BArch schools vs 4+2 Schools?


Hello, I am a rising high school senior and I want to be an architect. I am very interested in hearing opinions from recent grads/professionals regarding schools and programs. 

I was sure that the 5-yr BArch was the best way to go, but now I am wondering about the 4+2. Trying to decide which is the better path for me. I would love to hear what schools are getting the best reputation among professionals for their respective programs. 

I am looking for a more practical than theoretic program. I love the art/design, but I also love the construction aspects. I just want to make sure that I have a broad skill set, breadth of knowledge and good intern opportunities/connections. 

And if I go 4+2 what are some good combinations for undergrad and grad? 

I want to make an informed decision here. Thank you for the assistance!

Jul 31, 17 12:52 am

Probably better off doing a non-architecture undergrad degree, followed by a masters in architecture, based on what you've said.  A B.Arch is pretty much going to be design and theory most of the way, which tends to lead to lower pay and less respect within the construction industry.  The only advantage to the five year degree is that it would probably be cheaper.

BSCE + M.Arch.?.

 BSBA + M.Arch.?

Who knows, you may become engrossed enough in the engineering/practical side during undergrad that you forget about the M.Arch. idea by the time you graduate.  Big decision.  Good luck.

Jul 31, 17 7:54 am  · 

"A B.Arch is pretty much going to be design and theory most of the way"

That B.Arch sounds like a great deal of fun.

"which tends to lead to lower pay and less respect within the construction industry."

Not knowing what the hell you're talking about leads to less respect, has nothing to do with your degree(s) or lack

Jul 31, 17 8:42 am  · 

Not knowing what the hell you're talking about leads to less respect, has nothing to do with your degree(s) or lack

Yes, but architects have the image in the industry-justified or not- of being impractical dreamers and money wasters.  So, the architect is always starting out fighting the stereotype in order to get listened to.

Engineers, on the other hand, are thought to be smart  because of all the math.  Most people, including business types, tend to be intimidated by math.

Jul 31, 17 8:46 am  · 

You could also argue that if it weren't for the money-wasting dreamers those engineers would be out of a job with nowhere to apply all that math to. I've never had to fight that kind of stereotype myself and don't know any architect who had to, maybe it's just you ;) There's nothing intimidating about math, those engineers mostly use rules of thumb anyways and let computerprograms do the math, while any bachelor architecture student can script or code nowadays.

Aug 1, 17 4:21 am  · 

I would go with a BArch.  Typically, you're going to spend way less money than a 4+2 and get out of school faster.  (AKA: less loans/making money sooner.)  With a BArch, grad school becomes a choice instead of a necessity for licensure.  And if you want to pursue an MBA or an MA in another field instead of an MArch, you can.  With a 4+2, you're almost chaining yourself to the idea of an MArch if you want to be licensed.  (There are states that you don't have to have an MArch to be licensed, but I think a lot of those states are slowly changing their requirements.)  Once you finish with a BArch, you can either 1) start your career/pursuing licensure/whatever your heart desires or 2) choose to go to grad school if you want.  

Every degree is going to be slightly different in approach based on the faculty, dean, etc.,  Don't be afraid to ask your questions directly to the faculty and current students.  If you do go with the 4+2 path, I'd look up UCincinnati.  As far as I understand, they are fairly practical, but their program requires a substantial amount of internship experience to graduate.  Both the students and grads that I've worked with have all been great.

Jul 31, 17 9:43 am  · 

Find a program that lets you choose.  Places like Virginia Tech will let you enroll in B.Arch but then opt into 4+2. 

Jul 31, 17 3:35 pm  · 

If you prefer more practical than theoretical, then go with BArch.  Attend classes, hand in requirements for your classes and studio at the end of each semester and be done with it.  No need to worry about finding a thesis topic, research co-ordinators and all that uncertainty.

Jul 31, 17 4:31 pm  · 

B.Arch. It will be faster and more focused.  Practical vs. Theoretical has nothing to do with B.Arch vs. 4+2. 

Look closely at examples of student work at potential schools to determine the level of practicality in the curriculum.

Jul 31, 17 4:47 pm  · 
I believe the 4+2 option must be within the same program. I know many BS Archs who ended up having to do 3 year M.Archs asittle to nothing translated (read schools want to make that $$$). In their situations the 4 year programs didn't have a 2 year continuation option. They all seemed pretty burned out as well.

1 less year of school = 1 less year of debt + 1 more year of earning money/experience.

I have yet to see or hear of any value placed on M.Arch over B.Arch other than some ivy names which only offer professional degrees at the grad level. Even with the ivy name though, value is dubious within this field where work experience tends to far outweigh schooling for most employers.
Jul 31, 17 7:05 pm  · 
1  · 

Thank you for all of the input. I see a trending asset...experience. Fits in with my desire for practical over theoretical programs.

UC has a terrific co-op program for sure. I just wish they combined that with a BArch. I haven't seen any BArch programs that offer an integrated co-op. And none that I have seen advertise summer internships as part of the deal either. Anyone know otherwise? 

I've been to Penn State(super alumni network), Syracuse, Virginia Tech(also has a BS Building Construction-double major?), Univ Texas-Austin...all BArch programs. Also have Auburn and UofTN-Knoxville on my short list. I considered U of Oregon as well, but that is pretty far from family...all eastern US. 

If I go UCincy for the BS in Arch, the MArch (which also has integrated co-op btw) is 3 yrs. So how valuable, in comparison, is work experience, to academic experience? If there is a BArch program that has strong evidence that its students get internships in the summer, how would that compare to going the BS/MArch route?

I want to come out capable of producing billable work...hit the ground running, so to speak. Any opinions on which programs produce students/grads like that?

Jul 31, 17 11:17 pm  · 

More embarrassing important is "how much you like the campus?"


Jul 31, 17 11:19 pm  · 
Most if not all the consistently ranked top 10-20 b.arch schools are on the list for the very reason of prepping students for the workforce. This is either through some sort of built in externship, dedicated instruction/assistance in career development and or specific coursework in relevant practical tools such as cd sets and Revit usage.

The m.arch top lists seem to be based more on general university notariety rather than alumni practical skill set.

All that said, it is on the individual of any institution to prepare themself through as many work experiences as possible. With the B.Arch you have 4 summers to intern, and to possibly work part time the last 1-2 years. The people I know who have done that had little to no social life but wound up with the highest paying/ranking jobs upon graduation regardless of the school and became licensed very quickly.

You can find the list of B.Arch schools on naab's website and then research them individually. There aren't as many as you'd think to look at each one's curriculum, especially if you've already narrowed down a target region.

UC is a good school for the co op thing but it isn't so good as to be worth paying for two degrees. Also, their grad program is four years long because of the co ops. 3 years of schooling - across 12 quarters rather than 6 semesters - but four years of your time. The Eisenmen DAAP building is pretty nifty, though Cincinnati is rather depressing.

The only undergrad I know of with a built in guaranteed internship is Rice. Because of that internship, which is a year long, it is technically a 6 year program. You don't pay the school for the intern year, the partner firm (barely) pays you. For this experience and the school's general reputation, it is one of the most competitive schools for B.Arch seekers.

The campus is quite important. Cornell is dismal and has a high suicide rate despite its ivy status. You want to be happy wherever you go so as to do your best.
Aug 1, 17 12:00 am  · 

"The campus is quite important. Cornell is dismal and has a high suicide rate despite its ivy status. You want to be happy wherever you go so as to do your best."

But Millstein Hall is an amazing building, I'd be happy studying in such a building back in the day.

Aug 1, 17 6:36 am  · 

Great feedback. Thank you so much!

Aug 1, 17 7:29 am  · 

Setting my list and starting my apps. Any feedback/advice on these programs?

Univ Texas - Austin

Univ Oklahoma

Univ of Tennessee - Knoxville

Auburn University

Penn State University

Univ of Cincinnati (4+3)

VA Tech



Aug 7, 17 6:29 am  · 

I personally like Cincinnati!  It has kind of an 'up and coming' vibe in parts.  They're definitely doing some revival and trying to attract a younger crowd with newer restaurants and public events around town.

That said, yes, it'll probably take you longer to finish their 4+3 program because of the co-op.  From what I've heard, most of the grads of the 4 year BS there end up going to a different MArch program just to change it up and get a different perspective/add to their portfolios.

I would say, OU and UTenn are more reputable in the south than nationwide - could be wrong about this though?  I went to school in Texas - not UT Austin - and now live in the northeast, and I've never met any OU or UTenn grads.  But I have met successful grads from all of the other programs on your list.  That being said, I think it makes sense to visit all of the campuses/meet faculty and students from the schools on your list, and think about where you may want to look for a job after graduation.

Aug 7, 17 9:30 am  · 
I would not prioritize a co-op program that requires (ultimately) more years of study to get licensed, over a BArch. If you have even a small amount of personal drive it is EXTREMELY easy to get an internship in the summers as a BArch student--I was in school during a recession and STILL every peer who wanted to work in the summers, easily did. We graduated with a solid degree and a good deal of work experience and were hired for full-time jobs right away--some even before graduation! I worked every summer and even during some semesters. It was great, I had a huge salary and experience jump coming out of my B Arch than the M Arch grads and still do.

I knew someone who did the co-op route and ultimately it just took him longer to get the same degree, plus anecdotally it's kind of lonely during the co-op semesters, and of course you are missing out on the college experience during those semesters. Better to get a regular B Arch and power thru your summers with internships rather than sucking up school time with them.
Aug 8, 17 11:58 am  · 
I would guess that for architects, campus feel is likely to be more important than for your typical student as we notice and care more about the built environment. Also your campus (and surrounding city) is essentially your first place of study in architecture school--your studios will often send you out to sketch, learn from, generate new ideas from your campus and city. I personally would advise you to consider this aspect carefully.

However, different environments aren't necessarily objectively "good" or "bad" for architects (unless you're comparing something like Paris vs. Greenland!) they will just have different impacts -- so you should really think more about what type of environment might stimulate/calm/challenge you personally. For example: some ppl feel stressed in super urban environments. Some ppl feel charged by them. No one can pick that for you. If you visit one and don't love the environment personally, you're not going to want to intensively study it for 5 straight years.
Aug 8, 17 12:04 pm  · 

I mean, I'd study in Greenland. Every time I go to Norway I fly over Greenland and it looks awesome.

Aug 9, 17 4:48 pm  · 
null pointer

Do you want to run your own firm?

Spend 4 years getting a shit undergrad at a great school. Ivy preferred. Then go get your masters.

You don't go to school to learn things. You go to school to build a network.

Aug 8, 17 12:17 pm  · 

I'm of the less popular opinion here, but for me the 4+2 route was the best option. I wasn't absolutely certain as I entered my undergrad if architecture was for me, so I wanted the flexibility to change majors if I had to. It's my understanding that can be harder to do if you're in the B.Arch program, as it's more focused, faster and often times course credits can be harder to apply to other areas of study. The introductory courses for my four year BS degree allowed me to study architecture at a pace I was comfortable with, without feeling overwhelmed or trapped. Less importantly, I also wanted to graduate within the typical four year trajectory all my non-arch friends had, rather than spending a final 5th year alone. 

After completing my undergraduate degree, the 4+2 program allowed me to work for a year to get some experience (and save $$$) before grad school. There's no rule you have to go straight into your masters, particularly if you're not in a rush to get licensed. This was invaluable and the best decision I could've made, particularly once you realize how little what you learn in school pertains to the real world. 

Lastly, the 4+2 worked for me because I wanted to experience different curriculums, academic perspectives, and geographic regions that attending two different schools would provide. My undergrad was in one area of the country, and my masters on the opposite side. It was so refreshing to see that not everyone shares the same values and perspectives in academia. I also picked my graduate school to help emphasize areas in my study that I felt my undergrad had lacked. 

Yes, I will be spending an extra year of tuition with no full time income, but at the end of the day that wasn't what was most important to me, and I was fortunate to have the resources for a longer course of study. I don't really believe there is a "right answer" regarding the 5 year versus 4+2 paths. You'll have to decide what is right for you based on many of the factors I've described above. 

Aug 9, 17 11:26 am  · 
1  · 

Thanks for bucking the trend with your thoughtful approach. Do you have any advice on a course of study for the 4 years that prepares you for the 2?

May 25, 24 8:49 pm  · 

In my experience being a recent BS.Arch grad, if you want to get a job before grad school, you'll need to bust your ass at an internship between or during semesters, learn CDs and get at least 6mo-1yr experience to be taken seriously on the job market.

Paid, on-the-job training for graduates isn't a hugely prevalent thing apparently. 

Aug 9, 17 1:11 pm  · 
1  · 

I think cemoore's comments above are very helpful, but I wanted to comment on one small thing: when I went into my BArch, I too was worried that I would have no friends left in my 5th year.  However as it turns out, tons of folks stay in school for another year -- whether to add a 2nd major, or to do a Masters, or because they switched majors partway through and needed more time to finish up -- it was amazing how many of my friends actually stuck around for my 5th year.  Not only that, but a) most of your friends are architects in the program with you anyway and b) if you make any effort to join campus clubs during school, the clubs provide constant new friends of different ages so you always have tons of folks around you to hang with -- even 5th year.  In fact, 5th year usually ends up being by far the most fun year for most folks.  So just wanted to chime in on that since I do think it seems like it would be lonely to do 5 years but in fact it ends up far from it!

Aug 9, 17 11:54 pm  · 

5th year = "the victory lap" :)

Aug 10, 17 11:44 am  · 

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