To M.Arch or Not?


Hi guys,

(TL;DR at the bottom)

I know this type of thread is super common, but I'd love some input on my situation. So I'm currently a college student at a top 30 university in a major east coast city studying economics. I've always loved design, and in high school I did a summer arch program at SAIC. I did pretty well, and did enjoy it. In HS also, the art and design teachers saw something in me that was unique and encouraged me to follow arch. As high school was finishing up though, reality hit and I did not see myself having a "successful" (i.e. money, lux life) life from getting an arch degree, so I stopped all of that and decided to go into something more stable, economics/business, and then go into consulting, accounting, etc (think Deloitte or KPMG). My parents also kind-of pushed me towards this. Now, more than half way done with my economics degree I'm starting to think that maybe this isnt for me. I'm not the best "fine artist", but I've always had a passion for design and aesthetics, plus I have an analytical mind that thinks spatially so architecture truly was a good fit.

So, my question getting an M.Arch degree worth it? I will not have any debt from college thankfully because of my parents, but any masters degree I get I would have to incur debt. Prior to this I was going to go work in professional business services and then get my MBA at 30, but that's starting to be shaky. I'm taking a printmaking class this summer at my university just to start preparing a portfolio, in case I choose this path.

I'd love to hear experiences of people who started out in something different, and ended up getting a M.Arch. Was it worth it? Would you recommend someone to go down the path of architecture?

TL;DR - Always have loved design and arch, so I took a summer program at SAIC during high school. I did well but reality about the industry hit and I'm now more than half way done with an economics degree at a top 30 university. Would you recommend getting an M.Arch degree? I will have no debt from undergrad, but will have to incur debt for a masters. If you were in a position where you started outside of arch and then went into it, I'd love to hear your experience.


Apr 18, 19 9:53 pm

Nothing about the architecture profession has changed since you made your last choice, so what's changed in your life that you want to forego the luxury and money?

Are you at a target school? You can try and find a job at a BB and start saving, then either go into a MRED or transition into REPE or a development firm like Tishmen, Related etc. You'll be making a lot more money than architects while still working on the built environment.

Apr 19, 19 4:18 am

Similar to what said, there are also consulting firms that focus on the built environment (if the consulting idea still hold any appeal). I have been working at one of these for the last 3 years and it has been an awesome way to see different roles within the industry. The pay isn't as good as Deloitte but you also aren't spending most of your time on the road. And it still pays a hell of a lot better than architecture (at least after the first year or two). I am still planning to leave it for architecture this year or next, but it was a great experience nonetheless. Shoot me a DM if you're interested--I don't want to say too many specifics about the company here.

Apr 19, 19 11:07 am
atelier nobody

If you want to become an architect, but are already too far into another major to go back and get a B.Arch, then the M.Arch is your best path. Depending on where you are, there may be other paths, but as someone who took an "alternative" path, I can tell you that getting an accredited degree is definitely the easy way.

Apr 19, 19 2:24 pm

Do Real Estate Development, it will scratch your creative built environment itch and provide you with enough money to live, while not having to go through ridiculous education and licensing to be a pencil for the developer anyway.  My wife did a RED grad degree I did an M.arch - she makes 3x more and has more design input because they hold the gold.

Apr 19, 19 8:44 pm

Any advice on transitioning from Architecture to RE Development for someone who already has a M.Arch?

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