Jumping ships :BArch to interior design / graphics OR MArch


Hello everyone, This is my first post, I would really appreciate if you all would help and answer like you do for so many people like me:) I have BArch degree from out of US. I have not worked for 3 years I have been in US, just survived on making plans and dreams. I am planning to go back to school now.... I just want to stop dreaming and do something. I looked into MArch program, they want me to take atleast 2 studios and I don't know how many more prerequisites before i get to start MArch ... If I do all that I still have to have a licensure of course later. Feels like a long Way to go. I really want advice from people like you, although everybody knows how much hardwork goes into BArch, I didn't want to leave it and switch fields... But I want to start something that realistically I would continue and get to work. Interior design and graphic design are two things that I would enjoy doing, but I don't know much about the job market and scope of them for me, and also which one of them would choose and where would I end up after that. Also i couldnt dind a masters course in any of them, i only have a bachelors degree around where live. I am confused and really want to decide because admissions are rolling and some ate already gone. I also don't know how much credits are they going to transfer. Maybe an online course, or just stick with MArch. I am so confused and need help! Please:)

Mar 29, 12 9:12 am

Your best bet in this economy would be to go with graphic design -  only the top 2% of architectural grads are successful - you can't have any bad habits - people who procrastinate, make excuses, and fail to follow through with commitments can't be architects.

Mar 29, 12 11:37 am

Thanks for your suggestion concerning my question. I don't know what u are thinking but you should not be so judgemental about anybody. I did not Pursue my career for these years for my family and my kid, but I did not stop dreaming and planning for my future, and now is the time to start working on it. I did not fail , I actually did complete my commitments and now I am going to find what is best for me and my family and make it happen. For people like you, I have an advice, if you cannot help, stop spreading discouragement. Thanks again

Mar 29, 12 10:15 pm

Sorry - I did not mean that for you at all - the statement I made is a general statement that does not apply to you  - that being said, it does take self discipline to succeed - is all I am saying - 

you can't have any bad habits - people who procrastinate, make excuses, and fail to follow through with commitments can't be architects

This is in reference to the fact that in order to succeed at anything especially a career as demanding and unforgiving as architecture - or the Navy SEALS - one of my classmates was an architect for the Navy and her husband was a SEAL she would learn from him methods of self discipline to stay in studio 4 days and 4 nights - I encourage everyone that enters this profession - just do what it takes no matter what - I know many who retired while on active duty so to speak and they are broke.



Mar 29, 12 11:55 pm

get an MBA. You will thank me in the long run

Mar 31, 12 12:56 am

To get into an MBA program you need to have at least 3 years of professional experience. Right now you have 3 years of unemployment experience. Even if you get accepted to an MBA program, without any work experience you won't get anything much out of it. You're right that an architecture degree is not the kind of degree to just throw into the garbage but you gotta survive right?

Graphic design is utterly glutted. I advise you to stay away. Interior design seems to be the best option here and you don't need a license to become an interior designer. You can just open your own practice. You already know architecture so you can do interior design if you have passion.
You seem to be a little confused about what to study. Why don't you take some more time to think about what you really want to do? Choosing a grad school and a program is not a light decision and can cost you a lot. Talk to people and learn about the business you want to get into. If I were you I'd increase my hustling skills and try to get some small side works then add them to my portfolio. Trying to market your skills and getting clients.. This is the kind of experience no school can give you. This way you can find out if you really like doing interiors and then go to school. Just my 2 cents.

Mar 31, 12 6:37 am

  Be careful about going where the crowd goes - too many are going into interiors because that's were the jobs are - right? 3 or 4 years later when you graduate and so did a everybody else, his sister and brother + a few uncles - then what? I made that mistake with Graphic Design many years ago -  too many grads - So I went into 3D Graphics at a flight simulator company doing Bomber Sims and studying industrial design @ night - and ultimately an M.Arch. + and the only reason I started with graphic design was because there was a recession at the time and architecture was not the place to be - which is were I am now - e.g., find out what you want to do and then do it.

Mar 31, 12 12:01 pm

Thanks for all the input everyone. I have to go to school because having an education from US is important, it would also validate my B Arch. Am I confused where to go , yes I am, because architecture was the profession I wanted to work in, but it doesn't look right for me now when I am in the US, it's a long way to go, the only other thing I would think of was interior and I am only scared because of the economy, are there really jobs in interior design right now? I don't know. I think you're right graphics is a totally diff field for me too, I shouldn't get into it. Interior is something I know and it would also be a specialization kind of thing if I get a masters program which I couldn't find around Cleveland. I can't do an undergrad again, they might offer me a certification of some kind, will that be good enough?

Apr 2, 12 9:00 am

I don't think graphics are nearly as glutted as architecture.  Not to mention, they at least pay their own in proportion to their skills and talents, which architecture certainly doesn't.

If you do pursue graphics, which I would recommend as the "path of least resistance", ie the path with the best reward/effort ratio, make sure to diversify.  You can learn web, video, 3D, and probably interior design at the same time.  None are nearly as grueling as architecture (though you can make them as intensive as you want, which, as zenakis points out, is really what you need to do to "make it").

iPads and such are making new markets, which technologies are converging, making for some great opportunities for design and programming. 


Business - get something in business, take as many classes as you can (if you can't get into a MBA program).  This is invaluable knowledge that they won't teach you anywhere else.

Apr 2, 12 10:25 am

Firstly, the people I know who did best in grad school were those with experience, who came into the program knowing exactly what they wanted out of it and where they wanted to go in their careers. Undergrad is the time for exploration, grad school is the time to make things happen for yourself, and it doesn't sound like you're there yet. There is no harm in going to grad school a few years down the road, when you've figured yourself out a little better. 

Second, you don't necessarily need grad school in order to try things. Apply for internships in one of your areas of interest and see how that goes. Or take a couple of night courses without committing to a full graduate program—many reputable schools offer continuing education programs (just ones I happen to know of: Otis, Art Center, MICA, so I've got to assume there are a bunch more). That could be a way of helping you decide.

edited to add: trace™, I'm sooooo tired of graphics being "the path of least resistance" to people. The field is getting cluttered up with absolutely AWFUL portfolios done by people who have no common sense, very little training, and no ability to tell the good from the bad. I wish this would stop being recommended for this reason, because the task of reviewing portfolios is getting more and more painful every year.

Apr 2, 12 11:29 am

I agree with trace™ and Erin Williams.

There's also the issue that a large portion of the graphics design industry, print design, that has more or less been dying for 20 years— newspapers are folding, magazines are becoming thinner, business stationary has become a $99 for everything online special and, well, people are still using comic sans.

I don't do print design anymore because a majority of the companies I've encountered looking for print designers are hoping good design will save them or increase profit margins. Good design will not necessarily make a company profitable again nor will it increase your audience— good design will only increase odds.


Also, the majority of graphic design is purely gimmick. A really well-done piece of print design is generally not particularly attractive at all. Good print design is actually quite ugly.

And it's hard to compete with people who rely purely on visual gimmicks rather than taking any sort of time to design thoughtful and competent forms of print media designed to convey mass information.

Instead, everything is getting turned into one-off advertisement-like design. Like this...


Apr 2, 12 12:46 pm

Every design industry has more and more bad stuff, that's just population growth and online distribution/access.  Nothing you can do about that.  BUT there are also superb designers all over the place that get great exposure via online, some making careers out of it (can you say WWFT and even KDLab, then to Tron!).  I'd say graphic/video/3D is continuing to evolve into great possibilities.

That's my observation, and owning a graphic/web/3D company, I'd say I've got a decent view on things.  The architecture world, eh, not so much.  No innovation, not really any progress, if anything this last economic downturn lowered the expectations (salary wise) substantially and has created a glut.  Maybe I am wrong...


Print design is somewhat dead, but there is still demand at the high end.  You can't get away from a "product", even if it is a smaller piece of the presentation.  Note, though, that the "presentation" is larger than ever, with so many different outlets that have to be tapped (online, iPads, blogs, facebook, etc.).


The entry barrier is so low for graphics (and photography) via technology that there is nothing you can do to stop the on slaught of crap.  However, this also creates amazing opportunities for those with #1 ambition/initiative and #2 talent. 

I am teaching my nephew SketchUp, Photoshop, drawing/painting (via Painter and the Star Wars matte paintings), Photography, etc.  He's years away from HighSchool!  He can have a career before he gets to college, or, at the very least, have a part time job that is a hell of a lot more fun than Domino's delivery!


So, I think the possibilities are extremely bright.  Technology is opening so many new doors, really some amazing things happening.  Again, not with architecture, as it has chosen to continue to eat its own and not open the doors to innovation/entrepreneurship.

Apr 2, 12 2:26 pm

Talking about glutted professions and kind of related to trace's post I advise you to read 'The Dip' by Seth Godin. It is a short book but it is very enlightening. One quote from the book: "Quitters never win and winners never quit." Bad advice. Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time."


Apr 2, 12 3:45 pm

Thanks all for you precious advice, tips and discussion. Erin you have a good point, I really want to study but I havent figured out what I want. Continuing ed courses are a very good idea ... Though I still can't find any interior/ graphics one around. There isn't even a certification in interior design. They just have a bachelors program. I think the right path for me is to take some courses just to learn and apply for internships.( I hope I find one).

Apr 2, 12 11:18 pm

Have you considered product design for furniture or architecturally related products? There are opportunities in those fields and with a strong background in architecture you would be an asset to a manufacturer. Good luck!

Apr 10, 12 1:08 pm

Where do we start with that ? School / work ... Please elaborate, thanks for your input :)

Apr 30, 12 11:53 pm

I would suggest researching either undergrad or grad programs for product design. Please understand that product design is different from industrial design which involves more math.  There are some (but not many) architectural firms that also do product design, graphics and branding. In my opinion these are the companies that will be leading the industry. The firm HOK just launched (last year I believe) a new company division focused on architectural product design. Google HOK Product and you will understand what I am talking about. Michael Graves has a product division. Google his firm and you will see how he has his operation organized. I used to live and work in Princeton for an architect and Mr. Graves was well known for his "out of the box" thinking on why architects need to be doing more than just designing buildings. The real money I believe is in the manufacturing & design of the products that go into a building. You would be smart to either obtain a degree or certificate  in product design focused on furniture or architecturally related products. Product design coupled with your architecture degree will make your background very marketable (and unique) to manufacturers in the architecture and design industry. I myself just made the switch from working for an architecture firm to a manufacturer of architectural products. I have 20+ years of experience in the A&D community and now I am the Dir. of Marketing Communications for a solid surfacing company. You can check out my profile on this site if you like. I will be developing marketing + branding strategies as well as product designs for the A&D community. I have been fortunate to have worked with some incredibly talented architects and interior designers throughout my career and I feel that my experiences to this point have all helped me to get to where I am now. Do not give up. An architectural degree has value but together with product design degree I believe you will be highly sought after. Good luck to you and I hope this advice was helpful.  

May 1, 12 11:07 pm

BTW, I agree with the above comments about graphic design. Too many people are pursuing this avenue. Graphics is a great skill set but I would not advise getting a degree.

In order, if I were you, I would try to get a part-time job as an intern architect while starting in degree program in product design with a focus on furnture or architecturally related products. When you have completed your degree, apply to architecturally related manufacturers for product designer positions.

May 1, 12 11:26 pm

for whoever said you need 3 years of experience for an mba (above somewhere):

I have an M.Arch, zero experience, and got accepted into one.  the experience requirements certainly go up with the quality of the school, but you can find a decent one if you shop around.

haven't even finished reading the thread yet... just wanted to say that.

May 2, 12 1:32 am

For an interior design certificate - check out Interior Designs Institute in Newport, CA.They also have Masters program.

Or check out UCLA Extension's Interior Design. They have a 'foundation level certificate' and also the option of obtaining a Masters in Int. Arch.

Hope this helps!


May 4, 12 4:40 pm

Hmm, I think people need to be careful about differentiating a quality degree and getting some certificate.  What makes a good designer, and ultimately a better career, is going to be their education (with a few exceptions).

I would strongly discourage anyone from getting any 'quick fix' (ie certificate), unless they are comfortable being at the bottom of a [design] profession. 


For things that do not require critiques and fellow designer participation, that's fine, but for anything creative I truly believe you need to study and learn from/with those that are more experienced and talented.


May 6, 12 12:11 am

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