Graduate Degrees to Complement an Architectural Degree?

Hi all,

So I'm a 2011 MArch grad from KU who's been struggling for the past year to even land an interview, let alone find work. I've been surviving on what little freelance graphic design work I can get, but it's starting to dry up and my student loan bills aren't going away anytime soon. The further I go, the more it seems like the best option for me is to go back to school and expand my abilities with a degree that complements architecture well.

I'm very interesting in sustainability and humanitarian design, but I'm not really sure what degree options would be beneficial for those areas...but I'm also open to new suggestions.

So...any ideas?


Mar 25, 12 7:18 pm

My default answer:  MBA or MSRED

Attain the power to do things and you can decide what is done.  Start at the bottom and you will always answer to the decision makers.  Control from the top and can shape a future that you want and prioritize those values you feel are important.

Mar 26, 12 10:32 am


 What trace said.

Mar 26, 12 10:59 am

What quizzical said about what trace said.

Mar 26, 12 11:06 am

I think trace has that answer saved in a word document and just pastes it in whenever someone asks this question.

Mar 26, 12 12:35 pm

Hmm, I hadn't thought of pursuing something more business-oriented, although I did see a program for MA Design Management, which seemed intriguing. I'll look into those, thanks everyone.

Mar 26, 12 1:07 pm


It seems to me you have two separate paths to consider:

a) obtain a complementary degree that would give you entre to a more lucrative career  in a field allied with design and construction -- e.g. real estate development; or

b) obtain a comlementary degree that would give you enhanced credentials within the profession of architecture.

Those are very different paths and not necessarily interchangeable. What you address in your 1:07pm post is the b) path. What you have to ask yourself is whether that particular path really will help you achieve what you seek in your career.

Mar 26, 12 1:58 pm

I'd suggest a degree in agricultural.  Since you're already struggling with debt and a lack of work, you are probably going to need to grow your own food if you have any hope of eating after digging yourself even deeper in debt for another college degree.

Then again, joining the masses in deferral is probably better than joining the masses in delinquency, right? 

At least for now, yo!


Mar 26, 12 3:49 pm


Good call! I can't fathom the rational and logical thinking of going school to put off the loan payment ( at least temporarily ). or just part of the reason for going school again. I just don't get it. You already have a master degree, right? What else you need?

Mar 26, 12 4:43 pm


That's another very important factor that I'm considering. I would really prefer not to go back to school, but at this point I'm just trying to look into the options that I have, as my job search just isn't going anywhere. 


Yeah, you'd think a masters degree would do the trick, but it just doesn't seem to be enough in this job market...

Mar 26, 12 5:51 pm

The First Law of Holes states that when you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.

Another design degree will get you more debt and probably little else.  You're doubling down on a bad bet.  There's very little demand for what architects do right now.  That may or may not change.

Mar 26, 12 6:30 pm

@Benjamin Tillman

Why don't you try some technical colleges to hone your skills in stuffs like Solidworks, BIM or GIS stuffs. It could help you to find the well-paid jobs probably not architecture. But you know what, as long as you have stable source of income, you can explore different options. The technical colleges are cheap and you may be able to push off paying off your debt a bit longer.

Mar 26, 12 6:57 pm

Is there a masters degree for marrying rich? 

Mar 26, 12 11:17 pm

What the others said: MBA

I applied for and was accepted (am attending if I can round up enough financial aid) California College of the Arts' MBA in Design Strategy.  It's the program I've been waiting for, and why I am so thankful I didn't go to grad school right after undergrad.

I am SO looking forward to this program!

I think programs like this are attracting professionals and students from all backgrounds who are going back to school 'out of the box' (in reference to Architenect's series' working out of the box') - I think it will become the norm rather than a trend moving forward.


Best of luck!

Mar 27, 12 2:16 pm

Maybe a masters degree isn't the answer, per se... certificates are less expensive, usually focus on the core (no misc. classes), and might give you everything you need except the "i have a masters degree" credential.  down and dirty, ready to do things in the workplace.  its like adding a concentration to your M.Arch.

Apr 12, 12 6:04 pm

I actually asked this exact question about a year ago on archinect. I personally think that the best thing you can do to compliment any advanced degree is to find a way to make money. Some people have it in them, and some don't. If you find a way to make money, you'll be able to enter your field without the same barriers, and be more entrepreneurial in the process. I know architecture is a field that is hard to leave and dive back into, but perhaps picking up a trade, carpentry, computers, anything you can do while keeping your skills up will be more helpful than the lost time and money you spend chasing the degree. I think if you pick up a skill that could at all be useful to a firm down the road in any way, and keep up your design skills they will understand when you enter back into the profession, but I don't know...I haven't even started my M.Arch yet and come from a different profession, it just seems to make sense.

Apr 12, 12 11:08 pm
get on my level

You should try moving to a different country.  

Apr 12, 12 11:15 pm


Please send me your e mails I will be very pleased to send you information about the ideal programs.


Jul 20, 13 8:23 am

what trace said...

Jul 23, 13 12:47 am

I was thinking perhaps a construction management degree.. 

Jul 25, 13 6:03 pm

Sustainable design anyone? an Ms in that seems to be very popular now.

Although im interested in the field I have my doubts concerning its immediate "usability"

Jul 25, 13 10:09 pm

Benjamin - get yourself out of Kansas. There is work out there but you need to be flexible and go where the wind blows

Jul 27, 13 10:06 am

I was thinking perhaps a construction management degree.

I agree with Matthew here.  The MBA is way too much, and an architect would be starting from scratch and competing with previous business undergrads, on average a quarter of the class.  MBA programs are very GPA-driven and club driven.  A Master in Real Estate development is too niche oriented.  Ditto for sustainability.  In a decade, the latter might seem ridiculous, like leg warmers in the 80s.

You can take a Masters in Construction Management and make it kind of business like, by taking classes in feasibility, development, estimating, and whatnot, and still have a traditional CM core.  Not only that, your architectural background is a good foundation, more so than for a MBA.

If you still want to know business, for your own edification, I suggest a leisurely certificate program, not a degree, with about 8 classes.  You don't have to worry about grades, because they don't transfer, so you can relax and learn.  Most good urban universities offer these at night.

I wish I had studied CM as an undergrad, because I would have been more enthused and more awake than studying financial stuff, and then gone to arch. school.  That, in reverse, would also be a good foundation for architecture school.  It is also easy to put together a business minor with CM, since there are some common courses, and one could leisurely slot in elective art and design courses from the very beginning to assemble a portfolio.  I often wonder how some of the meathead/jock types in CM would react to someone taking artsy-fartsy classes to prep for a M.Arch., but it shouldn't matter.  Tell them to go to hell.

For those who think a business education is a guarantee, think again.  If you have an undergraduate degree from a crappy school with crappy grades, then you can use it as toilet paper.  If you have a graduate degree from a good school with good grades, then you have to worry about the starched milieu, the fit, and the type of industry you may end up in.

Lastly, in CM, just consider the good schools.  You can get into one, as these are "low demand" graduate programs, with smaller applicant pools.  It's not like securing a spot at UVa's 3 year M.Arch. program.  And that's not because they're bad or easy, but because it's not a professional degree and only those with a focused interest in this area apply.

Jul 27, 13 11:16 am

Doing additional Master Course with '0' experience is such a waste of time - go join the peace core and get out of the states - see the world. don't become a bean counter - how uninspiring and unambitious.

Jul 27, 13 11:20 am


Agreed.  Most of these masters, especially in Construction, are for people who have worked and are offered at night.  I'm wondering if an arch. grad, especially from a good school like Kansas, can find a spot in a construction or design-build company.

Jul 27, 13 11:28 am

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