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 -- www.naab.org -- and -- www.archschools.org --. 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 ARCHCareers.org 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 archcareers.org 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 -- www.naab.org -- and -- www.archschools.org -- 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 (www.ncarb.org/IDP), and pass the Architect Registration Exam (www.ncarb.org).

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 -- www.naab.org -- and www.archschools.org -- 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. http://www.architects.org/programs_&_education/index.cfm?doc_id=103 --

To learn the details of IDP, visit NCARB -- www.ncarb.org/idp -- 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 -- www.naab.org or www.archschools.org --.

Dr. Architecture