Advice for B.Arch 3rd Year preparing for M.Arch


Hi, this is my first thread post after only reading and skimming through the previous threads posted here.

I'm a 3rd Year B.Arch Undergrad student in South Korea and I'm feeling agitated and stressed these days planning ahead for my future portfolio to submit to well-known / IVY U.S grad schools for an M.Arch 2.

I feel like I don't have anything worthy to put in my portfolio yet. All I have are some stupid elementary academic works I've done in my first and second year and a competition work my team has done (still waiting for the results) so I guess you could say I don't have a portfolio at the moment.

How many works would be "acceptable" or "adequate" to submit as a portfolio to grad schools. I know it really depends but seeing how I have 3 years left, I feel like I really don't have much time which drives me crazy (almost as if it's hopeless).

I feel kind of lost as to where to start my preparations. Really looking for some advice to motivate myself to prepare. All I have for now are english scores and a decent GPA.

P.S. On a side note, how useful are experiences at international internships like working at starchitect firms when it comes to writing it in your resume/portfolio to grad schools? Do they really care?

Mar 5, 21 12:00 pm

Not sure how helpful it'll be, but my two cents:

  • Don't bother with Ivy league schools unless you're offered substantial scholarships... or are rich,
  • M.Arch reviewers aren't expecting you to know and be able to do everything already - otherwise, why would they need to teach you? It's about how you think and approach design, which early projects can showcase,
  • Upgrading projects with better renders/collages/diagrams/details is a good approach; only need 3-5 good projects for a portfolio, and
  • Do not let your current school work suffer to finish portfolios

Not sure on starchitect internships, but hope that helps. Cheers and good luck!

Mar 5, 21 4:21 pm  · 

thank you very much! :)

Mar 5, 21 9:56 pm  · 

The first step you should probably be asking yourself is what do you need an MArch 2 for?  

MArch 2, in particular, is for those who already have a professional 5-year degree but intend to venture further into academe. It is a very competitive and selective program to get into especially if you're applying to the likes of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, who usually pull in top and most admits from their standard/usual pool of applicants that come from architecture programs in the US and a select few countries/continents like Europe and (East) Asia. (Their annual stats/annual reports can be really telling)

I agree with newbie: the Ivy name only looks good on paper. But, only go if you're offered a scholarship/financial aid or if you are filthy wealthy and have the money to spend for it. And also, make use of the time that you're already in school to start building that portfolio. There was a user here from a year ago (see the MArch Application Threads 2020) that got acceptances with full scholarships and advance placement to mostly all the top  schools and what they did was that at the end of every term in their undergrad, they compile the projects into one portfolio which then made it easy for them to put together later on selected projects from the other terms into one portfolio that they submitted for grad school. 

Another thing is there's an expectation of 2-3 years of work experience when you apply to the MArch 2. The advantage of working in a starchitect firm is that the person that could vouch for you is also from the same (high-ranking) school you're applying to (or similar). But those 2-3 years of work could also influence your intentions for returning to school: letting you develop the technical proficiency and an understanding of "real-world" projects as opposed to "conceptual" ones,  and how that comes to play in your identity as a designer in both an academic and professional environment. Whether its an internship at a starchitect firm or not, be sure that experience is substantial and you can articulate that in your application portfolio and essay, and by those that are recommending you. 

Good luck! 

Mar 5, 21 5:47 pm  · 

thank you very much for the help!! :) I've seen that phrase "think about why you need m.arch2 first" several times but I find it pretty tricky.. I mean don't most people go there because of the can go there financially and it's worth the title? I feel like I'm just making stuff up as I try to add meaning to the works I do

Mar 5, 21 9:58 pm  · 

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