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