Narrowing Down Schools for M.Arch I Application


Hello there.

I've spent this summer prepping for M.Arch I applications this winter. After putting together loose versions of my portfolio and statement and sitting through the GRE, the thing I'm struggling with most is narrowing down my list of schools. I've scoured past threads and school websites for information, but in the end this just seems to make it more confusing. It's hard to decipher how schools differ as far as areas of focus and styles of teaching looking in from a discipline outside architecture, so I thought I'd ask advice from those of you have been through this process already, are working, or currently in a program.

A little background: I'm currently finishing a BFA in Sculpture at the Rhode Island School of Design. I've come to find out through the last three years that the fine artist lifestyle probably isn't well-suited to my personality outside of an academic setting and the progression of my work-- which has continually developed towards installation and the creation of specific environments-- has lead me to architecture. I'm used to pursuing self-directed work with a lot of creative freedom so I wonder if I might be more suited towards a more research-driven program-- though I'm also not entirely sure what that kind of program looks like in the world in architecture.

I believe my application should be fairly strong: a cohesive body of 3D work and some architectural exploration from elective classes should make my portfolio stand out among other M.Arch I portfolios that (from what I've seen) are largely drawing based. I've also managed to take calculus and a few other classes at Brown through cross registration and I have a solid GPA of 3.8 and similarly solid GRE scores (160 on both quantitative and verbal, 4.5 on the writing).

My current list of schools is mainly based on geography. Before coming to RISD, I spent two years in Chicago and I don't know that I'm up to the crazy lifestyle that comes with combining school and big city. I have residency in Texas, so I will definitely apply to UT Austin because it would be such a bargain, but having lived just outside Austin for six years or so I can't say it's my ideal place to live.

Anyway, after all of that, here are my current thoughts.

Just for fun I'll probably apply to:

  • MIT
  • GSD
  • Cornell

And then:

  • UT Austin
  • Syracuse
  • U. Washington
  • U. Virginia

On my radar, but uncertain:

  • U. Michigan
  • WashU STL
  • U. Cincinnati
  • UIC

I know some of these schools must be opposites from each other in terms of program ideology and any insight you can offer in that regard would be much appreciated. I probably won't be able to visit schools until after I've received offers. $$$ is going to be an important factor in the equation, of course, and any info on percentage of students receiving funding at these school and the kind of funding would be great to know as well. 

I'd like to narrow this list down to a handful that I feel confident have the possibility to be a good fit because application fees are expensive too!

Please let me know of any schools you think might also be worthwhile to consider.

Thanks for reading this far down :)

Aug 28, 14 3:30 pm

I went to U of Washington. It is a good school for the very cheap price. But they had their issues when I was there. Three out of four classes were good, but the forth one was awful. ( A complete waste of time.)

I would recommend MIT in general. I would strongly advise against Harvard.

The issue is schools change from year to year based on a lot of different variables. It is impossible to know exactly what is going on, or will go on when you are there.

Take a look at websites that post student work. This will give you some idea of what each school is teaching.

Sep 3, 14 5:15 pm

(Employer) Do you guys really think that the content of curriculum really matters in employment? Unfortunately school brands can make a difference but deciding on content of the curriculum is never anything that is explored by an employer. Find a good brand (if you can afford it) and a program that will let you learn how to develop marketable skills. I favor U of Cincinnati for its co-op opportunities. Find a school that will make you employable, its: Talent-Marketability-Compatibility, all three that you need to sharpen to make you employable at the exit. Focus on those three in your search.

Sep 3, 14 6:51 pm
Dr. Architecture

Consider attending the Architecture / Design College Fair on Saturday, October 4 at Wentworth Institute of Technology from 10-2pm.  It is a chance to visit with over 35 programs in architecture.

Also, determine what you want from a program; similar to what you got at RISD or something different.  While money should definitely be a consideration, it is unlikely that you would receive funding directly because you are entering the longer MArch due to your UG degree.  Promote your skills to a program - computer, wood shop, etc.  Or seek a GA position somewhere on campus that may provide the tuition waiver.

Sep 6, 14 7:20 am

Thanks for the link Dr. Arch! I work in the Admissions office at my school and our graduate counselor has been suggesting I go the Gradate Portfolio Day in NYC, but it's too late in October for my liking. I knew I'd heard of an architecture specific event, but hadn't found any details (RISD might not be attending....). October 4th is perfect timing for the application process.

Sep 6, 14 4:52 pm

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