GSAPP v YSOA (M Arch I / CCCP): Thoughts?


Dear friends,

As decision deadline nears I find myself in the extraordinary situation of needing to make a call between the YSOA, GSAPP (dual-degree CCCP), or Berkeley CED. All have offered me funding in various forms (financial aid from YSOA--most in amount, Avery scholarship from GSAPP, and full-ride fellowship Berkeley). I am torn between GSAPP and YSOA.

I'm coming from primarily a Fine Arts background, and by the time I graduate I will be at least 30. I would like to pursue independent research and a thesis, I am nearly certain. I appreciate the eclecticism of GSAPP and its faculty, and the unique opportunities offered by the dual-degree though I am skeptical of its additional benefits. Mostly I am interested in the CCCP as a means through which to formalize/expand the theories and projects that I will hopefully have developed in the M-Arch. On the other hand, the dual-degree MBA from YSOA is compelling and potentially more powerful career-wise (I would like to do projects in places like China, where degrees / "labels" facilitate some autonomy), though I have heavy doubts about getting in. Does anyone have thoughts or experiences with the "Ivy Stamp" in terms of what it has or has not carried? 

I am not so much into "form as such," and for me the political, social contexts of design and material matter more; I am more interested in exploring the marginal spaces and applications of "spatial thinking," probing alternative futures to address/redress systemic deficiencies of infrastructure and space than particular aesthetic exploration. I'm not sure if I would continue onto a professional building practice, I am more interested in academia/arts/research, perhaps running a small firm with my creative partner-in-crime (who will be on their last year at YSOA soon) for experimental or competition projects.

From my reading of YSOA, it seems very formal and material, and I'm worried my interests in different mediums and challenging what "architecture" is or does will not align or find support amongst the faculty/studios/peers? At GSAPP, the faculty and student body seems really rich, with different groups like QSAPP, Masaha, LatinGSAPP, and BSA that seem active. Also dedicated investment into exploring various media like their GSAPP podcast series, the Avery Review/Columbia and the City books, etc... I'm struggling to find such a variety of activity at Yale, though I'm sure there are some around. Is it an issue of web presence and PR, and can anyone speak to their experiences or value of student life and peer communities throughout the M-Arch at either of these institutions? I also wonder about the value of the travel opportunities at YSOA, and the seemingly more demanding curriculum in terms of time throughout the year dedicated to studies (they take up so many of the summers... what is that like? What do you gain?) Being an older student, I'm concerned about the, let's say, "life-community"/professional practicalities of investing 3 years into New Haven when I am not almost certain I would not want to stay past-graduation, and whether it would be hugely beneficial to be in NYC (especially as a still-practicing artist...)

I realize I've left it quite late in the process to ask about all of this, so would be very grateful for any and all input anyone might have regarding these institutions!

Thanks so much for your time. Sending clarifying energy to anyone else making their decision : )

Apr 14, 21 6:44 pm

I think you'll be well placed at Yale. Columbia, while situated in NYC, is still 30 mins from downtown and more to brooklyn, and with your dual M.Arch/CCCP degree, I don't think it's realistic to be traveling so much as to take full advantage of the metropolitan experience. While Mark Wasiuta is a beast along with Felicity Scott, I'm sure the smaller student body at Yale would help you more in making tangible connections with your critics and students alike, and will definitely help you more in your pursuits. Kenneth Frampton's also retired, so you'll just have missed him at GSAPP. I do think that because of our larger student body, GSAPP does have a lot of events and student-led groups going on, and before COVID they were all pretty active.

As for working in China, you'll need more than a school's name to get work or find clients, although Yale is considered a higher tier of school than Columbia. In that sense, Yale SOM along with YSOA will help you in creating those international connections with your peers. Plus, Yale's offering more money, and you'll be coming out of there with your partner. Two Yale grads starting a shop shouldn't be too hard.

Apr 14, 21 9:30 pm  · 

Wow thanks for sharing your insight! May I ask, was YSOA your preferred choice over GSAPP? From your comment it seems that you are at GSAPP, and I’m curious about whether you feel the connection is weaker amongst peers there? I had heard Columbia breeds collaboration, but also the opposite in that it’s more competitive as it has graded and GpA still. Do you feel you have to compete for time and attention from faculty more? I wish I could bet on the MBA but I feel the chances are so low of getting in... do you have experience with the CCCP and what it’s like? The dual seems quite fun
, but do you feel it’s “too much”?

Apr 14, 21 10:57 pm  · 

Oops bad phone typing. My other thinking was.. maybe it’d be good to come from two different institutions for greater network and resources..? Am I right in understanding your implication that Yale grads have more agency to start up shop and get work? I’m a bit intrigued why you are advocating more
for YSOA (are there personal negative experiences at GSAPP you’d be willing to share?) I would super appreciate it as I missed all the open house opportunities for exchanging with current students due to time zone issues!!

Apr 14, 21 11:09 pm  · 

Don't get me wrong, I like GSAPP (never applied to Yale), and similar to you I'm a little older than the typical grad. My experience here is very different though. I got AP so entered into the 2nd year, then COVID hit and 3 of my studios were online. I've met amazing people and made some really good friends, and everyone was extremely helpful and accommodating. So in that sense, no, GSAPP is not cutthroat/competitive. Everyone helps everyone, and the studio environment, while cramped, was incredibly fun.

Apr 15, 21 12:08 am  · 
1  ·

I don't know about the dual CCCP program, but I know many people in the dual MSRED/M.arch, and they're doing alright. They tailor the courses to work around many of the arch classes, so time-wise they shouldn't be a problem. I'm advocating Yale mainly because it offered you the most money lol. I'm sure you can get to where you want from either school. The name recognition is a little stronger in Asia as well, and the dual MBA program might be a good place to network if you get in.

Apr 15, 21 12:13 am  · 

Thanks so much for clarifying! As you can imagine feeling bit muddled right now. May I ask a few more practical questions? One: is the typical size of most studios / electives, and are professors are generous with their time and energy? I’m so excited about many of the faculty but don’t know if they’ll be accessible if I don’t get into their class, etc. Second, is it easy to take courses outside GSAPP and find connections within the greater institution? Interdisciplinarity seems encouraged at Yale and am wondering if Columbia’s electives are restricted to “studios” and design history or more free for all (I’m talking literature, etc). Is it possible or realistic to audit for example? Thirdly, are collaborative projects built into the curriculum at all? Do people end up working together? And as an AD student with professional experience, do you feel there are extra benefits to being in NYC or part of the GSAPP network in terms of finding opportunities or professional advancement in the more
local sphere? Thank you so much for your time!!

Apr 15, 21 12:44 am  · 
Archithoughts2 has some very good points and certainly knows better than I do as I did not get into either school, but from what I’ve learned and heard it does seem like Yale may be the way to go, if I were in your shoes...especially with the extra funding but maybe even if funding were not a consideration. It seems you’ve emphasized your desire for an interdisciplinary curriculum and I do believe you will get that more at Yale, particularly if you are still interested in creating other forms of art with their other stellar arts programs so close by and accessible. I have a friend who will be attending Yale for that very reason. Either way, you will be in a great program and as Yao said I’m sure you’ll be able to end up in the same place, it just seems like given everything you’ve described Yale may have the slight edge for you, but follow your gut! Good luck!

Apr 15, 21 1:15 am  · 
1  · 

And to your point about active student groups, I wouldn’t necessarily discount Yale’s groups, and would probably say from what I’ve learned (and heard in both open houses) that this point would be relatively even between both. GSAPP has all those you mentioned, but Yale seems to have its active equivalents w/ it’s Equality in Design/NOMA
chapter/OutLines/paprika (publication that lots of people mentioned)

Apr 15, 21 1:22 am  · 

Studios are usually 12 people max, and everyone usually gets their first or second pick. Good thing about GSAPP is the variety of critics available to you because of NY. Electives are harder depending on how in-demand the class is. One class had to pick 20 people out of 40 that enrolled. Depending on your interests you might even join some seminars with only 6 people (had that happen to me twice). They open up studio and some electives to the MS AAD students in your last year of M.arch, so some classes get even more tight. I don’t think you’ll have a chance at registering other classes, but I’m really not the person to ask haha. They did open up classes during
our last two semesters because of COVID, so we could have registered for 2 extra classes university wide, but realistically you have absolutely no time to work on those classes.

Apr 15, 21 3:17 pm  · 
1  ·

The GSAPP network is huge, and many professors have very real connections with studios here and really everywhere else. Good thing about the large student body is a wide network of people
you can network and make connections with.

Apr 15, 21 3:19 pm  · 
1  · 

Yale is definitely more esteemed in the art world with world class programs in music, drama, fine art, and obviously, architecture. it also has more opportunities for interdisciplinarity with so many electives in the m.arch 1 curriculum that you can take around the university. Also, you most certainly, especially with your background in fine art, do not need a degree in cccp to do what you hope to do, so save your money!

in addition, yale has a lot of publishing opportunities for its students to publish (paprika, retrospecta, and the notable perspecta). this will help you if you wanna teach, which you probably will have to do if you aren't interested in construction. 

and they offered you more money!!! 

Apr 15, 21 4:48 pm  · 

Block this user

Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

  • ×Search in: