Undergrad Architecture - University Toronto vs Ryerson


Hi Every One

It is decision time and I am really confused more than ever.

I got accepted to University Toronto Architecture Studies and Ryerson Architectural Sciences.

I was keen to go to Uft but now not sure and especially when I went to Ryerson's  interview and liked the studio there.

My concern is Uft program is BA degree in Architecture studies. First of all, portfolio was NOT needed to be accepted which seemed very strange. I hear also the program is lots of theory and writing critique about architecture. While I am more in studio design and incorporating math and science with art to come up with a worth while architecture design.

On the other hand Ryerson program seemed to contain the balance of studio and science, however it does not have the presitige as Uft.

I know the Master's Arch in uft is a good program but not sure about the undergrad program.

If any one can help, and give me some feedback would be highly appreciated

Apr 9, 15 1:36 pm
Non Sequitur

Neither school has the "prestige". Don't be fooled by the geographical location (ie. Toronto).

Toronto is only known for it's M.arch and even it is poor relative to most other Canadian schools (Waterloo, Mcgill, UBC). Ryerson is a technical school first and foremost. At the very least, you'll be able to work in a office much more easily near the end of your undergrad than most from UofT. Just don't get caught up in the hype... competing with OCAD does that to design students.

my two-cents' worth: Figure out what you want post-undergrad. You need a master's degree to even start your intern period (in canada) and accumulate exp hours.  The quality of your undergrad will determine which schools you can apply to for M.arch and the amount of graduate terms.

Apr 9, 15 1:48 pm

Thank you for your reply

My plan is to become certified architect in Canada, therefore I need a master's degree and so on.

If I may ask you 2 questions;

1) for the quality of the undergrad... If you had to choose between Uft or Ryerson for architecture undergrad...where would you go ???

2) For M.arch, do you universities care how good the undergrad  program or how prestigious the undergrad univeristy  ???

Apr 9, 15 3:53 pm
Non Sequitur

1) Ryerson, because technical knowledge gets you that first office job. Anyone can "design" while in school, but work experience gets you ahead of the curve and I've seen Ryerson grads far exceed even UofT master students.

2) Portfolio, references and grades count for Masters and depending on you undergrad studios and elective courses, some universities might offer you anywhere from a 1year to 3 year Master's. 2 years is average, but some require a qualifying term or 2. UofT does this to all applicants which is basically throwing them back into undergrad design studios. A waste of time unless you do not have an existing design bachelor's.

a side note, since tuition is virtually free (compared to south of the border) in Canada, don't plan on staying at the same university for masters. You've missing a great opportunity and some schools are very welcoming to outside talent. But this may be too far ahead for the moment.

Apr 9, 15 4:17 pm

Wow thank you for this amazing information. If you dont mind asking you, are an architect ?? And how are the job prospects for architect grads in North America ??

Apr 9, 15 4:44 pm
Non Sequitur

Murray, yes I am. I am one of 5 licensed architects in an Ottawa based 20-person office and we are very busy. Hard to tell how long this will last but it's been pretty damn good these last few years.

Enjoy the early studios and pay attention in the tech classes.

Apr 9, 15 5:15 pm

I didn't study in TO, but I work here. I have no insight on the study programs, but Ryerson's lecture series is better than UofT's, if only because you don't have to listen to that insufferable oaf of a dean try to ingratiate himself to whoever is speaking. 

Apr 9, 15 6:44 pm

Hi Stephanie Are you architect working in Toronto ??

Apr 10, 15 2:20 am

it comes to me as a surprise when I see people commenting how ryerson is just technical as if you will only be designing a box (on different blogposts).. Am almost done my first year at ryerson for architectural science and believe me, 90% of your time will be spent in studio trying to come up with a great design that is not just visually appealing but also functional. 

Some of the benefits

  1. small studio classes (studio is divided into sections -approx 15 students for each prof. the benefits of this is that you will develop a strong relationship with students in your section and the professor- studio will become your home)
  2. Very hands-on approach (studio is worth 3 credits -that itself should give you an idea on how much time you will be spending in studio..prepare your sleeping bag)
  3. they provide co-op but you’ve got to earn it to get in
  4. beautiful location: study architecture where architecture is. there will also be many events and opportunities held in toronto that are sponsored by ryerson (i.e nuite blanche-check out the stomata installation that first years got to help with) 
  5. balanced between arts and engineering (the program accelerates quickly- by second semester you will develop the skills to apply structural and sustainable practices to your conceptualized designs)
  6. amazing professors who will do their best to bring out the best in you (do your research on the faculty members-they're all outstanding in terms of the professional level/ and personality wise) 

Now this might sound a little biased but I really don't have much CONS to say other than the crazy workload that you will face. However you will soon realize that this is the nature of the program you're getting yourself in and you will have to develop the strength to overcome that pressure and stress. 

also, in terms of the "prestige" level that you seem concerning yourself with, well don't let that influence your decision because in the past few years Ryerson has made its way so fast up to become CACB accredited and will soon become labelled one of canada's top architectural school just based off student's work -surpassing even waterloo. 

I can go on and on about all the things being offered at ryerson but if you have any question in mind you're welcome to ask 

(I really can't say much about uoft but what I can say is that its less practical and more theory based, you will graduate with a bachelor of arts degree with a limited choice of M.Arch degrees across Canada- these are facts)

Apr 18, 15 7:45 pm

Here is my opinion as a 4th year undergraduate at Ryerson University.

Choose Ryerson. Why? U of T's undergrad lost accreditation and are years behind in both design, program, technical knowledge (if any). my source are friends who went to U of T for the name and made a mistake doing so. Some even switched from 3rd year undergrad at U of T into Ryerson 1st year undergrad.

Ryerson Co-Op is a joke. They do not help you get any jobs, well any good jobs. It is miserable, perhaps it is new but you will just get placements doing boring jobs making you think why you ever chose to do architecture. You are better off finding jobs yourself (which is what co-op is basically but forces you to take a year off delaying your degree.) Compared to Carleton, I know people that got jobs at Renzo Piano, BIG. However, I still recommend Ryerson as probably the second best choice for undergraduate in Canada. First going to Waterloo.

At the end of the day, I feel school is a joke and you don't really get anything out of it. I believe personal experience, research, practicing and talking to people dedicated/enjoying their time in the field gets you real knowledge which progresses your thinking. School for me is just a testing ground for my projects to try to invent and develop my thinking. I wouldn't really worry about where you choose to go to school. At the end of the day, learn on your own and get that degree so you can actually be an architect.

Dec 25, 15 3:58 pm
body of work

I've recently graduated from UofT's undergrad program and would vouch for it over Ryerson. With the incredible new building getting finished, the facilities will be amazing in a year. UofT focuses and forces you to think and design in an interdisciplinary way. You cannot specialize in architecture, you must take another major. For me, this makes the undergraduate degree so much more valuable. Skills will grow and change over time, but having a solid foundation to be able to think critically is much more important. 

As an architect you need to be able to write, speak, think on the spot and draw from many disciplines. I also majored in environmental studies and it's made me a much better designer. Consider what type of education you want, but I think UofT gives you the best ability to grow (especially with an up and coming program, it feels exciting to define it).

Check out the undergrad publication to get a better sense of the art and architecture work being done:

Jan 5, 16 10:26 am
Non Sequitur

UofT's undergrad program is not an architecture program...

Only two Canadian programs are worth looking into: Waterloo and McGill. Everything else is 2nd and 3rd tier in comparison.

Jan 5, 16 10:47 am

I'm studying in Ryerson. I never regret coming here. It's definitely one of the best archi programs in CA. I won't judge other schools. Everyone has its pros and cons. Make the right decision after careful considerations.

Feb 4, 16 11:26 pm

Stephanie Braconnier Hahaha its so true. The dean does lack some key public speaking skills.  

Hard to say what U of T's program will be like with the new building.  I would've said Ryerson for undergrad for sure had you asked a few years ago.  Its better for a job right afterwards.  But in terms of reaching the heights of the profession years down the line U of T could be a contender.  

Preface this with how it was a few years ago and up to this point to some extent.  U of T's program is more of an arts degree.  They only started having studio space for them I think a couple years ago when the undergrads started a petition.  Didn't seem like they invested as much into the undergrad as they did grad school.  Architecture specific skills and technical knowhow is something Ryerson does that U of T undergrad doesn't to the same extent.  But it does provide more diverse thinking tool sets.  Since you are exposed to other disciplines and its requirement to take a minor in another subject.  Which could be a good thing.  I think I heard Eissenman talking about how he thinks its better for students to study other subjects like philosophy/sociology etc..before studying architecture.  So they can draw on other things for their design and get exposed to different modes of thinking.  When they're mature enough to handle architecture can do it in grad school.  IMO and this is only my opinion, my classmates during grad school at U of T that came from Ryerson were very technically advanced, they had good software skills and competent presentation graphics.  But the ideas never really excited me personally.  Take that for what its worth. And I would say people that came from Waterloo were adept at both - technical skills and exciting design ideas.  Waterloo would be my first choice personally for undergrad.  I think the price is cheaper too, I don't know.

Undergrads didn't really have a building of their own until recently when they demanded some studio space. The arch building with its access to computers and fabrication lab is mostly for grad students.  I know you wouldn't have access to the computer lab but I think you can access fabrication through permission? I don't about that. 

That was long winded for something that might not even apply to U of T undergrad architecture potentially as soon as next year.  Since undergrad and grad students along with Visual Studies students will be all in one building at One Spadina currently being constructed.  From the renderings spaces for both grad and undergrads is looking sick.  Adding Visual studies to the mix all in one building could be exciting.  For access to different facilities alone.  I don't know how or if the undergrad curriculum would change with this development, so....its inconclusive.  But tuition price is likely to increase a lot.  

Feb 5, 16 11:31 am

I just finished the UofT architecture undergrad with double major in architectural studies. Prior to getting the UofT HonBA in architectural studies, I finished a 3 year college diploma in architectural technology.

My personal opinion as well as MANY ARCHITECTS IN TORONTO WHO WILL END UP BEING YOUR EMPLOYERS think Ryerson is better.

Here are a few reasons why

UofT architecture undergrad is NOT a real bachelor degree in architecture, what I mean is, that it is not recognized as a "pre-professional degree in architecture" it's a BA with architecture studios.

YOUR CHOICES FOR M.ARCH ARE LIMITED from UofT, you cannot apply to the masters at Ryerson or Waterloo. But if Ryerson or Waterloo apply the UofT M.Arch they get advanced standing for the first year. With UofT you can only apply to M.Arch programs that are 3years+ you cannot apply the M.Arch that is 2years. Basically in Canada only UofT 3.5 year, Carleton 3 year, UBC 3.5 year, all other schools require "pre-professional degree"

Now the practical reason why UofT undergrad architecture is terrible. The program is essentially architectural theory (bunch of random bullshiz topics in architecture) architectural history (the most objective thing there) and design studios. But most importantly absolutely ZERO building science related courses. Because of ZERO building science, if I was hiring I would not want a person like that working for me. No one from UofT undergrad knows what vapour-barrier is and I'm not getting sued because I hired a complete moron that thinks they're really "talented."

Faculty comparison, just from looking on the Ryerson website, They seem to have some kind of connection to Ryerson i.e. they did their own education there. they are all at least 40y/o with experience and architecture licenses. The faculty at UofT architecture tends to be in early 30's with M.Arch from Harvard with no experience or architecture license.

Isn't the big name supposed to open more doors for you, not in this case, more doors are open for Ryerson Architecture undergrad than UofT. Simply put Ryerson grads can apply to every architecture school in Canada, UofT only 3 schools that have the 3.5 year M.Arch.

Luckily I have a 3 year college diploma in architecture technology and experience so I'm not worried about finding work.

Apr 25, 16 3:51 am

one more thing about the new building its ONLY for the grad students NOT for undergrads. when the new building is finished the grads will move in. the undergrads will move out of the daniels architecture commons building  and into the current faculty building.

but back to building science and UofT architecture, UofT students yell and scream when just about anything goes wrong just check out youtube or some news articles. so what i am trying to get at with building science and UofT students complaining about everything, is the Daniels architecture commons building, studio space for undergrads, is filled with asbestos, one of the most toxic building materials known. You inhale a little bit once and it never leaves your lungs and leads to cancer. This building is filled with asbestos there is like 2 yellow danger asbestos stickers on every wall. Can you guess how many students realized their studio space is a death trap almost ZERO because im the only one who mentioned this to other students and everyone looked at me like i farted.

absolutely ZERO building science UofT architecture undergrad, which i why Ryerson is better

Apr 25, 16 4:09 am

@420g, asbestos is only toxic if burnt or broken, and if you frequent any buildings built before the '80s you are probably being exposed to it on a regular basis. There is a reason why the material is considered safe when contained. So instead of making fun of "morons who don't know what a vapour-barrier is," perhaps you should inform yourself on materials before making a fool of yourself.

Jan 10, 17 11:31 am

ok so asbestos is only toxic when disturbed. but these students don't have the slightest clue that asbestos is toxic when disturbed

Non Sequitur

AcDF, although you are generally correct that Asbestos is harmless unless disturbed and rendered airborn, 420g's points about the low ball quality of UofT's "architecture" undergrad degree is still very much true.

Jan 10, 17 12:03 pm
Non Sequitur
Dead horse beating warning. We all know UofT is a bad school.
Feb 16, 17 7:47 am

I just got accepted by UofT Architecture and will be studying in the new building. Just finished reading this thread and felt like employment/career prospect for Undergrad UofT Arch is pretty grim. Does any1 know if there'll any change to the program the upcoming Fall semester 2017?

May 23, 17 9:22 pm
Non Sequitur
Probably not. Best to work your ass off and hope another school takes you in for a M.arch.
May 23, 17 9:31 pm

Just apply to Laurentian and go there if you're planning on going to U of T. I'm sure the undergrad program has gotten better over the last few years and now with the new building but until it's recognized as a pre-professional degree I would highly advise against going there

May 23, 17 11:49 pm

This debate is really like beating a dead horse... To sum up:

- UofT has started playing with its undergrad to incorporate software, graphics, studios, etc. But it still doesn't teach anything about building science or structure. So you still aren't going to be in a good position to find work or get into a variety of M.Arch programs once you graduate.

- Ryerson produces competent people who are in a good position to find work and get into a variety of M.Arch programs following graduation.

If you are dead-set on being a working architect in Canada, it is a no-brainer to go to Ryerson. There is plenty of interesting stuff happening there; don't let the name fool you. Just go somewhere else more exotic for the M.Arch if you want that experience.

If you are into a more liberal arts-style education, or you are just curious about learning about architecture but do not want it to dominate your undergrad studies (suppose you also want to double major with a scientific field of study or something), then UofT may be better.

Most on this forum will tell you that the obvious choice is Ryerson, and if all you care about it architecture then they're absolutely right. But you're also young and it's okay to go somewhere like UofT if you want to try out different things during your undergrad. Just be aware that if you go with UofT you will need to differentiate yourself from your peers if and/or when you apply for the M.Arch. So make sure you volunteer for a prof, get interesting work experience, etc.

May 25, 17 11:33 am

^ Surely Waterloo & McGill deserve to be on your list too if fresh grads decide to work in Canada?

May 25, 17 1:46 pm
Non Sequitur

Waterloo & McGill are the top digs... RyU & Carleton a very distant 3rd and 4th. I Think Gual was only referring to schools in the GTA.


Must've missed that, appreciate the clarification.

May 25, 17 10:24 pm

Yeah, to confirm: I'm just making a comparison between UofT and Ryerson. I have opinions about the other schools but they aren't very informed - my main point is that you should understand what UofT is offering versus what a "pre-professional" style program offers. Be honest with yourself about what you want. Going straight into an intensive arch program doesn't leave much time for drug binges, ditching class for two weeks to hitchhike with a cute foreign exchange student, or starting a band.

May 27, 17 2:25 pm

if you think the reference in my name discredits anything i say, then feel free to go to uoft and see for yourself.

i guarantee you that there will be very little building science, and a lot of kant, hegel, engels, MARX, solanas, and steinem. they dont want good architects, they want good marxists.

and the alternative to the "pre-professional" option is really to suck as much tuition from the students as possible by keeping them in school for as long as possible ie. (4+years bachelor + 3.5 years master = 7.5 years total) ryerson, Waterloo, and Carleton all have 6 year programs, but Carleton also has 3 year march option.

i only criticize UofT because i want my "alma mater" to be better

May 29, 17 9:56 pm

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