Friday, August 27, 2010

BArch vs. MArch

I found your blog while I was trying to look up the difference between someone with a Bachelors in Architecture and a Masters in Architecture. In the professional world, is there much of a difference between the two as far as being hired goes, respect or pay wise? Is there any difference between the two except that one has a BArch and one has a MArch?

With respect to the licensure, there is no difference between the two. Both serve as the first NAAB accredited professional degree.

However, obviously they are different in terms of length and emphasis. In terms of the profession, they are different but probably only in the initial years after graduation. Depending on their individual background, employers may have a preference over one of the degrees more than the others, but that would be personal preference.

In other words, if I have a BArch, I may be more interested in graduates from a BArch program or likewise for the MArch. Ultimately, you choose a degree program based on your own criteria - one of which could be how the profession views the degree.

In the end, employers want to see your work and what you can do regardless of degree.

Dr. Architecture

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Becoming an architect with a non-architecture bachelor's degree

I am wondering what path I will have to take in order to become an architect when I'm graduating from a small liberal-arts school with a BA in art and art history. Can I move on to a master's program in architecture from here or do I need another bachelor's degree?

First, I suggest you check out the following blog that includes answers to questions I receive --

With your degree, you can easily apply to any number of Master of Architecture (3-4 years) for individuals like you that have an undergraduate degree in another discipline. There is no need to get another undergraduate degree. The true challenge is researching programs and developing your portfolios.

To research programs, visit the following:

Also, visit for ideas on how to develop your portfolio.

Dr. Architecture

Friday, August 20, 2010

Staying in Architecture

I am 27 years old. I obtained my BS in Architecture in 2005 from a NAAB accredited school. After graduation I started work as an intern at a respected small/ mid-sized residential architecture firm know best for traditional custom homes. Although traditional and classical styles are not my forte or particular passion, I thought of it as a great opportunity to learn more about them and get practical experience at a design-oriented firm. I always had good reviews about my work, but knew that to advance further I needed more education. So after working full-time for two years I returned to school in 2007 and continued working part-time at the same company. Since I was juggling a very tight schedule I thought that staying with the same company where I already knew the ropes would be the best thing to do at the time. Unfortunately the housing bubble burst and after asking all of the full-time employees to reduce their hours for six months the company had to start laying people off, including myself in February 2009. I then graduated with my Master of Architecture in May 2009.

Since then I have been looking for work and found few opportunities. I have been trying to stay in Atlanta because my significant other's career is taking off here and he has been getting a part time MBA. I truly believe that I belong in the design field in one respect or another, but I am beginning to wonder if I'm the only person that feels that way. I know that lots of people are out of work, but it's at an important point for me where I feel like I may have to leave to field. Can you recommend related careers that might not be so obvious? (I applied to be an architectural graphic designer -- sign design). Is it possible to get back to architecture after a departure from the field?

First, I am sorry to hear that you lost your architectural position; as you recognize, the architectural profession has been hit very hard by the economic situation.

At this point, I suggest you consider yourself as a set of skills that are marketable to employers rather than a career title. Instead of using the title of architect as your goal in the short term, analysis what skills you have developed through your architectural education and position. What did you learn?

Perhaps, most importantly, you learned how to design and the design process which can be transferred to a number of other disciplines. I always joke that all you need to do is place a word in front of designer and you have a career, i.e., interior designer, furniture designer, exhibit designer, graphic designer, industrial designer. As well, graduates now have superb digital skills compared to graduates from the previous generation -- this particular skill can relate to web design, graphic design and the like. One of my former students actually designs wedding invitations as a side business.

Architects are problem solvers and every employment sector needs that skill. Architects learn how to be creative, communicate graphically and orally, participate in a team environment and construct models. All of these skills are transferable to other positions in the short term until the profession rebounds.

The following link on has a list of related disciplines to consider:

Also, consider becoming an architect within employers other than traditional firms. Corporations, governments at all levels, educational institutions (teach CAD or drafting at a community college), developers, engineering and design firms all hire architects on staff or for contract work. Sometimes you have to think outside of the box.

Ultimately, you can reenter the profession, but the key is to stay engaged through reading, connecting with other architects (join the AIA or another professional association, maintaining or improving your skills, and set career goals that move you towards licensure; have your started your NCARB Council Record? In some states, you can actually begin to take portions of the ARE or you can gain credit towards IDP through community service or reviewing the EPC - Emerging Professionals Companion.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Becoming an Architect

I am an upcoming senior in high school and have a few questions that I could not necessarily find on your web site. My first question is what is the best way of going about getting a undergraduate degree in something other than in architecture, and then going on to graduate school to get a major in architecture and follow the steps of accreditation? More or less what are the best, most valuable or useful undergraduate degrees for becoming an architect?

I live in Indiana so my options for architectural degrees are limited (Ball State and Notre Dame) and while I would love to go out of state I'm not sure I can, so I'm wondering what would be best to go to college for that would help me in becoming a architect, other than the obvious pre-professional architectural undergraduate degree? Thank you very much for your helpful web site I have found a lot of useful information on it, and I'm hoping you can help me answer these questions. Once again thank you very much.

First, congrats on your desire to pursue architecture as a career path.

Next, there is no best way to pursue the education of an architect; you must research the different paths and discover which is best for you. With that being said, you can certainly pursue any discipline/degree in college first and then pursue the Master of Architecture (3-4 years). It does not matter the degree at the undergraduate level, but remember you will need to submit a portfolio as part of your application to the Master of Architecture. For this reason, you may wish to pursue a related degree in art and design, engineering, etc., but what is most important is that you enjoy the major and do well.

I understand fully that there are only two architecture programs in Indiana, but why can you not pursue programs in other states? I suggest you consider all programs by researching --

To determine the best college, you must first determine the criteria by which you will make the decision; next research the colleges, and make a decision on the best fit.

Be in touch with the college guidance counselor in your high school.

Dr. Architecture

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Architect Salary Question

I've been searching online for median salaries of an architect but I've seen a lot of extremes like extremely low salaries and extremely high salaries depending on the website.

What is the starting salary on average for an architect when they start out and how does the salary increase as they gain experience?

As you have learned, determining salaries is a difficult challenge because there are so many variables. Many salary survey data is available, but costs a considerable amount to obtain. Published by Architect Magazine, the 2009 salary below will begin to answer your question.

Below is some information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Median annual wages of wage-and-salary architects were $70,320 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $53,480 and $91,870. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $41,320, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $119,220. Those just starting their internships can expect to earn considerably less.

Earnings of partners in established architectural firms may fluctuate because of changing business conditions. Some architects may have difficulty establishing their own practices and may go through a period when their expenses are greater than their income, requiring substantial financial resources.

Many firms pay tuition and fees toward continuing education requirements for their employees.

The starting salary of recent graduates will vary depending on their degree (BArch vs. MArch), firm size, location (Urban vs. Rural), amount of experience, etc. It is not an exact science.

When discussing this topic with students, I will state that starting salaries can start between 30 - 45K and will increase with experience again depending on the factors I listed above. When seeking employment, be sure to know your worth and how to negotiate.

Dr. Architecture

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Undergrad Major to Prepare for Architecture

First of all, I'd like to thank you for having such a helpful and informative website. It cleared up so much for me.

I am a high school senior aspiring to become an architect, and I'll soon be applying to many different colleges. Yet I'm having some difficulty.

When choosing a college or university, is it encouraged, recommended, or even absolutely necessary for me to apply somewhere that has an architectural program for undergraduates? If I applied somewhere with an undergraduate architecture program, will it give me a head start on my years of NAAB accredited education? Is it even possible to begin education in an NAAB accredited program as an undergraduate and still get credit?

Many schools that I have been thinking of applying to don't have an architectural program. What do you think about majoring in Art as an undergraduate and then pursuing a M.Arch after graduation? How would this compare to majoring in architecture as an undergraduate? Would I be behind? And if my school ended up WITHOUT an architectural program, would you more suggest majoring in engineering or arts?

And kind of a side question here: Is it unusual for an architect to also pursue a side career as an interior designer or an industrial designer? I'm very drawn to designing in general, architectural or not.

Sorry for the drastic number of questions. Thanks in advance!

To best answer your questions, you must understand the various paths to an accredited degree. -- There are basically three paths - 1) Bachelor of Architecture (5 years), 2) Master of Architecture (4+2 years), and 3) Master of Architecture (4 + 3-4 years). You may certainly begin an undergraduate degree in architecture paths 1 or 2, but you are not required to do so.

As you suggest, you may gain a degree in another discipline at the undergraduate level and pursue architecture strictly at the graduate level. Your idea to pursue a degree in art first is certainly valid, but understand that it will take longer to obtain the Master of Architecture. You will NOT be behind, but you will want need to submit a portfolio for your graduate program. Pursuing engineering, art, or another discipline is entirely up to you.

Architects are involved in many careers related to design - interior, furniture, etc. Perhaps not so much product design. If interested in design, I would suggest you consider disciplines in applied arts more than fine arts.

Feel free to ask more questions if needed.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Starting into Architecture

I am going into my senior year at Binghamton University. In May i'll be graduating with a BS in Mathematics. I was wondering if you could help me by giving me some sort of idea on what steps I would need to take to get into an architecture program. I'm not sure what, if any, prerequisites my math degree would fulfill towards a career in architecture. Any insight would be a great help.

First, review answer posted to the ARCHCareers blog -; you will find answers to questions similar to yours and others that may be helpful.

With your undergraduate degree in mathematics, you are eligible to apply to the Master of Architecture (3-4 years). There are about 50 programs or so. Begin to research programs via the following websites --

While researching programs, discover what prerequisites each program may require. Most require calculus; some will require physics and others may require freehand drawing and architectural history. To the extent possible, attempt to meet these during your senior year especially freehand drawing as you will need to submit a portfolio to each graduate program.

If possible, consider visiting some programs to learn about them but also to talk with current students. Looking at a map, the closest program may be Syracuse University.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

How to obtain a MArch?

I have a bachelor's degree in art and furniture design, and I am interested in pursuing a master's degree in architecture. I have began researching what steps I need to take in order to achieve this, but I am becoming discouraged because I have a poor GPA from my undergraduate work. I had always planned on getting an MFA, which is based heavily on portfolios for admissions, so I wasn't terribly worried about the fact that I graduated with a 2.6 GPA. To my knowledge most Admissions don't rely solely on GPA but a combination of GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and so on. If I apply to a program for which I don't meet the minimum GPA requirements am i wasting my time, or could admissions be swayed by exceptional test scores and portfolio?

Is there any advice you could give for someone looking for NAAB certified program that would accept a student with such a low GPA?

First, I suggest you review the ARCHCareers blog ( and consider obtaining Becoming an Architect, 2nd Edition available from

Given that your undergraduate GPA is less than the 3.00 GPA required by most graduate programs, I would suggest the following:

1) Obtain your transcript and fully analyze it; when did you get less than grades of B. What is your major GPA? What is your GPA over the last 60 credit hours or last two years? Why was your academic performance less than 3.00? Did you have reasons for your grades? Once you fully understand your academics, you can better provide your application.

2) Consider taking a graduate level course in architecture at a school as a non-degree student and perform well. By doing so, you can demonstrate your performance separate from you undergraduate.

3) Ensure that the other aspects of your application are stellar especially your portfolio. You are coming from a creative discipline, so ensure that your portfolio is strong.

4) Contact each school you are considering to inquire how to best submit your application with your academics.

You are not wasting your time, but do understand that most graduate programs typically have to support your application to the Graduate College when you do not meet the minimum requirement. By a strong portfolio or graduate level courses, you make it easier for them to write that support.

Dr. Architecture

Monday, August 2, 2010

New Career in Architecture

I am currently working in the offshore oil and gas field in Louisiana as an automation engineer. I have a bachelors in electrical engineering from the University of New Orleans, but I have always been interested in pursuing a career in Architecture. With the current state of the Gulf of Mexico and the oil and gas industry in general, I am considering steps toward a career change. The biggest issue is that I am 34 and have a house and family to support. Are there programs through accredited universities or colleges that offer online classes in architecture? I would imagine that credits from my current degree would transfer and I would have to physically be present in some situations, but I'm trying to see whats available and looking for a path forward. I appreciate any help or advice you could give.

To become an architect, you need to obtain a professional accredited degree in architecture. As you have an undergraduate degree, you are eligible to pursue the accredited Master of Architecture (3-4 years). For a list, visit the following: --


Unfortunately, no accredited degree can be done online. Two institutions have distance MArch, but you need to have a pre-professonal architecture degree - Boston Architectural College and Lawrence Technogical University.

Because of you family situation, you may wish to consider other careers within the building industry that do not require an architecture degree.

Dr. Architecture