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M.Arch Graduates/Students with Non-Design Backgrounds- How was your experience?

n()z

I'll be applying for M.Arch programs next year with a liberal arts background. I've done most of my design work outside of class, using InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop as primary tools. I'm working on refining my drawing skills at the moment. I'm also working on designing small pieces of furniture (might not look too cool, but I'll make sure to document the process) just to add some hands-on work to my portfolio. I've read a ton of threads on how to prep a portfolio without any strict design background, so I'm not too worried about it, but I really want to hear from those who have recently completed their M.Arch without any design background or those still in school.

Tell me about your non-design background, and what made you want to pursue Architecture.  What school did you end up attending? How was/is the workload? Did you find it difficult to "catch up"? Were people/professors in your program generally accepting of your non-design background? 

Also, did any of you work while going to school? Is it doable?

While I'm definitely excited and determined to learn, but sometimes I find myself looking at portfolios from those with Arch backgrounds and I feel intimidated. I like to remind myself that I will be going to school to learn the craft. Did any of you feel this way? Any insight would be helpful. I'd love to hear about your experiences. 

I'll be applying to schools based in Los Angeles: USC, UCLA, SCI-Arc, Cal Poly Pomona (not really LA but still). Any recent grads from these schools? What's the ~vibe~? I'd love to hear your take.

 
May 6, 20 9:31 pm
RValu100

Well in general the workload was obscene. Most "elite" architecture schools still subscribe to the idea that students are supposed to sleep maybe a max of 4 hours a day. The result is you get accustomed to working for free, which is what is expected after you graduate. 

May 13, 20 4:36 pm  · 
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ArchiFoxy1492

More than likely you'll  have to enroll in 3 year Masters of Architecture program. The 1st year will be grueling since you're  essentially trying to catch up and get used to the work load.

May 13, 20 8:03 pm  · 
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archeyarch

make the best of whichever program you go to, it'll go by fast. aside from school, you may develop second thoughts about the profession, explore your options.

May 16, 20 4:44 pm  · 
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Crosshatch

Hi! Current student in a 3 yr program from a non architecture background here. I think most from non arch backgrounds have similar insecurities about the portfolio and... 'catching up'.  However, in my experience, architecture likes to think of itself as a generalist, so know that your non - architecture background is, in fact, something of value to these programs. Use that to your advantage.


The schools you list are exactly all the ones I applied to, and they each have a different flavor.  If you get the chance, talk directly to students. Ask them to show you what projects they are working on for studio and doing in other classes, as that will give you some idea of what is being taught... Rather than all the handpicked promotional material. I was accepted at 3/4 so feel free to send me a DM, and I'd be happy to talk about where I chose to go. 


While I don't want to scare you off from something you have set your mind to, it would be remiss of me to not agree with the evaluation of the workload.  As a student...already having had another demanding career... It often feels like the architecture has been allowed to be unreasonable when it comes to its own people, in an almost desperate attempt to generate evidence to prove its own worth to itself. At present it lacks the ability to recognize the humanness of the people struggling within it. In doing so, it has passed over large swaths of people that are sorely needed in a profession that claims to be at the service of humanity. 

Sep 15, 20 1:14 am  · 
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Jay1122

"It often feels like the architecture has been allowed to be unreasonable when it comes to its own people, in an almost desperate attempt to generate evidence to prove its own worth to itself. At present it lacks the ability to recognize the humanness of the people struggling within it. In doing so, it has passed over large swaths of people that are sorely needed in a profession that claims to be at the service of humanity. " Am i understanding this correctly? You think the course loads are too cruel because they want to show off architecture design so it made a bunch of people needed in the profession quit? is that what you are saying? Should just use some dumb plain English like me.Oh, BTW if you ask me. Those workloads are nothing if you want to have a real shot at the profession.I do not recommend doing all nighter, not efficient because you barely focus when you are tired.But spend all your typical college fun time/weekends in studio. 50% graduating won't get a job in the field. Only 5-10% will get a chance as slave interns at the high design firms. Less than 1% will get to design actual innovative buildings later. So trying to put your life down during school and cut to the front line is absolutely necessary. In a matter of few years you have to learn, space and site planning(basic design skill, not even the full yet), 3D modeling programs(Rhino,sketchup,3DSMax), Production programs(CAD,Revit), proper architectural graphic(Lineweights,symbols,etc), presentation graphics(diagrams, presentation boards), graphic programs(Adobe suite), Rendering. And preferably basic knowledge of codes, typical construction material and methodology. These are just beginner stuff for you to cut your peers and show your potential at the intern spot. My advice to people entering architecture school? just change major if you are not into architecture like a zealot.

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Crosshatch

Exhibit A.  Failure to imagine any possible scenario where a student from a privileged background would have the advantage over another.  

Sep 15, 20 5:07 pm  · 
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Jay1122

I hope your "privilege" and fancy talk will save you from doing egress stair details/diagrams and making 40-50K starting salary. Don't want to see you get your dream crushed.Let me know how far your "service of humanity" goes after you enter the field assuming you can make it.

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Crosshatch

Will do Jay1122.  

Sep 15, 20 5:45 pm  · 
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Jay1122

Hey since you are so smart(pretentious), use proper reply function. Also, where is your architecture thesis, someone like you should have one. Let us fools have some enlightenment.

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