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Australian undergrad applying to master programs in the UK and the US

woo-hoo

Hi folks. I'm an architecture student who just graduated from the University of Melbourne in Australia this June, and received a Bachelor of Design degree with a major in architecture. I'm planning to give a shot at some top-tier schools including UCL and Cambridge in the UK, and Yale, GSD, MIT in the US. (For sure I will also apply to not-so-unreachable but as well amazing schools like Sci-Arc and RCA etc as backups).

I am not too concerned about my portfolio BUT I do worry about my GPA. In my school we call it WAM, which is basically the 100-mark marking system. My design studios are generally doing not bad, most of them (3 subjects) are scored high H1 (which is 80+, in fact I got 85+ for these 3 subjects, one of which received 94), 1 studio is marked 77, one is marked 65 (ooops). But my performance in technical subjects like construction and sustainability-related are not quite as satisfying, majorly because I was too fascinated with architectural theories and fancy renderings and gave no fuk to these same important knowledge. Hence I received Pass (50 - 65) for most of them. So my overall WAM is 76 (H2A).

I am aware that a 76 WAM isn't good enough, but when I attempt to calculate it into 4.0 scale GPA, I got 3.0. I don't know what is the right conversion method so I tried using another method from online, and then I got 3.5. Weird. 

I just checked the website of Cambridge and UCL, and their requirement for admission makes me kinda upset. Cambridge required a four-year honors program with 70% gpa if the undergrad was done in Australia. UCL then requires, as it states: 

  • Bachelor (Honours) degree at Second Class Honours (Upper Division/Division A/Division 1), H2A or 75%
  • Bachelor's degree at High Distinction, 80% or 85% (depending on grade scheme), 7/7, GPA 4.0/4.0 or 8/10

I am not quite familiar with US schools but I do expect they for sure require high gpa too. So, I am dead.....? 

If we are not talking about portfolio, CV, reference and stuff, what is the chance that I will not be screened off from the list in the very initial procedure of admission? I heard schools will eliminate applicants with low gpa in the beginning and then they let the survivors' portfolios be handed over. 

May I ask for some suggestions and information in regards to what the chance is that I will not be screened off, what I can do now to improve my chance of successfully making into portfolio reviewing, and any other things you want to say? It's ok to turn me off and tell me that there's zero chance of getting in. But it would be awesome if anyone can share some experience/stories of their/their friends' application. 

Many thanks!


( PS: just for those who might wonder why I liked these schools, well, each school has something I love. I'm just listing one thing I like about each school. Cambridge -> strong focus on theories, I would love to see myself working in academia in the future, plus their MPhil programs are good for an architect too; UCL-> their programs are quite diverse and cutting-edge, I have a focus on visualisation and architectural cinema so their programs would be relevant and stimulating; Yale-> Attention to form, very "architectural", great for an architect, I was hugely influenced by Mark Foster Gage and I learned the most from works produced at Yale; MIT-> really good facilities, hardcore equipment, plus as I mentioned I have a focus on visualisation, art and digital stuff, I believe it will be an excellent platform for me to expand skills and horizon from my current interest. )

 
Sep 2, 20 1:13 pm
Jay1122

Wheres Columbia, Cornell, UC Berkeley. Who would pay big grad school money for trash school like Sci-arc is beyond me.You can learn your animation software and your Mars design project at home. I personally think ivy league grad schools are easier to get in than under grad(Reduced demand and shorter duration), and post professional master is easier than pre professional master. I feel they are more like a business for money, 50-80K each year. As long as you have an outstanding portfolio, it should not be unattainable. Well i would not know, never applied. Spend 100-200K for a resume name padding is beyond my financial comfort. If you think you can learn something real useful for actual practice, you will only make people laugh. All they do is make you do more studio work. The only thing worth in those top schools is the networking, big name professor and hard working students. They may lead you to a nice job position based on your relationship with them.

Sep 2, 20 4:38 pm  · 
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Jay1122

If you want real advice and help, maybe have critics on your portfolio. What you think is OK may not be OK to people with real experience. Your GPA is set at this point. And i guaranteed you they care more about portfolio than GPA for grad students. Anyway, they have slots allocated for international students, big fat sheep that gets no financial aid.Just get your full funds ready. It is all about how big the candidate pool is right now.

 · 
woo-hoo

Hi Jay, thanks for the reply! I really appreciate that you pointed out the value of an Ivy League graduate school versus their cost. Yes indeed they demand a robust financial foundation. But as you also said, the networks, professors, and hardworking people around me are in fact what makes a school worth it. I also need big school name on my CV so that I can have more powerful of speech in my early stage of career — I believe this is important. Plus studying architecture doesn’t really mean I will be an architect, even though I don’t mind being. I can be an animator, an artist, or work in advertising, academia, film cast etc... Architecture pedagogy in most schools is heavily criticised but the study of architecture itself is a versatile qualification. Hope I have made my words understood.

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woo-hoo

Hi Jay, thanks for the reply! I really appreciate that you pointed out the value of an Ivy League graduate school versus their cost. Yes indeed they demand a robust financial foundation. But as you also said, the networks, professors, and hardworking people around me are in fact what makes a school worth it. I also need big school name on my CV so that I can have more powerful of speech in my early stage of career — I believe this is important. Plus studying architecture doesn’t really mean I will be an architect, even though I don’t mind being. I can be an animator, an artist, or work in advertising, academia, film cast etc... Architecture pedagogy in most schools is heavily criticised but the study of architecture itself is a versatile qualification. Hope I have made my words understood.

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woo-hoo

Also, thanks for suggesting a portfolio critic. I’m not sure if I will share my portfolio before I’ve finished application. I’m concerned about being plagiarised, as I have PTSD from being copied by one of the students at school. I will for now be developing and refining my portfolio on my own.


My major concern in this thread is the gpa impact on the preliminary screening process that many schools have on admission. I would really love to hear someone with an insight in such procedure share their thoughts. Also, big thanks to you Jay!

Sep 2, 20 9:24 pm  · 
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Jay1122

Someone thinks their student project ideas are worth plagiarizing. This sure makes me laugh. Maybe only your dumb fellow classmates think your project is cool and worth "borrowing". In real world, even if you give out your design ideas for free, they would not take it, because you are nobody. If they were to draw inspiration they would probably take it from big name architects with actual detailed built projects. The most effort of the portfolio is in creating the graphic to communicate, your idea is worth nothing. Online platforms like Issue prevents download/save of the portfolio. Maybe you can screenshot but that will only get you a low res image. And i bet i can find hundreds of better portfolio than yours in Issue right now done by real professionals and graduate students. Anyway, good luck on your Application. You say you are fine with not doing architecture and yet you want a master degree, you definitely sound rich.

1  ·  1
woo-hoo

I guess it's hard to judge a story if you haven't been the hero hey? Thanks for reply Jay, I think we are making friends here as the thread is basically our private chat public :D Well my designs could be fine and could be really bad. For school applications it's really the academic selectors holding the power, so...who knows. Have you experienced seeing in person someone presenting very very very similar work as what you have done the semester before, in terms of including but not limited to concept, form, material, landscape, furniture you designed, method of presentation and even the drawing style and layout of panels? It is irrelevant to this issue whether or not people in the industry will care about my design if I spontaneously contribute one. These two cares are uncomparable. There are students coping others' designs on their portfolio and got into GSD, real story. And from what I know, justice has not yet been done. I am planning to apply to schools next year and enroll in 2022. (Or even another year later because I might want to work longer) Therefore I guess it's best if I don't share it in public for now. And I hope people who see this don't see my action as over pride. Lastly, master degree and doing architecture... Well, I personally love architecture more than it as a profession. I enjoy designing, reading, experiencing architecture more than I work as an architect. But this doesn't mean I dislike being an architect. I like working in the office too, just not that crazy for it. I sometimes think work in academia is good too. Well, that's for the long future. Hope you gets what I'm saying.

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Jay1122

I totally get that you can copy paste portfolio for grad school application. Unlike work, you get fired if you cannot produce the level of work as indicated by portfolio and resume, school won't kick you out after admission. But i guess that is why it is only a portion of consideration. But talking about unfair advantage, there are organizations that tailors a plan for people to get into ivy league. I saw one a while back that helps people get into famous arch grad school. And i think you are going for pre-professional master, other candidates may not have architecture stuff to present at all. It is funny that you think yours is good enough for other candidates to copy and beat you. There are archinect profiles of ivy league grads with public open portfolios that i look at when i am real bored, wouldn't they want to copy that first? Oh and it is a ton of work to recreate some of those portfolios, the modeling, the rendering, the presentation drawings, etc.If you can recreate those, trust me you can design your own imaginary project. Unless you are doing straight download and paste kind of plagiarism. Anyway, school is just an extra, if you made to ivy league, hoo ray.If not, no big deal. But competitive architecture position at high end design firm? Man that is life or death. That is where you get to do real Architecture you dreamed about or nasty bathroom renovation job while you weep. But then there is the exploitative slavery at high end design firm, yikes.

1  · 
TeenageWasteland

TLDR :
Worth checking this first ,

1. The US system recognise your 3-year Bachelor from Australia in order to apply for M.Arch / I doubt it.

2. In the UK, you need to get your degree validated by ARB without this the university wont award your part II ( they might let you in and sort out Part I while studying Part II )

It's a tedious process ....

Sep 3, 20 12:33 am  · 
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woo-hoo

Hi. Thanks for reply. With my three year undergrad I can only apply for MArch I. Although MArch I is the best choice I think, I am also considering MAUD, MDES and majors alike. But again, I am mainly talking about MArch I here.

1  · 
TED

@TeenA advice is incorrect. Three years is fine in UK - If you plan to be licensed in the UK you then will need to have your undergrad degree part I validated - recommend you wait till you finish your Part II MArch and use that portfolio for your application. There are a few programmes such as the AA that required you have a Part I prior to entering the Part II - what they do is put you in year 3 of Part I then carry on to part II so 3 years total but you have both part I + II. Programmes in other Unis are all 2 year.

 · 
TeenageWasteland

@Woo-hoo , that's what I was trying to tell you

1  · 
TeenageWasteland

@TED not sure which part of my comment was incorrect ? I only stated that the OP needs ARB part I in order to be awarded Part II ... A 3-year Aus degree is fine as the two countries use the same system , pretty much.
@Woo-hoo Check with the schools in the States whether your 3-year Bachelor is recognized for M.Arch (professional) program. I know for the fact that some unis in the States require a candidate to have a 4-year degree.

1  · 
woo-hoo

@TeenageWasteland Sure I will check that. So far the schools i'm considering all accept three-year aussie degrees.

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TeenageWasteland

@woo-hoo How did you find out ? I was just curious. Can you direct me to the info/link ... GSD, Yale, MIT etc.

 · 
Jay1122

If it is a finished degree with diploma, they probably will accept it if it is the equivalent of undergraduate degree. OP is definitely going for Pre-professional master, all they need is generic education, no architecture stuff required. Just my guess, of course always better to call and confirm.

 · 
TED

In the UK and Aussieland, 3-year undergraduate degrees are the norm. This is in part because 'high school' education is different from the US.

In the US students have 12 years of education (not including pre-school) and in the UK students have 13 years of education (not including pre-school). In the UK students take 2 years of 'college' prior to Uni specializing in 3-4 subjects - their A-Levels. Also, it is common many students will do a foundation year after college and prior to uni. In Scotland 4 years is the norm for Undergrad degrees.


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woo-hoo

@TeenageWasteland I know people from Australian undergrad getting into these schools. Some are my school's alumni. I've talked to some of them and confirmed the eligibility of our degree. Well, links, I don't have them but I found what GSD says on its page:                                                                                                I don’t have a background in designcan I still apply?
Yes. Our first professional degrees (MArch I, MLA I, MUP) do not require a previous design background, although a four-year bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree, or its equivalent, is required in order to apply. For architecture and landscape architecture you will need to submit a portfolio as part of the admissions process.

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TeenageWasteland

@Woo-hoo It's good then ...let's apply !

1  · 
TED

@Teen you stated that 'without this the university wont award your part II' - this is NOT TRUE -- UK Unis including Bartlett + Cambridge always award MArch Part II's WITHOUT Part I -  The AA is the only Uni I think with this requirement of having a Part I prior to starting the AA Part II as their programme is validated based upon a 5 Year model where you get the full RIBA Criteria learning outcomes across multiple years.  The AA believes this model of putting the criteria across multiple years allows more innovation and experimentation for students and tutors -  Other UK MArch Programmes are filled with international students with non-Part I undergrad degrees from there home countries.  Many students decide to return back to their country as they have no plans to become validated - @woo you are good to go to any UK programme (2 years MArch) and if you want the AA its a 3 Year pathway for you. 

Sep 3, 20 8:51 am  · 
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TeenageWasteland

@Ted, you're right / I was thinking about the AA when I made the comment.

 · 
Jay1122

I have to comment on this one "I was hugely influenced by Mark Foster Gage" Seriously? you consider that garbage good architecture? Only place it is useful is probably movie and game environment design, where buildings are free.

Sep 3, 20 9:10 am  · 
 ·  1
woo-hoo

Oh hi, Jay, again. Well look, I guess being inspired by someone's works and theories doesn't necessarily mean imitating what they have done. I enjoyed reading Mark's texts, even though I don't agree all he contends. My eyes like seeing Mark's design, so in this sense I like the superficial quality at least. Not everyone needs to build real buildings anyway. As you said, if we have to situate his projects in a three dimensional place, it could be films or games -- why not? Also, speaking of what is real or realistic, I'd contend, and also quoting David Ruy in an online discussion he attended this year, that "reality is not what we see but what we believe." Many of the time we perceive a design as unrealistic and too fancy, but ignored, either actively or passively, their cultural political standpoints and/or technical contributions. I assume, possibly wrongfully, that you have strong compassion towards issues that deal with physicality in architecture and built environment. I respect and appreciate this and I 100% agree we need to lay attention on such issues. But architects and designers like MFG have alternative interests that are different from others. I respect and appreciate their research too. I'd rather leave cynicism aside and carefully listen to what everybody stands for, and try to learn even the tiny bit of knowledge that can be applied to my interested fields.

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Jay1122

Ya whatever man. I am not that into academic, i only care about real architecture practice. Never heard of the guy until one forum member mentioned in a post a while back, I saw his firm website, no real built project, only thing built is boring apartment interior. Anyway, look at my comments above regarding your portfolio sharing. I honestly don't care man, i am here just because i am bored. I don't really want to see it. I doubt an under grad student's portfolio will make me amazed. Not even those ivy league grad's portfolio i saw here makes me go jaw dropping. But some of those ivy league grads portfolios have real nice graphics. Just not much real architecture contents. And if you want to work in film/Ad design, just study digital design or something. Only reason architecture grads go into those fields is because they failed the competition or got a reality hit of the profession.

Oh, do you mind me ask how are you planning to pay for the grad school. Just curious.

 ·  1
woo-hoo

Ummm, I'm just thinking, is it possible to compensate GPA with exams like TOFEL, IELTS and GRE? I did an attempt on GRE earlier this year to just test out what my current level on it is. I got 315 + 3.5 (Q166 V149 W3.5) for GRE, 8+9+7.5+7.5 overall 8 for IELTS, TOFEL not yet taken. I might take GRE once more. 

Sep 3, 20 11:22 am  · 
 · 
TED

In the UK if your undergrad degree was in english you do not need IELTS

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woo-hoo

Hmmm yes. But I don't know if it can be an additional material to show my ability of learning in order to compensate my gpa. So is for GRE

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lower.case.yao

Grad schools in the US care more about your portfolio, don’t stress about your gpa. Why do you think none of the arch schools post student profiles? Business, law, med schools all have class stats, but arch schools tend to be more holistic. 

Sep 3, 20 1:44 pm  · 
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Jay1122

Don't you worry. OP's portfolio work is god sent enlightenment. I already told him the only true help is have critics on portfolio but he is too scared to get plagiarized. If you ask me, ivy league graduate architecture degree does not worth shit for that tuition unlike business,law or med school.And most of the international students pursuit it because they want work visa after graduation. Anyway I think OP is just here to have random strangers to assure him his GPA is fine, his test score is fine, he can get into those prestige schools, etc.

1  ·  1
lower.case.yao

I kinda understand that fear. Tons of evidence on chinese social media about portfolio plagiarism. Many examples
of gsd, mit and yale apps.

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Jay1122

Oh plagiarism is definitely out there. I just don't know if OP's is good enough to get plagiarized, it is some undergrad work after all. Why not copy ivy league graduate or professional's work? They publish it all the time to public.Go to archinect's people and find some random people with good resume, look at their portfolio, see if you are up to it. I doubt you can even recreate some of the stuff. If you can, you don't need to plagiarize then. And if you want to tell me your unique design/idea is worth of something, you are gonna get crushed later real hard.

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Jay1122

Here let me show you something.If you can get your building design presentation drawings to be like this post, 

arch daily example

beautiful and full of real contents instead of dumb black poche because you don't know how assemblies actually go together. Pair it with realistic rendering illustrating your vision. Harvard GSD would beg you to join. But by the time you are able to do that, you would realize Harvard GSD is fairly useless.Funny how i read interviews of those famous architect who went to GSD when asked what you learned from GSD, they always said it teaches me to be free. Because there is no real stuff taught, LOL.

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woo-hoo

Hi Jay. Nuh I'm not here waiting for someone to tell me my gpa is fine. I am here to ask about ideas of how to improve my chance of not getting screened off in the preliminary selection process. I am here to request people sharing their experience on application with not very high gpa and that's it. I think everybody has the freedom to pursue a better education, no matter for the education quality or the school name. I believe you would not hesitate to go to GSD if they offer you a place with generous scholarship. If you would do so, I guess it contradicts with your point that GSD is useless. I don't know your background, but if you have never been to GSD then it's perhaps biased to judge it as total uselessness hey? If you have, fair enough. Also, the archidaily link you shared was about a real project. It is really beautiful indeed. But architecture is no longer just about building buildings. Also, thank you for telling me schools care more about portfolio, that sort of makes me feel as long as I work hard on portfolio I still have a chance. (I know it doesn't mean as long as i work hard I get in)

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lower.case.yao

I got in GSAPP with advanced standing with my 3.3 gpa, but dinged from the GSD. I suspect it wasn’t my grades that made them deny me either. If I had spent a hundred more hours on my portfolio, rather than playing 600 hrs of botw, things might have been different. But life’s all about choices, and I got more enjoyment out of a game than I would have spending a minute more on my portfolio. Portfolio and statement are all that really matters for you now. I looked at my GSD coworkers portfolio and personal statement and understood immediately why he got in. If you’re willing, sacrifice your time and go
for the top.

 · 
woo-hoo

@lower.case.yao wow that's great to hear that you got into GSAPP. Congrats! -- even though it's a late congrat. I will definitely invest more time on the preparation. Could you kindly please share more info on your stats like which undergrad school you went, extracurricular activities, other exams like GRE, etc? Many thanks!

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lower.case.yao

Went to the typical state school with 324 gre. I had 7 years experience under my belt before applying for grad school though, and many of them in a starchitect office, so not sure how that calculated into their decisions. Most likely helped balance out the below average gpa.

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Jay1122

Why did you go back to grad school with 7 years experience? and you even made it into starchitect office. If i made it into those good offices i would not go back to grad school at all. The whole point is to gain advantage for the position competition. Which program did you do? I am looking at their MSAAD, 1 year no GRE requirement seems really attractive to me. 100K and 1 year opportunity cost for a resume padding from columbia is not too bad. Just not sure whether it will actually boost one to get into those high design firms. 100K is good for a house down payment. Tough decision. And i freaking hate their letter of recommendation requirement. No professor to ask, don't want to ask your firm for it. They would be like, what you are leaving?

 · 
Jay1122


Archinect old thread

A nice old thread. The topic goes in circle forever and ever and ever until the end of eternity.


 · 
lower.case.yao

Starchitect offices aren’t all that. If I was gonna waste my life, I’d rather waste it on my terms. Going back to school for the connections you can make and the pedigree is much better than wasting another couple years, so I jumped.

 · 
Jay1122

Yeah some starchitect firms can be fairly exploitative. You are more like their tools.I know Asians love to have ivy league name, that is why MSAAD is full of Asians. I get it, its totally worth it if you can afford it. So which program did you do. How is the finance for you? Dam i just checked MSAAD website, the cost is 146K combined Tuition+living+fee for the year. Jeez, doomed without financial aid. And i know MSAAD is just another extra year of studio work and some dumb electives. I know steven hall teaches there, but ever after i saw his office trying 2 hire people with $2000 monthly stipend, it disgust me.

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lower.case.yao

The M.arch. I went straight into second year but no other funding. It’s fucking expensive and I still say not worth it, but for personal reasons I had to. Got full funding at ucla and 3/4 $$ at penn as well. If I wasn’t so lucky in life I would’ve taken ucla’s
offer.

 · 
Jay1122

Full funding as in presidential scholarship ride? All tuition and fees paid. Does that really exist for grad school? UCLA is not bad. But yeah, if you can afford it id choose ivy too. The name sticks with you forever. Even that Full house star woman tried to bribe the kids into the USC. I mean its USC not even ivy league LOL. I doubt anyone outside US would know USC. But they sure do know Harvard,Columbia,Yale.

 · 
nn1993

Regarding UCL: I'm pretty sure my undergrad GPA was lower than their entry requirement. Or maybe it was close, I can't remember for sure. Maybe they judged it based purely on portfolio. 

I guess they can be a bit more lenient with an overseas degree. International students do pay quite a bit more for tuition fees anyway.  

RCA is quite an amazing school for architecture also. But how can you pay 30,000 pounds per year for tuition? 


Sep 7, 20 4:56 pm  · 
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