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UPenn vs UCLA vs UT Austin for Fall 2019 - Help!

Nush@0511

UPenn - MSD EBD, UCLA - Suprastudio Urban Strategy, UT Austin - MAAD with a specialization in sustainable design. 

I am inclined towards all three programs. But I am in dilemma considering factors of the whole package - program and finances + living experience + job prospects.

UPenn pros: Coming from a background with a 5 year B.Arch followed by 3 years of work experience, its a perfect program for what I imagine to study and gain expertise in, in my post professional degree. The opportunity to take up cross disciplinary courses is a plus! The Centre for Environmental Building and Design is doing great work and is another major pro point drawing me towards Penn. I also love the way the university has constantly been in touch and made me feel like they want me in the program and as a part of the UPenn community. 

cons: Even with a financial aid of $$, the tuition requires me to take a significantly huge loan. 

UCLA pros: One of the most unique post professional programs. I really like the past works of Urban Strategy studio and how the concepts of sustainability and green architecture are integrated on a larger scale. Plus, it would be an honor to work with such reputed professors. 

cons: The IDEAS facility is detached from the main UCLA campus. Personally I like living in a lively neighborhood and in a campus environment. But given the lack of transportation system in LA I will have to stay relatively close to the facility. In addition, I'm still waiting to hear back regarding the scholarship. As of now, UCLA is also quite expensive, but relatively cheaper compared to UPenn since Suprastudio is a one-year course.

UT Austin pros: Yet to hear back regarding the scholarship, but its still comparatively affordable. The department also offers a lot of opportunities for TA and RAs. In terms of living conditions, the neighbourhood looks great as well. 

cons: UCLA and UPenn have better programs for my concentration.

Since I'm an international student, I will not be able to attend any of the open houses. If anyone has attended/ or will be attending any of the open houses, do share your experience! Please feel free to share your inputs regarding the program/ living experience/ the role of the city in job prospects/ the role of professors and college reputation in job prospects. Any input will be highly appreciated.

Thanks! 

 
Mar 20, 19 1:34 pm
Excavrtna

Where do you want to get a job after school? UT has great success with getting students jobs in Austin but not elsewhere. Also a lot of architecture jobs in Austin are new build residential so depends what you want to do.

Mar 20, 19 1:50 pm
Anon_grad2.0

I really hope you’re kidding with this comment. The school puts out a report of students/alumni and where they are working. Pretty much all across the country and lots of people oversees at places like BIG, Snohetta, etc.

Mugfish

Incoming PennDesign MLA here! Obviously finance is a huge and personal factor, and that may be the deciding factor for you. Since you won’t be able to visit, though, I’m happy to give you my impressions of UPenn and its surroundings (from a slightly different lens given different degrees). I’m coming in with no formal design training and have worked in Philly for the past 3 years, also not in a directly related field. 


Of all the schools I applied to, Penn seemed to be the most diverse in terms of background and the most welcoming to those with less linear paths or who’ve been out of school for a bit. I love how interdisciplinary their programs are - at least for MLA, you have plenty of room in your degree to take electives and earn an additional certificate in a host of different things. To me this is a major perk and allows you to individualize your education in a way that seems pretty unique across schools. At the open house, the faculty was very accessible and a number of professors joined us for lunch - they were all delightful and seemed to be close with the students who also joined us, which was important to me. It goes without saying that they’re world-class, too.


I also agree that Penn is super welcoming, and since I live in Philly now I’ve had the chance to get down there a fair bit both before and after being admitted. The building (Meyerson Hall) is ugly and old but looks out at a beautiful Frank Furness building, which is a consolation prize I suppose. It’s well-situated on the edge of campus closest to downtown Philly, and it has a nice plaza where happy hour is held for the whole Design school every Friday. So, ugly building, nice surroundings and community. Studio space is somewhat cramped, but the fabrication lab is excellent as are the people who work there. 


As far as job prospects, Penn graduates can go everywhere, as far as I know (at least in landscape). It won’t be the limiting factor, at least.


Philly is a great city and affordable to boot, provided you can stand the humidity in the summer!  Plenty to do, and you can walk most everywhere. Transit is fine, especially to the Penn area, and very easy to get to NYC/DC and the rest of the east coast. We’ve got a trash problem and a bit of crime, but don’t let that scare you off - PennDesign’s dean actually left UT Austin to take his current position citing campus carry laws as a reason, so at least we don’t have that! Philly is also the city that got me interested in designing public spaces, and there’s (IMO) no place I’d rather be studying Landscape/arch/urban design. 


Penn did give me the most money of the schools I applied to, but I might have chosen them regardless. The rigorous curriculum paired with flexibility, incredible faculty, and international studios made it the best choice for my interests, and the openness and welcoming attitude of everyone I’ve met there has been icing on the cake. Hope this helps you make a decision!

Mar 20, 19 7:22 pm
dharmikshah

I have few questions and would be really helpful if you guys replied to this. I have got an accept from Upenn but then got a reject because of my GPA not satisfying the basic needs. I am a recent passed out architect and have applied to MLA programs. I want to ask which is a better uni for MLA ? Austin texas or UIUC? I even wanted to ask if I stayed back for a year in india and applied with only 6 month work ex can I get into big uni which will cover up my GPA? Please help.

dharmikshah

I have few questions and would be really helpful if you guys replied to this. I have got an accept from Upenn but then got a reject because of my GPA not satisfying the basic needs. I am a recent passed out architect and have applied to MLA programs. I want to ask which is a better uni for MLA ? Austin texas or UIUC? I even wanted to ask if I stayed back for a year in india and applied with only 6 month work ex can I get into big uni which will cover up my GPA? Please help.

Mar 21, 19 1:35 am
Nush@0511

@Mugfish Thank you so much for your response. Definitely helps me get more clarity in terms of UPenn and the city.

@btryarcho More than the location I'm particular about the kind of work. I'm hoping the University and the network of professors in the program will help me get there. But it would be great to hear from an experienced person what the probability is with respect to these three colleges since job prospects depend on a lot of factors. Thank you for your input. 

Mar 21, 19 8:49 am
kristenyoung

Nush@0511 I am a recent graduate of the M. Arch 1 program at UCLA. If you any questions specifically about UCLA, message me and I can do my best to provide you with some answers :)

Mar 21, 19 5:44 pm
Nush@0511

@kristenyoung Sure, that would be great! Thank you.

Anyone who has had any experience with these three universities and/or the programs, please feel free to drop your input! Appreciate it!

Mar 23, 19 7:31 am

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