Friday, May 28, 2010

Advice for education after a BArch degree.

Hi Dr. Architecture:

I am hopeful you can give me some advice and direction. I am in my 5th year of my bachelors program of architecture. In reviewing my future I am considering more education before practicing architecture. My consideration is based on a couple of factors, the current state of affairs in the U.S. today making it extremely tough for the college grads to locate job offers, and my desire to enahnce my skills from other B of A graduates through additional skills. Through my B of A program I beleive that I have developed some good foundation to my design skills but I am not sure a Master program in architecture will completely benefit me if it continues to focus on design. Say for example in the future my desire is to have my own development firm, would it not benefit me to have an engineering degree or possibly a degree in structural engineering. My bottom line question is what kind of further education can compliment my B of A degree and then prepare me to compete more advantangeously in the job market and my future as an architect. I am in my 20's now and I want to address my educational requirements right now for proper preparation of my career vs trying to tackle a lot of education after entering in a career direction. Any direction or advice would be great. Thanks.

First, congrats on approaching the graduation of your Bachelor of Architecture. Next, I applaud your interest in continuing your studies.

However, while I applaud your desire, I question your considerations. In my humble opinion, you do not continue your education because you are not able to secure employment or simply want to enhance your skills.

From your statement, it appears that you wish to pursue further education but you are not sure of which discipline to pursue. With this perspective, why continue your studies. I would argue that you "begin with the end in mind" first; determine which discipline you wish to pursue and then pursue graduate studies.

What would happen if you chose structural engineering for your studies and later found out that you had no desire to pursue it as a career.

Education (Graduate Programs) will always be there. I would suggest you strongly consider entering the workforce, albeit difficult, to help you learn to which discipline you wish to pursue. It is admirable to "address your educational requirements right now" but why do it now if you are not sure of the disipline.

Of course start your career/graduate studies research now. Talk to people, read, research programs -- -- etc.

Just my thoughts. I hope this helps!

Dr. Architecture

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Online Architecture Courses

I am really interested in becoming an architect. I use to go college and started taking some classes but mostly got my Gen Ed done and ended up joining the army. I will be deploying in aug for a year. My question is while I'm deployed do you know of any schools that I can take online that will help me get closer to becoming an architect? And if so would it be harder to get a job with an online degree since there's no studio time? If you can help me with this I would really appreciate it. Thank you.

Given the nature of the discipline of architecture, there are limited opportunities to take courses online. The Boston Architectural College does offers a Distance MArch, but an individual must have a preprofessional degree (B.S. in Architecture or equivalent).

Below are some resources to consider that may be helpful, but use caution; my listing of these does not indicate endorsement.


Academy of Art University


Architecture Courses

Best - Dr. Architecture

Friday, May 14, 2010

Medicine to Architecture

Dear Dr. Architecture,

Just recently I came across your blog and I got really surprised to find out that I am not alone in my decision to change my career to become an architect. Even so my case is quite rare:

I am a 32-year-old medical doctor and researcher with no professional background in arts or architecture. I am currently in the final process of obtaining US immigrant visa under category of alien with exceptional abilities and I will have good chance to pursue my career as a medical scientist there.

However, through these years, I noticed that practicing medicine , under too many strict guidelines and protocols, would gradually deaden my creativity. Also conducting several researches on illness perception in patients with minor debilitating but major disfiguring skin diseases showed me how an individual's image of himself and surroundings may affect his quality of life.

In addition, thinking of the widening gap between rich and poor countries on architectural values and urban development, I was come up with considering international terrorism as a display of large scale vandalism by neglected citizens of the global village.

All of these together, brought me great interest in studying architecture. During the last year I participated in some non-accredited courses of free drawing, watercolor and ink, perspective and architectural rendering. I have also begun to read some books about architecture.

Thanks to your valuable blog I realized that I would have the opportunity to apply for some graduate courses of architecture in US, but still I do not know how I should prepare a portfolio to have a reasonable chance of success. Also I do not know how I should articulate my SOP to justify my decision to study architecture.

Since I obviously missed the opportunity to participate in this year summer programs, would it be possible for me to find a voluntary work position in an architectural department or firm as a chance to develop a portfolio and obtain some recommendations?

I really appreciate the time you spend to read my long email and I would be grateful of your guidance.

It may not be too late to participate in a summer program. Check out the list on for a list of them.

As it is against federal law, I would not suggest you volunteer for an architecture firm; there are many others ways to learn more about the discipline. Instead, you may wish to contact a firm to shadow for a day to learn.

For assistance on your portfolio, visit -- -- You may wish to consider taking additional freehand drawing course as many graduate programs require it. Plus, by taking a course, you can gain a recommendation from the instructor.

Another book to consider is Becoming an Architect, 2nd edition.

Depending on where you are, visit schools; many have open houses in the fall.

Dr. Architecture

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Graphic Design to Architecture

I am on the mild side of a dilemma. I graduated with a B.S. In Graphic Design in 2008. I currently work for a large technology company as a graphic/web designer. In my profession some would say I'm well on my way in this career. Now the dilemma. Ive always been attracted to architecture. My dad was a master carpenter and I have always been around construction. I want to obtain a professional skill that i can use to help people. The question is will i be ill served if i go back for a M.Arch.? Will my undergrad in design help or hurt me? I make 45k now, what can i expect as an architect?
Thanks so much for your help.

If you wish to become an architect, you must pursue the Master of Architecture to fulfill the education requirement. Clearly, as your background is in a design related discipline, it is a plus; you will be able to use your graphic design work for your portfolio.

As for salaries -- - here is one recent survey. Given your background and the Master of Architecture, you could expect to earn between 40 - 55K depending on where you were located.

Dr. Architecture

Saturday, May 8, 2010

500 Days of Summer

I could not resist posting this from a friend who saw that Becoming an Architect was used in a movie - 500 Days of Summer. My book has received its 15 minutes of fame.

"I watched the movie "500 Days of Summer" and one of the characters is trying to be an architecture and reads this stack of books. One of the book is yours! It's sitting on top, and I got really excited and thought you would want to know. It's an Indie film that has gotten really popular.

The movie is newly out of theaters and it occurs in a scene where the main male character decides he is tired of his old job and wants to persue his true passion of architecture, so he gets all of these books and begins reading and sketching again for the first time in years. Your book is on top of the stack, face down, but I recognized the back!"

Dr. Architecture

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Bachelors or Masters?

I'm looking to go into a career in Architecture, and I just had a quick question.

I've done a lot of research about schools and programs, and I have a pretty good idea of what I'm looking for, but I'm kind of confused. What is the difference between a BArch and a MArch? I know both are accredited, and lead to licensure, but some schools that I'm looking at offer an ending with a MArch, others end with a BArch. Is there a benefit to one or the other? Does it matter which one I end up with?

I just want to make the best choices possible when it comes to schooling.

As long as the degree you select is accredited by NAAB, it does not matter which you choose. However, there are differences --
Typically, students who are very confident on their career choice of architecture pursue the BArch as this degree starts with studio and hands-on activities immediately upon entry. It is also the shortest duration - five years.
The 4+2 BS + MArch path provides a broader education and flexibility. Students can take time off after their four year degree to work before pursuing the Master degree. You can also pursue your education at two different institutions.
I would suggest researching both degree types and ask students who are in them for their opinions and reasons for choosing the degree they did.
Remember, there is no wrong decision simply an uninformed one. The more research you do, the better your decision will be.

Dr. Architecture