MBA after B.arch?


I will be graduating with a B.arch next year. Right now I am interning at a construction firm in NY. I was thinking about going in for M.arch. but since I will be graduating with B.arch which is a first professional degree, is M.arch worth it? or should I be looking into a part-time MBA? there are a lot of architects who work as a project manager where I work. They went to school for MBA. I have read posts about going in for M.arch if you want to be a professor, but that is not my intention. Btw, money is an issue as well. I won't have any debt when i graduate with B.arch but then again I don't want to be in 1000k debt for M.arch or MBA...

I am also working towards LEED Green Associate exam i figured I should get it out of the way before graduating. I know question about MBA after B.arch was asked before I looked through all of those posts. Those questions were more related to M.arch as a professional degree to be eligible for ARE.

Also, I need some advice regarding IDP. I am getting my IDP hours in work setting S right now because I work in a construction firm under supervision of a professional not in architecture field. My plan is to get as many hours i can get here and if things don't work out I can still take ARE because in NY you don't need to finish your IDP hours to be eligible to take ARE. So i was thinking I can finish those hours even after i take ARE or while I take ARE since its a long process. I haven't really talked about all of this to any professor or adviser. I am on a right track?

I read through all forum topics and saw some great advice. I would greatly appreciate feedback from people with same story of MBA after B.arch dilemma...thank you for your time.

Jun 15, 12 1:20 pm

1000k of debt?  Mind the zeros, yo!

Jun 15, 12 1:45 pm

Oops 100k, would like to drop some knowledge on me regarding other questions/issues? i have read a lot of your responses in other posts. .  .

Jun 15, 12 2:02 pm

There are two main advantages associated with obtaining an MBA:

1. It will give you exposure to managerial thinking (especially finance and accounting)  which tends to be in fairly short supply within design firms, and

2. It will open career doors that are hard to wedge open with just a B.Arch (or, even a M.Arch)

There are two disadvantages associated with obtaining an MBA:

1. It will tend to cause you to think about solving managerial problems from the perspective of a large, highly complex organization. Design firms are seldom large and seldom complex organizations. Architects with MBAs must go through some mental adjustment and not try to blindly apply "big firm thinking" to what goes on within design firms. Much of what you learn in MBA school is not easily scalable downward to the typical size of a design firm.

2. It will tend to give you economic aspirations that are hard to satisfy within our profession.

Now, having said all of that, I tend to think highly of architects who pursue graduate training in business. However, most of the dual degree holders that I have met over the years leave the profession fairly quickly in pursuit of greener pastures. That's not necessarily a bad thing - but, it does happen.

Many communities have MBA programs that can be completed at night while working a full-time job during the day. However, that can be quite a grind for the 2-3 years required -- especially if your employer has expectations that you'll be available for night and weekend work. If you go that route, be sure your employer supports your education efforts and cuts you some slack with respect to overtime expectations.

Jun 15, 12 4:08 pm


You are in a terrific place having graduated with zero debt with a Barch and working in the construction field and logging a portion of your IDP. 

Continue to work in your construction job and continue reaching out to talk with practicing architects about your growth path within the arch profession. 

If you decide that you want to continue within the architecture field, keep your graphic and documentation software skills sharp, i.e. keep developing your Adobe Creative Suite and Revit/ACAD skills. Enter competitions and keep up your ability to sketch/draw. 

When/if you transition to an arch firm, try to get into the best firm possible and one that is working at the scale and building typology that most interests you. Its very difficult to determine if architecture is right for you unless you can work for a couple years in a firm that can give you this solid perspective.

Use your time in construction, your couple years of interning at a reputable architecture firm and your continued development of your own creative juices to make an informed decision about future schooling needs.

Don't enter into an MBA program without a clear understanding of why you are pursuing the degree and what it can afford in terms of renumeration and professional growth in  architecture/construction/development fields.

Don't pursue an MArch or MS or MUD etc unless you truly know why and how it will benefit your renumeration and professional growth.

$100K in debt is crippling with the low level of wages people tend to experience in the arch field. If you haven't experienced this level of debt, go online and run thru the payment calculators to get you a sense of what you'll be paying back for the majority of your life. Don't be fooled by low income pay back calculators that only require you to make minimum monthly payments for 20 or 25 years. The interest rate on a $100K loan with minimum payments will skyrocket over time and will affect your ability to purchase a home, a new car, and add stress to long term relationships, yada, yada, yada. You will have to pay taxes on the forgiven portion of the loan after 20 or 25 years which can be huge at a time in your life when you might not have that kind of cash on-hand.

There are many, many successful practicing architects with only a BArch. Consider your lack of debt a gift and take full advantage of it to explore what career path will be most rewarding to you. You can take more creative risks, be more flexible with regards to where you work and whom you work for without $100K in debt hanging over you.

But there are wonderful dual degree professionals out there who have used their time in academia to transform their careers. Just proceed very mindfully and know what is right for you.

Jun 16, 12 1:01 am

The interest rate wont' skyrocket on your loan, that should be locked in and I'd guess you could get something amazingly low these days. 

Quizz is the go to guy here, so I'd defer to his advice above all.  If it were me, I'd get the MBA or a MSRED or combo masters.  It depends on what you want out of life.  If you never, ever cared about anything monetary (like a new car, etc.), then perhaps the business side won't matter.  For me, I did and do care, so I had to find ways to pursue something beyond a typical career path.  If you go out on your own, you will have to learn some business things either by books and trial and error.  Both are fine, but leave holes in everything as you are only exposed to what falls in front of you.

Business knowledge will also offer you more flexibility later on.  Personally, I could have used that knowledge and wish there was a forum like this when I was entering grad school, I certainly would have gotten an MBA/combo of some sorts (alas, I was young, naive and didn't realize that the future does, indeed, change).


Go back and read through the comments, this has been discussed a billion times and the replies are pretty much the same.


Good luck, tip o' the hat to you for escaping debt free and looking for possibilities in your future.

Jun 16, 12 9:11 am

the newintern,

The current interest rate on grad loans is 6.8%. Its the housing mortgage loans that are currently low at around 3.5%.

6.8% interest rate on a 100K loan is substantive. On a 20 year payback plan, you have to make a $753 monthly payment for 20 years. You'd end up paying an additional $83K in accumulated interest overtime. Not alot of people within the arch profession would be able to easily make this $753/month payment for 20 years. Chances are if you got married, your spouse would bear part of the financial burden one way or another.

If you joined the income based contingent payment plan, and assumed your initial arch intern salary was $42K annually with a growth rate of 4% a year, you could pay around $200-$300 a month initially and by year 20 you'd be paying around $492 monthly. Then the rest of the student loan is forgiven. You could be thinking, hey this isn't that bad. I could handle $200 now and I'll be making more money for sure 20 years from now.

The only problem is that the accumulated interest on a 20 year payback would escalate overtime. You'd be liable at year 20 to pay federal and potentially state income taxes on the forgiven portion of the loan. In the above income based contingent payback scenario, the forgivenness portion would be about $155K after 20 years. Assume a 28% tax bracket and you'd be liable for a lump sum payment of $45K in federal income taxes. State income taxes could add more.


People don't like to talk about debt or finances in the architecture industry as openly as it should be discussed.

Additional school is wonderful and can be a very important rewarding career development path and personal enrichment path. Just make sure that you make an informed decision.

Jun 16, 12 12:39 pm

im getting an mba right now, but thats because i have this crazy idea of working architecture, getting licensed, getting some more experience, working for a developer, and then starting an arch/dev firm.

if you don't have a plan or a reason why you really want an mba besides to have it, i don't know if it would be worth the debt.  its MUCH nicer to live debt free.  Your standard of living actually goes up because you're able to spend/save hundreds (thousands for some?) of dollars a month.  to put it into perpective, imagine if you told yourself at the end of every month that you could blow $500 bucks on anything you wanted.

the way i'm doing it is going to cheap night program, living with my parents (fresh out of school), working, and using some of my personal savings.  that should keep me out of the red for the next 18 months.  i debated going to a pricier, longer program like the one at BU but at the end of the day its still an mba, and you'll know 100% more about business than any of your peers.  top tens are important if you want to work for top companies doing finance and the like, but if you're staying in architecture i don't think it matters.

Jun 17, 12 1:50 am

Resources to consider for further design study degrees (I'm from the Bay Area so the list is a little west coast centric)

Stanford's design institute: has fabulous programs.

Stanford also offers a MS/MFA in design that is focused on creating entrepreneurial thought leaders across all disciplines.

Check out Started by a guy out of the GSD. Its a new model for an architecture firm.

Check out, one of the top design firms

CCA also offers a Design Strategy MBA that is covered in another archinect thread.




Jun 17, 12 3:09 am

Hello all,

I am way too overwhelmed by your replies. I never expected such sincerity in answering some college kid's questions on the internet. Thank you very much.

After reading all the posts let me first answer some questions as to why I am thinking of pursuing MBA. As I stated earlier I intern at a construction company which is listed at number (2) on the list on this page I didn't want to type the company's name because as soon as one searches my name on Google, my whole resume shows up! so I want to be a bit anonymous this time lol.

Back to the posts, the main reason why I am thinking of pursuing MBA is because it opens up many chances of working not only in an arch. firm but also in a construction firm. As mentioned before, there are many project managers and VPs here that are architects and did MBA later. Also, that construction company was recently acquired by AECOM, so there are some career opportunities there as well.

Comment regarding staying updated with graphics and CD skills, I continue to learn new software every month so I hope that won't be an issue later on when I decide to jump back to a design firm.

After reading all interest rates and financial calculations, I think going to a cheaper grad school is a great idea. chingale said that my spouse will have to help me pay for my loans, it made me realize that  it is something that i don't want to go through at all.   (BTW thank you very much for spending time on actually looking into those financial calculations and informing me about them, i greatly appreciate that)

"im getting an mba right now, but thats because i have this crazy idea of working architecture, getting licensed, getting some more experience, working for a developer, and then starting an arch/dev firm."

I have that same exact idea and would like to know more about how you are achieving that goal. As you said going in to an expensive school for MBA doesn't really matter because you are not working for companies in finance.

I did a very quick search and it seems like CCNY - Baruch College is a good and cheaper option. If anyone out there going to Baruch College is reading this, what are your thoughts? Being a part-time student, tuition alone for 45 credits sums up around 26,000 which seems fine compared to 27,000 for undergrad tuition at my college right now. Then for the rich kids there is always Cornell, Columbia and NYU.

Considering my younger brother will start college as soon as I graduate undergrad, I think I might just wait few years before I start grad school. At the end of the day I don't want my parents to be carrying the load of the earth and paying off his tuition. Writing all of the things down and reading your replies really put things into perspective. Once again thank you for your help.

i would greatly appreciate if people would like to give their thoughts regarding my issues about grad school, IDP , ARE etc. thanks

Jun 18, 12 11:34 am

thenewintern: "I am thinking of pursuing MBA is because it opens up many chances of working not only in an arch. firm but also in a construction firm."

You may be thinking a bit too narrowly. An MBA also potentially opens the door to a career in real estate development, plus it can make you useful to virtually any other organization that owns or operates buildings, or makes loans to finance the construction of buildings.

Jun 18, 12 11:50 am

Thank you all for help

Jun 21, 12 9:11 am


Regular MBA degree is more valuable the distance MBA. If you want learn and earn then USA is good place. Most of the universities in USA allow student to study and  work for part time and other facilities available like education loan, scholarship etc are also available for those student who are not afford the fees  . Right now ,I am pursuing 3rd year B com and also preparing for GRE and online test practice from MS in US Universities, May be at the end of July, I will appear for entrance exam. There are two type of entrance exam are  GRE and GMAT. Mostly MBA's prefer GMAT because most of the business schools required it.

Jul 5, 12 5:36 am

Thank you Samjames for info. and link , I am actually from NY.

Jul 5, 12 8:53 am

Update –

I ended up staying as an intern at the construction firm until I graduated with a B. Arch. Then I was offered a full-time entry level position on a project that I had worked on since the RFP stage during my internship. While at that project the PM was removed from the project and I was lucky enough to be trusted with all his responsibilities and I worked up the ladder to an APM position. From there I moved on to a PM position (where I currently work) for a public benefit corporation (kind of like a town governing body) managing civil/sports field projects from design to construction. I figured this would be an interesting experience where I will learn more about the owner’s perspective and public sector process.  Along the way I took the Leed Green Associate, got married to an ‘intern architect’ (she is taking her ARE’s) and also went to night school and will be graduating with a general MBA next month without any debt. So to the six year ago me, things turned out alright.

Now, I am at a point again where I am revaluating my career to understand how I can turn construction management + MBA into higher revenue generation. The long term goal is start my own GC but I am not ready for it right now. Some of the options are: work for a developer as a construction PM, work for an owner’s rep. consultancy company, work in construction as PM, work in a construction firm doing smaller scale projects?

I would love to know some thoughts and definitely would love to hear from someone with a similar career trajectory. Thanks

Nov 26, 18 11:41 am

just get an mba and get the fuck out of architecture

Dec 1, 18 12:17 am

I don't know if you stayed in NYC but places like Related or Tishman Speyer would really value your experience as a design and construction PM. That would be my next move. Good luck! 

Dec 2, 18 3:01 pm

Thank you for responses, I am the OP and I am looking for feedback on my recent post to this thread. 

Dec 7, 18 10:01 am

Have you considered an MS in Construction Management?

As you have a career goal to be a GC, it may be a more focused and useful degree.   I would be curious to know what the senior people you work with feel about a graduate CM degree versus an MBA.

Dec 7, 18 11:08 am
Work for a developer or one of the giant firms like AECOM as a senior PM. Don’t waste any more time/money in school you already have the top degree which is the MBA. You’ll get to a point eventually where you’re not able to break the salary ceiling without opening your own business or becoming a partner at an existing company.
Dec 9, 18 10:23 am

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