UT Austin or RPI for Architecture?

Apr 1 '13 9 Last Comment
tuz g
Apr 1, 13 12:30 am

Hi all,

I have just been accepted to both UT Austin and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, both 5 year BArch programs. I am an Asian female that lives in NY, who came to the U.S. five years ago from Taiwan so factors such as diversity, as well as job outlook after graduation are very important to me. Well here's the situation as of now:

UT Austin
-OOS tuition of 50K at least for the first year
-possibility of going in-state on tuition for the second year
-the consistent top 10 ranking in undergraduate architecture
-plane tickets twice a yr to fly back during holidays to see my family in NY
-I don't know how I will fare with the enormous student size
-exciting city of Austin
-hot weather + possibility of cockroaches/ants in dorms


-Scholarship of 30K per yr, so I will pay 33K per yr for 5 yrs
-lack of diversity as it is 70% white
-four hour drive from home
-the top 20 ranking in undergraduate architecture
-the rather high pay scale ranking RPI has
-the cold, quiet town of Troy
-I visited the architecture school and it makes me feel like I'm in an attic

I haven't visited UT yet so I may be biased as of what I think of UT. The only thing I have seen of UT is the architecture school's video on youtube and the photos of the battle hall. I honestly don't know which one to pick, and the most important factor is that it will land me a job in architecture upon graduation. I do believe I have potential, but the unemployment rate in architecture is still scaring me a little. Please give me your opinions from both sides as to which school I should go with. Thanks!


Apr 1, 13 1:29 am

graduating ut senior, not in architecture but i know the dept. well

1. scholarships are pretty easy to get at UT if you are decent after the first year.

2. huge variety of classes here

3. the architecture program is ~180 kids and it creates a small community

4. the studios are gorgeous. and open. the architecture buildings are the prettiest on campus.

5. austin is amazing.

6. dorms are clean

7. i have friends who have worked at ennead architects. study abroad is strong and cheap here once you get instate tuition.

8. if architecture ends up sucking for you, you can transfer to any of UT's other excellent schools.


the only real disadvantage about UT is that the social climate here can be hard to navigate. yeah, it's austin, but when fratdaddies are dropping bleach on black people and 1/3 of campus women get raped, there is a weird climate. i do not like most people in my classes. but you can escape and find your own scene. i fit in well into this coop scene

go to ut austin. no question. don't fuck up, ut doesn't have mercy.

Apr 1, 13 1:31 am

note: do not take my comments about fratdaddies to mean that you are subjected to that automatically. with 50k people, you have the choice to hang out with whoever and only 1/5 of the student population is greek, and not all of them are racist/sexist/questionable. we are talking about a vocal minority here.

also, i really encourage you to live in a coop. it is the best way to meet people. the dorms are not very humanizing (clean, but small and dingy...) for the most part and too expensive, and it's all freshman. i feel it is important to meet classmen of all levels immediately. i lived in the dorms freshman year and wish i hadn't. just my opinion.

also, UT is not a radical school. it is extremely geared towards practice and sustainability. you will be able to draw anything well and know your practical place, and you will have a lot of practical skills. the emphasis isn't on technology like michigan or something.

Hiram RomanHiram Roman
Apr 1, 13 2:20 am

As a graduate of the UT School of Architecture I can assure you it's a great school with amazing opportunities.

The architecture school as a whole is only about 700 students including Grad & Undergrad so if you're used to a small city and intimate atmosphere you'd feel right at home at the SoA. 

The freshman class never exceeds 90 students. You'll find that you will get to know these 90 students very well since you will spend 5 years taking all of your core classes with them. Many of them will drop or change majors. My class started with 65 students, dropped to around 38 and my graduating class consisted of 45 grads. Very small and intimate when you really think about it.

Yes you will pay a high tuition your first year but as stated above the school is very good about offering in state tuition and/or scholarships after the first year.

I'm not sure where you got the cockroach idea from but I lived on campus for 2 years and never saw a roach. 

The weather definitely gets hot but I know many northerners who welcome the different climate. Personally I hate how hot it gets but I really enjoy water and i really never leave the house without a bottle of it. Water is your friend. 

There is a large Asian population on campus and although the Arch School has been predominantly white in the past they are doing a much better job now at selecting diverse classes. If you're into the greek life(gag) there's a few options, although I wouldn't recommend it until later years as you will be extremely busy with Arch in your first years.

UT has a very large alumni network high employment rates. 

Lastly, I graduated 2 years ago and visit my brother who is currently attending the UT School of Arch therefore my knowledge of the school is fairly recent and valid. I also worked with the admissions office as a recruiter and ambassador so if you have any questions about UT itself or the School of Arch just shoot me a message. I'd be glad to answer any questions. I have plenty of pictures and stories to share about either UT or SOA. 

Hiram RomanHiram Roman
Apr 1, 13 2:24 am

Also, don't take the raping and racial comments to the heart. It's as likely to happen at UT as it is in any highly populated area. Yes it has happened and it probably will happen again but a lot of it depends on how safe you are (walking home alone at night through a dark street) and who you associate yourself with. 

And if you'd prefer to get in touch with current Architecture students I know a few who I'm sure would be willing to help. 

Apr 1, 13 7:17 am

Austin > Troy

tyler hopftyler hopf
Apr 1, 13 10:02 am

I'm graduating from RPI this may so if you have any specific questions, feel free to contact me (my facebook is on my archinect profile)

Personally, I feel like RPI is a way better choice because of the amount of connections and job prospects available.  You are close to more major cities (NYC, Boston, Philly) than you are in Texas and a lot more active architecture community because of that.  The professors here work in nyc at their own firms or at some top firms and are a great connection to getting a job during/after school.  Definitely something to keep in mind.

Admittedly, social climate is not amazing with the lack of diversity, and overabundance of geeks.  But the architecture school is the most diverse shool in the institute in terms of gender, sexual orientations and cultures.  For some reason it gathers a more fun group of people, and the architecture community at the school is extremely tight, collaborative and intense in a great way for design.  In my class we have a few students going to ivies after graduation and people working all over the northeast.  

like i said, let me know if you have questions.

tuz g
Apr 1, 13 10:41 pm

Thanks for all the comments! I hear back from Cooper Union this week, so if its a no from them, then I will be visiting UT in April, as well as the accepted student's day at RPI.

I hear that RPI is excellent in the computers and the technology part of architecture. How does UT compare to that? 

Hiram RomanHiram Roman
Apr 2, 13 11:58 am

It really depends on the professors you choose. 

For the first 6 semesters you get to choose from 1 of 4 professors to take a studio with. Although the goal is the same each professor teaches the studio differently. Some are more inclined to use the computer while others may push you towards a more traditional style. 

This becomes even more evident after the 6th semester. From semester 7 to 10 you are given about 12 options and each studio is independent. These will be your advanced studios and are more exploratory and research driven than the first 6. 

You can find descriptions for this years spring courses here.

They change every year but looking through the list will give you an idea of the type of courses available in a given year/semester. 

Look for "Advanced Design" courses to see the later studios. 

tuz g
Apr 3, 13 9:32 pm

That was very helpful. Thank you!

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