Fall 2018 M.Arch Admissions Prep - U.S. and Canada

Renzo's Piano

I saw tarekbaassiri commented on last year's thread, so I figured I would start a new one for this year's round of applications. Applications should be opening in about 3 weeks, around September 15th, but it's never too early to start getting things together. This is the template so please copy and use:

Age & Gender / Nationality / Previous Degree & College

GPA: ex. 4.0/4.0

GRE: ex. 170 V, 170 Q, 6.0 W

Internships/Work Experience: years of exp. & size of firms

Schools & Programs Applying to: for ex: Harvard M.Arch I, UCLA M.Arch I, etc.

LORs: # and from whom (professor/employer)

SOP: % completed

Portfolio: % completed; provide issuu link for feedback if you want

Then go ahead a provide a quick paragraph about your background and why you're applying to M.Arch programs. Also, use this area to ask questions about the process.

Good luck everyone!

Aug 24, 17 3:33 pm

Thank you @ Renzo's Piano


B. Environmental Design in Arch. @ NC State

2 years (and counting) in a facade design/engineering firm

GRE: not taken yet (stressing out about)

LORs: 2 college PHDs, 1 company principal

SOP: 100>#/p###

Hi all, 

New to this site. 

Fall 2018 applicant: GSAPP, GSD, UT Austin, USC, MIT (so far)

Wanting to get your thoughts on these schools. Also, wanting to get your opinions on the requirements of portfolio size and sheet dimensions.

Would most schools disregard the portfolio entirely if it exceeds page count ? Or just stop at the 20th or 25th page? And what if my sheets are 10x8 and 8.5x11 - how serious of an issue is this ? 

Please, any thoughts/opinions are helpful. Don't hold back.


Aug 25, 17 12:22 pm

"Don't hold back."


"And what if my sheets are 10x8 and 8.5x11 - how serious of an issue is this ?"

your pages should all be the same size. this is not a detail, this is about as basic as it gets. the top tier schools you're applying to aren't going to be impressed with your laziness.

"Would most schools disregard the portfolio entirely if it exceeds page count ?"

you have two options: ignore the page count requirement (this would be very dumb; the requirement is there for a reason), or adhere to it. no one is going to reject an excellent applicant (and send her/him running to a competing institution) because they went over the stated maximum number of pages, but they might question your ability to follow simple fucking instructions.

also, here's a pro-tip for when you submit your applications to some of the best schools in the world: don't put spaces before question marks, it makes you look like an absolute dipshit.

Aug 29, 17 1:35 pm

Thanks for the feeback.

Let me clarify, my portfolio spreads are 19Wx8H which makes all my individual sheets 9.5Wx8H. My questions is, would the reviewers see it less favorably since the pages do not conform to the 8.5x11 standard.  



your reviewers are faculty members. they are important. their time is important. to them you are first a chore, and second a potentially interesting new student. don't make their lives difficult. they have shit to do! professional work, faculty meetings, board meetings, office hours, studio to teach etc. don't act special or force them to resize their Acrobat window because you couldn't produce a spread at a standard sheet size. also, dont exceed the page count! the page limit is a hard cutoff and those pages will be culled by adcom staff, never to be seen by anybody of importance.


23/M/American/ BS in Biology from University of Alabama-Birmingham

GPA:  3.75/4.0

GRE: 162 V, 161 Q, 5.0 W

Schools & Programs Applying to: MIT, GSD, UC Berkeley, Georgia Tech (currently a resident of Georgia, in state tuition is soooo affordable)

LORs: 1 from director of honors program, 1 from associate director of honors program + poetry professor, 1 from coordinator of community art space where I volunteered for 7 years

SOP: Last year my statements were not that different from school to school. This year I plan on making them a little more specific. Already completed for GT, working on the other 3 now.

Portfolio: 33%- I have a good portion of the things I plan on included, some stuff carried over from last year's applications, some new things. Last year I included sketches, photography, and a 2 page spread on my undergrad research project studying effects of climate change on a species of Antarctic snail. 

I'm pulling together some things from a personal project I'm working on, then I need to put it all together in InDesign.


I graduated with a BS in Biology last year. Toward the end of undergrad, I pretty much knew I didn't want to continue with biology. A bunch of different things kind of coalesced into me being interested in studying architecture, and I applied for schools last year. Ended up getting into GSAPP, Pratt, and IIT, but decided to wait another year. I'm working a shitty customer service job right now just to save up money until next fall while I work on these applications.

Aug 31, 17 9:02 pm

do you mind sharing your portfolio from last year? I'm really keen on gsapp, and I'm interested to see a successful non-design background application to gsapp. Thanks!


I am afraid its too idiosyncratic (not sure if its a good or bad thing) 

it's a bad thing. this is maybe the single most self-indulgent and gimmicky-with-no-substance portfolio i have ever seen. many parts of it literally hurt my eyes.

Oct 12, 17 9:54 pm
Non Sequitur

so much visual garbage

Oct 12, 17 11:30 pm
Bob's your uncle

Hey there!

M / 24 / British / Batchelor's of Architecture - University of Dundee

GPA: 3.84

GRE: 163 V, 163 Q, 4.5 W

Internships/Work Experience: 1 Year working for a pair of architects in London / Berlin on prefab private houses, 1 Year working for a larger firm (around 35 people) in London on larger public works (think galleries, exhibitions, museums, studios, hotels, offices etc). Experience working with other firms / freelance work. Summer studio and part time courses taken at The Bartlett. Heading to Mumbai this coming January to work as a research volunteer with URBZ.

Schools & Programs Applying to: M.Arch1 - so far: MIT, GSD, Yale, TU Delft - potentially also ETH Zurich and The Bartlett. Aiming (to give myself a direction) to specialise in housing (possibly self-build), digital tech, and urban policy.

LORs: 4; 2 from professors at Dundee and 1 each from the two year-long jobs (in both cases, the directors).

SOP: 80% on the base statement. Individual statements to be worked up when I'm happy with the narrative of the base.

Portfolio: 50%. Updating and adding some projects, trying to cut out the fluff from last year's effort. Aiming for just under 30 single pages (that seems to be the usual request) in a landscape format (computer screen friendly!). Last year's was a portrait-style book, which may look nice in principle, but I have a feeling there's a liability that the double-page spreads might not be viewed properly. I'm erring on the side of caution this time round...

Cheers, and best of luck to you all!

Oct 14, 17 4:30 pm

I am not applying to any programs. I would teach at a program, but only one I started. If anyone would like to apply for "my program", please feel free to do so. We could start next week, after the fires quiet down. 


Oct 14, 17 5:13 pm

29 / F / Singaporean / NYU with a  B.A in Individualised Studies (which basically meant I designed my own course of study around sustainable urban planning and architectural studies)

Currently: working as an urban planner for the Singapore government. 

Applying: M.Arch I Fall 2018 + MSRED or certificate in real estate, depending on the school 

GRE: 170V/162Q (also did the gmat because I was planning to apply to bschool at one point, but I can't figure out if I should include it or not)

GPA: 3.58

Work: a year doing land policy for the Singapore government (related but different from my current job), and a year as an animal rights policy activist 

Schools: Berkeley (top choice), GSAPP, UT Austin, USC, UCLA, maybe Pratt/sci-arc? (trying to figure out which safety schools to apply to that's in a city)

LOR: 2 from former profs (one is a practicing architect from gsapp), 1from former supervisor 

SOP: 0% (lots of bullet points, nothing actually written)

Portfolio: 20%? I know what I plan to do, I'm just in the process of actually doing the work. Started pottery a year ago, not sure if I should include my work. Also can't decide if I should include sketches, because I'm not naturally gifted in freehand drawing the way other applicants seem to be

Why Archi: I actually planned to apply to grad school straight out of college, but I've always wanted to work around affordable housing and disaster relief/developmental architecture, and I wanted to get exposure to the policy and business side of things first. fast forward 6 years later, I really miss designing spaces (urban planning in Singapore is more policy work and very large scale planning than detailed spaces), so back to school I go. 

I'm concerned that my age + excess experience + lack of design background may work against me. I took some studio classes and did the gsapp summer programme, but my portfolio still feels woefully inadequate compared to the quality of work I've seen on issuu (why are all these people with amazing architecture experience all applying to M.Arch I?! stop spoiling the market guys...)

Oct 15, 17 5:13 am

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