Admitted to 5 MArch Programs



I am finished up my final year of undergraduate design studies and have been admitted into every school I applied to for Masters in Architecture. This has left me in a position in which I have to make a difficult decision. I admit that this is a phenomenal problem to have and I never could have imagined that I would find myself in this boat. I thought I would ask the opinions of this forum, because letting a crowd strangers influence major life decisions is always wise. ☺ Here is the list:

  • University of Toronto Daniels ($)
  • Sci-Arc
  • Columbia GSAPP ($$$)
  • Harvard GSD
  • Yale SOA

I currently am leaning heavily towards either GSD or GSAPP. Harvard has the reputation and a seemingly unmatched opportunity to network with some really influential people. However, as of right now they have offered no financial aid and their program is a semester longer. But Columbia is also a very strong and prestigious school, and also is in New York. I would love to live there. They also have offered a solid amount of aid and have a shorter program. I am super conflicted because it seems crazy to me to pass up Harvard (have been dreaming of going there for years) but Columbia has so much to offer. What's your vote?

Mar 17, 20 4:58 am


Mar 17, 20 5:56 am

When GSAPP gives you $$$, take it. But sounds like you REALLY want to go to GSD, if that's the case, then GSD. GSAPP is ranked #2, second only to GSD. Either way you would get a great education.

Mar 17, 20 6:11 am
Non Sequitur

take the money. 

Mar 17, 20 6:13 am

It's honestly your decision, but you've asked the internet.  If you're talking about the difference between $5000, then choose your preference.  Any more than that and I'd say money has to come into your decision.  Definitely take a $25,000 savings, considering that'll be half your annual salary when you finally get out.  Oh and the GSD is an extra semester how much is GSD a semester added to the $12,500 you're throwing away by not being able to work those 3 months.

TL:DR The extra semester at GSD alone makes it not worth it.

Mar 17, 20 6:33 am
Chad Miller

I'd go for the program that is offering you the most finical assistance and would reduce the amount student loan debt.  Even with an ivy league education your starting salary for an architectural intern will only be in the $38K range (depending on location).  

Mar 17, 20 12:51 pm

Its in the $60K - $70K range for M.Arch grads unless one goes to a starchitect sweatshop.


Maybe 60-70k in NYC/LA/SF, which is 38k everywhere else.


Really? That's the same pay as a B.Arch grad. Surely it can't be that low unless you're working for a academic architect without real commissions. The majority of grads in the schools Op listed tend to work in NYC/LA/SF/Boston/Chicago anyway.


I'm saying that due to the high cost of living in those cities, even if places like Gensler/SOM are offering 70K to M.Arch grads, it would have the same purchasing power as 38k would have in Houston or Dallas working for the same firms in the same position. Just because they're getting paid that much in those cities, doesn't mean they're getting paid more overall.


Fair point. The last time GSD did a salary survey, the range was $55k to $140k, with median $62k if I remember correctly. The outlier went to work for a tech company.

Chad Miller

As I said in my OP it's dependent on location. For example in the Denver area starting salary is around $38K. Regardless if you have a M.Arch or a B.Arch.

On a side note, I don't know of any employer that cares if you have a M.Arch instead of a B.Arch as long as you have an accredited degree and are on a path to getting your license.  The only thing an M.Arch allows you to do that a B.Arch doesn't is teach at the college level.


Wow does $38K go a long way in Denver - Its one of the faster growing job markets in the US now isn't it? I've heard of a major corporate firm offering that amount to B.Arch grads and about $20K more for M.Arch grads but that's in NYC.

Chad Miller

Yeah, NYC is rather egotistical. Giving a M.Arch $20K more for the same education as a 5 year B.Arch is just silly. Oh and $38K goes no where in Denver. You have people with ten years experience in architecture needing to get several roommates and still paying $1,500 rent each for a bedroom in a 3 bed, 2 bath home. That's why I live in Grand Junction, CO. A bit more redneck but way less expensive and there is no traffic .


I would take the money if I were you

Mar 18, 20 8:29 pm

Hey Blasé. Follow the money, not just because of the obvious savings value but also because when a school like Columbia offers you $$$ (and I mentioned this today in the M.Arch 2020 thread) it means they actually want YOU. They see you fitting in with what they're about. If a school doesn't show you the money but admits you, yes, they see your potential, but it makes me think they've admitted me to fill the places of the students who decline their admissions offer and have me pay tuition for the ones they really wanted there. 

For example, I really loved the idea at first of attending SCI-Arc and was honored to get accepted but they didn't offer any $ (though I did get waitlisted for scholarship funds, something I hadn't heard of), but UCLA surprised me with a full-ride Fellowship and is considering me for a stipend. UCLA showed up with $$$$. This is their way of saying they really want me to be part of their program and what they're about. It's a HUGE compliment – one that GSAPP has given you and GSD did not. 

Having said that, you could always go back to GSD and find a very respectful and compelling way to appeal, and ask them to match or beat GSAPP's offer because XYZ reasons you can ONLY accomplish your goals at GSD. Just my opinion. Both are amazing programs! and New York kicks Boston's ass as a place to study architecture any day ;) 


Mar 18, 20 10:09 pm

This. This perspective has completely changed the way I am looking at things. Thank you. I am trying to negotiate with GSD as we speak, but with all this COVID-19 stuff going on response times are slow. I'm likely to follow the money in the end.


Wow, thank you so much for weighing in so far. I am starting to lean a little bit harder towards Columbia. However in my time of quarantine I plan to make an objective spreadsheet balancing cost of living, program length, tuition, and the scholarships money offered so that I can see what the cost difference truly is. I also am going to do all the virtual open houses to see how I feel after that. I’ve respectfully appealed for financial aid at GSD, so maybe they will offer something more but I have heard that they are pretty difficult to sway. These comments are super helpful - I love hearing different points of view that I haven’t considered. 

Mar 18, 20 11:11 pm
Chad Miller

I'm glad this was helpful. Sounds like you have a good process to figure this out. Good luck!


Update: YSOA just offered even more funding than Columbia did. I’m thinking of seeing if the other ivy’s will match or surpass.

Mar 19, 20 11:14 am

Fantastic! Another amazing program!


First off: congratulations, you talented person. 

As a practicing architect making peanuts and from a middle-class family, I personally agree with the previous posts suggesting to follow the money.

At the same time, one cannot deny the allure of an Harvard education; and I'm unsure about the strength of the GSAPP program. Based on the people I know who are currently studying there (from my undergrad school), Columbia has a reputation for taking anybody in as long as they show up with the $$ [this doesn't apply to you since they're rolling out the red carpet for you -- but would you really want to be surrounded by mediocre rich kids?] And AFAIK, this is a recent (last ~5 years) development wherein they've really ramped up the international student intake.

I saw your update and had to comment: I think GSD>YSOA>GSAPP, again based on people I personally know who've studied/ are studying in those programs.

Disclaimer: please don't bash my Columbia shit-talking, this is an internet rando voicing his opinion based on his life experiences.

Mar 19, 20 5:53 pm

Well now I'm curious, can you post the portfolio that garnered so much attention from the ivies?

Mar 20, 20 9:56 am

I just emailed it to you! I'm not keen on posting it publicly just for privacy reasons.


Could I have a look at it too? thank you :)


Other posters have touched on it, but the only thing you are getting from Harvard that you aren't at the others is the name recognition. 

I work at a fairly prestigious firm and whether someone attended Harvard or any other Ivy has almost no bearing on if they are a good designer or architect. 

That said the Colombia grads In our office stick out in my mind as generally better architects and more valuable team members than the Yale and Harvard people. Yale better than Harvard though. 

Sci Arc is kind of a wildcard - are you really interested in computation and digital fabrication?

Mar 20, 20 10:06 am


I went through a SCI-Arc phase. A representative came to my school last year to schmooze us undergrad design students, and it worked. I am interested in how adventurous and non-conventional they are, but it's way too expensive of a school for me.


I would take the Yale offer and be done with it.   The recent Harvard grads I have worked with have been a very mixed bag, so much that I question what they are teaching there.  

Mar 20, 20 10:18 am

I agree, u should post and share ur portfolio to show us how talented u are to get so much offer from all these schools! 

I mean, if u can send to all these schools it will not be of any disadvantageous to u by show casin' it to us :) Since u already got accepted right? :P
Thanks u in-advance! <3

Mar 20, 20 11:46 am



mind sending it to me too?


Remember to take CAD to USD into account...even with the scholarships you're getting.  If you're still looking at $15k USD out of pocket a year...that's $21.5k CAD at the moment...

Mar 20, 20 11:55 am

Hey Blasé, congrats on all of your acceptances! 

Would you mind posting your portfolio? I would love to see the type of work YSoA and GSD admire! 


Mar 20, 20 11:48 pm

I also got in GSAPP and am leaning towards it, but that's because I didn't get into Yale. Whelp. if you do decide on going, hit me up :)

Mar 21, 20 12:16 am

I'll definitely reach out once I make a decision. Congrats on admissions to GSAPP. Sorry about YSOA, but it must mean that you'll fit in better at Columbia. Potentially will see you there! :)

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