M. Arch 1- Harvard, Yale, or Columbia?



First time posting here.

I was recently admitted to M. Arch 1 programs at Harvard, Yale, and Columbia. I received substantial financial aid offers at Harvard and Yale and nothing at Columbia. I have my own opinions on each program, but I'm posting here in search of relevant advice/experience that might help guide my final decision. 

I have also received acceptance to the University of Michigan with advanced standing and substantial aid, in addition to the 2-year program at UT Austin, so those are on the table as well. 

Some background about me: I will be receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture degree from a state school in May. I'm hoping to become licensed in the U.S. The 3 year Ivy League programs are sort of intimidating, as I'm not sure that I'd like to be in school for that much longer. I may be able to cover some credits, but I'm not sure how impactful that would be. 

I've seen the rankings, but from personal opinion, which school has the best program? What does Harvard offer that Yale doesn't, and vice versa? Is there a real, feasible value in attending a 3-year program as opposed to a 2-year program? 

Any other advice would be greatly appreciated! I am pretty much evenly split on a decision as of now, so I'm basically looking for any insight that I don't already have. 

Mar 30, 21 1:00 pm

Its pretty the thesis and the opportunity - you make your own - to interact with other design departments at the GSD that are main draws versus the SOA. The cost is having to deal with a larger class size and competition for finite resources (Though with everyone boasting a 3D printer or more, maybe fighting for laser cutting time slots isn't as fierce as before). From an outsider's point of view, I rather liked the SOA's range of option studios - Where else outside Notre Dame could one learn about classical architecture today? As for the student body, one impression the SOA gave me in its open house was how seriously it took English competency compared to the GSD. How that manifests in studio I have no idea.

The thesis could help you consolidate your design ideas into a career springboard - many of the best thesis winners go on to teach right after, using their thesis work as their first serious foray into academia.

As for GSAPP - NYC! The last time I was there, the place was overcrowded and poorly equipped compared to the other schools. The school is limited by the size of its comparatively smallish building on the Columbia podium and they had a pretty big class size with massive international student representation. I heard that the school's curricula has morphed into something akin to the GSD in recent years but that's just anecdotal.

Mar 30, 21 1:36 pm  · 
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If you got substantial aid from Harvard go there. It will give you a-lot of connections. Plus it seems that they really want you if that is the case you probably will get some form of mentorship from the profs. This will further open doors for you in the future. Same goes for Yale- just choose which program you think suits you. Three years goes by quickly. 

Mar 30, 21 1:38 pm  · 
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@kristenmaya I sent you a PM about this if you want to talk more. I'm also in the same boat (comparable aid from Harvard/Yale and nothing from Columbia). As much as I like the faculty at Columbia, the cost and rumored horrible facilities take that off the table for me. 

Honestly I'd try reaching out to faculty/students as much as you can. I've been instagram DMing students and setting up calls with faculty from both sides for the past few weeks. Depending on what your interests are, the content might seem relevant. I've also shared my thoughts between the two on the GSD vs Yale forum. Another factor that I'm considering is everything outside of the school - granted most of my time is spent within studio, there's the question of the more expensive housing cost in Cambridge vs the potential increase in crime due to covid in New Haven (and also maybe Cambridge).

Something I'm curious about (for myself as well) is how much research/faculty direction matters? There's an amazing research group/faculty member at Yale that I'd love to work with, however I'm not sure if it's worth going to a specific school just for that reason. 

Mar 30, 21 8:59 pm  · 
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@analoguearchitect I am an MArch II student currently debating btw Yale and Princeton, and I'd say for me, I really care a lot about the faculty member who is going to teach me / with whom I am going to work with.

Apr 2, 21 3:02 pm  · 
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NYC itself is as much of a draw as Columbia

But w/ Harvard on the list w/ money to boot, that’s where I’d go

(Tho you can’t go wrong here, w/ UTAustin or Mich either...congrats on the opportunity to make a tough decision :) you really can’t go wrong!)

Mar 30, 21 9:30 pm  · 
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"Substantial" aid is actually really vague. 

How much debt do you project from each school? Best place to start. 

Pardon me if I'm not convinced that it's implying all things are equal money wise, but I feel like people often just generalize to get the answer they want. haha. 

Apr 2, 21 4:35 pm  · 
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I realize that the vagueness about financial aid on this forum can be annoying, haha. I received the highest need-based grant at GSD in addition to work-study, which leaves about $10,000 for tuition, not including room and board (although, I have some funds saved up for that). Yale is about the same, with around $12,000 left for just tuition. Both of these offers are renewable, granted that my financial situation stays the same. I want to think that this is reasonable, but debt scares me, naturally. I plan on applying for teaching assistantships and additional scholarships after the first semester.

Apr 5, 21 5:12 pm  · 

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