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Prospective Military Student - M.Arch

brentjohnson

Good Evening All,

Hoping for some advice and insight. I am currently in my 10th year of serving in the United States Air Force and looking into getting my Masters. I have always been interested in Architecture, took design classes in high school, and constantly regretting not getting a B.Arch. However, as life works I had to make some choices and here I am today with a B.S. in Criminal Justice. That background being said, I’m trying to get advice on Online M.Arch programs and whether it is worth pursuing. I have scoured Reddit, google, Archinect, and have come out with various (mostly outdated) opinions on the topic. My starting questions are: Is a M.Arch worth getting without a B.Arch? Do I need a M.Arch to pursue architecture after retirement from the military? Would a Masters in a closely related field satisfy my itch to be in/near the industry and set me up better than an M.Arch?

Open to any and all feedback and follow up questions!

-Brent

 
Jul 10, 22 12:29 am
Jason Young Kim

1. M. Arch is for people who did not get B. Arch, unless you really really love being student for another 2 - 3 years.

2. Getting an NAAB accredited education (M. Arch programs that are NAAB accredited) would be the easier way to becoming a licensed architect, rather than finding an alternate path. This is because the NAAB accredited education, experience, and passing Exams is the standard way of becoming licensed. There is an alternate path I think, but it is more complicated.

So do you want to be licensed architect? or a builder (General Contractor) who can actually read architectural drawings? or real estate developer? There is more money in both of the latter. If you want the title of Architect, you would need M. Arch. program that is accredited.

Jul 10, 22 11:40 am  · 
1  · 
brentjohnson

Thanks for your reply!

Jul 10, 22 1:27 pm  · 
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brentjohnson

I wasn’t finished.

Jul 10, 22 1:27 pm  · 
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brentjohnson

Jason,

Jul 10, 22 1:43 pm  · 
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brentjohnson

This is my third time attempting to respond. After typing a novel, so for this reply I am going to cut it short.

I am on the right track looking for M.Arch NAAB accredited degrees. I will need to do this completely online.Does that change anything?

I am not sure what I want to do with the degree. I dont necessarily need to have the title of architect. I just know i want to be part of the construction process whether its designing, managing, drafting, etc. 

Jul 10, 22 1:53 pm  · 
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reallynotmyname

You might consider an MS in construction management, which a lot of schools offer 100% online. It would get you into the construction side, but you would do no designing or drafting, other than maybe bossing architects and drafters around. The starting salaries (at least in the current economic situation) appear to be much higher than MArch grads.

Jul 10, 22 2:28 pm  · 
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brentjohnson

RNMN, thank you, I have read this before as well. I am not too worried about economics, as i plan on retiring from the militaary and will have a hefty retirement check. I really just want to get into a field that I enjoy and take advantage of the free school I have through the military.

Jul 10, 22 2:33 pm  · 
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natematt

Reinforcing the above, if you really want to do architecture, get an accredited MArch degree. This will be a 3ish year degree for you, you will not be able to do any of the 2 year, or advanced placement ones, but I'm sure you would figure that out. 

Don't do a BArch if you can go right into the MArch, you'd waste a lot of time on what is a lesser degree (on paper at least). And any benefits of having a BArch, or more time in school really, will disappear quickly once you start working. 

Jul 10, 22 12:51 pm  · 
1  · 

I am not sure if there is online M. Arch programs. I am just not knowledgeable in that area. As long as it is NAAB accredited, I cannot see any difference "online" would make.

If you want to design, manage, and draft... I guess architecture office fits you better than working at GC's or developer's offices.

Just keep in mind that like so many other professions, connections matter more than your competency many many times. So being online can hurt you. And I am going to assume that you have some financial security from being in the armed forces for 10 years. Your starting salary won't be great.

Jul 10, 22 2:27 pm  · 
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brentjohnson

Jason,

Totally understand the challenges of online/in person. I think my work ethic drive, and initiative will assist me. Additionally, if I had other options available for an M.Arch degree i would definitely pursue. Challenges of being in the military.

-Brent

Jul 10, 22 3:01 pm  · 
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deltar

So I'm currently an online B. Arch student and a veteran obviously the ability to do things remotely has been accelerated via COVID which is fantastic but... What I'll say from my experience is that if you have high optemo or frequent ftxs you won't be able to do your degree online while in uniform. While the classes are online, they aren't selfpaced and there are weekly (sometimes more frequently) check-ins on projects, drawings, papers, etc. and playing catch up is nearly impossible. I had a knee surgery last winter and was down for the count for 4 days nearing finals and I was not able to sleep very much during the end of that semester. Now if you have a deskjob or something where you don't/rarely go to the field you'll be alright. If you go this route though, supplement your education as much as possible to get the most out of it. Read books in your downtime, work on sketches, work on plan reading, because even though its more acceptable there are still firms that will look down their brick and mortar noses at you for "doing it the easy way" so you want to have the skill/knowledge to back up your degree. Be sure you have a room where you can spread out and not worry about a constant mess for 9 months out of the year, models and drawings will eat up a lot of free space.

Jul 11, 22 2:57 pm  · 
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brentjohnson

Deltar,

Thanks for your reply and perspective. I do have a low opstempo job at the moment and I believe with some of the programs I’ve looked at I will be able to manage my time effectively. I am also sure that i would be able to get the support I needed if I need to do “check-ins” or things of that nature. At this point in the game, I’m just trying to ensure that the path I’m on sets me up for what I want in the future. Nothing worse than wasting time and/or money. Also to the point about online vs. brick and mortar, i think some (should be most) firms/companies would understand a full time military member pursuing a field they want would be praised for doing whatever it took. There should also be a understanding that with this path i dont expect to make godly amounts of money, get promoted quickly, or be a renowned Architect. Just looking to get my foot in, enjoy my job, and change the world in anyway possible. Good luck on your B.Arch!

-Brent

Jul 12, 22 3:48 pm  · 
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atelier nobody

There are a few 100% online accredited M.Arch programs. The schools that offer them are not generally the most highly regarded architecture schools, so I might not normally recommend them, but given your situation as an active-duty servicemember they might be your best choice. Ultimately, the "reputation" of your school really matters most when getting your first job - once you have real-world experience your actual abilities will matter a lot more than what school your degree is from.

If you're planning on staying in the Air Force for a while, you could look into whether transferring to AFCEC could dovetail with completing the masters (maybe even getting Uncle Sam to pay for it) so you'd have experience to go along with your degree when the time comes to look for a job. (I have no idea whether AFCEC has any architects or just engineers, or whether they use any uniformed professional officers or all civilian employees - I've only worked with them as an outside contractor.)

Jul 12, 22 7:17 pm  · 
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Volunteer

You might be able to get the USAF to send you to school full time. You would incur additional time commitments after graduation. Many of the USAF bases, such as Raldolph AFB in San Antonio, are very historical and a restoration architect could be very useful for the service to have in their Civil Engineering section. It's a long shot but maybe worth looking into. 

Jul 14, 22 6:40 am  · 
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RValu100

Have you considered naval architecture? Having the military background would probably be a big leg up with defense contractors. Maybe not as interesting as buildings, but probably more money, job security, etc.

Jul 14, 22 12:37 pm  · 
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OM..

Getting the M. Arch will keep the most doors open for you: you can study design, take professional practice, structures, construction electives, and learn about history. Well rounded education and keeps you eligible for getting licensed should you chose to.

I really would suggest going for an in-person program since a lot of the learning happens during in the studio and you can get to know your professors better.

If that's not an option the only school I know of that does a mixed program is the Boston Architectural College (BAC). Most of the classes are remote and you fly in for a couple of weekends (I think that's how it's organized). This might be a good fit for you because a lot of the people in the program are older and already working in offices. Could be a good networking opportunity too. 

Jul 17, 22 4:28 pm  · 
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