Where to go for my MArch?



I am currently finishing up my 3rd year of the Bachelor of Environmental Design program at UBC, and plan to have applied for my masters by this time next year. Going into summer, I want to make sure I have a clear vision of the schools I am striving for so I can take action and get things done that will help improve my chances of getting into my goal schools. My parents really value me going to an Ivy League or highly ranked schools in general, so these are the schools that are currently in consideration: 

Harvard GSD, MIT, UCL, Columbia, Berkeley, UBC, U of T

I am open to other suggestions as well, but would like to stay within the top 50 MArch programs worldwide. Preferably I'd love a school that I would earn AP standing coming in, because of my relevant undergrad, but it is not a deal breaker.

My primary design interest is Interior Architecture. I consider myself less pragmatic and have a background in visual arts and graphic design. I'd really like to study at a school that prioritizes conceptual thinking, ephemeral effects, and aesthetics. I understand that MIT might not be the best fit for me because of the way I think and the way I design, but I am not ruling it out. At the moment, GSD seems to be my dream school but I am open to this changing, and I also can't just put all my eggs in that basket because of how competitive the school is. 

Any advice would be much appreciated about what I should be doing to strengthen my application and school suggestions are appreciated as well.

Tl;dr - What is the best MArch program to study at for a UBC Environmental Design graduate with a background in visual arts?

Feb 20, 19 6:00 pm

Do whatever the hell you want to do, regardless of your parents or the (anonymous) internet. Or maybe not.

Feb 20, 19 6:27 pm
Non Sequitur

stay in Canada. There is little value in paying US tuition when Canadian tuition is so damn cheap. Best schools are Waterloo and McGill. UofT is mediocre on a good day. 

Feb 20, 19 6:28 pm

Thanks! I was considering McGill as well but have not heard much about their MArch program, but I will look into it now.

Non Sequitur

What do you want to do? McGill and Loo will absolutely give you the tools to succeed in architecture and you won't carry a huge american student debt. Don't chase a school just because of the name on the paper.


I am not worried about student debt as I have been blessed with parents who are willing to pay for my degree (a big reason why I give them a huge voice in where I go). My goal is to own a successful firm. This goal isn't rare but I understand that as a visual minority and a female I might need more superficial tings like a "big name" school to prove my worth and reach my goal whereas others are rewarded on their skill alone.


I thought Carleton was the best?

Non Sequitur

^Not even close... their undergrad used to be very respectable but they drastically changed the format and soften it up about 10 years ago. M.Arch there is passable with little interesting faculty left.


None of the schools on your list are very likely choices for a focus on interiors or interests in ephemeral effects or aesthetics. Most of these are programs where the majority of your studio projects are likely to be large urban site planning exercises.  I would strongly encourage you to visit all of them to see the work and sit in on some crits at each - and preferably not during a planned open house.

Feb 20, 19 6:34 pm

I will for sure take your suggestion to visit in person before making a final decision, but I need to narrow down the list a little bit before I do that. I interested that you said none of these programs would resonate with my interests and I'll have to look into that further.


You're a perfect SCI-Arc candidate. It's a "Top 10" school, prioritizes conceptual architecture and aesthetics to a fault, and is more than willing to take the money of idiotic Canadians stupid enough to not take advantage of a highly subsidized more-than-adequate education in Canada.

Feb 20, 19 6:42 pm
Non Sequitur

Excellent points.


SCI-Arc was in strong consideration as well. They came to my school for a lecture and I loved their culture. My only aversion to it is the location. I fear living in LA because of the living costs and how the people are described to be. I would be willing to live there for a couple years in order to get my dream design education, though. Thanks for the suggestion.


I lived close to LA and I've been to SCI-Arc a million times. IF you are into aesthetics and conceptual arch Sci-Arc is a pretty good fit. They always have the most interesting people showing up there and most of the students projects are Beautiful. There are a lot of classes that prioritize the more design and visual side of Arch. Artists and Graphic Designers usually do very well from what I have seen, they are usually the ones doing the projects that everyone has a fit over over here on Archinet. Just make sure you are ready for the 1,000,000 people on Archinet telling you your degree is worthless and that you will starve forever. I mean if you want graduate and get a job at a traditional arch firm, yeah, don't go there. But, I've seen plenty of people get jobs after graduation and do very interesting things. Just make sure you can secure funding because its true that LA as a city is VERY expensive. It mostly depends on you and the type of work you make. Also, LA isn't that bad, its a HUGE city, and the vibe of each area changes dramatically. Yes you do have the crazy and shallow people but that (For The Most Part) would be in like (Northern LA Area) There are many of amazing and humble people if you know where to look. Culver City, Long Beach (Technically not LA but its LA), Eas t LA, and even in DTLA even though its getting very gentrified.


I doubt many faculty or fellow students at the fancy schools you aspire to will have much interest in, much less respect for, interior architecture.  It is stupid and wrong, but's that's what I've seen.  The quality USA programs in this area will more likely be at art schools and/or a few public colleges.  I would say go to interior design school, but I strongly believe that an architecture license, (and thus an accredited architecture degree) is usually much more valuable in most of the USA.

Feb 21, 19 4:43 pm
good details

Competitive and highly ranked schools don't always align with the schools employers look to for quality and competent employees.

Ask local architects what Canadian schools pump out the best M.Arch graduates.

Going to the US for university is stupid and I say this as a dual Canadian/US citizen.

Feb 23, 19 10:46 am

Hi, I am an interior design professional and have been practicing from 3-4 years. However I have had opportunities in my career to take up the role of an interior architect, but its doesn't help entirely as I felt there a lot of things to learn in architecture for me as my degree was in Interior design. So i started looking at colleges to peruse masters in architecture most of the colleges I heard from has the requirement to have a Barch. I wanted to know, other than U of T colleges which accepts non background in architectural students in Canada? 

Jun 13, 19 5:02 am


 I would go for GSD if you have the money, not bc the school is anything special but bc they have connections that will help your career or just promote you as you start your own office. That school is kind of like a elite country club/PR firm. In general though I never heard of any anglo-saxon school that is concerned with conceptual thinking, ephemeral effects, and aesthetics. Yeah there is Sci-arc but when I look at the work coming out of there it completely ignores tectonics- work looks cartoony or something and it´s connections are sort of limited to L.A. I could see some faculty at GSD maaaybe being interested in your interests.  As for the Canadian schools- I dunno, U of T is the only one with an informative website and more international faculty, that´s all I know. Also beware Non-Sequitur went to this Waterloo School and thinks its the best school on earth and basically trolls anyone (like Russia troll style) considering any other school in Canada constantly.  I guess you should visit the schools in Canada to find out yourself? 

Jun 13, 19 6:47 am
Non Sequitur

Sorry for being informed on my country’s academic field.

Non Sequitur

how so?


@tosin perhaps you should look into princeton also

Jun 13, 19 6:51 am


If you want to participate at a higher level of discourse in the profession and see yourself working outside of Canada - the connections you'll make in the USA/UK are incredibly valuable. If you're interested primarily in the aesthetic issues of architecture and the avant-garde you might want to consider some of the smaller niche schools as well.

Of the schools you've mentioned you might want to prioritize:

UCL (You know why), GSD (Pulls profs from all other schools) and Columbia (Still a strong focus on the digital project). On the Canadian side, U of T is slowly becoming our multidisciplinary school in Canada with the emphasis on many of their design programs. Fair warning that UCL doesn't offer much in way of funding (though there are a few bursaries here and there).

Other schools to consider might be the AA, Yale, SCI-Arc, Pratt, PennDesign, and RCA. Of those mentioned only Yale, Penn, and SCI-Arc would offer the most funding. If you're considering Canada, both Manitoba and Carleton currently has faculty (and visiting faculty) from the Bartlett so the spirit is there even if the facilities are not up-to-par (considering say the B-Pro equipment at UCL).

If you're concerned with cost you should prioritize work on portfolio, building connections, GRE, and relevant (but interesting) work experience. I know many people that received full or near- full funding for the GSD, Yale, Columbia, PennDesign and SCI-Arc. As long as you can prove you and your work are valuable to the school, school cost becomes less of an issue.

Jun 16, 19 2:16 pm

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