Sunday, May 26, 2013

5 years and counting!

And so it begain - five years to the day, the ARCHCareers blog.  Below is the first entry I wrote for the Blog back in May 2008.  Now, five years later, I have written over 450 entries - almost more each year and still going strong.

  • As the author of Becoming an Architect (Wiley, 2006), I am taking the plunge of maintaining a new BLOG - ARCHCareers, to provide insight on the process of becoming an architect. As I write the second edition of the book, I will provide resources and address questions that come to me as Dr. Architecture via the website --.

I must say that I has not taken an inordinate amount of time but is worthwhile that I receive questions from all ages and all over the world.  Some ask questions of me that I can barely answer or address because they are not related to becoming an architect, but I do a little research and post an appropriate answer.

I have 87 followers which is not very many, but it is a following nonetheless.

Besides posting my answers, I do reply to actual emails and do receive thanks which is rewarding.

Thus, I am ready for the next five years.  Keep the questions coming and I will keep replying with answers.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Liberal Arts to Architecture and back agin!

I have a somewhat unusual question, which I'll set up first: I have two graduate degrees in architecture...neither of which are preprofessional, but supplementary/postprofessional. Can I get a) advanced standing in an M.Arch, b) any exemption from the US/Canada licensing boards, or do I have to start from scratch?

In sum: I started as a liberal arts major at a college I hated. I transferred - as an architecture major. Decided I hated architecture. Returned to liberal arts college I loathed with miserable GPA. Went to graduate school in urban design. Had a job in a related area, then one not, so I went back to school to do a degree in architectural research, also populated by licensed architects. Since then, my experience has been a bit hodgepodge and has only confirmed that I want to be an architect, or at least get the M. Arch.

What do you think? Will I have to have a beginner's mind? One of my main concerns with the M. Arch advanced standing is a lackluster portfolio. I'm wondering if I can get any credit (per this example from New York State):

"Category D:
A degree or postsecondary coursework in an architecturally-related profession
Maximum credit granted: 5 units
Category E:
Master's degree in an architecturally-related profession following the award of a degree from a non-NAAB-accredited program, depending on the category of the first degree
Maximum Credit Granted: 1 unit"

It will depend on the graduate program to which you apply, but I would think you should be able to gain some advanced standing.  I would suggest you talk with the program director prior to applying and outline your educational background.  What architecture courses have you already taken?  Are you able to waive any courses because of your background?

I do not know the licensure process in NY State, but again contact them directly with your questions and they should be able to address it.

I would suggest you review your transcripts closely and be sure to collect your course syllabi to demonstrate what you have done.

As for your portfolio, you may need to again review your work to determine what you may include.  In fact, you may wish to take an additional course.


Architectural Journalist

I have graduated with a BArch degree from Manipal University, India in the year 2012. Followed by a years work experience in the field especially in the residential sector.
However I have always has a keen interest in writing and a would like to pursue something in the future in those lines. To do so I had looked up various colleges abroad but none that pertain to the field of architectural journalism. 

It would be really kind of you to guide me through this, as i am looking forward to working for an architectural magazine as an editor in the near future. 

Thanking you.


My expertise is on becoming an architect not architectural journalist, but here are some thoughts.

1) Read - one way to improve your writing is to read journal articles or architectural writing.  Read the architectural journals.

2) Write - Write everyday and write articles for submission to journals.  Much of what is written is by freelancers; submit an article to a journal or online blog.  Or start your own blog on a topic for which you have a passion.

3) Connect - Connect with other authors or writers.  From your reading, contact the authors for insight on how they got started or how they do it.

As for possible schools or programs, the only one I know of is the following:

Master of Arts in Design Criticism (MAD-Crit)

I hope this gets you started - best on your journey.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Advertising to Architecture

I am 28 years old, and have been working in Advertising for the past 6 years since I graduated college. I am not an art/graphic designer, but rather in Client Services/Account Management (basically spend my days managing projects and campaigns). 

I don't think this is the right fit for me, and have been strongly considering a career change to Architecture. The problem is, I have ZERO experience. My undergrad degree is in English and Film Studies. 

Do you have any tips on how I can build a portfolio while still working full time? I live in NYC, so I have a lot of resources, however I am not quite sure where to start. As you have said, I would need some type of portfolio or design project under my belt in order to apply to any Masters programs (even the programs for people like myself with a BA in an unrelated field). 

If you also think that at 28 I shouldn't be considering a move to Architecture, I would love to hear your thoughts on that too. 

Thank you very much!


As your undergraduate degree is in an unrelated discipline a portfolio that you submit for graduate studies does not need to be architectural; instead, it needs to be creative. To that end, consider simply taking a drawing course (life or figure) from an area institution.  Of course, you could also take any other creative art courses - sculpture, painting, ceramics, etc.

Center for Architecture (offers courses)

Also, I would contact a few graduate architecture programs and ask them what they are looking for in their applicants.  Visit to see if you can see some examples.

Learn how to actually design the contents of your portfolio -- is one good example that parallels the book by the same name.  View other examples on -- but do not get intimidated by what you see.

Aside from building your portfolio become involved with the architectural community of NYC - namely the AIA New York chapter.  They also have events, lectures, etc. for you to learn but also connect with professionals in the field.

Best in your search!

Getting Feet Wet in Architecture

I'm a 33 year old board-certified emergency physician in Philadelphia who's wondering what to do about an architecture bug that I have.  Designing the lighting scheme for our living room was nearly as exciting as the first time I scrubbed on open-heart surgery, and I am frequently surprised by how intuitive street directions and architectural drawings are to me.  

I've been reading Hal Box's "Think Like An Architect," and while I'm not ready to a career switch, I certainly don't want to end up 50 and thinking where life would have gone if I had actually taken an architecture class in college.

Assuming that money and academics aren't a limitation, any suggestions on how to get my feet wet, while holding down a flexible but still full-time job?

Many thanks for any insight you may have.

Thanks for contacting me and congrats on your interest in architecture.  Given your architecture bug, there are many ways to become involved in the profession without becoming an architect.  

First, you are in a great architectural city - Philadelphia. Take full advantage of the resources and events that the city has to offer related to architecture.  Start with the AIA Philadelphia, the professional association of architects.  They sponsor architectural walking tours - besides taking them, inquire about becoming a docent to lead the tours.  Each year, they sponsor lectures to attend - as I am sure both Penn, Temple, Philadelphia U and Drexel do as well - the four architecture programs in Philly

Aside from the AIA, here is an online guide to architecture of the city.

At minimum, read about architecture from books or online journals.  Consider taking a class in drawing or history from the architecture programs listed above.

As you are a healthcare professional, did you know that one can become a healthcare architect.  Perhaps, there is way to become involved and serve as a consultant for a firm that does healthcare work.

As you can see, there are many ways to become involved -- also, if you decide to become an architect, consider obtaining Becoming an Architect 2nd ed. (Wiley 2010).

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Online Architecture Programs

I care to find out if there is an online school of architecture available for an individual to enroll

Thank you.

I am aware of a few architecture programs that are partial online but not exclusively.

Boston Architectural College

Lawrence Technological University

Academy of Art University

I hope this helps!  If you learn of others, do let me know.

NAAB Candidate Program

If a school has a candidate accreditation will i be allowed to take the ARE exam if i graduate before the program reaches its full accreditation? 

To be eligible to take the ARE will depend on the state in which you are seeking licensure; you need more than just an accredited degree.

Typically, if an architecture program has been offered candidate status, the program is meeting the standards set by NAAB and is expected to obtain full accreditation when it graduates its first class.  Programs time their gaining accreditation to when the first class graduates.

However, as stated below - a graduate from a candidate program is considered to have met the NCARB Education Standards for purposes of meeting the Education standard.

Before attending a candidate program, I would ask questions related to their timeline on gaining accreditation.

In order to satisfy the education requirement for NCARB certification, you must hold a professional degree in architecture from a program accredited* by NAAB, a professional degree in architecture from a program accredited* by the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB), or a CACB-certified professional degree in architecture from a Canadian university.
NAAB is the only agency authorized to accredit professional degree programs in architecture in the United States. Although graduation from a NAAB-accredited program does not guarantee registration, accreditation is intended to verify that accredited programs achieve education standards established by NAAB in collaboration with the four collateral organizations—theAmerican Institute of Architects (AIA), the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), and NCARB.
* The program must have been accredited no more than two years after the graduation date.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Becoming an Architect

Hello, I am a High School student and I Just wanted to ask, what if I finished High School what College would I have to go in order to become an official architect and what will you have to do after you graduate from College? (whats the next step after College)

I apologize for not replying any sooner.  

To learn the process of becoming an architect, review the full website.  In its simplest form, you need to pursue a professional NAAB accredited degree (  In addition, you will need to complete IDP - Intern Development Program (gaining experience) and take/pass the Architect Registration Examination.

That is the simple answer.  Best.

Michigan or UBC / US vs. Canada

I just graduated with a BFA in Graphic Design and I am looking to pursue an MArch at either the University of Michigan or the University of British Columbia in Canada. I have been accepted to the University of Michigan and would begin in about a month. I have not yet applied to the UBC as I just stumbled across the programs and the school itself. 

I am beginning to think though, that applying to the UBC may be a better match for me. The discussions involving sustainability and the natural environment may be enhanced due to location. I have not applied to this school yet, so I may have to wait a year to attend this school. Unless I can somehow talk with an admissions representative on Monday (May 20th). 

Any recommendations on where to begin with this issue? 

Also I am curious of the differences in accreditation between the Canadian colleges and the US Universities. Would I be able to find work back in the US after completing my MArch in Canada? Or should I stick with University of Michigan for awhile and possibly transfer after completion of an application to the University of British Columbia. 

So many questions! Help ?

First, congrats on your admission to Michigan.  

In all honesty, I am not fully aware of the program at UBC.  If you are able to still apply and be admitted for this coming fall, it may be worth the effort.  Ultimately, you have to make the decision as to which program is best for you.

Have you talked with Michigan about their commitment to your interests of sustainability?

What was your process in applying to graduate programs?  Did you only apply to Michigan?  Would it be worth to take a step back and apply again for F2014 to include UBC and other programs?  Perhaps or not?

In most cases, a CACB accredited program will meet the education standard as set by NCARB; in other words, a degree from UBC will allow you to become licensed in the U.S.

The education requirement is one of six requirements for NCARB certification outlined in theCertification Guidelines. In order to satisfy the education requirement, you must hold one of the following professional degrees:
* The program must have been accredited no more than two years after the graduation date.
I would NOT start at Michigan and then switch to UBC.  Determine the criteria for which you wish to use to make this decision.  I recognize it is hard as you do not have a decision from UBC.

Call them on Monday and move forward.  Thanks and Best.

Monday, May 6, 2013

New York State - First Professional Degree.

I am an architectural designer with a 2-year M.Arch degree from the University of Michigan which is accredited by NAAB. I also have a 5-year B.Arch degree outside from America.
In order to become a licensed architect in New York, the State will give different credits to candidates with different educational background. For example, the state will give a maximum 9 credits to candidates with a First professional degree from a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). Please see here:

I was wondering is my M.Arch degree a first professional degree which can be qualified for the NY 9 educational credits?
Thank you so much for your help.


From my understanding of NAAB and the Master of Architecture degree from the University of Michigan, I would state that your degree from Michigan qualifies for Category A as listed below.

Category A:
First professional degree from a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB)
Maximum credit granted: 9 units

from NAAB website -- 

Accreditation Information
DegreeMaster of Architecture
TrackM. Arch. (Pre-professional degree + 2 years)
Next Visit2017
HistoryAccredited since 1970/71.