M.Arch I Advice


I am a recent college grad with an interest in pursuing m.arch 1. I would really appreciate some practical honest advice for applying to grad schools. Please refrain from responding if you simply want to scare me away from architecture :) 

I have a bachelors in art history, which to my understanding is fairly common amongst m.arch 1 applicants. I have taken many studio art courses in college (drawing, painting, printmaking digital design etc). A basic question I have is many m.arch 1 programs require architecture history and physics at the college level, how might I go about fulfilling these requirements once graduated? community college? Enrolling for a single course at state school without credit? Would be helpful if anyone who pursued M.Arch 1 had advice on how they fulfilled certain requirements before starting grad school. 

Ideally, I would have wanted to do design discovery or one of the summer architecture programs this year but covid has changed my plans. I definitely do not want to be naive before investing time and money into an m.arch. Was looking to those programs in order to decide if architecture was something I should pursue further. In the mean time, any suggestions for literature on architecture/design history I should read as a beginner? 

Finally, I have been looking into the Los Angeles Institute of Architecture & Design (LAIAD) Grad Prep program. As someone without previous design experience, this program seems quite useful. Maybe even for simply figuring out whether architecture is my path? Anyways, if anyone has opinions or testimonies about this program, that would be very useful! 

Thank you for reading all of this! Any general advice on applying for m.arch 1, especially from those who pursued with a non-design background, would be greatly appreciated ! 

May 22, 20 8:50 pm

Hey I hope you do go into architecture . Regarding design discover or summer arch programs and since you mentioned LA I would suggest Sci Arc's program. (Even though they are very different from the usual norm they will focus on the technology side a lot which IMO as the profession evolves will be very technology driven.)  

So if you want a bridge course I would suggest looking into Sci Arc's program . 

Secondly if you do end up picking to go into architecture, then you would need how to draw and brush up on basic trig / and math as that would be your bread and butter for the first year courses regarding structure. Also brush up if you can in photoshop or photo editing software and Indesign. Since you will need a portfolio while applying . 

Yes several schools do require Physics and Math but its not all schools . You could fullfill them from anywhere *even online (this was before pandemic) and I am sure even now you could do that. Regardless personally architecture math isn't that bad specially now .

Good luck on your journey.

Graduated 4 years ago from Pratt (accepted at Sci Arc) and currently employed at corporate firm, so that is all the honest info I can give you :).

May 23, 20 1:23 am  · 

All of this sounds great. You clearly understand the right steps to take before applying to architecture schools.

For the pre-required courses on architectural history and physics, yes, you can take them at a community college. You could also enroll for a specific course at a state school, but make sure that it’s for credit so that you receive a final grade. Architecture schools want to see proof that you mastered the course content.

Career discovery or design discovery programs are a useful way to explore how much you like architecture and if it’s the right path for you. I haven’t heard anything about the LAIAD program, so I can’t weigh in on it. 

Here are three good introductory books: Francis Ching’s Form, Space, and Order, Reinier de Graaf’s Four Walls and a Roof, and Jean-Louis Cohen’s The Future of Architecture since 1889.

Best of luck!

May 23, 20 8:37 am  · 
2  · 

What Etien said. 

You can do gen ed classes at a community college. The key is to make sure that they transfer before you take them. You really need to figure out which program(s) you would want to go into and make sure you can get transferable credits.... it's very possible though, I did it for most of my gen ed classes in undergrad. Though I ended up taking physics at the arch school. 

You will almost certainly need to take physics, and if not you will still end up taking structures, which is just applied physics anyway... 

One point of concern though. Many master's programs are less accommodating of credit dodging. Since you have an art degree it might be a good way to make up classes you were short, but if you're actually trying to get out of things that are standard with their program, many schools will not let you, or will at least make you make up the credit.... they like the money. 

As a side note.... 

While M.Arch 1 is a fairly common name for the degree, there is not any protection on what that title means. 

A 3-3.5 year first accredited degree (often MArch1) is for people WITHOUT architecture backgrounds. A 1.5-2 year first accredited degree (often MArch 2) is typically for people WITH architecture backgrounds. The difference is that the longer degree is inclusive of prep type classes. So it's not necessarily a bad idea to do a prep program (especially if it's a good price point), but you don't need to. 

May 26, 20 2:22 am  · 
1  · 

Hey! I'm the co-director of the LAIAD. I'm happy to answer any questions you may have about our program. We are about 50% grad prep students (like you) and about 50% undergrad. We start with students with no design background so we don't have any prerequisites and you can get started quickly. 

We do have a very high success rate for our students at getting scholarship money and getting into MArch programs. In a way that's secondary. The primary question we'll help you answer is if you like it and is architecture really something you want to continue to do. Our program is very hard but very rewarding (we think). As aways, we recommend looking at all your options - you are welcome to check us out. Our physical space is in Koreatown, but we are happy to have a virtual meeting with you or we can answer any questions via phone or email. 

Good luck. 

Carl (

May 26, 20 4:12 am  · 
1  · 

Hey,  I would totally recommend LAIAD.  I took their grad-type studio for 6 months, while taking my GRE and it was really what got me into my MArch program (and ready for it!).  

I took the Career Disco at Harvard before, but I did not find it nearly as encompassing and tailored as LAIAD.  Hope this helps!

Jun 13, 20 10:45 pm  · 
1  · 

The best career discovery would be to spend some time in the offices of several different architects to get some insights into the day-to-day practice of the profession. Harvard's career disco is a fundraiser for the school, if you don't have money to burn, don't do it.   Physics at a community college (if the credit will transfer) is a great idea, but I don't know why you would want to do architectural history that way.

Jun 14, 20 12:21 am  · 

Good points, thisisnotmyname. GSD Career Discovery is expensive and the quality of teaching there is uneven, though it has helped some people realize whether or not they want to go into architecture. About architectural history courses before applying: some M.Arch. 1 programs require applicants to have already taken one of two semesters of architectural history surveys. It doesn’t exempt the applicants
from taking the required architectural history courses in the program. They just want you to have that general background knowledge.

Jun 14, 20 7:54 am  · 

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