2017 M.Arch in the US: Applicants - Admissions prep post here!


This was done a month ago for last year's applicants and I think someone should start this for applicants for 2017. So how is everyone doing? 


27/ M / American / BFA 

Applying for M.Arch II this fall

GRE: taking in October. Will be my first and last.

GPA 3.4/4

INTERNSHIP/WORK: 1 year each. + other design jobs.

Schools im interested in: MIT, MICHIGAN, BERKELEY, UCLA, Washington Univ., 

LORs: 3 from professors, 1 currently boss

SOP: 10% (I have bunch of paragraphs I have to refine.)

Transcripts: 100%

Portfolio: 40% (I have the projects I am going to use. Just gotta arrange them)


Any tips/comments/suggestions or sharing of experiences would be really helpful.

Best wishes to all fellow applicants!!

Sep 19, 16 3:45 pm
Non Sequitur's comment has been hidden
Non Sequitur

You're going to out-source your M.Arch SOP writing?

Fuuuuuuuck.... lazy students is lazy before they even become students.

Sep 20, 16 9:15 am
yomthorke's comment has been hidden

That shit's fucked up yo. Don't go to grad school if you can't even write a fucking page talking about your life and interests. 

Sep 23, 16 4:27 pm

25/ M / American - Hispanic / 

Currently: M.ARCH I from UPENN (fully funded)

PAST: BFA Interior Design

Applying for M.Arch II fall 2017, possibly dual with MLA I (waiting on information from GSD)

GRE: Done. 

GPA 3.7

INTERNSHIP/WORK: 1 year each. + other design jobs.

Schools interested in: GSD

LORs: need to request, 5 total, mix of professors and past boss

SOP: 0%

Transcripts: 100%

Portfolio: 10% collected projects but need to design the book

I came to UPENN without a background in architecture and the program served as an intensive bootcamp with a very niche focus. I am looking forward to dive deeper into my personal interests and research at a school that places more emphasis on thesis and individual research, something lacking from Penn's program. In addition, many of the projects at Penn fell under the formalist and speculative realm of architecture and I am looking forward to a more pragmatic approach with the opportunity of undergoing in depth research/theory. 

Applying to graduate schools, especially the first time around, is an arduous and difficult process. I wish everyone good luck and perseverance!

Sep 24, 16 2:34 am
That's a bot for an essay writing company. Flagged
Sep 24, 16 4:54 am

@misunderstood  - so you are in M.arch I already but transferring to GSD?  That means your courses wont transfer and you might lose your full funding right? Are you okay with that? Also, is GSD the only school you are looking into?

Sep 24, 16 7:13 pm


I am finishing my M.ARCH I @ UPENN in May and am looking to pursue the M.ARCH II/Thesis at GSD with the possibility of MLA concurrent degree (depending on the longevity of the program). I'm only looking at the GSD because it would be a good compliment to my current education since both schools have different pedagogical approaches and it places a great deal of emphasis on interdisciplinarity. My main concern is to attend a program that holds a lot of value and resources into their thesis program and researching topics related to my personal interests.

Sep 24, 16 7:34 pm
thearchitectsguide's comment has been hidden

@march'17 Looking at your list of programs you are interested in, this collection of accepted architecture grad school portfolios might be helpful for you.

Good luck with your applications!

Sep 26, 16 2:41 pm

holy fucking shit.  save yourself 97 bucks, go to issuu, search for your school, and done.  

Sep 26, 16 8:00 pm

what's with all these advertisements and spams? No other applicants? Are they too busy or is no one else looking to be an architect anymore? did DeTwain and Non Sequitur  scare everyone off? haha jk.

Sep 27, 16 10:37 am

Surprised about the spam too. It might be a bit early still for people to start sharing information.

Sep 27, 16 2:31 pm

Does anyone know if its good or bad to use more than 3 recommenders? 

This is because in some applications they say that you can add up to 5 recommenders, so do you think more than 3 is too much?

Sep 27, 16 9:12 pm

I was wondering the same, to be honest. I think it all comes down to how good the recommendations are. You want to obtain recommendations from professors/colleagues who truly know your ability and potential to show you in the best light possible. 

Sep 27, 16 9:57 pm

I am curious too. If you are unsure about one of the recommenders then should I ask another recommender for an extra recommendation and have 4 total? I am thinking of submitting 4 total for my top school because I am not sure how one of the recommenders is going to write about me. I know the fourth one will be a strong letter. 

Sep 27, 16 10:02 pm

Hello! I'm here! 


24/ F / American / Bachelor's Degree in American Studies

GRE: Took last weekend, 157 Q / 167 V

GPA 3.3/4

INTERNSHIP/WORK: Work in a firm now, admin, otherwise unrelated except for graphic design work. 

Schools im interested in: Top 4 are University of Minnesota, University of Texas @ Austin, UPenn, Syracuse. Others include RISD, UCincinnatti, and UMichigan.

LORs: Not yet, will ask 2 professors and probably someone from my current job.

SOP: 1% got an idea yesterday but haven't started writing...

Transcripts: 100%

Portfolio: 25% narrowed down projects, starting design/editing.


My questions for you peers of mine:

1. how many schools are you applying to? 7 seems like so many, but I applied to ~9 undergrad! 

2. Did your recommenders send you their letters or do you ask them to upload them for you? It seems really rude to ask my former professors to upload their letters to many different places. 

Sep 29, 16 2:09 pm

@MDB666   I am applying to 6 schools. Reusing one SOP for a few schools.

I just asked my recommenders to write letters for me. I am assuming that they would follow the link provided by schools and fill out the LOR online. I think they will upload the letters as well?  I've asked to write for up to 3 schools per recommender.

Do you live in the Northeast?

Sep 29, 16 4:55 pm

24/ F /  Saudi / BsArch

Applying for different master programs in different schools.

GRE: taking in October.

GPA 3.2/4

INTERNSHIP/WORK: 4 Months internship + 10 Months work.

Schools im interested in: Pratt, GSAPP, GSD, MIT, Berkeley, UPenn, SoA and Yale.

LORs: 3 from professors, 1 current boss

SOP: only the outlines. I am still not solid.

Transcripts: 100%

Portfolio: 100%

Sep 30, 16 3:53 pm

25/ F / American / BFA in Interior Design

Applying for M.Arch III this fall

GRE: took back in June, retaking in Oct.

GPA: 3.6

INTERNSHIP/WORK: 3 years of work

Schools i'm interested in: WashU, UMICH

LORs: 2 from professors, working on the last one

SOP: Have an outline, working on fleshing out

Transcripts: 100%

Portfolio: 30% - still picking my best projects and refining

Oct 1, 16 8:18 pm

@march'17 - nope, live in the midwest. thanks for sharing abt recommenders, makes more sense now. 

Oct 2, 16 10:23 pm

23/ M / American / BS Arch 

Applying for M.Arch I this fall

GRE: 153 V, 159 Q, 4.0 AWA 

GPA 3.48/4

INTERNSHIP/WORK: 2 internships, 1 full time after grad

Schools I'm interested in: Yale 

LORs: 1 professor, 2 bosses

SOP:  I have the idea... need to start writing

Transcripts: 100%

Portfolio: Been working on it since May. Started asking for opinions in September

Oct 5, 16 12:44 pm

22 / M / American / B.S. Biology

Applying for M. Arch I 

GRE: 162 V, 161 Q, 5.0 Writing

GPA: 3.75/4.0

LORs: 1 Professor, 1 boss, 1 co-worker (former professor of art history/architecture at GA Tech)

SOP: 80%

Transcripts: 100%

Schools I'm Interested in: IIT, SAIC, Columbia, Pratt, U of Washington

Portfolio: This is my biggest concern. As someone who comes from a non-design background, I've been exploring a bunch of different avenues of creative expression for the past 6-8 months. I think this may be my weakest element of my application, but I also know it's the most important. Am I going to be disappointed when acceptance letters come around in March?

Oct 9, 16 12:51 pm

cwesleystein -  I think you have good chances because rest of your app elements are very good. I'd say just look at a lot of non-design background portfolios on issuu and try to get to that level. gl!

Oct 10, 16 2:18 pm

25 / F / Indian / B.Arch

Applying for M. Arch II or MAUD 

GRE: 159 V, 160 Q, 5.0 AWA

GPA: 2.33/4.0 [how is everyone converting your GPAs? Mine is in Percentage-79% and when I used this page to convert , it gives me 2.33..which is very low i guess.. Because I topped my class & graduated with First class with distinction. but my GPA tells I'm below average]

Internship: 2 internships of 6 months each.

LORs: I have'nt asked anyone yet. but sure of 2 professors & 1 boss giving me a decent LOR

SOP: 0%

Transcripts: 100%

Schools I'm Interested in:  GSD, MIT, Yale, GSAPP, Sci-Arc, RISD, UCLA [no harm in Dreaming]

Portfolio: 5% I have all hand drawn old drawings from undergrad. need to either do them again digitally or start putting the same in a proper format.

Oct 12, 16 11:10 am


your GPA is great! why are you looking at IIT and SAIC? these schools are very expensive and you will be in a huge amount of dept, not that any other school is cheap. but if you are looking at these why not look at UMichigan, Wash U, UIUC and UIC which are all in the Midwest area. for portfolio i would say enroll in a community college drawing course. Schools want to make sure you understand basic design principles. Even take a look at design courses online at coursera. focus on basic design topics and make them clean, dont worry about architectural design yet. scan your drawings in and clean them up in illustrator/photoshop and organize a small portfolio. Check out and try to mimic the designs you see there for your portfolio lay out. 

Oct 12, 16 12:17 pm

Thanks! I chose IIT because the curriculum is compelling to me, I liked a lot of the projects from their M Arch students, and I like Chicago. SAIC was just another option in Chicago bc my partner wants to move there (admittedly not the best reason for applying). Columbia and Pratt are just as expensive though. I appreciate your advice. I've been sketching a lot of my favorite buildings in my city and designing some furniture in SketchUp as well.
Oct 12, 16 7:17 pm



well good luck! i would go check out the campus of each school. I really didnt like IIT but the program is well known in chicago and the graduates seem to do fine. Plus Wiel Arets is bad ass. But SAIC is in a much better location and if you are moving out their with your partner it will be much easier finding something where both of you would be happy since SAIC is downtown close to michigan ave. and IIT is southside. UIC is also right out side of the loop and i really enjoy what the students create there if you like design theory and if you can get in state it is much cheaper than other options. 

Oct 14, 16 3:27 pm

Hi everyone! Glad to connect with other M. Arch hopefuls :)

29 / F / Finnish / B. Sc.

Applying for M. Arch

TOEFL: N/A (exam on Nov. 5th)

GPA: 4/5 (That's my Finnish GPA. Using the WES iGPA Calculator to convert it into a US score I got 3.35/4.)

LORs: 2 from my old professors guaranteed, 1 from the Finnish Red Cross pending (I've been a volunteer for a long time, and will likely get a LOR from my "boss".)

SOP: 0%

PH: 10% (Still not a clear idea of what I'm going to write, but I got some bullet points from where to start.)

Schools I'm Interested in: UC Berkeley

Portfolio: 10% (Ideas and some drafts.)

I moved to the States only a few months ago and the moving and settling in has taken me some time, that's why I am so much behind with this application process. I recognise that my chances in getting into UC Berkeley are pretty slim (I was at the Open House last week, and they told us that they receive like 900 applications and only about 65 get in), but I am determined to give my all and try my best. Right now, the plan is to get all the recommendation letters by the end of October, to get a good score in TOEFL on Nov 5th, to finish the portfolio by end of November and to finish writing the SOP and PH by the first week in December. We'll see how that goes, I'm nervous but also super excited! :D

Good luck to us all! 

Oct 25, 16 11:11 pm

Ok, time to start this.

26 / M / Chinese / Bachelor of Art + M.Arch

Applying for: M.Arch II & M.UP / MAUD

GRE: 153 V + 163 Q

GPA: 3.51/4.0

TOEFL: 105

INTERN / WORK: 3 Summer Internships & 1+ year full time

LORs: potentially 3 professors, plus 1 former boss

SOP: 1% (have several fragment ideas in my mind)

PORTFOLIO: 60% (basically refine the drawings from an earlier draft)

Schools interested in: GSAPP / YSoA / GSD

Will anyone include projects from current/former working experience into their portfolio? The project I am working on is pretty cool and has awarded an intl. prize, but I am not sure if the school only expect to see an applicant's academic work or an overall practice.

Good Luck everybody!

Nov 4, 16 12:41 pm

Anyone applying to Berkley

"The portfolio may contain up to 12 pages (8-1/2"x11"-format) of design content. Please note that beyond 12 pages, your portfolio may not be reviewed. Title page and/or table of contents may be submitted, and will not count toward the 12 pages of content.

Note to M.Arch applicants: The portfolio may be in a two-page spread format, and any dimensions may be used. Please keep in mind the review will take place on monitors of varying size."

I was wondering; Has anyone submitted a portfolio with more pages or different format and got in? most of the "admitted" portfolios I've seen on issuu are way over 12 pages, anyway, I would really appreciate some insight on this, thank you. 

If anyone mind to share their portfolios I'd be happy too as well.

Nov 6, 16 5:07 pm

23 / F / Canadian / BID (Interior Design)

Applying for M. Arch

GRE: Retaking it Nov 27th 

GPA: 3.3/4

LORs: 2 from profs (thesis advisor and research prof) and 1 from current boss. I'll ask my studio prof, too.

SOP: 70% getting it reviewed by my profs

Schools I'm Interested in: UC Berkeley, MIT, Columbia GSAPP, UBC, Parsons, GSD and a few international m.arch programs.

Portfolio: 75% I need to shrink it down and re-render some project images.

Nov 16, 16 1:09 am


Applying for M.Arch

GRE 151v/156q/4 w

Toefl- 112

GPA- Not sure what it is on the 4 point scale...but its a decent score out of 10

LOR- 3professors

SOP- Needs refinement

Schools Interested in - Rice, Berkeley, Uni. Washington, UT Austin, GSD

Portfolio- 70 %

I wanted to know if my choices are out of my reach considering I dont have great GRE scores. And really what are the chances of getting accepted at GSD? I like their programs but I feel intimidated by the works done by their students.

Nov 27, 16 1:33 pm

Hello all, to the people that are applying to GSAPP do you know what they mean by "two 3-point calculus courses"? I've taken Calculus I at my school and it was 4 units... does this mean I also have to take Calculus II?

Nov 27, 16 10:26 pm

Thanks Exeg!
I was also wondering whether the LORs need to be submitted before the deadline?


Nov 29, 16 12:07 pm

26/M/B.Arch/Freelance Architect/India-South

Experience: 2+ years.

Interests - Architecture with concentration in Sustainable Architecture (Micro), Urban Planning with concentration in Urban Design (Macro)

GRE: 157-V, 158-Q (=315)

TOEFL: 113

GPA: 3.52 (all years). 3.71 (final two years)

LOR: 3 - Proprietor Architect-Dr.(Former employer), Professor-Dr., Asst. Professor

Personal Statement - Requires 10% correction

Statement of Purpose - Requires 30% correction

Portfolio - Requires change in composition (underway)

Schools Selection: Shortlisted 17 Schools

Applied to: University of California, Berkeley - M.Arch/MCP, Georgia Tech - M.Arch (MCRP later)

Shortlisted in: Architecture and Planning

  1. Harvard
  2. Iowa State
  3. MIT
  4. SUNY
  5. UIUC
  6. University of Michigan
  7. University of Pennsylvania
  8. UW

Shorlisted in: Architecture (Single degree)

  1. ASU
  2. NCSU
  3. Portland State
  4. University of Minnesota
  5. UNC
  6. Oregon
  7. VT

Dilemma: How many more colleges should I apply to? Should I apply to single degree programs as well?

Dec 21, 16 10:12 am

23 / M / From South America (Colombia) / B.Architecture

Applying for M. Arch II

GRE: Above 300 (this is what I´m most afraid of)


GPA: 3.6/4.0

LORs: 3 Professor. 1 PhD from Columbia, 2 PhD from my country, one professor which is a close friend to the dean at sciarc.

SOP: 20% 

Transcripts: 100%

Schools I'm Interested in: SciArc, Columbia, GDS, Pratt.

Portfolio: This is my strongest asset, I´ve already show it to professors from SciArc and Columbia and they told me it is very strong and should have no problem.

A couple of internships, one from a "starchitect" in my country which teaches at columbia and GSD, and about a year full time.


Honestly I think my application is very strong, but I am VERY afraid of my GRE! I think it is the weakest part of my application! How much weight does it have on the GSD app?


Good luck to everyone and happy holidays!!

Dec 31, 16 12:46 am



I hope you accepted from the school you interested in.


Could you show your portfolio, if you have a strong confidence at your application?


Gre isn't the critical factor for your application. 

Dec 31, 16 4:22 am

22/F/American/ BA in Art History and Mathematics

Applying for M.Arch

GRE: 167Q / 163V / 4W

GPA: 3.84/4

LOR: 3 from professors (2 Art History-one was my thesis advisor, 1 Mathematics

SOP: 100% (My thesis advisor, who has helped others get in to grad school said she loved it, so I hope its good)

Schools interested in: MIT, YSOA, RISD, Notre Dame, U of Miami

Portfolio: 17 pages (8 projects: drawings, set design, Harvard Career Discovery, one architectural deign studio)

I'm kind of just hoping I get in somewhere. I'm not sure how strong my portfolio is, and it's a little bit of a shot in the dark. I guess now we just wait and see.

Jan 2, 17 12:44 pm

26/ M - BFA painting -Maryland Institute College of Art

Three Letters (two Art Teachers, one Artist employer)

GPA: 3.96

GRE: 144Q 152V

Would've done better if I didn't miss four questions in the Verbal. 

Schools: M.Arch I-----Cornell, UPENN, Syracuse

Portfolio: 20 Pages, Visual art based, Visually informative about process with a little bit of furniture design. Fairly strong, I kept it fairly simple, and didn't add anything that would take away from the process information. 

Statement is alright and corresponds to the portfolio.

Will my high GPA make up for the GRE scores? That test is highly unnecessary in my opinion. My first choice in schools is Cornell. But I would need a substantial scholarship.

Keep in mind I have no Architectural background. But lots of Visual Art background.

Jan 3, 17 6:53 am

22 / California Resident / BA in Architecture - UC Berkeley 

Applying for M.Arch I

GRE: V:155 Q:152 W: 5.0

GPA: 3.9/4.0

SOP: done

LOR: Harvard Alum&Most recent studio professor, Michigan Alum&current employer, MIT PhD&former employer

Portfolio: design projects from 7 studios and a couple representation courses, some professional drawings/diagrams, paperfolding

Experience (all while in school 25-40 hrs per week): 1 year as research assistant to MIT PhD candidate, 1 year as intern for architecture office doing design/diagrams and working on a book, 2 years drafting for stainless steel design company

Applications submitted for:

Harvard, MIT, UCLA, Yale, Princeton, Columbia

Good luck everyone!

Jan 3, 17 2:48 pm

^ Why not M.Arch II?

Jan 3, 17 2:54 pm

Yea I think M.arch II is more appropriate for you, otherwise you'll just be re-learning the same stuff.

Let me know if you have any answers to my thread though, I am interested to hear what people have to say. Thanks a lot!

Jan 3, 17 3:20 pm

M. Arch II requires that you hold a 5-year professional B.Arch degree, which I do not have. Mine is a four year Bachelor of Arts with architecture major. I am applying advanced placement though for the schools that offer it. 

Jan 3, 17 3:37 pm

26/ F / American / BS Arch 

Applying for M.Arch I this fall

GRE: V155 Q154 W 4.0

GPA 3.2/4

INTERNSHIP/WORK: 3 years at architecture firms in NJ

Schools im interested in: GSD, YsoA, Cornell AAP, PennDesign 

LORs: 2 from Studio professors, 1 currently supervisor , 1 Director of Arch

SOP: Wrote about my interest in Neuro-phenomenology and related that to my studio and tied it to my background.


- feedback on portfolio is welcome.

Jan 5, 17 11:28 am

oops here's the new link::

Jan 5, 17 7:08 pm

@wanna go gsd

Here is my portfolio! check it out and please let know any comments and critics!

Jan 6, 17 8:21 pm
I'm F / Canadian and new to the forum. I'm super excited as I just received my acceptance letter into the RAIC Syllabus Diploma Program. I start studies in February. Just waiting to find out how my status for advanced standing. 41 is not to old to go back to university.....right?
Jan 8, 17 12:47 am

Never too late my friend. Gotta do what you like to do, most importantly.

Jan 10, 17 12:07 am

25 / art history and studio art 

GRE: V:157 Q:156 W: 4.5

GPA: 3.45/4.0

LOR: two undergrad studio professor, current boss at design-build firm and instructor from summer architecture program

Portfolio: Mostly undergraduate studio work and a few projects from an intro to architecture program

Applications submitted for:

Cornell, Michigan, GSD, Columbia, Penn 

Now we wait.............

Jan 10, 17 10:55 am

Good to see other art majors. I have been nervous about my portfolio having more to do about the work and less about the design of the work within the portfolio.:( and I am applying to cornell as well! hopefully we get in there. I can't believe they only took in 25 people last year, thats insane.

Jan 10, 17 11:13 am

How many applicants were there in 2015 or 2016 at Upenn, for the m.arch I.?

Jan 13, 17 6:04 am

Any one else applied to Princeton University?

- Why Princeton and what influences led you there?


- I wanna go there cause I want to learn from Stan Allen, Paul Lewis, Alejandro Zaera Polo

- Most of of the firms I really admire like Leong Leong Architects & LTL Architects have managed to start successful firms, All Princeton Alumni, and I want to do the same. Currently work for a small firm [Process Architecture] and I am surrounded by like minded people. Starting your own firm, doing small-large scale projects. Having control of every aspect of the project. I strongly believe that the more local or grounded you are to the community, the further you can reach and leave an impact.      

Jan 16, 17 12:52 pm

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