How important is the name of a school for you career?


Just how important is the name of the school you graduate from? My career goal is to have my own firm after some years of work experience.

I have been excepted to a master degree run by a very, very well known architect (Pritzker price winner) but have second thoughts because it would take me two years longer compared to the other master I could do, at a quite good, more technical school.

Thanks for your insights.

May 3, 17 10:13 am

I think it's not the name of the school, but the people you will get to know there.

May 3, 17 10:17 am
On the fence

Ding ding ding




go to the cheaper school, save time, save money. then with all the time and money saved go hang out at the "well known" school and act like your doing research or something. free connections!


The H bomb seems to work nice... it seems that all others become equal after some time.

May 3, 17 10:19 am

yes it does works good

It's not. It's about what you did at that school. There are crappy architects that come from Harvard and great architects that come from state schools. The connections you can make at some of the "name-brand" schools certainly help, but that dissipates eventually. 

May 3, 17 10:52 am
Non Sequitur

Great, you went to Harvard and probably are drowning in debt! Now, can you assemble a CD set without supervision? No... you can't? Well... that's as far as the name will take you if you can't produce.

May 3, 17 11:02 am

can anyone really do this fresh out of grad school...?

Non Sequitur

I certainly could and several of my other colleagues did as well. Others not so much.

I understand the objective just not the purpose. The profession is a highly collaborative profession with much of what is drawn being filtered through the work of "others" like lawyers, engineers, risk analysts ...


l3wis, the answer is basically a yes. It depends on the individual's experience. Some individuals may gain this through external work experience of some kind. 


Even if you could produce the CD's it won't get you a job. Getting a job is based of what someone is feeling like that day not credentials.


Indeed, yes. While credentials to some degree helps with some clients, it may not always be the determining factor. When all say they can produce building plans (CDs) to the client, then credentials on CDs might not be the deciding factor. It can be entirely non-architectural and just how the person feels about you after talking to you. Procuring work is an art form in and of itself.


For your personal finances repaying excessive student debt is like taking out a mortgage on another house. If you can pay two house payments, buy a car, save for retirement, and pay all the other day-to-day living expenses with the job you got only because you had an excellent adventure at Ivy School A, B, or C, then go for it.

May 3, 17 11:38 am

thanks for the info


Is it university of applied arts vienna? If so, it's practically free, isn't it?

May 4, 17 12:36 am

yes a university


but not totally, free


so all the downers blabbing about harvard and millions in debt where wrong? go figure.


i'll say

It matters when one fills out a tournament bracket in March. 

I've been hired on to projects because someone in a firm went to the same school I did.

So two things.

"All misspellings are creative and correct." seen recently in an email signature line 

May 4, 17 2:12 pm

it will probaly help you more than hurt you. 

May 7, 17 12:51 am
James Cargill

From my experience, it isn't so much the name of the school as it is the city it is located in. Go to a school in a city you would like to begin your career in, as that is where your academic network will be set up upon graduation.

May 8, 17 9:48 am

@JamesC generally agree, but there are many exceptions to consider. If you are an international student planning to return home after study then name recognition may carry more weight to international community. Larger corp practices such as SOM go for named Unis for core recruiting so if your interested in working in similar practices, thats a consideration. Unis with a strong urban agenda are only offered in some locations as the same with high level of advanced computational skills - again very selective group of top schools which employers do know.


Somewhat - the school and/or their brand can help you; but it's mostly what you do while you're there and what you do with it upon graduation.  Going to the school that has the most to offer and taking advantage of it (ask the right questions, build relationships with your peers, alumni and faculty, fill out your skill set, get your foot in the door with good internships).  Many alumni are loyal to their alma mater, so going to schools whose alumni work in senior levels at your dream jobs can be very helpful.

As others have noted, it's always good to look at the amount of investment you're willing to make.  Most people who start their firms have a bit of money saved up while they start their firms - having a lot of debt can slow that process down.

May 8, 17 12:52 pm

Hmmm. For me the school name doesn't mean at all. Its  how you deliver yourself on your career.

May 8, 17 8:19 pm

The name of school will not help you much when your are looking for a job. As this will be determined by your portfolio and skill. 

But a prestigious school's name it will can help you get clients when you open up shop.

May 9, 17 1:59 pm

All about the connections...

May 9, 17 2:13 pm

thanks for all your replies! I am already getting a clearer picture of what matters post-graduation.

the masters I have been accepted to is at IoA Vienna with Kazuyo Sejima, which is free, but quite long (3 years, which is an extra year compared to most other European masters).

@ TED really interesting point about corporate practices, something to consider!

May 15, 17 9:40 am

If you want to be an entrepreneur and have your own business, it will be important for you to have good business skills and take some business classes.  It also helps to marry money - that's how my boss got started, and she does not have a design degree at all - only an art degree - but she had a very successful interior design business and started a furniture company in 1972 that now has a world-wide reputation.  Louis Kahn was a successful architect but died penniless because he was not a good business man.  I am also not good at business, which is why I do not have my own business.

May 15, 17 7:51 pm

I haven't been back to this forum in several years, but will this question never die?

May 15, 17 9:49 pm

^ I blame my generation.

They simply can't stfu and practice.

May 15, 17 10:42 pm

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