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Undergrad arch degree: Should I go to CCA or UC Berkeley

hasappington

Hello, I am trying to get some different perspectives on this conundrum.

I'm a transfer student who got into UC Berkeley and CCA for architecture. 

I have a scholarship so UCB and CCA would be approx. the same price.

UCB is a BA

CCA is a B.Arch

What do people think? Which program is better?

Context: I already have 1.5 years work experience designing/drawing/permitting residential homes... should I go straight for a b.arch, or take the b.a and then shoot for a M.Arch at yet another school?

Please let me know what you think! My CCA decision deadline is only 4 days away. 

 
Apr 27, 22 2:24 pm
Non Sequitur

Don't waste time and your parent's money on unaccredited degrees.


Apr 27, 22 3:04 pm  · 
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hasappington

Beyond optimizing ROI , which school would you rather attend for architecture?

Apr 28, 22 2:06 am  · 
 · 
Non Sequitur

Always choose the least expensive accredited option.

Apr 28, 22 12:39 pm  · 
 ·  1
Non Sequitur

Hurry internet, help me make expensive adult decisions for me! I only have 2 days left...

Apr 28, 22 4:40 pm  · 
1  · 
hasappington

Hahaha, my thoughts exactly

Apr 28, 22 5:30 pm  · 
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OP - Just in case you don't know.  There is a process to become an architect.  

1.  Schooling / Experience 

Most states (over 50%) require a degree from an accredited architecture program (aka an accredited degree).  Some states allow non accredited degrees and / or work experience.  A B.Arch or M.Arch provide accredited degrees.  A M. Arch allows you to teach.  Other than that they are the same in terms of licensing. 

2.  Establish your NCARB record

This can be done while in school.  NCARB is who keeps track of your internship and licensing process / licenses.  

3.  Internship.

Every state requires you to intern under an architect for a period of time.  The length of this time depends on the type of schooling you received. Accredited degrees only need between 3 - 5 years of internship. I'm not certain on the exact amount of time.  Non accredited degrees require around10 years of internship.  Very few states (3-4) allow 15 - 20 years work experience to count towards your internship. 

If you have an accredited degree then your internship is good in all 50 states.  With a non accredited degree or go the work experience route you have to do your internship over for each state. 

4. Exams

Once you've completed your internship and turned everything over to NCARB you can start taking any of your exams.  These exams are called the ARE 5.0 and they contain six exams.  There are a couple of exams you can take while still completing your internships.

Pass of of your exams in the required timeframe (5 years) and you're an architect. 


As you can see a nonaccredited degree is pretty much worthless.  As is your 1 1/2 year experience working in residential design.

Apr 27, 22 4:08 pm  · 
2  ·  2
hasappington

Chad – I appreciate your long response. Clearly, you put a lot of time into this, which I thank you for. Of course, I dislike the last sentence you wrote, because the sense that any amount of time I've spent or will spend learning, working, or practicing architecture is "worthless" is totally wrong. I don't know if licensure is the end goal.

Apr 28, 22 1:58 am  · 
1  · 
smurf111

Not everyone who studies architecture wants to become a licensed architect. Not all licensed architects are talented designers. However, the process of becoming a licensed professional takes time, so it should take a lot of time. It's not a sprint but rather a marathon. How much time are you willing to devote to studying? The ability to pass the exam is not only based on work experience, it is both study and experience combined Make sure you figure out what aspect of architecture you really want to do. Do you like teaching? Do you like theory in architecture? History? Writing? Working in commercial or residential? Etc. Much more! If you choose the Berkeley path, it may take you a few more years to complete the hours, but you can always take the exam whenever you're ready.

Apr 28, 22 6:09 pm  · 
1  · 
616365

Sorry, I find this rather offensive or you are super jealous you made the wrong decision in life. For some students who are unsure if architecture is for them, are concerned about the curriculum, or would love to study additional subjects such as construction management or 3D modeling/simulation, a BS in architecture is the correct choice because it gives them an out without messing up their 4-year trajectory. The difference between a BArch and a BS/M.Arch is 1 year of education, precisely the same as a BArch/March. Another thing to take into consideration, if your student receives a full-tuition scholarship for UG degree, it is only worth 8 semesters, putting the last year of an B.Arch at full costs. There are additional funding opportunities for graduate work.

May 17, 22 7:51 am  · 
2  · 

616365 - I don't care if you're offended. What I posted may be harsh but it's the truth. I've been an architect for 20 years. I'm neither super jealous or made 'the' wrong decision in my life.

As you said, a BSA is for people who don't want to be an architect. It's important to note that the difference between a BSA and B. Arch may only be 1 year of schooling, however the programs and their content are vastly different. Hence why your internship lasts for 10 + years for a BSA vs 3-5 years for a B.Arch before you can become licensed.

May 18, 22 4:55 pm  · 
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hasappington wrote: 

 "Chad – I appreciate your long response. Clearly, you put a lot of time into this, which I thank you for. Of course, I dislike the last sentence you wrote, because the sense that any amount of time I've spent or will spend learning, working, or practicing architecture is "worthless" is totally wrong. I don't know if licensure is the end goal" 

I'm sorry to say that a BSA and your work experience is worthless in the process to becoming an architect. Your experience isn’t under an architect so it can’t be counted towards your internship. The education provided by a BSA isn’t accredited and doesn’t teach what you need to know to become and architect. Most BSA programs are for people who want a career in a field related to architecture – mainly facility management. 

If you’re interested in studying architecture but not sure if you want to be an architect, then I’d suggest you figure this out before getting into this. Getting a BSA will cost you a lot of money and time.

Good luck.


May 18, 22 5:12 pm  · 
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smurf111 wrote:

“Not everyone who studies architecture wants to become a licensed architect. “

Then why go into architecture? You must be licensed to be an architect. There is no such thing as an unlicensed architect.

 “Not all licensed architects are talented designers.” 

True. You will be more marketable, have more flexibility, and make more money if you’re an architect though 

“However, the process of becoming a licensed professional takes time, so it should take a lot of time. It's not a sprint but rather a marathon. How much time are you willing to devote to studying? The ability to pass the exam is not only based on work experience, it is both study and experience combined “ 

This is true. Now imagine having to spend all that time for your internships, and to take those exams for each and every state you’re allowed to be an architect in and that’s what you’ll have to do with an BSA. 

"Make sure you figure out what aspect of architecture you really want to do. Do you like teaching? Do you like theory in architecture? History? Writing? Working in commercial or residential? Etc. Much more! "

 This is good advice.

"If you choose the Berkeley path, it may take you a few more years to complete the hours, but you can always take the exam whenever you're ready."

 This is bad advice. A non-accredited degree (a BSA) requires 10 years of internship and exams for each state licensure. Around half of the states in the US don’t allow people with non-accredited degrees to become an architect. An accredited degree requites 3-5 years of internship and one round of exams to be licensed in all 50 states.

May 18, 22 5:24 pm  · 
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reallynotmyname

Since you have worked for 1.5 years, it looks like you may know what you will be getting into being an architect.   I think the faster route of doing a professional BArch degree at CCA is probably the best of your options here since it puts you on a track to being a licensed architect sooner.   An M.Arch after Berkley could be expensive (big loans & debt) if you aren't able to obtain scholarships for grad school.

Apr 27, 22 4:18 pm  · 
1  · 
hasappington

In your sense, how important is licensure to your career? If you want to open your own firm: yes, licensure needed... But if you work in someone else's firm, how much of a pay-raise / & / or more opportunities are granted? If you can comment?

Apr 28, 22 2:07 am  · 
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reallynotmyname

I can't speak to California specifically, but unless you stick with single family residential, no license will usually mean less pay and opportunities over time in a typical US firm. A lot of firms make licensure a prerequisite to advancement beyond a certain point. I do, however, know a few unlicensed people that work as fairly well-paid mid-level production staff and their employers are happy to have them in those positions forever. YMMV.

Apr 28, 22 2:11 pm  · 
2  · 
SneakyPete

Licensure is a sort of litmus test for a lot of firms. You may not need it or use it, but it's looked at as a worthy goal and if you don't share that goal more than a few firms will look down on that. I'm not endorsing that view in any way, but it's there.

Apr 28, 22 7:55 pm  · 
1  · 
Stasis

Btw, you don't need to go to MArch to get a license in CA... BA at Berkeley can get you a license in CA (provided you went through the internship and passed ARE, as Chad listed above).   If you feel like you'd want to go for MA, then you can choose that option too.    Being a Cal grad, I obviously recommend Cal.. If you want to find a job in SF Bay Area, then either school is fine.  If you want to get a license in any state and want to save money from M.Arch, then CCA may be a choice..   As far as experiences go, I am not sure if CCA provides a real university experience.. I think their buildings are peppered around the city... Have you been to both campuses?  Also, consider this possibility.  At Cal, there are many classes outside of Architecture that you can take advantage of.  That's great opportunity to learn as much as you can from many different schools.  One of my mentors recommended me to take classes outside of Architecture to broaden my horizon.  It was the best advise ever.  

I wrote a long spiel about career prospects for a Cal grad in another thread.. Look it up if you'd like

Apr 27, 22 10:06 pm  · 
3  · 
hasappington

Hi stasis, thanks for your response! Have you tried to get a license post BA at Cal?

Apr 28, 22 2:01 am  · 
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hasappington

Also, I have had a very irregular pre-Bachelors experience, meaning that I haven't encountered any of the competitive aspects of Cal. (large class sizes, grading on a curve). If you can comment on this, h ow did these competitive traditions bleed into your architecture classes?

Apr 28, 22 2:04 am  · 
1  · 
smurf111

another thing is if you complete a B.arch, and you still want to go to M.Arch, I believe you can get admitted to M.arch II which requires 1 additional year to complete.

Apr 28, 22 12:27 pm  · 
1  · 
SneakyPete

Can you post some backup for your claim that the BA at Cal is a path to licensure? From an NCARB point if view Cal only has the M. Arch. Accreditation, and without an accredited degree you're on a non NCARB path to licensure as far as I know.

Apr 28, 22 7:58 pm  · 
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Stasis

Please note that this applies in CA only. I don't know about other states, and sorry it's been a long while for me to reference backup documents... Whole bunch of my buddies got licensed with BA and internship hours. NCARB says I became eligible years ago through upon completion of IDP (I forgot the new term for the internship hours).. However, I got into Project Management field, so didn't pursue licensure.. I just now manage project teams consist of architects and engineers in building projects. I avoid being liable by not getting that stamp. I may change my mind in few years and go back to the field.

Apr 28, 22 9:48 pm  · 
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Stasis

hasappington, I too was a transfer student to Cal, so I understand That's a dramatic transition.. I felt taking 12 units at Cal was like taking doubled amount of units at a community college. Yes, people at Cal were competitive, both in and out of architecture program. Because I felt that I was an underdog, it made me try harder. It's tough, but life is tough and things won't ever get easier. I am sure CCA or any other Arch school will be easy either. So I suggest taking on the challenges ahead of you and push through. If you can get accustomed to challenges early on, then it will definitely help you in the long run. I still think my days at Cal really defined my foundation and shaped me into more perseverant person.

Apr 28, 22 10:15 pm  · 
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zonker

Stasis is right. Many of my co-workers are from Cal with a B.A., many licensed. They do well enough and get to do much more design. If you want to be a designer, then architect, go to Cal. Otherwise, you could end up getting pigeonholed into production. 

Apr 28, 22 11:29 am  · 
2  · 
SneakyPete

To suggest that lacking a Cal degree and having a CCA degree is the difference between being an architect that does design vs production is simply incorrect.

Apr 28, 22 8:27 pm  · 
1  · 
SneakyPete

I've worked with ivy grads who do details and CDs and state school grads who lead design departments. Also it says more about your own biases when you suggest that "design" is somehow better than "production."

Apr 28, 22 8:28 pm  · 
1  · 
zonker

Design isn't better than production - 90% of design actually happens in production. That being said, what I'm trying to say, is that it is very hard to move from production to more front end design. It's easy to get pigeonholed in this and other other professions - best to to pick a pigeon hole to ones liking when you can. 

Apr 28, 22 8:46 pm  · 
3  · 
Stasis

True.. I spent first 7 years in front end design, went to another job to learn technical skills - production, detailing, and CA, for another 7 years.. I think firms try to divide design and production from efficiency stand point... and that chasm also somehow made people oppose or look down on one another.. strange. I believe doing both can truly make you a whole architect with greater understanding in building design and construction. Designers must understand that the end product of their work is the building, not renderings. Tech. people also need to develop design mindset to transform design intent into actual constructible elements. It is easy to get pigeonholed as companies tend to make you focus on what you become good at.. I didn't like to be stuck and hardened in the mold that others wanted to impose on you (though they don't do this explicitly), so I jumped for opportunities that can improve my skill sets in other areas.

Apr 28, 22 10:01 pm  · 
2  · 
SneakyPete

Thanks for the elaboration zonker. I agree.

Apr 29, 22 12:10 am  · 
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The same thing happened to Stasis. I know I've become a better designer after learning more detailing and CA skills.

May 19, 22 11:40 am  · 
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Stasis

crap.. typing my responses on my phone is challenging for me.. I don't get to edit my responses to correct my grammars..  embarrassing. 

Apr 28, 22 10:20 pm  · 
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