Transferring into Columbia GSAPP from Pratt?


Hey everyone,

So, I just finished up my undergraduate degree in May (B.S. in community development) with a GPA of 3.9/4.0 and am planning to pursue architecture in graduate school!

Unfortunately, I couldn't take the "Intro to Architecture" course at Columbia this summer because I had already accepted an internship abroad before deciding to change my career path. 

Originally, I was planning to live at my parents home for the next year or two to get some experience in the field, save some money, nail down my GRE scores, take the "Intro to Arch" summer course, and perfect my portfolio before applying to Columbia and Pratt (and maybe Cornell, where I'm a legacy) next fall.

However, since returning to the States, I've been really eager to get my professional career started, so I'm planning to apply to Pratt this fall instead.

I did take AP Art in high school and got a 4, but I haven't taken any art classes since then. So, I don't have any background in architecture (although I did take a few planning classes in college) and my portfolio is seriously underdeveloped compared to the others I've seen posted on this website.

Basically, I figure that my chances of getting into Columbia this year are rather slim, so I'm planning to only apply to Pratt this fall instead (as I've previously mentioned)-- which I'm genuinely really excited about! Realistically, I think Pratt might be a better fit for me anyway.

That being said, I have dreamed of going to Columbia for the past four years and I'm not sure I'm ready to give up on it yet. So, if I get into Pratt, I might consider transferring into Columbia. 

In this scenario, I would consider taking the summer course before my first year at Pratt and applying to Columbia during the fall/winter of 2020, as I would hope that my portfolio would be significantly improved by that point.

Does this hypothetical plan make any sense? Would transferring into Columbia decrease my chances of getting in? 

Also, I'm very new to Archinect-- this is my first ever post, so I apologize ahead of time if I'm using this platform improperly!

Sep 4, 19 12:44 pm

If you are dead set on GSAPP, I would not substitute out 1 of the 3 years for a year at Pratt. You want the education and experience of GSAPP or do you crave the name? Don't treat grad school like undergrad (community college, then move to the "big name" school). Grad school is an expensive commitment and if you have analyzed the things that you want to achieve/learn/experience and those things are more likely to occur at one place over another...don't dilute (delude) yourself. 

I'm not sure about the transfer process, but I would imagine it's not straightforward and you'd lose time adjusting. 

Also, don't compare yourself to people that willingly post their work on this forum or others. It's like instagram in that you are only seeing the best (or worst) of a very small slice of the population. You'll end up over-valuing the style and content of such portfolios, to the detriment of your own. If you have a portfolio worthy of grad school, then submit to the grad school that you'd like to attend. Genuine interest and aspiration trumps a dolled-up portfolio any day.

Sep 4, 19 1:57 pm  · 

Yes, transferring from Pratt (or anywhere) will decrease your chances of getting in. The number of people accepted as transfers is much smaller than the number accepted directly into first year - and the number of transfer spots available depends on other students dropping out or taking leaves of absence.  That's unpredictable at best, and some years there have been no spots at all when enrollment has happened to be higher than projected. 

Your chances are almost certainly stronger if you apply as a first-year without an architecture background than if you try to transfer after a year elsewhere.  As someone without an architecture background your portfolio just needs to demonstrate original thinking and some design process, and strong interest in some type of visual arts (doesn't have to be directly architecture-related).  But as a transfer your portfolio needs to demonstrate full mastery of first-year-level M.Arch work - and it would have to be way above average to get a transfer spot - and you'd have to somehow have found time to complete that portfolio of first-year work when you're actually only partway into your academic year, and while excelling in your work at Pratt.  All of that would make it an unlikely feat.

Sep 4, 19 3:32 pm  · 

Really helpful! Thank you both for your thoughtful responses :-)

Sep 5, 19 8:41 am  · 

You should also understand that there isn't really such a thing as a "transfer" into GSAPP's M.Arch.  If you spend a year somewhere else, then what you'd be doing is applying as a new M.Arch student, but as one with advanced standing.  The % admitted by that route is indeed extremely low, and sometimes zero - and on top of that you won't necessarily get transfer credit or a waiver for everything that you took in another university's M.Arch program.  Sometimes it's possible to switch from one university to another and not end up spending more time overall on your graduate degree - but a lot of times it's not.  Transferring is much less common at the graduate level than it is for undergrads, and graduate programs aren't as used to dealing with that, or as invested in making it go smoothly.

Sep 5, 19 2:03 pm  · 

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