration Examination (ARE).

As you have a BFA in Architecture, you are eligible to pursue a Master of Architecture (3-4 years) for individuals who have an undergraduate degree in a discipline other than architecture. Resources to review include the following: -- list of accredited programs in the U.S. -- guide to architecture programs with more details than the website listed above.

Dr. Architecture

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Career Switch

I am considering changing my career track from medicine/lab research to architecture. So far, I have my bs in biology and I'm doing a lab research internship for 1-2 years. I was planning on attending medical school thereafter, but I'm still wavering.

I've always wanted to try studying architecture because I love designing,and I'm very good a math ( physics, calculus) and communicating. However, Im not the best artist. Do you think I could still pursue it if I lack this skill right now? Do you think such a radical change is wise at this point? Would it be an easy switch?

I would appreciate your advice.

Given your interest, you should begin to explore the discipline of architecture further. Ask your family and friends if they know an architect that you could meet with to discuss their career. You could possibly shadow the architect to learn firsthand the career of an architect.

As you learn more, you may discover that you do not need to be a perfect artist, but you do need to learn how to communicate your ideas to your clients. Architecture is about being creative and problem-solving. Besides, drawing, etc. are skills that you will learn in an architecture program. Another preparation task is to take a freehand drawing course at an area community college as you will need to submit a portfolio when you apply to graduate programs.

Also, there are a few summer programs for individuals like you to help you transition --

Harvard University - Cambridge, MA

June 14 – July 23, 2010

California at Los Angeles, University of

June 21 – July 30, 2010


LA Institute of Architecture and Design

Dr. Architecture

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Summer Programs

Hi, I am looking for a summer program for my son, who will have just finished 10th grade here in Berlin, Germany. Ideal would be a two to three week residential program in August. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!

I am truly not in a position to specifically recommend a program, but does include a list of all of the programs offered at the following website. The list currently provides the summer 2009 program dates but will be updated with the summer 2010 dates by the end of January.

Please note that although the list provides 2009 dates, the website addresses should provide much of the details that you might need to make a selection. Please note that you will find most of the programs during June and July. Very few of them are during August as programs prepare for the new academic year.

Dr. Architecture

Sunday, November 29, 2009

BA Interior Design

I stumbled upon your site and found it to be very informative and helpful. But I'm a little bit worried from when you mentioned that architects can do interior design but interior designers cannot do architecture.

I am currently at a community college completing my GE's and recently made the plan to pursue a BA in Interior Design. As much as I like Interior Design I also have an interest in Architecture. I have also and am planning on taking multiple drawing/art classes as well as calculus and physics for Architecture. After reading about the 4+2 plan on getting a M.Arch I decided that would be the road I would take. I also felt like it would be a better idea since I'm almost done with my GE's and have taken a few art courses already.

But, from what you said, is getting a BA in Interior Design a good start before going after a M.Arch in my situation?

As the website - - outlines, you can complete the education requirements of becoming an architect in more than one way.

Given that you are at a community college, you can do pursue the BA in Interior Design as you suggest. With the BA in Interior Design, you would continue with the Master of Architecture (3-4 years) to obtain the NAAB accredited degree.

Another route would be to transfer to an undergraduate degree in architecture (BS in Architecture); note that this is not a professional NAAB accredited degree. The institution you pursue will determine if you are able to complete the degree in two more years after your community college work. With the BS in Architecture degree, you would pursue the Master of Architecture (two years) for the NAAB accredited degree.

Given your question, the pursuit of an BA in Interior Degree is certainly a good choice as it will provide good preparation for the eventual Master of Architecture. The undergraduate degree will also prepare you will materials for your portfolio when applying to the graduate program.

Best! - Dr. Architecture

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Course in Preparation for MArch

I suppose I'm a fairly unfamiliar case of someone in his mid 20s who thinks he now wants to become an architect. I could go on at length on why this makes sense to me now, at this point in my life, but I'll keep it short.

I have little to no experience in architecture or design. I have a BA in Religion from a small liberal arts college in PA. I took a freshmen year "architecture and nature" course (earmarked for a general curriculum credit) and an intro to drawing class my senior year. In July next year, I will receive my MA in Global & International Studies from UC Santa Barbara, which is code for international non-profit management.

My goal is to work next year as a teacher somewhere and save up my money. If I were to go back to school for a MArch (3 years approx., correct?), then it wouldn't be before Fall 2011, and even then it might only be part-time.

So here's my question...

While I have the chance to take electives at a big university before getting the degree next July, what sort of courses should I take that would help me out later down the road in architecture school? Are there specific courses that I could take now that might free me up from taking them as a first-year architecture student? In college, I have taken math up to Calc II, and no physics.

It is doubtful that you would be able to take courses now that would be accepted as coursework typically taken during the first year of a Master of Architecture. To be sure, you should contact the programs to which you plan to apply.

However, aside from the mathematics and physics, many programs require prerequisites in freehand drawing and/or architectural history. Again, check with the programs for exact requirements. The best courses are those that will generate materials for your the portfolio that you will need to submit as part of your application. To that end, courses in drawing, sculpture, photography, art, etc. Any course that will connect your brain, eye and hand.

For ideas on portfolios, visit -- --

Dr. Architecture

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Summer Architecture Programs for High School Students

I came across your blog today. My son who is in his junior year at HS may be interested in doing a summer program in architecture this year. He has wanted to be an architect since he was 10 years old and has not come off of that dream. He is currently enrolled in a fine arts school structure to help him build his portfolio so I’m sure his portfolio will be up to snuff by the time he needs to enroll.

I’m wondering what you think the best summer program might be. I hoping to find one that has a large amount of hands on studio work and fun…lord knows I don’t what him to be overwhelmed for a summer program. I’m looking at Syracuse and a some other programs. Unfortunately his school in NY doesn’t end to the very end of June so he can’t enroll in programs that begin in May and early June.

Alternatively he does like to build – so getting him into a community service program that is focused on building might be a good solution too.


Lee Waldrep

to Gary
show details 9:59 AM (7 minutes ago)

I am pleased to hear of your son's interest in pursuing a summer program.

The best source os summer programs offered by architecture programs is the following:

Although it currently lists dates for summer 2009, it will be updated by the end of January 2010.

As far as the BEST summer program, I am afraid that I am no help as I do not know details on each and every program. Instead, I suggest you find the BEST program for your son by first determining the criteria for the decision - length, size, location, schedule, activities, credit vs. no-credit, cost.

As you have time to research before deadlines, I suggest you request information while also trying to speak with the actual faculty member teaching the program to learn the details.

Dr. Architecture

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Associates of Arts

I am a college student majoring in architecture and I wanted to know if you recommend getting an AA and if you can recommend any universities that have undergraduate.

First, congrats on your choice to pursue architecture.

Next, to become an architect, you must eventually obtain a professional accredited degree in architecture - Bachelor of Architecture, Master of Architecture, or Doctor of Architecture. How you pursue the degree is completely up to you.

Some architecture programs do have articulated agreements with community colleges with associate's degree. It allows you to begin your studies at the community college first and transfer to an architecture program.

For a list of architecture programs, visit -- -- or -- --

Dr. Architecture

Monday, November 9, 2009

Career Change: HR to ARCH

I was reading a post on your blog site regarding the topic, "Career change. Too old?" Here's my situation. I'm 38, holds a bachelors degree in HR. I want to pursue a career in architecture. Nothing else makes more sense to me. Can I pursue an internship at a firm then return to school for a masters degree in architecture? My biggest regret is not pursuing a career in architecture, 15 years ago. I realize, now, that had I done a little research regarding architecture, I would be an architect by now. Please advise.
Thanks again,

C - You may certainly pursue an internship in a firm but it is probably unlikely that you would be hired because you have no experience yet in the field of architecture. A perhaps better route is to pursue your Master of Architecture. After your first year in the graduate program, you may count any experience towards IDP - Intern Development Program (

I appreciate that you wish you have pursued architecture sooner, but you are still not too old to pursue it. Research programs via the following:

Also, consider obtaining Becoming an Architect, available from

Dr. Architecture

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Becoming an Architect - 2nd Edition

On December 2, Becoming an Architect: A Guide to Careers in Design - 2nd Edition will be published.

If you’re considering a career in architecture, start with this highly visual guide to preparing for and succeeding in the profession. Through fascinating interviews with working professionals in the field, Becoming An Architect, Second Edition gives you an inside view of what it takes to be an architect, including an overview of the profession, educational requirements, design specialties from which to choose, the job search, registration requirements, and the many directions in which a career in architecture can go.

• Written by a nationally known expert on architecture career development

• In-depth profiles with architects of varying backgrounds and specialties give students and new architects an inside view of the real-world, day-to- day experiences of a working architect.

• Second Edition features new and updated career profiles and interviews highlighting individuals who have taken varied career paths.

• Helpful appendices listing resources such as accredited schools of architecture, important architectural associations and organizations, and more.

Expanded and revised to include the most current issues that are impacting architects’ work, such as BIM and integrated practice, this essential guide will prepare you for successfully entering this competitive yet rewarding profession.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pursuing a Career in Architecture - Age Limit?

I am an undergraduate student who will be graduating in May 2010 with a Bachelor's of Business Administration Degree. I have always wanted to pursue a career in Architecture and am considering earning a MARCH degree. Is there an age limit on who old you must be to start a career in Architecture? I am 27 years old and would be in my early 30's by the time that I would earn my Masters in Architecture. I would like to start working in this industry sooner than later and also wanted to know if there was anything I could do to get my foot in the door with my current business experience.

Lastly, I live in Texas and have noticed that there are not a lot of schools that offer the MARCH degree. Would it be better for me to relocate in order to earn this degree and get by career started as well? Thank you for your time and assistance.

An Inquiring Student

There is certainly no age limit when you must start in architecture. While there are certainly a number of individuals that pursue an architectural education from high school, there are also a number that do not pursue architecture until later in there life. Philip Johnson, one of the most well-known architects in the 20th century, became an architect at age 39 and practiced until he passed away at age 93.

With your business degree, I would suggest you focus your efforts on pursuing the Master of Architecture for those that have an undergraduate degree in another discipline. You may certainly approach architecture firms about possibly employment, but your skill set may be limiting.

You must decide on which program is best for you be it in Texas or elsewhere. Consider -- -- and -- --.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

AA to BArch?

I'm a sophomore finishing my A.A. in a community college. I'm going to start my last A.A. semester after the holidays. I was going to major in International Business, but I really have a passion for architecture, urban planning and development. I'm doing research about universities and how to become an architect. I really thank you for your informative blog.

My question is, Could I transfer with an A.A. to a university's architecture program for BArch? do I need any special requirements? I just need one more course (3 credits) next semester to get an A.A. Would it be a good idea to take other classes relating to architecture?

I live in Florida, and I heard that University of Miami has a really good program, have you heard about it? Also, when it comes to graduate school, I've seen different fields such as urban planning, urban design, etc. University of Miami has a program called Masters in Real Estate Development and Urbanism, is that the same as Master in Urban Planning? Which one would you recommend to be the better: getting a bachelors in urban planning and a MArch
or a BArch and a Masters in Urban Planning/development?

First, congratulations on your interest in pursuing architecture.

You could certainly transfer to an institution with a BArch, but you would most likely to take the full five years to graduate because you will need to take the full design curriculum. You may wish to consider transferring to a 4+2 program as you may be able to transfer as a sophomore or junior with your AA. To determine if you need any special requirements, you would need to be in touch with each program to which you plan to apply. For spring, I would certainly take courses that are required or consider taking a freehand drawing course to develop your artistic skills.

UMiami is certainly a good program. Research programs via -- -- or -- --.

Once you complete an accredited architecture degree (BArch or MArch), you should pursue the graduate degree of your choice that will provide you the credentials that you desire. You should contact Miami to learn more about their graduate program. My guess is that RED and Urbanism is different than urban planning.

As to your last question, the answer lies in what you are trying to accomplish

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Undergraduate Degrees

I am currently a high school senior in California. My question is what type of undergraduate architecture program should I look for in a college if I have not had much of exposure to architecture programs?

To become an architect, you need to accomplish three tasks - 1) obtain a professional NAAB accredited degree, 2) complete IDP, and 3) pass the ARE. The website - - outlines these tasks in more detail, but I will outline the degrees below:

There are three accredited degrees - Bachelor of Architecture, Master of Architecture, and Doctor of Architecture. As you are coming from high school, you may consider either a five Bachelor of Architecture or pursue a four year pre-professional undergraduate degree (BS in Architecture or equivalent) and afterwards pursue the Master of Architecture.

Either of the two paths are viable but you must determine which is a better fit for you. I suggest you research and contact schools by visiting the following:

Dr. Architecture

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Hi Dr. Architecture!

How do I get an internship at a firm? I did email one local firm after mustering up some courage but unfortunately I got turned down. They said they only accept university students. So what do I do?

Many thanks.

Based on your email, I am guessing that you are in high school. Given that you may not have the skills many firms are requiring, obtaining an internship may be difficult. Thus, what is it that you truly want? Money, experience, or exposure to the profession to decide if it is for you.

I will argue that the latter is what you truly want. A firm may not hire your for an internship, but they may be willing to let you shadow for a day or two to better understand a firm and what they do. Be persistent and realize that you are still costing them money even if they do not pay you.

Also, there are other ways to learn about the profession. -- attend a summer program, read architecture books, attend lectures at a nearby program.

Start with obtaining Becoming an Architect: A Guide to Careers in Design -- there is full chapter of experience and how to gain it.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I currently hold an honors bachelors of science in economics and statistics and was interested in pursuing a non-professional 3.5 year masters in architecture from an accredited NAAB school. I was wondering if I will still be able to become a licensed architect with a non-professional degree.

Absolutely! Many architecture programs throughout the country offer a Master of Architecture (typically 3-4 years) for individuals who have an undergraduate degree in another discipline. To become a licensed architect, you must have a professional accredited Master of Architecture, complete IDP, and pass the ARE.

Below are a few resources that may be helpful including the BLOG I maintain to list previously asked questions and my response.

You may also wish to obtain Becoming an Architect: A Guide to Careers in Design, available from

Dr. Architecture

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Graduate School Feedback

Thank you in advance for any advice you can provide. I am a 2005 graduate with a Pre-Professional Degree in Architecture from an accredited program. Before going on to graduate school, I decided to work on my IDP requirements, get hands-on experience and gain perspective on architecture beyond design. After three years of working in an architecture firm and completing my IDP requirements, I’ve decided to return to school to complete my education to become registered. However, my initial application was rejected because of a weak portfolio and lower GPA.

I’ve been searching for a way to build up my portfolio and GPA. I’ve seen in some other posts where people mention summer programs that you can help build up a grad portfolio. Do you have any experience with these programs or any suggestions on how to build up a portfolio to show the growth from an inexperienced student to an emerging professional for graduate level admissions?


What is a weak portfolio and a lower GPA? To which program did you graduate? To which program(s) did you apply.

Your best source of feedback is the program that did not admit you. As you are done with your degree, it is hard to raise your GPA but you could consider taking architecture graduate level courses as a non-degree student to demonstrate your abilities. Even if you are not near an architecture program, you could take courses in an unrelated discipline. Also, why is your GPA lower? Did you have a bad semester? In what courses were your lower grades?

As to your portfolio, what did you include - academic or professional or both? Most graduate programs would rather see academic work even if you have worked for a few years. Did you go back and polish up your school projects? Consider reviewing portfolios at -- -- and purchase the book Portfolio Design by Harold Linton. Was the portfolio designed?

Also, who wrote your letters of recommendation? What about the GRE?

Again, obtain feedback from the schools to which you applied. Also, contact former professors to gain some insight.

The only summer program that I know of is listed below but it is focused for individuals who do not have a degree in architecture.

William Taylor
Los Angeles Institute Of Architecture And Design
617 W 7th St. Suite 200
Los Angeles, CA 90017
Wk: (213) 251-4500

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Architect? Degree required?

When I graduate college I want to get a job where I plan out houses and then model them using computer software (CAD). Do I need to be a registered architect to do this? What degree will allow me to do this kind of job?

It depends! If you strictly focus on residential projects, you may not need to be an architect but you would need to check with the local municipalities to determine the limits you would have if you were not an architect.

Regardless of whether or not you actually become an architect, I would still suggest major in architecture during college. Now, you state you want to do houses, but what if laws change or you decide to do larger projects, you may want the flexibility of becoming an architect. Having the degree will allow you flexibility in your future.

Dr. Architecture

Saturday, August 29, 2009

MArch Questions

Answers to your questions are listed below and highlighted in another color.

I recently graduated from a bachelors program in Business Economics but I would like to pursue architecture. Upon researching the requirements to become one, I have gotten a few mixed responses from various individuals . Here are some of my questions.

1) To take the license exam, does one require both an accredited bachelors AND masters degree in Architecture. Or do I only require one or the other?

To become licensed, most states require individuals to obtain a NAAB accredited professional degree in architecture; this would be either the five year Bachelor of Architecture or the Master of Architecture. You would NOT need to do both.

2) Since I already have a bachelors, would you recommend that I apply for a masters program rather than starting from scratch and getting another bachelors in Arch?

As you already have an undergraduate degree, you should apply for a Master of Architecture degree for those with a degree in another discipline. These degrees typically take between 3-4 years.

3) I looked into a few programs in Canada and it appears that the amount of years to get an accredited degree of either a bachelors/masters is slightly smaller than in the US. Is this true or am I misreading the information? And given my situation, do you recommend receiving an architectural degree from Canada and hopefully take a reciprocal licensure exam to practice in the U.S.?

As for the length of degree programs in Canada, I cannot say for certain without doing the research. My guess is that the degree would be approximately the same length as in the U.S. Regardless, you should consider programs in Canada because you may still pursue licensure in the U.S. with a Canadian degree.

4) Since I do not have any background in Arch, I am taking community college core classes in Architecture as well as design classes in the local Art college in the hopes of making a portfolio. Do you have any advice with regards to turning in an application for accredited programs ? How much weight do admission panels focus on portfolios? And lastly, is there anything else I can do that would improve my chances of getting in?

Clearly, taking creative art courses will assist in preparing materials for your portfolio. I would suggest you purchase Harold Linton's book, Portfolio Design ( for further guidance. Also, the most important guidance I can provide is to contact each of the programs you are considering to better understand their process and the criteria by which they select candidates. Most will have Open Houses to meet with students and faculty.

Typically, portfolios and academics are most important but the other application materials (statement, letters, test scores) also play a role. Do your best and feel free to contact programs if you have questions.

I must apologize for asking so many questions. I thank you for giving your time to reading through this email and I look forward to your response.

Dr. Architecture

Thursday, August 27, 2009

When to pursue MArch

I am wondering if I can take a few minutes of your time to gain some insight into life after undergraduate school. I am deciding whether or not to go straight into graduate school or to take a year or two off to work.

The decision to immediately pursue graduate studies or first go to a firm is the million dollar question. In my opinion, it is a very personal one that you will need to decide on a variety of factors - cost, do you know what you want in a graduate program, location, burnout from school, job market, etc.

When I was your age, I intended to work but I also applied to graduate programs to keep my options open. As it turned out I did have a position in a firm the summer after graduation but it was not too glorious so I headed off to my MArch. I did attend a different school for my graduate studies.

In retrospect, I do wish I had taken a few years off to gain the perspective of working for my studies but if I had done so I may not be where I am today.

Now, the market is still not the greatest and who knows where it will be come next May. My suggestion is to go through the process of applying and make your final decision next April with a variety of options. Many programs allow you to defer your admission if you are admitted allowing you to work for a year. Granted, applying does cost money -- application fees, cost of portfolio, etc., but in this way you have options to choose from in April. If you have a job lined up, you either defer or postpone studies. If you do not, you must make a decision.

Regardless of the decision, you should take the GRE, work on your portfolio, research graduate programs and start a credentials file with the Career Center for your letters of recommendation so you can apply in a few years alot easier.

Talk to professors, talk with current graduate students to gain their insight.

Dr. Architecture

Sunday, August 23, 2009

BA Art History to MArch

I am a returning student (been out of school for five years) and want to finish my degree in Art History, which I am only 20 credits away from achieving. I attended Indiana University in Bloomington and I am returning to Indiana University/ Purdue University which offers an Architectural Technology program. I discussed my plan with an Architectural Tech. advisor and she told me that she didn't see a correlation between the two study programs. I intend to take the courses necessary for this program, however she advised me that I am unable to declare it as my minor/ concentration since it is only offered as an A.S. degree. My goal is to work in structure/ design and become an architect; my question is- When I graduate with my BA in Art History do I apply to undergraduate programs in Architecture? or am I eligible to apply to a Masters program?

I appreciate your time and help in this matter.

When you complete your BA in Art History, you will be eligible to apply to a Master of Architecture (3-4 years) at one many architecture programs in the country. You would not need to apply to an undergraduate program.

Two resources to consider include the following: -- list of accredited NAAB programs; search by degree or region of the country. -- list of programs with more detailed information.

As you will need to submit a portfolio, I suggest you consider taking a freehand drawing course as part of your undergraduate Art History degree. Courses in Architectural Technology will probably not be helpful in applying to graduate programs; the curriculum for the MArch will teach you what you need to become an architect.

Dr. Architecture

Drafting as Preparation

I have just finished reading the ARCHcareers web site and I am very impressed with the information provided!

I am keenly interested in studying architecture. I live in Perth, Western Australia and though the system of gaining a place in college may be different to that in the States, I was wondering your opinion on one thing. I am studying a 2 year course in architectural drafting at a smaller school in order to gain placement in University afterwards. I thought the experience in the technical side of architecture would better prepare me for college. Am I wasting my time to study drafting for so long? Do you think it would be better for me to just plunge myself into an architecture course if I am certain that this is the career I want to take (which I am.)?

I do not want to waste time and money, though I am thoroughly enjoying dratfing! Any insights you may have would be greatly appreciated, no matter how brief. If anything is unclear, please feel free to e-mail me.

Thankyou for your time

First, I would suggest you contact the Australian Institute of Architects for additional opinions on your question via the following websites.

From my experience, I would not suggest you are wasting your time, but typically "drafting" is not the ideal preparation for becoming an architect. In other words, drafting is NOT the technical side of architecture. I would suggest you contact some of the schools in Australia to gain some insight from them on your next step.

Do contact me if you have any additional questions.

Dr. Architecture

Monday, August 10, 2009

Resources - Architecture Programs

For those seeking to apply to architecture programs (U.S.) for fall 2010, there are many resources to research.

NAAB -- -- The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) website has a limited search engine to search all accredited programs in the U.S. You can search by region and degree type. It provides full contact information along with the program's term of accreditation and website address.

ARCHSchools -- -- A resource of ACSA, ARCHSchools provides more descriptive information on each accredited program including both narrative and demographic information. You can search on many more criteria including specialty. ACSA also pubishes a book, Guide to Architecture Schools with the same information --

ARCHCareers -- -- A resource of AIAS and AIA, provides critical information on the process of becoming an architect. It has an entire section on Education and provides links to other resources.

Boston Career Day -- -- Held each fall, the Boston Career Day will be held on Saturday, October 3 at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, MA. It is an opportunity to visit with representatives from over 35 programs in architecture on a Saturday morning.

Becoming an Architect: A Guide to Careers in Design -- -- Published in 2006, Becoming an Architect is a highly visual career guide for those who are considering, or embarking upon, a career in architecture. It includes an entire chapter on how to select and decide upon an architecture program. The 2nd edition will be published this December.

Architecture Program Open Houses -- Many programs will host open houses for prospective students to learn more about their program, visit with current students and faculty, and tour their facilities. will post a list of Graduate Open Houses by mid-September.

If you know of other resources, please share.

Dr. Architecture

Friday, August 7, 2009

BArch to Urban Design and Architect

I am entering into the last year of my BArch and it is time to decide the direction I want to focus my career. I have a passion for urban design and planning but I would also like to design buildings and get my architecture license. What job opportunities are available for someone who wants to be involved in both urban planning and building design? Given that I want a license in architecture, what direction should I take my education in graduate school? Are there MArch programs that focus on urban design?

First, congratulations on your approaching graduation with the Bachelor of Architecture.

Also, I applaud your career goal of becoming an architect and passion for urban design and planning. As you begin to research firms, you will find that many firms provide both building design and urban design services. One such firm is Ayers Saing Gross -- -- However, please be aware that there is a difference between urban planning and urban design.

While the two fields are closely related, 'urban design' differs from 'urban planning' in its focus on physical improvement of the public environment, whereas the latter tends, in practice, to focus on the management of private development through planning schemes and other statutory development controls.

Which is your passion?

As you are obtaining the professional degree, I would suggest you find employment for a few years before returning to school for a post-professional degree (M.S. in Architecture). If you search, you will find more than 75 programs that have a speciality on urban design but a few programs that immediately come to mind are Notre Dame, University of Miami, and University of Maryland.

Keep talking with your mentors, professors and others to continue to refine your career goals and implementing them.

Lastly, if you are interested in urban planning, but in touch with the American Planning Assn.

Dr. Architecture

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Transfer or pursue MArch later

I knew at an early age that architecture was the career for me. (However, things didn't go as they should have and now I'm currently going into my second year of college at a small liberal arts school.) Since I must officially decide on a major this year, I am just wondering if you have any advice on the best path to take for someone who knows for a fact that they want to become an architect but goes to a college that doesn't offer it.

Should I stay here or try to transfer? I like my school but I'm scared I'm just wasting money. The one possible plan I have would be to major in art history (because it is the only other thing that interests me, and it has some architectural history) and maybe minor in art, then study abroad next year and take some architecture classes, maybe do a summer program, amass a portfolio, then eventually apply for the M.Arch after college. This isn't out of the ordinary or looked down upon in any way, right? Is there anything else that I could be doing?


Your decision will depend on how quickly you wish to directly pursue architecture. As you are only a second year student, you may be able to easily transfer to an architecture program at some institutions but you should contact potential programs now for what courses are important -- possibly calculus, physics, drawing, etc.

But if you enjoy your institution, you would not be wasting your money; it is simply a different path to the same end goal - architect. Individuals pursuing an undergraduate in another discipline with the MArch is quite common and would not be looked down upon by employers. In fact, some employers prefer this route because graduates are more mature and have a different perspective.

As you suggest, you should seek experiences that will help you transition to architecture -- drawing, study abroad, etc.

To research programs visit -- -- and -- --. Also, you may wish to obtain Becoming an Architect: A Guide to Careers in Design.

Dr. Architecture

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Areas to pursue with architecture degree.

Dr. Architecture,
I have a 5 year degree of Architecture from Tuskegee University. I have been practicing in the field now for a little over three years. What other areas can I take my career? (i.e - fashion, automobile design)

Your own imagination is your own limit. The following portion of the website has a beginning list for you to consider.

Basically, think about the skills within architecture that you enjoy that could translate to another career field. Recognize that some new disciplines may require additional education or training.

Also, think about why you are wishing to explore other career fields. Is it because of the discipline of architecture or your employer. Sometimes, it is the work environment not the discipline.

Dr. Architecture

Monday, July 13, 2009

Dentistry to Architecture?

Dr. Architecture,

I graduated from Belmont University in May 2008 with a Bachelors of Science. I majored in Exercise Science and was planning on attending physical therapy school. However, as soon as I graduated I decided to pursue dentistry. My father and grandfather are both dentists. So for the past year, I have taken more science courses and the DAT hoping to enter a dental program in the fall of 2010. During the past year, I have questioned my desire to be a dentist but I really didn't know what else I wanted to do. I have always been intrigued by design and I have recently realized that I have love for designing homes.

In the past few months I started researching architecture. I didn't know that so much school was involved! Knowing what I know now,I wish I would have studied architecture in college. But in all honesty, I went to college to play golf and didn't start thinking about a career until my junior or senior year. I'm sorry this is way too detailed for you! But since dental school takes 4 years!! why not go to school to be an architect! That was my fear all along was that it would take forever....but I do have my whole life ahead of me and I want more than anything to do something that I will love!

So my question to you Dr. Architecture is:

Where do I start?? do I get my bachelors first? Will i have to take the full 5 years? or how many will it take since I have a BS already. I really have no clue as to what my first step would be. And can I become certified after I get my BS or after I get my masters? I'm confused.


First, start with reviewing the blog which includes answers to previous questions --

In addition, I encourage you to obtain Becoming an Architect: A Guide to Careers in Design, a book that will address many of your questions.

Given that you have an undergraduate degree, you may pursue the professional Master of Architecture (3-4 years) for individuals that have a degree in another discipline. These degrees are targeted for individuals like you. Visit -- -- and -- -- to research possible programs to attend for 2010.

Recognize that most programs require calculus, physics and freehand drawing. Plus, you will be required to submit a portfolio as part of your application.

Bottom line, you will need to obtain a professional accredited degree (BArch vs. MArch), fulfill IDP (, and pass the Architect Registration Exam (

My best to you. Feel free to contact me again with more questions if desired.

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

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Career Change -- Too Old?

Hello Dr. Architecture,

I have always like architecture and seriously considered it as a career back in high school but ultimately went to college for Mechanical Engineering. Now I am looking for a change in my career and I am once again looking at architecture. My research shows that I should be able to get a Masters of Architecture degree in 3 to 4 years. Which would have me graduating and looking for an internship at age 42 or 43. Realistically how would my age compared to the twenty somethings graduating at the same time be viewed negatively by perspective employers? Am I too late in life in to be considering such a change?

While it is true that most graduating students with a degree in architecture are of traditional age, there are a number of graduates that are older. Rather than seeing your age as a negative, think of your previous experience as a positive for prospective employers. Remember, you would have a degree in mech. engineering and architecture. Would not such a combination be an advantage for an employer.

Philip Johnson, one of the greatest architects of the 20th century, became an architect at age 39 and practiced architecture until his death in his nineties. Frank Gehry is currently practicing architecture and turned 80 this year. You have plenty of good years to practice architecture.

The question is your commitment for the field and situation in life. Can you commit to the education of an architect?

You are not too old! Start the process of researching programs through -- or --.

Dr. Architecture

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Canadian Degree

Dear Dr. Architecture,

If I were to graduate from an accredited MArch program in Canada, would I be able to take my licensure exam and work within the U.S.?



Below is a statement from the NCARB Handbook for Interms and Architects. As you can see, a degree from Canada (CACB accredited) will allow you to gain the NCARB Certificate but you will need to contact each state to check their requirements. You can access their requirements from the NCARB website -- --

In most cases, the answer should be YES.

You must hold a professional degree in architecture from a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) or the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB) not later than two years after your graduation, or hold a professional degree in architecture, certified by the CACB, from a Canadian university.

Dr. Architecture

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Becoming an Intern

I am soon to be a junior in high school. As I was reading how to become an intern and the requirements to become one it said that the person would have to bring in resume and a portfolio of some of their work to show the interviewers. Does this apply to high school students as well? Just curious. Thank you!

It depends. If you are seeking an internship as defined by the profession -- a full-time employment opportunity, the answer would be YES. When seeking an internship, you are demonstrating your skills and abilities through the resume and portfolio to the potential employer.

However, for high school students seeking internships that may be during the summer, the answer could be NO; of course, I would think that these HS students should have a resume, but may not have a portfolio. These internships might be for the summer or only for a week or two. In these cases, a portfolio may not be required, but it could be helpful.

Writing a resume is not at all difficult, but does take time. At minimum, list out your high school, accomplishments, etc. It will be more difficult to do a portfolio, but you can start by collecting your drawings or creative work. Check out -- to ideas.

A final word -- if you bring a resume and portfolio to a meeting with an employer, you will have an advantage over your classmates. Also, consider obtaining Becoming an Architect: A Guide to Careers in Design.

Dr. Architecture

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cost of Higher Education

With the price of college these days, what are the positives and negatives of going to a local State college (that does not offer architecture as a major, but does offer art) for two years to get some core classes out of the way (and saving money) and then finishing the final years at an architecture school? My daughter is finishing up her Junior year in High School and the reality of college tuition is getting scary!!! Thank you.

You suggestion is certainly a probable one but I wonder if there is a public institution in your state that does have an architecture program. Visit -- -- and -- -- for a list of accredited architecture programs.

The positives of attending the local state college are certainly lower cost but the transfer of credits may be a negative that overrides the decision. You truly have to think through to the architecture program to which your daughter will transfer to ensure that she takes the correct courses for transfer. As well, the degree program to which this will probably works best is the pre-professional Bachelor of Science (or similar) and the accredited Master of Architecture. You can make this certainly happen but you will want to truly plan the first two years carefully to ensure admission to an architecture as a junior.

Obviously, if she lived at home, your family could save additional monies, but sometimes the experience of college if more than just academics.

To become an architect, you need an accredited degree. Aside from the idea listed above, another option would be to complete a degree (in art or another discipline) as an undergraduate saving more monies and attend the graduate accredited Master of Architecture (3-4 years). Sure, it postpones the true study of architecture until graduate studies, but it probably saves more monies. Plus, there is typically more financial aid at the graduate level.

Also, you should still consider attending architecture school directly from high school even if you have to go out-of-state as are not considered for financial aid (merit or need) unless you apply. I worked for IIT (Chicago); we had one full-tuition scholarship for the full five year BArch. One year, I was able to convince a student who would have never considered IIT because of the scholarship. She applied, was admitted and won the scholarship. Where do you think she attended. Remember, more than 50% of college students receive financial aid.

Dr. Architecture

Monday, June 1, 2009

Artistic Ability

I am a member of the class of 2010 at my school, and am interested in looking at architecture when I apply to college in the fall, and I had an important question.

As a student, I have excelled in almost all fields. It is my understanding that an architect would need to excel in mathematics, speech and English, and art. While I do extremely well in both math and English, a major problem for me is art. I have never been much of an artist at all, and I have never had the opportunity to take any art classes at my school (it's an old fashioned college prep school, that doesn't really offer art). I feel that I am fairly proficient at drawing diagrams and graphs, or anything else that I would need for math class (trigonometry, geometry, or calculus), but I see myself as an absolutely horrible creative or "picture" drawing type.

In short, I am not artistically gifted in any way. BUT I do have an interest and architecture, and feel that any architecture diagrams or drawings I have seen are "different" then what a person would normally think of as art. It is my understanding that they usually involve straight lines, careful measurements, and extreme attention to detail. I think that even with my lack of artistic ability, these would be conquerable obstacles, but I'm really not sure. Like I said, I think I am good at mechanical drawing, but as far as "creative" drawing, I am a complete failure. This is not to say that I don't have a creative mind, but if I was asked to draw a nature scene or anything like that, I would fall flat on my face.

So I guess the question overall is, would I be able to pursue a career in architecture, even with my lack of artistic abilities?

Your self-description sounds much like me when I was graduating from high school. I excelled in mathematics and science but had not artistic abilities. Unlike you, I did have access to art courses but still did not feel I was any good.

Bottom line, you can still become an architect and should strongly consider architecture as a major to choose for college.

As you have determined, architecture is both a science and an art, but you do not necessarily excel in both. I often counsel prospective students that it takes three attributes to pursue architecture in college -- 1) intelligence, which is not necessarily a perfect 4.00 GPA, 2) creativity, which does not mean you can draw like an angel, and 3) commitment because the major is demanding. The best part of this is that you only truly need two of the three to succeed. Your strong interest in the subject can be a great asset.

With that said, it does not mean that you do not use or need artistic talent because you do. In fact, you will take freehand drawing courses. Do not think that it is all done on the computer as the computer screen is just a fancy blank piece of paper. Although, your high school does not offer art courses, teach drawing to your self. Purchase a sketchbook and just draw items in your household for 20-30 minutes per day. One reason you do not have drawing abilities is that you have not developed those skills. Also, approach your school or a teacher that can support your desire to draw. Try to avoid CAD or mechanical drafting because that is not architecture.

Trust me, you are not a failure when it comes to creativity. You simply need to develop those creative skills. Take time this summer to break out of your comfort zone and draw. Do not be self-critical of your work as it does take time. Learn to draw what you can see with your eyes as it is a skill you need to draw what you cannot see, i.e., what is in your mind -- your ideas.

Depending on where you live, try to find an architect that can mentor you and introduce you to the profession. I did a senior project where I worked in an office two afternoons a week.

This discussion can also dictate that institution that you may select as architecture programs are varied. Research programs through -- or -- --. Consider obtaining Becoming an Architect: A Candid Guide to Careers in Design to help in your search.

Dr. Architecture

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Portfolio Contents

I do not have a portfolio - any resources you can suggest on how to build an effective, compelling portfolio, if you're starting from scratch, what elements it needs to contain, how deep it needs to be? My creative outlets are typically writing and drawing (badly!) for myself, and I'm admittedly intimidated by the idea of putting together a winning creative dossier.

I am looking at applying to school for fall '11, so I have plenty of time.

With that much time, I would suggest you take some freehand drawing courses; this will improve your ability and provide materials for a portfolio. In addition, purchase a sketchbook, carry it with you at all times and draw no less than 30 minutes per day. Part of drawing is making it a habit. While waiting, draw something you see for 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 5 minutes. It does not matter what the subject is.

As for resources for portfolio, the best is Portfolio Design by Harold Linton. It is also a website -- -- It teaches you the basics of layout and the importance of balance between graphic and white space. If you do not have the talent, learn Photoshop and InDesign as it will make doing a portfolio that much easier.

As to what to put in your portfolio, contact the schools. If your undergraduate degree is something other than architecture, what is inside does NOT have to be architecture. You want a balance of creative work so an admissions committee can see how you think and create. This could include freehand drawing, painting, three-dimensional work that is photographed, photography, etc.

If you truly feel intimidated, try to look at other people's portfolios. As you visit programs, be in touch with the current students and ask to view their portfolio. However, do not be swayed -- just use it to gain ideas.

Dr. Architecture

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Becoming an Architect - International Degree

I moved newly to USA-TX by the international organization for migration. I have B.Sc. in architecture and M.Sc. in urban planning from Baghdad university in Iraq. How can I qualify my transcripts and an authorization to work as an architect? Please can I get some information about the procedure. I found many wbsites and I do not know from where to start.

If your desire is to become a licensed architect in the United States, you must contact NCARB -- -- In particular, you will want to visit the following link of which the text is listed below:

There is no reciprocal registration between foreign countries and the U.S. (with the exception of Canada). You cannot practice architecture in a U.S. jurisdiction without acquiring a license to practice in that jurisdiction. Each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands has an architectural registration board which regulates the profession in their jurisdiction.

To become a registered architect in a U.S. jurisdiction, you must first comply with that jurisdiction’s education, training and examination requirements. Recognize that not all jurisdictions have adopted NCARB's education and training standards. All questions regarding your eligibility must be directed to your jurisdiction’s registration board. For the contact information for each board, see jurisdictional board.

Many registration boards require applicants to have a professional degree from a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). Foreign-educated individuals, who do not hold such a degree, may be directed to have all of their post-secondary education evaluated by NAAB. NAAB performs the Education Evaluation Services for Architects (EESA). Applications for the "EESA-NCARB" evaluation must be requested from:

National Architectural Accrediting Board Inc. (NAAB)
1735 New York Avenue, NW, 3rd Floor
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 783-2007

Fees for this service will be billed to you directly by NAAB which is a private organization, not affiliated with any architectural registration board

Most NCARB member boards have adopted the training requirements established for the Intern Development Program (IDP). In the IDP, training is measured in training units; one training unit equals 8 hours of acceptable experience. To satisfy the IDP requirements you must earn a total of at least 700 training units, with prescribed subtotals in various training areas. The maximum credit allowed for foreign experience in architecture is 235 training units if under the supervision of an architect not registered in the U.S. or Canada.

Five years of full-time, verified foreign experience as a principal in an organization whose architectural practice encompasses the comprehensive practice of architecture is an alternative to the IDP Training Requirement, which may be recognized by the jurisdiction(s) where you seek registration.

Every NCARB member board requires interns to pass NCARB's Architect Registration Examination (ARE). Those who practice architecture outside of the U.S. Or Canada must also pass the ARE to qualify for registration in the U.S. For further information, see ARE.

If you have any questions, please contact NCARB Customer Service.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Philosophy and Approach

I am exploring MArch programs. On a number of web sites that discuss how to assess program fit I have seen the suggestion to pay attention to a school's philosophy or approach to architectural thought. But - somewhat cryptically - I haven't been able to find a breakdown of what the various key philosophies and approaches are, pros and cons of each, and how to identify or look for them when reading through a school's program description or website.
I'm wondering if you might help: are there in fact different schools of thought on how to approach architectural education, training and process? Do these show up in program curricula? How does one identify what approach a program takes and the pros and cons of being schooled in each different approach - both creatively and from a career perspective? Are there certain schools that are known for using specific approaches (i.e., in MBA programs, Harvard is uniquely known for using the case method - any parallels in the world of architecture?)?


As a prospective architecture student, you bring up good questions and I applaud your researching these aspects of an architectural education and using them as criteria to select your program. Unfortunately, the only true way to research a program's philosophy is to ask -- via a phone call to the program director or other key administrator. Of course, you may learn some of what you are seeking from the program's website, but it probably takes a conversation. Below are resources on architectural education and the architectural programs.

Although all architecture programs must meet the NAAB criteria, programs are different. NAAB tells programs what to teach but not how to teach. For this reason, programs teach architecture differently. Their differences come from their institutional context -- what academic unit are they located, the degrees they offer, their physical location (urban vs. rural), faculty, tradition, etc. As you will discover, some programs emphasize the theory of architecture, others emphasize the technical side. You have to determine which is the best fit for you. Your best approach is to talk with lots of people in the profession -- architects, students, faculty, others. Bottom line, just be sure that the program you enter is accredited and you will be able to eventually sit for the ARE - Architect Registration Exam. What you want in a program is truly up to you. What makes you most comfortable?

Dr. Architecture

Monday, May 25, 2009

Architecture vs. Interior Design; M.Arch. vs. B. Arch.

I have a BS in nursing and I'm considering going back to school to study architecture or interior design. I've been studying decorating magazines and drawing house plans since I was little, and I've been debating which major I should choose. I didn't pursue either one the first time around because I was unable to attend a university where the programs were offered. Frankly, I didn't think I'd be very good at it since I'm not a very good artist. But I'm older now and I've spent 20 yrs. in hospitals. I'm tired out, stressed out, and burned out. I'm kind of nervous but, good or bad, I'm ready to try something new.

I think an architecture degree would be more versatile than a degree in interior design. From what I've read, architects can specialize in interior design if they want to. Assuming I enroll in an architecture program, I have 2 questions. First, I would be attending LSU which offers a 5 yr. B.Arch. program and a 3 yr. professional M.Arch. The M.Arch. would be the logical choice for me. But I've read some comments from students online stating that a B.Arch. program teaches more "fundamentals" than a M.Arch. Is this accurate? The B.Arch. curriculum includes 5 yrs. of design courses and the M.Arch. includes only 3. Is there something missing from the master's program or is it the same material taught in a shorter period of time? Would I gain anything by taking the longer program? How would each degree affect my future salary?

Second, how can an architect specialize in interiors without the training in color, furniture, and fabrics, etc. that an ID program provides? I wish I could do both. Would it be possible to have a double major in these 2 fields?

I know this sounds like nitpicking, but I just want to make sure I have all the facts straight so I know what I'm getting into.

I plan to take physics and another drawing course ahead of time. Any other advice or suggestions would be much appreciated.

You basically have asked two questions -- architecture vs. interior design and if architecture, M.Arch. vs. B.Arch.

With respect to architecture vs. interior design, you are correct in that architecture is more versatile than interior design. I have often told many architecture students that architects can do interior design but interior designers cannot do architecture. With that said, you must decide which is best for you.

Resources to review are the following:

Becoming an Architect: A Guide to Careers in Design

Becoming an Interior Designer: A Guide to Careers in Design

Your question about how architects can do interior design without training -- typically, it is through experience and working for a firm that specializes in interiors. Certainly, you could attend an architecture program at an institution that also has an interior design program. You could probably do a double degree, but you may learn as much through experience.

Ultimately, you must connect what you want and pursue it will full vigor.

As for the M.Arch. vs. B.Arch, you should pursue the M.Arch. (3-4 years) as it is designed for individuals who already have an undergraduate degree such as nursing. You will wish to verify that both degrees are accredited by NAAB -- --. You are correct in that most B.Arch. may have more design studios than a M.Arch, but more is not always better. The M.Arch. will be a sound program for you. Given that your commitment, the M.Arch. will serve you well.

As to salary, typically individuals with a M.Arch. are paid more.

You are smart to take physics and drawing. Begin the research process so you can apply for Fall 2010. Start the portfolio that will be required -- -- Talk with architects and interior designers to gain perspective.

Finally, you may be burned out on nursing, but strongly consider a career in heathcare architecture, one of the largest industries within architecture. Given your experience, you would be valuable to employers.

Dr. Architecture