HELP!!! Two ways to be an architect, which way is better??

Mar 27 '13 30 Last Comment
Mar 27, 13 6:02 pm

I am now a high school student, and I want to be an architect in the future. I found two ways to be an architect: (a) get a B.arch degree and then go to the graduate school for about one year and get a M.arch degree. (b) get a BS.arch degree and then go to the graduate school for two years and get a M.arch degree. I am now confused that which way can learn more knowledge and the skills are more useful for the future design? Is BS.arch+ M.arch better than B.arch+ M.arch? Are there any differences between these two ways?? Thanks!


Mar 27, 13 6:07 pm

BArch first without question.

Miles JaffeMiles Jaffe
Mar 27, 13 6:07 pm

You might want to consider education in a field where there are actually some paying jobs.

Mar 27, 13 6:44 pm

I went the BS-Arch + MArch route. The benefit to me (and the main problem to the opposing camp) is that it forces you to get your masters. 

No huge difference in terms of which will give you a better education, which IMO depend largely on the school / progam.

Mar 27, 13 6:56 pm

The third and best option is to become rich first.

Mar 27, 13 7:03 pm

B.Arch, because who would want to spend another 50 grand for a M.arch that's just as valuable in the eyes of NCARB

Mar 27, 13 7:16 pm

Come on, folks, it's not that linear.  The B.Arch. could be more costly than the 4+2 system.  It depends on where you go to school.

My suggestion is 4 + 2, so BS or BA Arch + M. Arch. 2.  A couple of reasons.  You could save and go local/in-state the first time and go somewhere else next time that costs more money to treat yourself, if you want to be an architect.  You can get a better and more diversified education by doing 4 + 2.  It's not a year, either.  It's 9 more months.

The other thing is that a 4 year degree can also tell you that you don't want to be an architect after all.  I'd say 1/3 to 1/2 of the 4 year grads don't go into architecture via graduate school, but often something closely related.  In some cases, they make drastic career changes at that time.  It also enables you to get architecture "out of your system," especially if you work a couple of summers during the 4 year portion, so you won't go through the "I should have ... " thing later.

Orhan AyyüceOrhan Ayyüce
Mar 27, 13 7:25 pm

There is only one way to be an architect in US. You get a minimum 4 year degree, some states require no degree at all but that means more work experience, complete your IDP and take your ARE exams, pass them and register. All together it might take up to 10 years.

Mar 27, 13 10:59 pm

There are multiple paths to licensure, while earning a professional degree is the most common. A professional degree is a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch, 5 year) or Master of Architecture (4 year BA or BS +2 year M.Arch). If you already have a B.Arch then there is no need to earn a M.Arch to become a licensed architect. Take a look at NCARB's The Basics for additional info.

Mar 27, 13 11:13 pm

Will BS+2 year M.arch learn more knowledge than 5-year B.arch?

Mar 27, 13 11:25 pm

its what you make of it, and depends on the school you go to.  i did BSarch, and then m.arch   all in 5 years because my school had a program that worked like that.  all in all it depends on what you want to do.  if you're all designy and into theory, the masters is important because you get to explore those things.  if you put buildings together and get licensed, probably not so much, and the b.arch would probably be better because its a NAAB degree and allows you to get a license.  you will be just as useless as anyone else once you actually have to start working.  school teaches nothing about the practice.  a masters in architecture does relatively little on the pay scale end of things.

Mar 28, 13 12:14 am

I am in the process of doing the BA + MArch route. The advantage, I think, is that by doing a BA in architecture rather than a B.Arch you have the opportunity to be exposed to a wider range of other liberal arts subjects outside of architecture, which I think can make you a better architect. As others have said, if you're interested in history/theory or you want to teach you'll eventually need to get a Masters degree either way, but the 4 + 2 route is initially more flexible.

Mar 28, 13 12:19 am

Hands down B.Arch>

If i could redo college, I would of sooooooo no done a 4yr degree. I don't even get the point of it, really. I can count so many classes I took that were useless (not saying they weren't interesting). Let's see took classes on: insects, developing countries, women literature, kinesiology, linguistics, ....those classes are doing me a ton of good.

Mar 28, 13 12:23 am


I agree.  It is initially more flexible.  You'll get a better rounded education the 4 + 2 route.  It will generally not fetch more pay for a person.  The thing is that sometimes a person may be in an area like Dallas or Phoenix.  They can hang around their hometown and go for the 4 year at UTA or ASU.  Then, they can go somewhere else.  They should look at their first degree as basic skill acquisition.  The masters is to focus more deeply in design, theory and emerging issues of interest to the individual.  Not only that, it's like a bag of tea that has steeped for 6/5 the time of a B.Arch.  However, there are some good design + "nuts and bolts" 5 year B.Archs. that will make for a good transition to an office.

Mar 28, 13 1:01 am

Does the school ranking matter?

Mar 28, 13 2:56 am

DO THE B.ARCH route! It requires more rigorous studio time.

Mar 28, 13 3:03 am

School ranking.. um it all depends what school fits you, but then again a recognized school can be very beneficial. I went to a well known school for my B.Arch and since then, I always had a paying internship with top firms. Although, I'm about to attend graduate school (another high ranked school that fits me)... I''ve been receiving job offers. 

Mar 28, 13 9:29 am

Get a good score on your SAT and get a good scholarship first. Then go for BArch. If you get a BS degree you won't be able to get a job in an architecture firm which is important for IDP. With a BS you can get a job in a construction, contracting, engineering etc. firm but architecture firms want a BArch.

Mar 28, 13 10:53 am

tx16:  Within reason the school you attend won't make a big difference in the long run.  If your goal is starchitecture, you probably better go Ivy or near-Ivy.  If the goal is more generic architecture (where most of us end up in the end), a cheaper school preferably where you want to settle down is the answer.  That will be best for alumni networking and you won't face major discrimination in hiring since most prospective employers will likely have gone to the same school and holding that against you would be an admission that they also went to a shitty place.  Nobody wants to admit that.

BArch is better since it is less time.  Five years is more than enough time to "get architecture out of your system" or to at least come to grips with the realities (well documented on Archinect) of the profession.

Whatever you do, spend a lot of time in research so you have as good a grasp as possible of what you're signing on to.  It's a major life decision.  Good luck.




Mar 28, 13 12:17 pm

With a BS you can get a job in a construction, contracting, engineering etc. firm but architecture firms want a BArch.

You have a point.  BA/BSs do get jobs in firms in better times.  If anything, this makes me scratch my head as to how someone with a HS education or a BA in English have gotten jobs in decent firms and become licensed, and I know cases like this.  However, it would be great to see actual numbers as to how many BA/BS recipients continue for the M.Arch.  Some don't.  In fact, some decide that a construction or development outfit is exactly where they want to be, having seen this too.

Mar 28, 13 12:25 pm

If the goal is more generic architecture (where most of us end up in the end), a cheaper school preferably where you want to settle down is the answer.  That will be best for alumni networking and you won't face major discrimination in hiring since most prospective employers will likely have gone to the same school and holding that against you would be an admission that they also went to a shitty place.  Nobody wants to admit that.

I agree.  The "unknown" schools lack the bells and whistles and usually provide "bread and butter" architectural education.  They're also easier to get admitted and remain enrolled.  People usually leave on their own, after evaluating its not for them.  They may not be shitty, but rather places that produce architects suitable for non star-struck offices.  The profession needs those types of architects, too.  And, you are absolutely right about the area where you want to settle down.  It's probably better to set your sights locally and bang on alumni doors for a job if graduating from one of these schools.  That's the reason why I'm pushing 4+2.  If you are realistic about your talent, and can turn out good work, the unknown 4 year can get into a well-known 2 year and that will open up different doors.

Mar 28, 13 1:56 pm

All you need is the BArch from an ACCREDITED program - if the program is not accredited you have wasted your time. The MArch is optional.

Mar 28, 13 4:55 pm

Does the 4+2 program more helpful for the future?

Mar 28, 13 6:54 pm

tx16:  there's no way of knowing.  It all used to be B.Arch.  Somewhere along the line, some schools adopted the 4+2 model pursuant to some study or task force.  A lot of people here are pushing the B.Arch.  It looks more effective and, in some cases, it is.  However, assume you live near Columbus OH.  You can live at home and commute to get the 4 year degree at OSU.  If you do well, you can then add the accredited M.Arch. portion at another school.  It would probably be cheaper than going away to Cincinnati for their 5 year B.Arch.  If you live in an area with a good nearby B.Arch., you can opt for that.  There is no right answer, really.  It largely depends on what schools are available to you, what you can afford, whether you want to sample two different universities and philosophies, and, lastly, whether you ultimately will be an architect, in the traditional sense of licensed practice, from which a 4 year program provides a great fork in the road for either continuing ... or moving on to something related or different.  If you've got a respectable hometown 4 year program, you should probably go 4+2.  If you don't and relocation is required anyway, and you've got a great in-state B.Arch, then go that route. If you're flush with cash, then go to the best 4 year or 5 year that accepts you, depending on which one feels better for you after making a visit and talking to both students and faculty.  The visits are very telling.

Mar 29, 13 12:10 am

Most of the schools which offer the undergraduate B.arch program do not have a very good school ranking, so is it better to go to a good ranked school and get a BS degree (for example University of Michigan) than go to a school that does not have that high ranking (for example Syracuse University or Auburn University) and get a B.arch degree? P.S. If I graduate with a BS degree, I will definitely go to a graduate school and get my M.arch degree.

Mar 29, 13 12:52 am

I don't know on this one, since it involves a private school and 2 state universities, which may carry an out of state price tag for you.  Michigan is the higher reputed of those you list, both in architecture and as a university.  However, if you scour the rankings over several years, both Syracuse and Auburn periodically appear.  How about UT-Austin 5 year B.Arch.?  Or Penn State?  It seems like you already know a lot about the process.  At this point, it involves you penciling it out.

Mar 30, 13 2:09 pm

I did the 4 year bs arch at Michigan. Then 2 year masters. I think some people burn out in a 5 year barch program and its harder to switch majors.

Mar 30, 13 11:57 pm


I agree. Five years straight through in arch. at the same school, especially if the school turns out NOT to be a good match, sounds like an arduous task.  4 years gives you a break, and you should work afterward if you can, but not for too long.  5 years in college for a "fun" low pressure double major might be enjoyable, but NOT for architecture.

Mar 31, 13 1:49 am

Don't get into architecture unless you know someone who gives a damn and will actually hire you. Do not get a A.S degree then continue school I'm taking this route and I am SUFFERING BAD. 

i r giv up
Mar 31, 13 8:06 pm

spending four/five years sitting in a studio is going to put a huge damper on your networking prospects while in school.

go for the unrelated degree + 2/3 year program.

add to that the fact that you'll have the chance to be an architect by choice later on life. there is so much learned helplessness is this profession. knowing that you can get out and go into a better paying job (any hard science / engineering / business / econ), will make you a lot happier than the average architect.

Mar 31, 13 8:56 pm


Unrelated degree will mean, at a minimum, a 3 year program.  (No 2s available). That road is only good if there isn't too much of a time gap between u.g. an grad.  The other thing is that the preceding degree can have an impact on what else you can do, or if it will even be valued.  Again, there is this preconception that the art related majors do the best in M.Arch. 1s.  That wasn't the case in our class.  In our group, the best performers and practitioners came from engineering and business/econ, all of whom were previously interested in specifically architecture.  That said, there is little use for these majors in school (except structures and pro. practice) but the organized, disciplined mindset makes for more aptitude for practice and licensing.  However, all previous majors can achieve that goal, too.  If you have engineering or business econ, you can return to those occupations, either by going for a PE or by working in development in construction.  If you have a hard science, you can leave for a health related career.  I think the unrelated route is good if there is a general or other education you want fist.  I would have done a vague (non-major) business degree with all my free electives in art, design, and urban planning.  It's whatever you want. 

The OP is more set on either 5 or 4+2.  I still say 4+2, but make good use of the electives for breadth in another area of interest, possibly as a minor.

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