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Final Decision: University of Cincinnati vs. KU vs. UNCC vs. ASU? Perspectives Please.

Apr 8 '13 8 Last Comment
beajae
Apr 8, 13 11:47 am

Hey All,

As you all know, the last week to make a final decision begins. Although I've researched the schools before applying and continuously through the process, I still would like more perspectives. Can anyone give me feedback on the M. Arch 3+ programs at any or all of the following schools: University of Cincinnati, University of Kansas, UNC - Charlotte, and Arizona State University? If you know about more than one school, please feel free to give perspective on the pros and cons of each. 

I've previously searched these schools on Archinect before several times, but most of the comments are old/don't really offer much insightful feedback on programs. So, I'd appreciate some fresh, perceptive feedback.

Thank you.

 

TED
Apr 8, 13 12:24 pm

 

TED
Apr 8, 13 12:56 pm

I am always gobsmacked when someone can spend up to $150,000 on education and doesn't think its worth even up to $2k to get their act together and visit the schools and decide first hand on what they want - good luck!

observant
Apr 8, 13 1:14 pm

I'll try to help.

If this was me, I'd go Phoenix/Charlotte (close 1-2), Lawrence, near Kansas City (3), and then Cincinnati (4)

Schools:

1. ASU  - Pros: has long been a good practical architecture school, their 3 year program has a good technological base (3 structures courses is a good sign), big affordable metropolis, the area probably looks to ASU to employ  - Cons:  PHX is healing from a real estate bust, summers are scorching hot (though you'll only be enrolled the first summer prior to the 3 years)

2. UNCC - Pros:  newer program but the program in place for this growing metro area, appears to be somewhat balanced and needs the summer before, where the Charlotte community and other SE metros, probably hire from, nice mid-sized city, though not as vibrant as Atlanta - Cons:  Charlotte is also healing from a banking bust, so unemployment has trailed the "recovery," when it was once a boom town, the program is housed together with a lot of art programs (dance, art, etc.) and I don't see that as particularly good, still establishing a reputation (a work in progress)

3. Kansas - Pros:  Solid program that produces solid architects, practical, generally unpretentious (for architecture), not in KC but close enough to it, and KC is a city that is a model for good urban policy and the home of good firms, actually a better school than UNCC but Charlotte is preferable than Lawrence KS - Cons: the only one in a college town, uses 2 summers (before and after first year) for a hefty total credit load, but that's still better than 3.5 years, or more

4.  Cincinnati - Pros:  A very good a-school with coop and internship opportunities, don't know how their long-time reputation is holding up - Cons: Cincinnati is the least interesting location of all these schools, the coop or internship is spliced in in a weird way ... I think that in a 3 year program, you'd be more productive in an office after 2 years and getting as much of the practical stuff under your belt

I think a lot of this depends on where you would want to live, and possibly work.  The spectrum you present is quite different:  a big growing SW desert metropolis, a big but growing second-tier Southeasterner financial hub, and two Midwestern locales (one 45 min. from KC and one in a city proper).

Even though Kansas, and then probably Cincinnati, are the better schools, by a slight margin, I personally would pick ASU because it combines a good curriculum with a very logical curricular progression, and does it in a large growing metro area.  But, if you are in the Midwest or East Coast, you may view locations differently.

Hope this helps some.

beajae
Apr 9, 13 9:42 am

Observant, thanks for your input.

observant
Apr 9, 13 2:08 pm

You're welcome.  I think I subtly conveyed that UNCC is the weaker of these programs, but has the advantage of being in one of the better cities in this cluster.  If you are from the Midwest or familiar with it, you could almost put Kansas behind ASU.  However, Kansas has a pretty intense credit hour load, especially early on in the 3+ year program, but they seem to cover everything.  For me, Cincinnati would be the last place I would want to live for 3 or so years.  Good luck.  Also, please solicit other opinions, including those of architects in areas where you would like to end up.

jenC
Apr 9, 13 8:40 pm

I'm in the MArch program at Cincinnati now after doing my BSArch here as well, and I think the program is really valuable (enough to stay put for three more years).  The faculty is supportive and they have varied interests, and the architecture school is housed with design/art/planning, so there's always something happening in the building.  I don't know why everyone seems to be putting down the city itself, but it's a great campus and city for architecture students and young professionals in general.

Admittedly, I don't know much about the other MArch programs listed, but I wouldn't downplay the value of co-op at UC.  If you chose to, you could work at three different companies in three different cities during your MArch.  I've made valuable connections with employers in several cities, and the extra income helps offset the cost of the program.

Good luck with the decision!

David ColeDavid Cole
Apr 9, 13 9:51 pm

As another M.Arch. student at Cincinnati (although I did my undergrad elsewhere), I second what jenC said. While I take the Design Intelligence rankings with a big grain of salt, it's worth noting that UC consistently ranks among the top programs in the country such as Harvard, Yale, and MIT. The other three schools don't.

That is largely due to the co-op program, which is great for giving you real-world skills for working in an architectural office, great networking opportunities, and a leg up on your peers when it comes time to look for a job after grad school. My classmates and I have done co-op terms at leading firms in New York, LA, San Francisco, Chicago, and several overseas settings. (Note that for every "name" firm on the co-op list each semester there will  be a dozen firms that do uninspiring bread-and-butter projects, but it will be up to you to seek out the best firms and make them want to hire you, but being a UC co-op student gives you a huge advantage to start with.)

As for Cincinnati, it is no New York or Chicago and never will be, but I'd gladly take Cincy over Charlotte, Kansas City, or Phoenix. In terms of its general feel, Cincinnati is much more like an older East Coast city than other Midwestern cities, and it has great cultural and entertainment options for a city of its size. Its neighborhoods also make for great urban design laboratories, and UC is involved with a number of local community-based design organizations. If you have any interest in retail or consumer-based design, Cincinnati is home to corporate giants like Procter & Gamble, Kroger, and Macy's, and a number of local design firms have made names for themselves in consumer branding and retail design.

observant
Apr 9, 13 10:17 pm

ASU requires an internship between years 2 and 3 in their M.Arch.  I've been to all of these cities.  If the OP is from either coast, they'll need to evaluate the Midwest more carefully.  Of the Ohio cities, I think that Cleveland is in a Renaissance mode and on the lake (feels Eastern), and is followed by Columbus and Cincinnati. 

Easterners can adjust to Charlotte well enough.  Westerners usually find themselves comfortable in Phoenix, except for the more intense summer heat.   Kansas City has more happening than Cincinnati and many corporations, but is more isolated from other big cities, while Cincinnati is older and more staid, but closer to other cities and the East, which officially begins at the Pennsylvania border.

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