Architecture Education Questions Please Help!!


I spend part of today looking at several colleges' undergraduate programs and it appears that they have seperate programs for students who do not enter the program right out of high school. As I said above I wanted to first earn a BA in Historic Preservation and then a Pre-professional degree in Architecture (both undergraduate bachelor degrees) Is it strange to earn to Bachelor degrees. If possible I would want to earn them in regular colleges (not colleges for non-traditional students) Does it make sense to earn 2 undergraduate degrees or should I just earn a pre-professional Architecture degree.

Aug 17, 11 7:19 pm

"I am considering bypassing the Pre-professional degree and just earning the BA in Historic Preservation and then earning a professional accredited Master of Archhitecture (which at Columbia University is 3 years, 4 with the dual degree) My only concern is that I won't get enough education. With a B.Arch (which I really would prefer not earning) is 5 years. What would I not learn or do in a 3 year M.Arch program (4 years with a dual degree)? Time is a concern for me but I still want to learn as much as I can."

Let me put it like this, the 3-yr. M.Arch is basically the 5-yr. B.Arch without the general education requirements. The BA in HP (Historic Preserv.) will cover general ed and will get you a couple of years through fundamental Historic Preservation. Remember this, field experience is also education. With the Dual Degree option that you states, you'll get all the same studio & subject course (essentially) as in the B.Arch but renumbered, you'll also be covering more on historic preservation with an M.S. in HP.

Do bear in mid that you can do a dual B.Arch and B.A in Historic Preservation. I would estimate that it would take about 7 years total. Since you would not beed to take the general education component in all the degrees TWICE. Therefore, it should take 7 to 7-1/2 years and probably get your graduation at the end of the 8th year with both degrees.

You will have plenty of homework and education. The rest is what you do in Summer and Winter breaks and extracurricular independent self-study beyond the assigned material. Make the most of your education. There is some free-formness to the learning. Although there is some structure, there is nothing barring or stopping you from learning things to more advance level. I have personally studied much of architecture, structural engineering & civil engineering on my own. I know about retaining walls and how to do calcs on them. This is self-taught stuff. I would need an NAAB accredited degree to get licensed. Historic Preservation doesn't require a license in and of itself. Practice of Architecture (as defined by state laws with exception given for the exemptions in the law) does require a license.

What you don't learn in academia (hence the purpose of IDP) is field based experience learning such as how to talk and communicate with a client. How to talk with a client that will get then as ease with you and talk about their lifestyle. Especially the home-owner type of client. You'll also learn in the field how offices use the academic theories in practice and also learn how to deal with an non-idealistic world in terms of designing non-idealistically because that is what 90% or more of your work will be in professional practice.

Experience is in itself a type of education. This you will learn and get in IDP. Things I would advise you to get is some JOBSITE (ie. CONSTRUCTION SITE) experience. Maybe a little bit of "laborman" experience doing a little bit of framing anf some other stuff to see the construction side of the world. This will help you be able to design buildings with a knowledge and sense of how buildings are constructed. Understanding construction connection joinery like how timber beams are joined and the techniques used to do that. In addition, some understanding of finish millwork as in doors, elaborate windows, cabinets and high end stair design requiring craftmen of higher skills then the typical rough framer with a nail gun, hammer and skill saw. get some experience making a few shop drawings along the way so you understand what construction people do. This would be critical experience in historic preservation. Attend summer field schools. So all these things to get you prepared for what you will be dealing with in the real world even while in school.

You have a choice to fully commit your time to this or to partake on the few parties here and there. It depends on how much you put yourself but even then, you need some personal down time or things to get your mind off of architecture periodically.


Aug 18, 11 12:32 pm

You can have two Bachelor's degrees. You only need to take the General ed stuff once. You just need to take the courses required for both majors. Sometimes, a class you take can meet both major "electives" and you can possible "double dip" some classes.


Aug 18, 11 12:35 pm

Thank you RickB-OR for your continued help! Are you saying that if I were to earn a BA in Historic Preservation from one university, and then earn a pre-professional Bachelors degree in Architecture from another university I wouldn't have to do the core curriculum/general education requirements at the second university for the second bachelors degree and that I could graduate in fewer than 4 years? If so that would make things a lot easier and would save a lot of time if I only have to do it once.

Aug 18, 11 5:12 pm

The private colleges are more complicated but if the General ed curriculum is similar then it would probably not need to be taken twice. If there is different general ed requirements, then you may have only have to take a handful. Since most will articulate same or similar classes. When it comes to state colleges within the same state college system, the requirements would be the same general ed classes then you would not need to. Give or take a couple terms. You'll probably be ok for most of the general ed.

If you taking classes from two universities, that would make things fun.

If the school which you take the M.S. in Historic Preservation has 3 year M.Arch then just take the 3 year M.Arch. (professional) after you get the BA ub Historic Pres. You may proceed on to get the M.S. in Historic Pres.

Masters degrees don't have "general education" core curriculum as that is assumed to be obtained in the Bachelor's level degree. It is all Major focused. That is why it is 3 yrs and maybe a term or semester vs. 5 solid years long at full class load. Any degree can take longer if you take classes at less than the standard curriculum load per term/standard or have to repeat a class or whatever. Do bear in mind that the number of years is an assumption of standard course load for the degree without repeating any of the classes.

Even a 1 year degree can take 5 years. Do bear that in mind. Taking to degrees at once either increases number of credits a term/semester to potentially insane levels or it takes longer to get both. A good college with a good comprehensive program is going to put alot for you to do. For example: HABS drawings for example is alot of work an requires HIGH ACCURACY like the most absolute accuracy you can get. Then there is Historic Structures Report to write. That is in itself alot of work and will often can entail  HABS standard drawings.

It is alot of work.

I suggest then - BA Historic Preservation, M.Arch (3yr+ Professional Architecture degree) and when you complete that, get your M.S. in Historc Preservation at whatever pace your need to take.


Aug 19, 11 1:06 pm

I would say that it would probably take 8 to 9 years at curriculum standard rate. It will probably take 10 to 12 years. Assuming students taking on average 133% longer because of either reducing class load at times or repeating a class. Plan for the longer duration so you have what we say in project management, some "float time" by try working at the normal class rate and try keeping to that schedule if you can. Don't panic if you need to reduce class load a little or something that you might have to repeat. You aren't perfect. It happens.


Aug 19, 11 1:14 pm

RickB-OR, I would like to let you know that after looking into the Yale University Undergraduate Admissions website, Yale and most likely other universities do not accept applicants who already have Bachelors degrees, so I would not be able to earn a BA in Historic Preservation and a pre-professional degree. I will have to apply to all of the universities that I am interested in and see where I am accepted. I still can enter a professional M.Arch program without an Architeture background, if I choose to do the BA in Historic Preservation, and I can always do the M.Arch/ MS in Historic Preservation dual degree in addition to a pre-professional degree.

Aug 20, 11 4:41 pm
Dr. Architecture


Try these website -- and; you could contact me via the website - just select Dr. Architecture.  I have over 20 years of experience with aspiring architects plus I worked for NAAB and fully understand how to help you.

Dr. Architecture.

Aug 20, 11 6:26 pm

You can't enroll in a B.Arch after obtaining another Bachelors in another field. However, one could enroll in a pre-professional B.A. or B.S. after obtaining a B.A or B.S. in another field. You just can't enroll in a B.Arch (professional) as a second degree. A Pre-professional degree is not subject to NAAB's accreditation rules "per se".

Some schools may have their own crazy reasons but most will allow a person to obtain a second B.A or B.S. in Architecture (Pre-Professional). However, B.Arch may not be a second degree. NAAB doesn't accredit such because that is why NAAB has an accreditation for a 3 year M.Arch. A professional degree in Architecture means an NAAB Accredited Architecture degree.

I did say you can obtain a B.A. or B.S. in Historic Preservation and then enroll in a 3 yr. M.Arch (Professional). There is nothing to gain by attending a pre-professional Architecture degree and then a professional M.Architecture.

Believe it or not, a B.A. in Historic Preservation would involve alot of Architectural subject matter but they are generally treated as a "non-architecture" degree such as non- B.A./B.S. in Architecture or B.Arch. As silly as it sounds, it is what it is. However, you would be involved with a great number of architectural subjects in the perspective of working with historic buildings.



Aug 21, 11 7:37 pm

Thanks Dr. Architecture.


Aug 21, 11 7:38 pm

Hi Again! During this period of time that I have been looking into colleges and universities, I have been also creating a list of colleges and universities I will apply to. Because undergraduate comes first that is what I would like to focus on first. With the Common Application, which most universities use I believe that the maximum number of applications you can submit is 20, and I have 20 on my list so I would like to take a one or two off my list if possible. I would like to know what people think of these universities in general and how their undergraduate (pre-professional) Architecture programs are: Tufts University- Medford, MA,  University of Pittsburgh- Pittsburgh, PA  Temple University- Philadelphia, PA  and University at Buffalo SUNY- Buffalo, NY. Your help willl be greatly appreciated! Thank you.

Aug 26, 11 11:10 am

Hello there fellow high school student attempting to figure out where to apply...
I’d love to see the rest of your list! I’m trying to rid myself of some schools too.
But to answer your question,  I’d say don’t apply to Tufts or U Pitt if you want to study architecture. I didn’t have to look far to come to this conclusion, the fact that they are not accredited programs is enough for me to not want to waste my parents money on it.  Those schools are awesome, and UPitt has a pretty cool looking historic preservation program but I just don’t really see the point if it’s not accredited. Unless you plan to use the degree for graphic design... but then you might as well study graphic design instead.

The thing I like about studying architecture is it’s sort of like an interdisciplinary physics-design-business-learn how to get shit done intensive course which might turn me into a zombie as a result of sleep deprivation but it would be rewarding because I believe architecture is the highest form of art. You could go into a ton of different job fields with a B.Arch or an M.Arch. I’m an indecisive teenager, and the fact that I can have options after college would be nice.
Since you seem really intent on getting that M.Arch, I’ve found 2 schools that have M.Arch’s for undergrads(if anyone knows of any other schools that offers such please let me/the world know), Kansas State University and Tulane. Also, I don’t know if you have an inclination towards city life but I kinda have strong feelings that architecture should be studied in or relatively close to a city. Maybe it’s because I’m from one but... Yeah. Those are my thoughts... Sorry if it’s really run-on-y but while I was writing this I pressed backspace and my beautiful long rant got deleted *sadface* haha.

Aug 30, 11 10:42 pm

OH and the way I’ve been told to rank schools is by looking at their alumni network, their faculty, and not to disregard the rankings, because rankings should be a factor since they supposedly dictate how well the instructors/curriculum/classes are.  So if you have time, you should just google some of the faculty members/alumni and look at their work, see if they have any books that people have actually bought, if you like what they have, if they have anything, created and if they are currently working on things while teaching.

Aug 30, 11 10:44 pm

Wow I am so sorry about how long it took me to reply to your post. As a result of Hurricane Irene I lost electric at my house for 5 days, and then my family went on vacation so there wasn't any way I could respond. Sorry : ( Anyway, I really like the undergrad programs at the top schools. In fact Yale so far has my favorite undergrad program, while Columbia University comes in second. At first I was very unhappy about Core Curriculum and/or General Education requirements however now I embrace it and really think that I will enjoy it. I really like school and want to have as much education as I can and at the best schools possible. I don't want a B.Arch because that is the accredited degree and I want to earn my accredited degree as my Masters and there aren't really any good schools that offer B.Arch except for Cornell, and also Syracuse, Carnegie Mellon, RISD, RPI, and Cooper Union.They are good but not the best. I would also like to earn a M.Arch and Historic Preservation dual degree, most likely at Clumbia University. I was born, raised, and still live in the Northeast and that is really the area I would want to go to college in, work in, and live in. With the exception of several universities in DC, MD, MI, and VA.

Sep 9, 11 2:09 pm

As of right now my undergraduate (non accredited but accredited for M.Arch)  list is the following): This is in the order of choice:

Yale University, Columbia University, Cornell University, University of Pennsylvania, MIT, Princeton University, University of Virginia, Rhode Island School of Design, Northeastern University, Tufts University, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Maryland College Park, Pennsylvania State Univeristy, Univeristy of Pittsburgh, Catholic University of America, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University at Buffalo State University of New York, and Temple University.

I just started my Sophmore year of high school so I still have time to prepare make sure i stand out from other applicants, and change my list a little bit. As of right now this is my list for Undergraduate. It may change. I may move around some and take some off I will have to see. The next post will be the list of my Master of Architecture (accredited) list.

Sep 9, 11 2:18 pm

Columbia Univerisity, Yale University, MIT, University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, Princeton Univeristy, University of Virginia University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Northeastern University, Rhode Island School of Design, Rensselear Polytechnic Institute, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Syracuse University, University of Maryland College Park, Catholic University of America, University at Buffalo State Univeristy of New York, Temple University, Roger Williams University, City College of New York City University of New York.

I have even more time to prepare for the M.Arch and being in a good undergrad program should help to get me into a M.Arch program but not guaraneteed. For the undergradute I am pretty sure that the maximum number of applications you can submit with the Common Application (which mos major colleges and universities use) is 20, and I have exactly 20. Good luck. I would also like to know what schools you are interested in.

Sep 9, 11 2:27 pm

I have posted may posts and questions about becoming an architect, licensing, what schools to go to, what type of degree to earn. I have decided that I am going to earn an undergraduate (non-accredited, non-professional) degree in architecture, and then a professional & accredited Master of Architecture. In my undergraduate degree I would prefer to earn a BA rather than a BS and I would like to focus more on the design rather than the math and science of architecture. What do you think of Dartmouth College's undergraduate degree in Architecture. It is offered by their Thayer School of Engineering. Will that mean that I won't have a liberal arts background, and that there will be more of a focus on the math, science, and engineering involved with architecture rather than more focus on design or theory and criticism? Just curious. Thank you for your help!

Sep 26, 11 4:39 pm



looks like your setting your goals high that's a good thing but be prepared to not make it into the college you want that is unless you have a 1500 out of 1600 on the SAT... our library has a poster of some of the top schools and what the average SAT/ACT scores for people that were accepted, and 50-75% of the colleges that you mentioned are ether ivy league or very exclusive with the scores that are considered.


you stated you wanted a nonprofessional non-accredited  undergrad degree with an accredited M.arch while i found a (Andrews) university that offers just that but in 5 1/2 yrs to get it... 

just thought you might want to know about it even though its probably not on your radar for schools your interested in.

I too am looking into Arch. but probably for a different reason. I've always liked the idea of architecture but more for it's usefulness in the mission field than for its opportunities as a career.   

Jan 22, 13 12:14 pm

First, let's clear up the alphabet soup:

NAAB - accredits degrees at at schools (see below)

NCARB - oversees registration / ARE - the actual exam, administered by NCARB

AIA - the Institute - membership is optional

About going to school:

- you can go for a 4 yr. BA/BS in architecture - it's NOT accredited, but it IS a degree in architecture - to make your education NAAB accredited, you have to add a +2 M.Arch. which is currently in good standing.  While the NEXT 2 options are set-up for licensing, only some states will license people with a BA/BS.  Check with your state or the state where you want to live.

- you can go for a 5 yr. B. Arch, which is NAAB accredited, and is currently in good standing

- you can go get ANY degree (art, English, economics, anthropology, engineering, etc.) and then go to a 3 or 3.5 year M.Arch, which is NAAB accredited, and is currently in good standing.  These typically have foundation courses, and then merge into +2 M.Archs.

About selecting what to do:

For a FRESHMAN, some people pick depending on where they live.  Say you're in Arizona.  If you live in Phoenix, ASU offers the 4 + 2 set-up.  If you live in Tucson, UofA has traditionally offered a 5 yr. B.Arch.

The other thing you might consider is whether the school bills itself as a "design-oriented" school or a "comprehensive" school.  What that means is way more emphasis on design and theory in the first situation, and design, along with a good dose of technical information, in the second situation.

Majoring in anything else and then going into a 3/3.5 year M.Arch. is the toughest road.  It can be really interesting and one can mix two skills.  However, the admissions process is the most fickle.  Realistically, it is only appropriate for someone who has always had an aptitude for architecture, or is fairly sure they can acquire that aptitude before and during that educational process.

Jan 22, 13 2:28 pm

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