Does attending an Ivy league school have any correlation to a higher starting salary?


Does anyone have additional information towards Ivy league degrees earning a higher salary at starchitecture/regular offices?

Fortunately, I was accepted to Harvard this year, however the high tuition price is currently swaying me away. Harvard offered a significantly lower grant in comparison to another Ivy school. The U.S tuition is also higher than its north american/european counterparts. I'm trying to decide if studying in the U.S. is worth it. I'm not too interested in connections because I established some good ones on my own, and the name isn't appealing to me unless it warrants a higher salary. My only interest is the professors which teach there. I initially applied because I didn't think I would get in and applied for the hell of it. But now that I have a chance, I'm trying to figure out my best path.

Mar 15, 17 12:06 am

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Mar 15, 17 12:09 am
Featured Comment

You can search salaries by school attended (ugrad, grad and post grad) on Archinect's salary poll -

Mar 15, 17 12:55 am

Not really unfortunately. 

Mar 15, 17 1:37 am
Non Sequitur
That's a very definitive no.
Mar 15, 17 6:20 am
Non Sequitur
That's a very definitive no.
Mar 15, 17 6:20 am

What is your professional goal?  If you want to teach or work for a starchitect, you may need the Ivy credential just to pass the employment screen, regardless of whether it statistically translates into a higher starting salary.  If neither is your goal, going Ivy may not make much sense, since any higher salary will be gobbled up by loan repayments.  As far as contacts are concerned, you can't have too many.  But here again,  paying $100K or so for only a possibility of making a good contact or two is a real big gamble with a potentially disastrous economic downside if it doesn't happen.

I commend you for asking the question before plumging in.

Normal laws of supply and demand just don't seem to operate in this profession.  It's a really weird situation;.

Mar 15, 17 7:48 am

As long as you have the trust fund to get you there.

Mar 15, 17 8:36 am
Featured Comment

Hello, No question, Harvard is an excellent school; however, please review the following:

Note: this is the opinion of one architect.

1.) There are many different specialties in architecture, although not formally recognized. An architect may be a "pure" designer, or a construction expert; she may be a generalist or a specialist; she may be an architect that wears all the hats of the profession. The best architect is at the foundation, an excellent draftsman (now ACAD operator), able to articulate form and space in a language suitable to the requirements of the project.

2.) If you attend Harvard, you will, no doubt, gain strength in theoretical design and historical precedence but not necessarily in practical architect. It does not matter where you attend as long as it is NAAB certified program. The critical education for an architect is self-provided. It is the books, the real work under a mentor architect, and the social interactions you allow yourself that will contribute to the main of your success in the profession. There are state schools, in my opinion that are right up there with Harvard, et. al.

3.) Back in the 1940’s, Frank Lloyd Wright gave a speech to the students of architecture and related fields at Penn State University. My Dad was in the audience as a young student. The first thing out of Mr. Wright’s mouth was [I paraphrase]:

Go home! If you want to be a good architect, go home and live your lives. Experience life! It is your life that will inform your architectural practice. You’re not learning anything in this school that will make you a good architect.

Needless to say, the professors were aghast, at the least. Mr. Wright did not have high esteem among the academicians of his day (and still does not). But he was right! Yes we need to attend school to receive a professional license, but the better part of your talents is sharpened and honed gained in non-theoretical, real life experience. For example, mastery of English (or the language you will practice in) is paramount.

4.) The architect is a highly trained professional, who alone, can interpret the vision of clients into tangible brick and mortar, enhancing the lives and social interactions clients. As such, an architect is at the top or very nearly the top of practicing professions including doctors and lawyers. In time past, the architect was afforded great respect and esteem. Be warned, it is not so today; however we architect (worth ours salt) believe this is still true regardless of what the builders, developers, and even engineers think. So whatever school you go to, be prepared to go beyond the curriculum, and respect whom your are!!!.

I hope this helps.

Mar 15, 17 9:31 am

I agree, education is just one dimension of the profession.

Non Sequitur

Architects are not doctors or lawyers. Stop comparing them this way.


This is the opinion of a stupid "Sheep". There are a bunch of GSD grads that work where I do, and they do not make any more money. In fact they are a little harder to train the realm of actual buildable architecture, and are a drag to deal with . Do not waste your money

Tinbeary There there

This is how I justified skipping class to go to the pub or shopping. In London...

I would go for the education not the salary. Schools don't really focus on a higher starting salary. On the other hand a highly technical school will focus on the salary (you known w/ Revit, construction, data management, etc)

Mar 15, 17 9:45 am

If earnings are that important to you go for the school that doesn't cripple you financially.

Mar 15, 17 11:17 am


Mar 15, 17 7:45 pm

It all depends on what you can do. That degree may help get you the job, it does nothing to help keep the job. Your value is your contribution.

Mar 15, 17 8:45 pm

Wright was right.

Mar 15, 17 9:48 pm

From seeing a question like this from a harvard candidate, I am relieved. Clearly has no idea about the profession yet. I think i can beat them easy on the battlefield.

Mar 15, 17 10:27 pm

Good luck with that prepubsescent attitude tho.

null pointer

In NYC, I've seen people actually give out higher starting salaries to GSD grads relative to CUNY grads. I've seen it used as explicit leverage when switching jobs too.


The GSD edge really comes when you're running your own shop though...

Mar 15, 17 10:35 pm

What do you think that edge is (when running your own office)? I have my own ideas, but I'm curious what others think.

null pointer

I didn't graduate GSD, but I did graduate from an Ivy B.A.... my network has surprised me a few times. I've walked into a few alumni activities and ended up with multiple introductions to fairly well-known developers (and I don't even try. I had a pretty bad rep for being a drunken idiot in college).


I bet GSD is the same.


Lee, I think its a few things:


good lord, auto submit with a return stroke. hello shitty UI's from 2010!


1) you get used to seeing/interacting with famous and highly accomplished people. you learn the silly dance and courtship rituals that come with asking these types of people for help

2) there's a strong culture of collaboration and sharing. knowledge proliferates rapidly across disciplines.

3) you get to drop the h-bomb

4) people automatically assume you're smart and know your shit.

GSD offers connections that will lead to work in the future, almost certainly. The network is serious and alumni work to make it a serious value. I am not from GSD but know many graduates from my work here in Tokyo. I have seen the connections in play from there and from Yale many times. Every once in a while my connection to the University of Manitoba is useful, but in all honesty my non ivy route was only awesome because the education was great and cheap. I don't feel encumbered by a weakness in design skills compared to Harvard graduates but I sure do envy their network.

For what it is worth, when I did PhD I did it at a Japanese Ivy and it has functioned more like Harvard. Clients have more trust because of where I studied. It has opened doors no doubt about it. My starting salary was never affected, but thinking long term the impact has been pretty large just in terms of opportunity.

That said, cost is a thing. If you cant afford the debt, or worse find that you can't act on some of those cool opportunities because of debt, well that muddies the benefits side of the equation quite a lot.

Mar 17, 17 4:11 am

For me it mattered a little for salary early on, though not all that impressively (and frankly the fact that I was making 10% or 15% more than others at my level probably hurt me more because of resentment from coworkers when they found out from the billing rates matrix, than it helped me to make that few thousand more per year.)  It mattered a lot more for getting a foot in the door for an interview at many firms, and it's mattered many times in having connections that have led to bringing projects into firms - both when working for others and when I went out on my own.  Where it really mattered most, several times, is in firms' perception of the value of my resume and credentials to their firm.  That alone kept me from layoffs many times - because when firms hit hard times they hang onto the people who they perceive to be helpful in their marketing for new work - whether that means that you can directly bring in projects, or just that your resume looks great in their proposals.  It didn't make me bulletproof - I've been laid off twice - once in the recession when I was the very last employee to go, and one other time when I made it far past rounds that had cut everybody with anywhere near my relatively young tenure with the firm.  In that sense my degree was directly responsible for keeping me off unemployment at times - but who knows for how long, and exactly how much that's worth?  It's very difficult to quantify these things.

Whether an Ivy is the best choice financially in the long run depends on your individual circumstances. Some people find that their financial aid package is generous enough that picking the Ivy will result in less debt than picking a state university, and then the answer is pretty easy.  If that won't be the case for you then you need to consider that any advantages in starting salary are likely to be smallish.

Mar 17, 17 11:43 am

harvard's goal is to train leaders.  leaders do not need to know how to use autocad or detail a building envelope.  also, alumni network...  that's what harvard is about.  if you want technical competency go to wenworth institute of technology.  

Mar 17, 17 12:03 pm
Non Sequitur

Leaders regardless of which school will be leaders. There are plenty of Harvard grads grinding through strip mall and chain restaurant projects. Whom-ever hires on the basis of the name on the degree is a fool.


I dont think one goes to harvard for the mascot

Non Sequitur

no, but plenty do for the illusion of future big-dolla-dolla bills and swim suit models.




something has to motivate you through a cold boston winter.


Does eating chicken nuggets everyday lead to an early death?, does drinking a 3 pints of alcohol daily make one an alcoholic?

Mar 17, 17 3:49 pm

mean starting salary for GSD graduates is 65k for M.Arch I, from GSD career services.  

ymmv depending on where, and for whom, you work.  the network does give you alumni at every firm, which means you'll at least be considered for a position at your dream starchitecture office.  

Mar 17, 17 9:26 pm

Ofcourse, each school likes to inflate the numbers to make their school look good.


I think its pretty spot on. I know people graduating this year who accepted offers around 65k/year. I also know someone taking 1.6k a month at Toyo Ito's office. Again, your mileage may vary.

$65K starting is not inflated.



Mar 17, 17 10:53 pm

No.  Just like getting an education doesn't necessarily equal intelligence. 

Mar 18, 17 4:42 am
null pointer

Not everyone thinks that though. We still hire from MArch and BArch programs, and not straight from High School.


The name does help you get a foot in the door and slightly better negotiating position.  However, recent GSD grads have a reputation for being disrespectful to people who went to "lesser" schools.  If you go there just keep your hubris in check and you'll have a better time career-wise.

Mar 18, 17 10:51 am

Old thread is old but still relevant. Wish I had the balls to bump it. See TheMightyEsquilax's reply for effect.

Mar 18, 17 12:14 pm
Tinbeary There there

There aren't any set salary schedules in architecture so there are a number of things that would affect your earnings, why wouldn't going to a good school be one of them? I don't have an Ivy degree but I have a good state school degree and it helps get me a better salary over a lesser state school degree, which seems expected... why wouldn't it work that way? Doesn't mean a guarantee as of course other factors are involved. Location, type of firm, type of projects, role on projects, all of these things also matter. And, hey, having an Ivy degree might help you marry well which is s recurring theme in a happy, successful life.

Mar 19, 17 11:08 am

just the fact that you mentioned the last dear friend i feel like judging you ! :/ 

I mean seriously ! 

Tinbeary There there

You can have a great journey without marrying well too. Feel better?

Tinbeary There there

Other things that we KNOW influence your salary: Gender, Race, Height, Smile/Teeth, Hair, Physique... if you are a tall, white male with good looks you are already way ahead!

Mar 19, 17 11:31 am
Train leaders, yeah right. The GSD grads I know must be leaders, as they don't even know how to draw wall sections. Or sections.
Mar 21, 17 2:39 am

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