Deciding between UofT MArch or BEng


Hi all,

I recently finished my Bachelor's of Information Technology, Game Development and Entrepreneurship from Ontario Tech University and was looking to switch career paths as I don't really feel like Game Development is for me. I realized that it wasn't for me while in my studies but ended up sticking with it which I now regret. 

One of the reasons why I chose to stick with it was me realizing that I can apply for the Master of Architecture program at University of Toronto which I did but was rejected unfortunately. This rejection has made me reconsider my future as I am deciding between either pursuing another bachelor's degree in engineering specifically mechanical engineering at York University or giving the architecture another shot and reapplying at U of T's master's after deferring my engineering offer, only using it as backup.

The reason why I have engineering as an option is due to it just seeming like a more natural path for me as I was always good in the maths and enjoyed physics in high school but unfortunately just made the wrong career choice at the time. I remember always taking stuff apart and trying to recreate them or completely new stuff myself after seeing how it they would work. Whereas architecture is something that really caught my interest in a technological design class I had in grade 12 and even more when my family and I built our own custom home where I found the whole process from seeing the 2D drawings to it being built right in front of me very rewarding. Overall, I feel that I may find working as an Architect a bit more rewarding than an Mechanical Design Engineer as I feeling that engineering positions may not always allow me to see my creations come to life due it possibly lacking a bit on the creativity side.

The reason why it's really hard for me is due to me hating my last major including the game design aspect of it. But, I feel that this was due to me just not having passion for games and the desire to work on them. I just feel that I would much rather be working on real life applications opposed to just virtual environments. I am worried that I may be lacking a bit on creativity as I struggled when it came to game design but like I said it can just be due to me not having the passion for the games in the first place.

All that being said, the decision is even harder as the high school preqrequistes for engineering expire after five years meaning if I were to do architecture next fall but realize that it isn't for me, I wouldn't be able to switch over to engineering unless I were to retake some of the grade 12 preqrequistes (Physics, Calculus, Advanced Functions) which I would really prefer not to. Another thing making this harder is due to my only option for architecture being U of T as I am not willing to move to another province for it due to family matters.

To summarize my options,

Option 1) I can do engineering this fall and depending on how I find my first year, work on my portfolio next summer and reapply for Fall 2021. By then, I would have likely completed my first two years of engineering so would have to leave that. The benefit of this option is that I would avoid needing to retake any engineering prerequisites should want to complete it in the future as I would have 1-2 years of it already completed. But, the downside may be U of T looking at this negativity in a way if I reapply showing that I left the program.

Option 2) I can defer my engineering offer and reapply for the architecture master's at U of T, using the deferred engineering offer as back up should I get rejected from U of T again. Again, the only downside to this is the possibility of needing to retake engineering prerequisites should I ever choose to study it in the future after two years.

In terms of my questions,

1) What improvements can I make to my portfolio based on what you think of my last submitted portfolio that ended up getting rejected? 

This is a really challenging for me as I don't have an architecture background and don't really know any graduates from U of T that got in and went through the program without an architecture background. Seeing portfolios from those sort of graduates would really help me. Another issue is that I don't have too much "game design" stuff aside from screenshots of games that I have worked on with groups as I have mainly worked as the 3D Artist of all my projects and not really as the Game Designer.

Here is a link to U of T's portfolio requirements:


But, they basically say the following:

"For those applying without previous design or background:
The portfolio should contain evidence of creative potential in other fields, and/ or creative projects pursued independently."

2) Do you think four months should be a good amount of time for me to get a sufficient enough portfolio for admission to U of T? I feel that if it is not enough time then I should just do engineering for now and consider architecture another time to avoid losing out on engineering due to the expiring prerequisites for it.

For reference, my last one took me around a month to piece together and assemble but most of the projects were already complete so I was mainly focusing to getting everything together. Although I am currently free, I may work a job soon depending on if I get one which may limit my time a bit. 

Here is the portfolio link:

Here is my online portfolio website that has more of my recent work:

From this I was planning on potentially using the Petro Canada model, Cineplex model, and one or two of the video game projects (Roboat Racing, Bustle) on my next portfolio should I choose to reapply.

Sorry if this sounds like a lot to read but I just felt that I needed to fully explain my situation to get better advice. Any help would be greatly appreciated especially from those to got in the and went through the MArch program at U of T that had no architecture background like myself.

I would really appreciate it if someone could back to me soon as I only have like a couple more days before I need to decide whether I will be deferring my engineering offer or not.

Thanks in advance!

Aug 27, 19 1:43 pm
Non Sequitur

There is a lot here to piece apart... but let me start by saying that even with UofT's 3y M.arch reasonably low-bar of entry, I can totally understand why that folio would not get you in.  

A portfolio for M.arch needs to show that you have a good understanding of the basics of design (light, shadow, scale, proportion, etc) as well as demonstrate your creative thought process and / or problem solving.  Slapping together 3D renderings of mundane common objects and simplistic game characters will not take you very far.  

You will need to reevaluate your approach to design if you want a chance at admittance into an architecture program.

Aug 27, 19 2:33 pm

Thanks for commenting and yeah U totally agree that I would need to substantially improve my portfolio to get in. But, I am just not exactly sure how I would go about it aside from adding some process work, using much better renders after messing around with lighting and stuff, and possibly trying to compete in some design competitions from which I can use my submissions, all in the four months time frame should I decide to reapply for next fall.
Also, could you clarify what you mean by "low-bar of entry" as I believe UofT's MArch is highly competitive to get into compared to others across Canada.



Non Sequitur

UofT is the default school (and perhaps largest) for most eastern canadians and it attracts many international applicants mainly due to it's location (ie. toronto). Its M.arch is meh compared to the top 2 schools (Waterloo and McGill) but the main reason why UofT gets a bad rep is because they fill their classes with their own bottom-of-the-barrel general arts degree undergrad students. This lowers the quality of the student pool drastically. Still has some decent work come out of the school, but their is greater mediocrity than places where the bar for entry is higher.

As for your folio... 4 months is likely not enough.  Most spend a few years collecting various artworks and design examples.  You need to consider why you want to get into architecture.  It's not about graphics or 3D renderings.  It's about being able to manage design with the realities of construction and client budgets.  Grad school will teach you this (probably not at UofT tho), but you need to show them that you have the fundamentals of design down.  


Yeah I see what you mean and just be clear, I was only comparing UofT to other master programs that allowed unrelated undergrad students to apply which include UBC and UCalgary.


Also, when I meant four months, I didn't mean that I would create a portfolio from scratch during these four months as I have most of the works or half of them that I was planning on using completed while I was in my Game Development program. Specifically, I was planning on reusing two or just one of the main video game projects that I have worked on over the years in my Game Dev program (Roboat Racing and Bustle) but trying to present them in a different way like including process work opposed to just screenshots and greatly improving the renders after taking more manual control of the lighting for whatever screenshots I do use. The reason why I was considering using both or one of them is due to them best showing my creative potential as they were all my group's ideas that resulted in those final products and UofT requiring those without design backgrounds as myself to demonstrate creative potential in other fields which in my case is Game Dev. Aside from these two video game projects, I was planning on using one or two models that I made when I worked for Toronto Rehabilitation Institute on their DriverLab project (3D Driving Simulator) as a 3D Environment Artist for Game Dev industry work. I worked with them as part of my fourth year capstone where we were required to work with an actual company on top of our studies. The work from this that I was planning on using is the Petro Canada and/or Cineplex model after manually making better use of the lighting before getting the renders. The renders as they currently are can been seen in on my online portfolio that I linked.
So, in a way I have been working on my portfolio for the past four years and am mainly trying to collect my best work out of them and trying to present them in a much better way by trying to also show process work and not just screenshots this time around. Aside from these 2-4 projects, I would be focusing on creating 2-3 more completely new projects that I would try to present as the main projects out of all of the projects.
Taking all if this into account, do you still feel that four months is still not enough?

Non Sequitur

Please remember that from an non-arch background... course specific assignments do not hold the same value as personal pieces. One the first things I remember when I was giving interviews from undergrad admin at waterloo was that once a student says "I did this because my prof said we had to X"... they got a big negative mark on their interview score. Schools want to see independent and creative works. Not a shopping list of your undergrad's homework assignments.




Sorry for the formatting as I tried leaving spaces between the sections but for some reason they just didn't translate in the actual post.


Yeah I see what you mean. I guess one of the mistakes I made in my last portfolio is specifying the video game projects as a academic when they were actually more personal. Although they started off as academic, my group and I continued working on them on our own time and presented our games at various events such as EGLX 2018 to push our products to the public, none of which was involved with the academics.
If I decide to reapply for next fall, I am thinking of classifying them as personal this time around and possibly explain that they started off in an academic setting or maybe just don't mention that.
So, if I were to reuse two or one of these projects and present them differently this time with process work, etc and maybe use just one or two of the models I created for Toronto Rehabilitation Institute as industry work after greatly improving the lighting, this would leave me with needing to create two or three completely new and personal projects.

Non Sequitur

^Knowing what buttons to press in a software to make pretty pictures will NOT get you in. You need to show independent creative work. Anyone can make renderings.


Yeah I see where you are coming from.
So, could possibly give me any examples on what kind of independent creative work I can aim on creating aside from including some process work for the video game projects?
I was thinking of competing in some design competitions if I can in the time I have should I decide to reapply for next fall and using my submissions depending on how good they are as portfolio pieces but am worried that I may be judged much harder in that case since I would be trying architectural related work without any prior education on it.

Non Sequitur

Do not attempt architecture related work if you don't know what you're doing. Applications for programs that allow non-arch students do not expect you to know anything about architecture... so don't try. Focus on something else that you do know, perhaps you're good at life drawings and painting? Maybe you've done some graphic design for logos and whatnot. That helps if you also have copies of the variations your design took prior to its final form.


Yeah I have done some graphic design work, mainly for the 2D video game project that my group and I worked on called Dot, which you may have seen in my portfolio. Specifically, I designed the logo and some of the UI stuff. So, I guess I can try to show a couple variations that I had of the logo and the UI stuff as the logo had a different sort of style for the text-based version of the game compared to the 2D final version as well as the UI that was changed based on feedback that I got for it.
Maybe I can reuse that video game project presenting it differently this time and also showing the graphic design stuff as some of the process work for the bigger project which is the full video game?
Also, you mentioned life drawings which reminded me of a still life drawing that I did in my first year. I was thinking of possibly using depending on feedback.
Here is a link to it:

Non Sequitur

That’s a start, but’s its just one drawing and it’s a very common scene. You’ll need a dozen or so good and unique drawings to show design fundamentals. That’s one way to build up a good foundation for your portfolio.


Thanks for the feedback and what do you think of presenting graphic design stuff such as logos and UI that I made as part of the process work for the bigger projects such as Dot in this case opposed to having them as their own portfolio pieces?


Also, do you still think that having a 3D rendering of models that I have created still not worth it if the scene is off my vision as in me putting seperate models together to make the overall composition my own if that makes sense.

For example, I started a personal project a few weeks ago, creating 3D models and using them to create a 3D visualization sort of thing of how I vision my home's family room as I have decided and am deciding how my custom built home's family room should look by picking designs and ordering a customized sofa set, picking the right coffee table set, rug, blinds, lamps, etc, to what I feel would look best.

Keep in mind that the models I am creating for this scene would be a lot more detailed than the low poly cartoony type models that I have made for the video game projects in my portfolio.

Non Sequitur

I can't follow your logic. I think you really need to take a hard look at what constitutes a portfolio. Also, knowing how to make 3D does not correlate to good architecture portfolio material since little skill is required to make something look convincingly okay.


Sorry, I guess I was just treating this more like an environment artist portfolio than an architecture one.

the portfolio is not to show technical skills. It is nice that you can do some basic modeling and know how to add decals or textures, etc. That could help you to express some of your ideas.

On the other hand there is nothing of you in any of those images, or at least if you are there it is not clear. The portfolio for uni is intended to show everyone what you think about design, how it happens or why it happens. You are't expected to be able to design a building or furniture, but you are expected to express an opinion, and that is not present. All of your images are free of space, of human interaction, and of concept. Without those pieces there is not much to do but count polygons. Being efficient with resources is a useful thing that translates to architecture, and maybe it is something you can even build a few ideas around if you can take a critical stance and show it.

If you plan to pursue architecture you need to know why you want to be there, and express that intent. So far it is hard to say that you have thought about design never mind the design of places, at all.

Based on your background it might be an easier entry to the field if you start with gamer environments and develop and narrative around your thinking on the built world via the virtual one. What does space mean, what does interaction mean, etc. You could even get into the spatiality of surveillance and the impact of virtual communities on the physical world. Will the future be a place of dull buildings and overlays like Rainbow's End (Vernor Vinge), or an entirely separate place  like Ready Player One? 

If you want to be more traditional then begin with looking at masterpieces and see what you can learn from them and what you can show from your analysis. If you want to look at generic and ugly buildings like gas stations and shitty corporate buildings is fine, but then you need to look at 100's of them and generate ideas about their impact. Simply representing them in a generic way in 3D says nothing about their importance in their world and even less about what you think they mean.

U of T is not a bad school as far as I know. We have had a few good students from there work as interns in our office and we were happy with the output. Could be a self selecting set that comes to us, but anyway university is what you make of it not what it makes of you.

best of luck

Aug 31, 19 12:29 am

Thanks a lot for the feedback. I get what you mean by saying that there is nothing of me presented in the portfolio that I am interpreting as there is not much full on design stuff presented or if there is, it is not presented in the best way like for the video game projects.                 

As a result, I am thinking of presenting the main video projects, two of which were used in my linked portfolio (Roboat Racing and Bustle) in a different way by dedicating a page just for process work where I can show the design process for the level designs, logo designs, etc, aside from having a page presenting the finished product with the screenshots and stuff.

I feel like one of the mistakes that I made after going through your feedback and others is that I just focused on presenting the finished product through mainly screenshots of the games. I felt like I should have shown the design process of how the designs such as for the levels shown in the screenshots were made and why they were made, presenting them through concept images. I can try explaining why certain designs worked better for the players resulting in better gaming experiences.

After looking through some of the process work for the game projects that I have worked on, I remembered a storyboard that I worked on as one of the cinematic ideas for the Roboat Racing project. I also made a Leica Reel for it. I was wondering what you thought of me possibly including them as part of the process work for the Roboat Racing project.

Here is a link to the storyboard and other process work:

Here is a link to the Leica Reel:


okay here's the thing non sequitur doesn't want anybody else to be an architect in Canada I can't tell you if you're good at art or not from a video game portfolio because I don't know the technology I would say if you're interested in architecture and you can simply look at a video game and tell if it's going to be a good game or not then architecture is for you and both options I don't know about the laws outside of that are perfect options for architecture

Sep 1, 19 9:30 pm

But Mechanicals not going to have materials architecture is not going to be as good as mechanical civil is too much Highway Etc so here's the thing you should actually go into architecture but do mechanical engineering because you're going to learn about vibrations Advanced thermodynamics Advanced stress and strains materials testing impact loads but you don't have to do this just take physics 1 and materials and methods and learn from books if you know calculus you can do architecture


In mechanical you also learn about fluids you'll probably take a derivative electrical


You'll take Materials Science so you'll be on The Cutting Edge when we get nanotech stress and strain

Non Sequitur

Nothing in the above comments should be considered as intelligent responses.

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