MSAAD at Cornell vs GASPP vs UC Berkeley which is better?


I have been admitted to Cornell GSAPP UC Berkeley M(S)AAD and can't decide where to go yet...

So, I am currently waving between Cornell and GSAPP.
My interest is in computation and digital fabrication and more interested to schools that fits well. (check my portfolio to better understand what I mean.)
But, I don't know much about GSAPP and UC Berkeley in detail because I really though I could get into MIT haha....
Apart from that, I know more about Cornell compared to other programs. I have ssen resarch of Sasa Zivkovic from architectural biennale and Jenny Sabin studio's works seem interesting.

But I am not sure if the Cornell is better choice for some reasons.
1. I have heard that Cornell MSAAD is about 20 people and GSAPP is more than 60 so they have harder chance to get studio they want to attend. However, Cornell shares studio with BArch and the school's fame comes from their BArch program. Is the MSAAD near cashcow or something? 
2. I haven't seen any Professors from Cornell in our country. Most of them are from GSD, GSAPP, UCB. Why do you think so? (I have been asking to my professors but they dont say much about it)
3. Some say that Cornell-Ithca has less internship network compared to GSAPP
4. Expected cost in Cornell is about 100K (got 14K FA) and GSAPP is 130K. The 30K difference almost comes from living expenses. But some say that the living expense would be similar even in Ithaca. Is this true? This would be very important to me because one of the reason why I am more lean to Cornell is financial issue. I really don't want to think in future that I chose Cornell because of money let alone the program.

I was hoping to get in MIT SMarchS computation.
Even though they offered me to add on wait list I think I would not get in.
My hope has gone because I actually also submited for MArch program and they just sent me reject mail.
Well, whatever...

Any good advice would be very helpful.

1. Is Cornell MSAAD neglected over BArch?
2. Is GSAPP or UCB better than Cornell considering career?
3. Is it harder to get internships/jobs on Cornell than GSAPP?
4. Would the living expense in Cornelll not much different from GSAPP?

Mar 20, 20 3:02 pm

I am also currently between Berkeley's MAAD and Cornell's MSAAD choices. Can't help with your decision but I have to say your portfolio looks really great! 

Mar 23, 20 6:58 pm

I would go Cornell


1. wouldn't say neglected but yes

2. Not necessarily, you will be coming out of a top school regardless

3. Yes generally

4. No lol, it would be very different

One last word, I personally wouldn't go to GSAPP for MSAAD, for M.Arch yes, but not for MSAAD.

Mar 23, 20 10:18 pm

Thanks, your comment really helped. Have been asking every architects I could contact in my country and couldn't find one person from Cornell.


Hey, I saw your post on the Hackers website. Did you make a decision?

Mar 28, 20 10:00 am

I'm still waiting for MIT with little hope, but if nothing happens within next week, I would mostly choose Cornell.


What makes you choose Cornell? Financial reason? I got offers from GSAPP and Cornell just like you. I have no idea where to attend but will choose after the virtual open house. If you want, I would like to talk with you more.


Assuming you are still in our country (I suppose you are not..), can you contact me through this email?


do you already have student loan debt/another arch degree? what are you hoping to get out of this masters that you might already have access to?

i would seriously reconsider going 100k into debt for one of these degrees (or ask for more money).. it’s shocking to me how many people are willing to completely ignore financial considerations. nothing will change if you don’t demand something different. 

Mar 28, 20 2:27 pm

Well, maybe I'm stupid. I know I would be better off investing this money on real estate, but i also felt its worth i t. Blame me being foolish.. I'll go hard on my best :)


you're not stupid. you just can't conceptualize right now what it means to pay off 100k+ of student loan debt. i posted something similar recently, but you should make a budget for what you expect to make (probably 50k/year) and your monthly loan payment (1-2k/month). in all reality you'll also most likely just be working at another architecture firm.. is it worth it to pay so much for something you already have access to? you can't sell a degree like you can a house.


I think everything what you said is correct. It's hard to say in words but, why I am kind of desperate to learn in MArch is because most research projects in my portfolio is actually done while I was studying BArch and there were almost no one that has interest on what I was focused into. Certain architect did works on fabrication but mostly limited to surface of the study and aesthetics. Luckily I met my professor and he guided me well. He is my role model. He actually studied from Skylar tibbits in MIT and studied with Sasa Zivkovic and knows in person. From his advice and recommendation, I thought and still thinks studying  MArch would breakthrough some limitation I felt while studying on BArch. Almost everything was self-taught, and I learned from work of these people. Long story ha ha. Maybe I'm now not sure it is good idea to go... since about half  i asked for said "don't go there!" and made me rethink what i am planning to. Nevertheless, I appreciate your thoughtful concerns. It is hard time anyway.


If your heart's really set on MIT why not wait? It's such a heavy investment and you seem kind of iffy about the other options. It's easy to say but in the meantime pursue independent fabrication projects, network, and you might get in the second time around.

You might also think about University of Michigan's fabrication Masters. I'm guessing it's cheaper and it's the school most decked out in equipment and faculty that specialize in the field.

Also, I HEAVILY second squared's comment. 100K is a lot of money, After your Master's there's really no such thing as "fabrication" dedicated practice. Unless you work in a fab shop like Quarra, ConcreteWorks, or Zahner or a stay in academia. Offices have CNC machines and 3D printers, but that's not a full time positions. Not being in debt gives you a lot more freedom to work on what you want, with who you want, in the city you want.

Mar 29, 20 2:14 pm

To answer your questions:

1. I'm guessing yes. Their undergrad is stellar and I haven't met anyone from their Masters.
2. People I've worked with from Cornell have all been great- versatile and sort of "leaders." This is like 3-4 I'm thinking of. At GSAPP (about 10-15) some are strong and some are forgettable. It's your portfolio, skills, and energy that make you an individual.
3. I just reviewed hundreds of portfolios: Cornell's were the most beautiful. GSAPP is a huge program (I'd say a cash cow) and the work skills-wise was good but very generic. Lots of colorful axons and mapping. It's easy to get lost in a big program like that.
4. Are both programs the same duration? An extra year/ semester in NYC is going to be more expensive regardless.

Advice: Wait and work on getting into your dream school. Your work looks good, so just prove to them that's where you want to be. If you must, call GSAPP and ask them to match or beat Cornell's offer. Schools (especially New York) will want to ensure they have tuition coming in next semester.

Mar 29, 20 2:35 pm

Definitely GSAPP

Prime location with a vitalizing program. The GSAPP faculty are generally much younger than Yale, Princeton and Cornell, which is important in the age where digital fabrication is revolutionizing the whole architecture industry. They also have a relative higher ranking comparing with the other two

Mar 29, 20 5:55 pm

Hello, I am late yes but I am also in a huge dilemma between Cornell and Columbia. I am an international applicant. I applied to GSD Cornell and Columbia. Did not get in GSD MArch 2. Right now with my options in place Cornell has provided a 24k aid which seems generous, and with the flexibility and class strength I am partially leaning towards that. But I also have another option to wait out the pandemic and re-apply next year. I have attached my portfolio here so please do give in your suggestions of where I would fit in.

Apr 8, 20 2:24 am

Judging from your portfolio with my negligible speculation, I would say you are more aligned to GSAPP. Cornell is more focused on small scale and making things. You showed interest on large projects from your work. Considering your preference and accessibility to large office in NYC, GSAPP could be better choice.

Block this user

Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

  • ×Search in: