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RECENT GSAPP Graduate - I WILL ANSWER ALL YOUR GSAPP QUESTIONS

batman

i graduated from a dual masters degree from GSAPP

Master of Architecture and Master of Science in Real Estate Development.

I make more money in the real estate field than all my architecture peers. how much more you ask? anywhere from $40k-$50k more. And I just graduated just a couple years back.

How? Well, because my real estate firm liked that I had an architecture background.

So for all the prospective students - I implore you to explore the idea of getting a dual degree OR..just going straight for the MS.RED program. New York is the capital of real estate and to get into this program is highly coveted AND the most sensible idea.

also don't give me that "you went to the dark side" shit. School is an investment. If you're going to DROP $120K in debt for your tuition, you BETTER HOPE THAT WHEN YOU COME OUT YOU'RE MAKING at least $70-$90k. Thanks to my salary, there is nothing "dark" about paying off my loans within a year! If you're rich daddy and mommy is paying for you tuition then ignore. 

This brings me to my other point - For those of who you got into the MS.AAD program...graduating from this program WILL NOT GUARANTEE YOU TO HAVE A BIGGER PAYCHECK. MOST LIKELY YOU WILL BE GUNNING FOR THE SAME POSITIONS AS YOUR M.ARCH PEERS (UNLESS YOU HAVE A CRAZY AMOUNT OF WORK EXPERIENCE but if you do, why are you even enrolling \ into a MS.AAD program?). I honestly don't know why people enroll in this program. It is obviously a ploy from the school to attract more business. Steer towards MS.RED instead.

Definitely having the Columbia name is great - most of my internships and job opportunities came from the Columbia network, but the MS.RED is a VERY VERY STRONG NETWORK. The M.arch is basically non-existent but they are trying to develop this. Archinect does a better job putting out jobs than the M.arch career office.

On the other hand, you get almost 1-2 emails a week about a job opening or internship opportunity from the MS.RED office. A lot of networking events, you get assigned to a mentor shares the same interest as you, weekly guest lectures (and often notable developers), and many other events that will get you going. 

 

I should also tell you that my dream goal is to run my own design and build firm, which explains why i chose the path I took. 

 
Mar 8, 17 11:58 pm

1 Featured Comment

All 27 Comments

mattgehm

This may be a stupid question, but did you apply to both programs simultaneously or branch into one or the other after singular acceptance?

Did you plan to stay in New York when you applied to the Columbia programs or did that pan out as school took shape?

How much design work vs. real estate (not sure how to classify this otherwise) work do you do? 

How large is your firm?

What aside from the financial side of things drew you towards real estate? Are you happier now?

Mar 9, 17 2:34 am
Bench

* To preface, this isn't a trick question *

To run a design/build firm, what's your gameplan for the design side? Sounds like you're obviously getting an excellent jump into the business side of the coin, but having worked for 2 years now post-M.Arch, Im only just starting to get my head around a lot of the contractual/legal processes of getting something built. I'm genuinely curious how you plan to pursue it without the tradition of working under another architect to learn the ropes of both design and management of a project.

Mar 9, 17 4:10 am
randomised's comment has been hidden
randomised

What's with the shouting?

Mar 9, 17 5:14 am
linhou

How long does it take you to finish the dual major? Can people finish it in 3 years?

Mar 9, 17 9:51 am
ivorykeyboard

i feel like i walked in on a billy mays commercial.

it may shock you that some people don't value an additional 40k more as much as a day to day role that they find more life satisfaction in. 

wall street journal:

http://blogs.wsj.com/wealth/2010/09/07/the-perfect-salary-for-happiness-75000-a-year/

Mar 9, 17 12:32 pm

Billy Mays sold Oxyclean to the angels and their robes have never been whiter.

Chemex

You could go into real estate, on the other hand, you will be miserable and will never have credibility in real architecture again, and will probably become a cokehead by age 30. But cheer up, you could be president by age 70. 

GSAPP is a joke to put this much debt on any arts graduate students. Their administrators should go to jail. 

Mar 9, 17 12:50 pm
chigurh

do you wear a monocle and bow tie?  or a top hat and cane?

Mar 9, 17 4:50 pm
batman

This may be a stupid question, but did you apply to both programs simultaneously or branch into one or the other after singular acceptance?

I applied to the M.arch program first and then I applied once i got in. I believe you have a much higher chance of getting into the MS.RED program once you're in the M.arch program. I heard they like to take their own, but don't take my word for it. I feel like every year after I applied more and more students began to take notice and started to apply as well. I think only one person didn't get in.

Did you plan to stay in New York when you applied to the Columbia programs or did that pan out as school took shape?

I am going to stay here for a couple more years to learn what I need to learn before I move somewhere to start my own firm. But as of now, staying in NY is the best choice and opportunity,

How much design work vs. real estate (not sure how to classify this otherwise) work do you do? 

I would say equal, but I don't really do "design" work. I do work with architects occasionally to comment on their floorplans, renderings, and general direction for a specific development (like finishes, etc.)

How large is your firm?

medium size.

What aside from the financial side of things drew you towards real estate? Are you happier now?

I worked with a couple of design and build firms (there's many in NY just like Jonathan Segal) who are their own developers but they're architects. It was a enlightening experience to really just do what you want to do. 

Am I happier now? Yes! definitely! People think it's a 9-6PM desk job, but I work on multiple projects in a week and it's very fast pace and all that jazz. I am learning what I want to learn while I am getting paid for it. That's the good part, I don't have to live pay check to pay check. I can pay rent, pay my loans, and not live frugally. 

Mar 9, 17 6:23 pm
batman

* To preface, this isn't a trick question *

To run a design/build firm, what's your gameplan for the design side? Sounds like you're obviously getting an excellent jump into the business side of the coin, but having worked for 2 years now post-M.Arch, Im only just starting to get my head around a lot of the contractual/legal processes of getting something built. I'm genuinely curious how you plan to pursue it without the tradition of working under another architect to learn the ropes of both design and management of a project.

 

I still have a lot to learn myself in both design and the business side of things, so I am still figuring out as I go. As of now, I am more focused in the business side still in terms of how to develop unit mixes, pricing strategies, etc. For design, I figure you can always contract it out or hire other people to do the grunt work haha. but it's true.  Hopefully I answered your question. 

Mar 9, 17 6:29 pm
batman

How long does it take you to finish the dual major? Can people finish it in 3 years?

3.5 years.

Mar 9, 17 6:29 pm
batman

i feel like i walked in on a billy mays commercial.

it may shock you that some people don't value an additional 40k more as much as a day to day role that they find more life satisfaction in. 

wall street journal:

http://blogs.wsj.com/wealth/2010/09/07/the-perfect-salary-for-happiness-75000-a-year/

Ok, if you're rich and can afford to go to Columbia and not worry about a $40-$60k salary then fine, maybe your statement rings true.

BUT.. if you have already accrued debt from your undergrad and you plan on stacking another $120k+ on top of that...how can you possibly be SATISIFED with a $40-$60k salary?

JUST THINK FOR A SECOND. most of your paycheck will be paying rent/loans for the next 5-10..20 years? are you kidding me? you think anyone is SATISFIED when 3/4 of your paycheck is NOT FOR YOU???? AND DONT FORGET YOU'LL BE WORKING OVERTIME WITHOUT OVERTIME PAY. Yeah, don't try to feed other people about this "people aren't concerned with money". I am just giving prospective students the cold, hard facts. Sometimes they're so overwhelmed by this "I got into an ivy league school!!" they overlook the fact that it's going to cost a sh!t ton of money with no returns until you're 40-60 years old.

Columbia is a great school nonetheless. If you can afford it great. If you can't...well think elsewhere. If you want to get into the MS.RED program, I SAY GO FOR IT! 

also google the GSAPP salary survey or whatever to get a general sense of where Alumni's from different programs are getting paid. 

Mar 9, 17 6:42 pm
batman

You could go into real estate, on the other hand, you will be miserable and will never have credibility in real architecture again, and will probably become a cokehead by age 30. But cheer up, you could be president by age 70. 

GSAPP is a joke to put this much debt on any arts graduate students. Their administrators should go to jail

yeah, the cost of this school is UNREAL. Disagree with your above statement though. 

Mar 9, 17 6:43 pm
batman

do you wear a monocle and bow tie?  or a top hat and cane?

I dont,but i am pretty sure I can afford all that without buyers remorse/regret.

Mar 9, 17 6:45 pm
chigurh

do you use a cigarette holder?

Mar 9, 17 6:47 pm
JLC-1

How many bodies can you fit in a Fiat 500?

Mar 9, 17 6:52 pm
Non Sequitur
I can only read those statements while imagining grand hand waving gestures.
Mar 9, 17 8:09 pm
JLC-1

and some background opera.

yoyoyoyoyo

Sounds interesting and I don’t think its dark.

  1. How abt the workload in these 3.5 years? M.Arch is already crazy, is it even more stressful to take the dual degree? Does the workload results in affecting your M.Arch grade?

  2. So are you working in a design & build firm now? And if I get it correctly you are earning $40k - $50k per month?

  3. Is it difficult to go back to pure architecture firm after spending all those years in the real estate field?

  4. Did you work as intern in the summer in those years? Were they design work or real estate work?

  5. Sorry to ask about this unrelated question here but I emailed you a few days ago asking about deferral.
    Can I know if you needa provide any proof of your family issue which made you unable to attend the program that year?
    Are there other GSAPP students successfully defer by reasons other than medical issue?
    Does GSAPP usually allow deferral?

Thanks.

Mar 10, 17 5:38 am
Featured Comment
batman
  1. How abt the workload in these 3.5 years? M.Arch is already crazy, is it even more stressful to take the dual degree? Does the workload results in affecting your M.Arch grade?'

​absolutely. studios is intense enough already.just good time management and perseverance will get you through. also grades don't matter in grad school unless you want awards? but do awards get you better jobs? not necessarily. 

  1. So are you working in a design & build firm now? And if I get it correctly you are earning $40k - $50k per month?

​Yes i am currently working for a design and build firm. I get paid $40-50k MORE than my architecture peers. I wish I get paid $40-$50k a month. 

 

  1. Is it difficult to go back to pure architecture firm after spending all those years in the real estate field?

​hhmm.. i well technically I am still in architecture? 

  1. Did you work as intern in the summer in those years? Were they design work or real estate work?

definitely. i interned where I worked now which is both design and real estate.

 

  1. Sorry to ask about this unrelated question here but I emailed you a few days ago asking about deferral.
    Can I know if you needa provide any proof of your family issue which made you unable to attend the program that year?
    Are there other GSAPP students successfully defer by reasons other than medical issue?
    Does GSAPP usually allow deferral?

no, i didn't provide any proof, they didn't ask me for one since it's kind of rude/disrespectful to ask for my situation (in my opinion at least)  maybe they changed the policy or just saying that to discourage people from trying ?  I dont know any other GSAPP students that got a deferral. I BELIEVE that GSAPP will allow deferrals under the right circumstances. Like I said, if you do intend to go but need to save up, I suggest maybe paying for the initial deposit (its $700 or so) just so they know you're committed but then tell them you can't attend and see what happens. worse case scenario is see if you can get your deposit back. 

Mar 10, 17 11:43 pm
amazed_corgi

Hi. I would like to ask if MArch students can do individual thesis in the final semester? I have read about the MArch curriculum only found out they have core design studio and advanced design studio. Thanks.

Mar 14, 17 10:50 am
batman

I have never heard or seen anyone done an individual thesis before. Like a GSD thesis? there's no such thing. However, some professors in your last studio do want you to approach the studio topic in a very thesis way.

yoyoyoyoyo

How much extra did u pay for the tuition fee of the MSRED program?

Are you an international student? Just wondering if you have any scholarship/ financial aids offered by the school? I will get a F1 visa to study in the States so I am not eligible to the university’s financial aids.

How much in general do M.Arch graduates earn per month after graduation?

Which firms are most likely to hire GSAPP M.Arch graduates?

Mar 15, 17 3:32 am
batman

you just pay an additional two semesters worth. No, I am not an international student. I did not receive any need-base scholarships. In terms of graduate salaries - I suggest google the GSAPP survey that some alumni's did awhile back. I haven't asked any of my peers, but I can safely assume no one makes anything higher than $60K a year. If you're making $60K a year out of grad school I would say you're pretty lucky. Anything around the $40-$50K a year is a safe assumption. In terms of firms - from big to small - you name it, SOM, KPF, etc. I think we have a pretty solid network here, it's just that YOU have to initiate the networking. The M.ARCH program sucks at helping students out in terms of career, but they're working on it. It's not like the MS.RED program where they setup job fairs, networking events, etc. to help students find jobs.

yoyoyoyoyo

When shd the interested M.Arch students apply for MSRED? By the end of sem1?

batman

yes, that is correct

yoyoyoyoyo

How many students choose the dual program each year?

batman

I would say around 5-6? Some of them will probably just drop the M.arch program and just do the MS.RED program.

banedilbi

Did you live on campus or off-campus? What are their dorms like (if yes)? I read on the website that it's very difficult to try and secure on campus accommodation. What do you recommend is the best way to find housing? and which areas are relatively close/affordable/ have other gsapp students.

Thanks!

Mar 15, 17 10:41 am
batman

I lived near campus in their graduate housing. The graduate housing can vary in terms of layout/cleanliness/style, but most of the housing I visited were fairly well kept, safe, and spacious. For the price it's pretty worth it in terms of size and convenience. But there are options housing options that are cheaper, but you just have to look for it. There's a webpage that is Columbia owned where you can look up other housing options or find people to live with. I don't remember the link off the top of my head at the moment. Should you look for other housing then definitely start there. I have to say anything below Martin Luther King Blvd is pretty safe, but I have seen students live pass that and east of morningside ave. Columbia is expanding north of Martin Luther King Blvd with their new campus expansion and it's only a matter of time that area gets gentrified, if not already.

banedilbi

Thanks for your response! the course I got accepted to is one year course and starts in the summer - do you know if they offer summer accommodation only/ or summer-fall-spring continuous?

batman

For the NYC/Paris program? I believe they do..

linhou

Do you like real estate job? do you feel like that you can be an architect in the future again? or you stay in the real estate? Are you an international student? Does the real estate company welcome international students? 

Mar 15, 17 7:21 pm
batman

of course i like my real estate job. if i didnt i wouldnt have taken it. and just beacuse its a real estate job doesn't automatically make the job crappy. If a job INTERESTS YOU, then go for it. that's where I am now right now. And yes i feel like i can be an architect in the future again because I also work with architects. I plan to stay in both architecture AND real estate in my future. And no, i am not an international student. and yes, they will hire anybody as long as you're qualified.

archanonymous

In what course and or level of study do they teach future Harvard grads to be condescending pricks?

Mar 15, 17 8:23 pm
batman

studio 1

anuvindah

 Do you know anything about the MSUP program at Columbia and where the graduates go to? I am having a hard time deciding between Columbia and UPenn. 

At UPenn, I am thinking of getting the MCP with a concentration on urban design and a certificate in real estate design and development. My background is in architecture, and I am an international student. I am looking to get the maximum value out of my graduate education.

At Columbia, I am thinking of the urban analytics and international development tracks. I ofc have no idea how that can translate into real world work.

Would appreciate your honest opinion. 

Mar 21, 17 12:06 pm
batman

unfortunately i don't know anything about the urban planning program or where students go. they tend to keep it to themselves (or we (architects) tend to ignore them.). What exactly are you trying to do? Like what is your end goal here? if you're trying to do real estate at the end then my suggestion is not go to UPENN. I don't know the certificate program too well, but I can probably say that a MSRED degree will be greater than just a certificate. I can't imagine you can learn a lot in a certificate curriculum if you have no background in real estate whatsoever. The MSRED program is for beginners; everybody starts during the summer and by the end of it everyone will be on the same page in terms of excel skills, real estate basics, and so forth.

anuvindah

Well, it's interesting that you don't know about the program. I talked one of the students at their MSUP program and they themselves don't seem aware where the Phd students or anyone else goes to for that.

anuvindah

Well, my end goal is to gain knowledge of how real estate works because I feel like it has a great influence on the development of cities( also a greater say). Furthermore, I am interested in the financing and funding aspects of various projects.

I would have considered the MSRED at Columbia, but I am trying to take the shortest and most efficient route here. And also as an international student, it's more expensive.

The core courses for the certificate at Penn are Progressive Development, Real Estate Investments, Analysis, & Finance, and Real Estate Development. Then I could pick 2 more courses from Design & Development, Project Management, Property Development and Real Estate Law. It is jointly conferred by PennDesign and Wharton. Also, I could take my MCP program with the concentration public-private development. But I don't consider myself to be that 'businessy', or rather it is a side that I am yet to explore.

So I am really torn between an amazing education at Columbia where I will get to explore and yet another amazing education at UPenn, but more practical and businessy.

Also, I would love to hear more about the dark world of real estate, ie if you don't mind! Or maybe you could point me to a blog post or article that you have written which would help.

Thank you!

batman

it's not that dark when you're making a lot of money

ae_0

Hi,

I understand that you have a pessimistic view about the MsAAD program. My understanding was that majority of people who enroll in this program are willing to have careers in research/academia and use the program to test out/develop their particular agendas/make connections in pursuit of a perhaps more theoretical career. Would you care to expand on your opinions? Would you really say that this is a program kept intact by the school to "keep the business running"? My view as an outsider was that it's a highly regarded program despite a relatively higher acceptance rate.

Thank you,

Mar 22, 17 1:12 pm
batman

The majority of the people I know who graduated from MsAAD program are in Arch firms rather than teaching. The program doesn't really cater to academic pursuits; it's just another 3 semesters of studios, history courses, and electives IMO (look at the courses and certainly it just looks like another year worth of studios). Certainly coming back to school you can redeem some qualities that you didn't have during your undergraduate endeavors; as you mentioned, you can certainly find connections from a professor that you like, have a shot at being a TA for an M.arch studio, or pursue an individual research with a professor. I think my general opinion about the MS.AAD is that it is not a necessary degree you need to pursue to obtain what you want. You want to teach studios? You can also just work and gain a lot of experience that will be highly valuable on your resume. Hopefully I answered your question.

hajkhu

Hello,

Thank you for this, all the information is really useful!!

Did you apply to both the M.Arch and Masters of Real Estate and Development programs concurrently, or start off as an M.Arch then apply to the MRED program?

How hard is it to get accepted into the MRED program, if you lack experience (0-3 yrs)? *Whilst I do lack several years of experience, my experience includes co founding an engineering consultancy (How helpful will this be?) 

How many students does Columbia's MRED program take in a year?

How much of a factor is GPA, versus non-degree post graduate courses (e.g. professional certificates), experience, rec. letters, GRE scores...etc. in the application/acceptance process (basically what are they looking for)?

I'm an International student with an American B. Arch degree, with a passion for development. What backgrounds d students come from, and would you say it would be a tough transition from an Architectural background to the MRED program at Columbia? Do you recommend any other similar good programs? (and what do you think of Pratt's Real Estate practice, or Urban Place-Making program?)



Jun 27, 17 1:10 am
batman

Sorry for the late reply! I thought had died due to a lot of trolls on here. read below for answers! Did you apply to both the M.Arch and Masters of Real Estate and Development programs concurrently, or start off as an M.Arch then apply to the MRED program? How hard is it to get accepted into the MRED program, if you lack experience (0-3 yrs)? *Whilst I do lack several years of experience, my experience includes co founding an engineering consultancy (How helpful will this be?) How many students does Columbia's MRED program take in a year? How much of a factor is GPA, versus non-degree post graduate courses (e.g. professional certificates), experience, rec. letters, GRE scores...etc. in the application/acceptance process (basically what are they looking for)? I'm an International student with an American B. Arch degree, with a passion for development. What backgrounds d students come from, and would you say it would be a tough transition from an Architectural background to the MRED program at Columbia? Do you recommend any other similar good programs? (and what do you think of Pratt's Real Estate practice, or Urban Place-Making program?)

ritumalhotra

Hello,

Thank you for your offer to help ... 

I am an architect and would like to pursue the MS in Urban design and the MS RED programme in Columbia. It is not a designated dual degree . I cannot afford a three year tuition and i think the above two can be completed in 2 years . pl advise how do i go about applying for this. Do i apply for MSAUD and then later apply for MSRED ? 

Jul 17, 17 7:07 am
batman

I am not too sure but best to ask the administrators! but yes, i believe if you can get in the MSAUD program, you can apply to the MSRED after the fall semester.

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