Examples of MArch I Portfolio

Paul A. Zamorano

I would  like to see examples of portfolios that got  accepted to Harvard's GSD MArch I program or any other MArch I programs?

Can anyone help?


I would like to see examples of those that don't have design background.



Aug 2, 12 10:40 pm

Background: graduated '11 with a bachelors in urban planning. 

Accepted in University of Cincinnati's mArch I program beginning this fall. 

Aug 3, 12 12:19 pm

Sorry, messed up the link. Proper link is here:

Aug 3, 12 1:08 pm
Paul A. Zamorano

Thanks for the link!

Aug 4, 12 11:51 pm
good details

One of those is a 56 page portfolio.  Isn't that completely overkill?  All of my profs have said to not exceed 20 pages and even that may be too much.  I guess it did get them into some great schools...

Sep 10, 12 3:10 pm

Bump.  Seems like M. Arch 1 with no professional design background are extremely rare, which makes me wonder how many of them actually exist or are successful getting into good programs.  All these schools SAY they encourage people with different backgrounds to apply, but I wonder how many actually are able to get in given the limited experience and knowledge.


Also, a lot of the portfolio and application advice I find doesn't apply to those of us with absolutely zero background.  It's kind of discouraging.

Oct 14, 12 2:58 pm

Based on my current experience in graduate school now, there are a bunch of people with non-architecture backgrounds - maybe 1/3rd of the class. I know that's true at at least one other top school as well.

Oct 14, 12 7:52 pm

I need some of my doubts clarified. I'm from India, doing my final year in B.arch and I would like to pursue M.arch in the states. I need help designing the perfect portfolio. And I saw some of the links.  The first one has a lot of studying the approaches or the theories of different architects. Its somewhere near page 30, that the actual "designing" has started. Now, are so many works required? Especially, when its mostly analyzing. (Its 40 pages in total and the majority goes off in analyzing. And its 40 PAGES!)
The second one: OMG, its 48 pages! I like the second one. cool! Do you really need so many views? Arent conceptual sketches or details more important?

My basic doubt is this. Three of the portfolios have 40 to 50 pgs. Necessary?  As zenza has put it, isnt it an overkill? I was told that about 25 to 30 should do the job. Next, Indian architecture schools deal with designs differently. If there's any of you from Ind, please help me out.  

Aug 5, 15 1:36 pm

Hey Sarayu. I'm in the exact same situation as you. In my 5th year, from India. I'm pretty much having the same issue. Schools in India have a vastly different approach with regards to design. They don't focus much on the conceptual work. All the portfolios that I've seen from Ivy leagues and other unis have folios which are filled with conceptual/experimental content. Even if you look at folios from the top unis in India, you wouldn't find any projects like those. It's really a tough call when it comes to deciding on an approach to your folio when competing against those.

Aug 5, 15 3:18 pm

I never stated that I'd be applying to Ivy leagues. I know very well that my current situation/knowledge limits me from doing so. I'm not blaming my education system here but I don't think there is anything wrong with wanting to learn something that you weren't taught by looking at other applicants, as opposed to just staying complacent.

Aug 5, 15 4:27 pm

It has always struck me as odd that there are so few Indian students in M.Arch programs. There are many in other Masters-level programs such as the tech-heavy MDes at the GSD. Perhaps it is because of the undergrad system in India?

Aug 5, 15 5:19 pm
^there were a good number at my grad.
Aug 5, 15 9:49 pm
I remember seeing a portfolio on here from an Indian student applying to grad programs.

The most interesting part about it was his personal work. He did some drawings and some small furniture and sculpture on his own. It demonstrated he could think for himself and produce something original.

His school work was so boring and frankly pointless. Inane concepts and the technical drawings were essentially unbuildable.

So if you do make a portfolio please show something you did on your own outside of school. Even if you think it's not professional or weird or that it's not GSD level it will be so so much interesting and indicative of your capabilities.
Aug 6, 15 12:41 am

Hey, I'm apply for fall 2020, any insights on what kinda work to add to my portfolio would be great. Also, how many pages should I make it?


Hey, Rob_c. Do you think its possible to give a link to that Indian student's folio? For both archmpf and I to take a look?

Aug 11, 15 10:06 pm

Hey i have done my b.arch from india and i wish to continue my studies from the states. I wanted some suggestions regarding on how to make the portfolio. It would be of great help if someone could post their portfolios.

Thank you

May 25, 16 5:27 pm

Hey, Does anyone have the examples and standards for portfolio and grades requirements for ivy leagues architecture school in the US? I'm on my last year undergraduate program in Australia

Jun 4, 16 2:22 pm

I wanted to see sample portfolios for Postgraduate programs in Architectural Conservation. Could anybody please help? I'm mostly looking to apply in UK. 

Thank you.

Jul 3, 17 4:46 am

Does anyone have examples of portfolios used for Canadian university entrance?

Jul 5, 17 11:57 am

Yep. This is excellent.


Did he get in?


It says class of 2020 in the headline so he got in somewhere somehow. Considering it's a folio from someone without an architectural design background, it's not that bad imo.

Non Sequitur

Hey guys, the dude is a beer salesman at the CFL stadium. That's an important job.

Non Sequitur

Jason, I have an arch undergrad from carleton and have seen many folios in my days. Yours does not give me the impression you lurked in the architecture school or asked enough professors.


Geez, I honestly think you guys are being a tad harsh with someone who hasn't a background. Other than the texts and perhaps layout, I thought the content showed potential.


What you did here is just so rude, poor guy didn't even ask for any of that "critique".


i'm applying to m.arch I programs currently. no formal design background. i studied geology in undergrad and took lots of sculpture classes. applying to berkeley, uw, ubc, (+ maybe gsapp and penn, but i'm pretty east coast averse). this is the current iteration of my application portfolio:   

Dec 18, 17 11:23 pm

For someone without background this is a solid portfolio. I just briefly skimmed through it but your sculpture work with the book folding is visually compelling and the digrams are nice for a non arch. I think if you wanted to improve it I would take another look at your text. Not the content, but the size, font and spacing. I think for your main description text going down a size would make those paragraphs sit back and would help give your images more importance. I don’t know what font you are using now, but the it seems rather ‘default’.


spoons–– i agree about the text suggestions. thanks for the constructive feedback, i appreciate it!


updated portfolio used for GSAPP application, incorporating feedback:


Hey guys,

I am from India and have done my bachelors in Business Administration while also managing my family business part-time. After my course, i worked 2 years full-time during which time i supervised the construction of two projects. As someone who has always wanted to pursue Architecture (but couldn't due to familial responsibilities), this engagement with the field was very provocative and finally got me aspiring to pursue an M.Arch I in the US.

All the portfolios on here seemed quite intimidating to me back when i first saw them two months ago. As a student from India, i haven't been able to find any guidance or short courses to prepare either (do suggest if anybody else knows anything that's worth the time). However, understanding my deficiencies in this regard, i decided to take a different approach by exploring and learning the unique techniques and materials used in construction by various cultures within my country and trying to do my own projects using these techniques. I have also started rigorous practice with freehand drawing, watercolors and digital painting in the hopes that i will develop the skill to make some portfolio-worthy pieces by December.

Every time i return to this page however, it still makes me doubt everything. As some B.Arch students from India have mentioned here before, most programs here do not value or teach the analytical aspects of things much and i'm not even a B.Arch graduate. I resisted posting for very long to avoid criticism but at this point, i think i need to know if what i'm doing is enough so that i can change things up before it's too late.

Sorry for the long post guys..

Jul 12, 19 12:30 am

I am from India applying for M. Arch programs in the US fall 2020. I'll be giving gre and TOEFL next month. Also making my portfolio currently. Any advice as to how many pages I should keep, what kind of work I should include, also what kind of score should I aspire for in gre and toefl? 

Sep 2, 19 10:44 am

Hey guys.. i just completed my B.Arch from India and i am looking forward to pursue M.Arch next year.

I have a keen interest in skysraper designing and am confused for which field to choose for masters where i can learn the design details needed for skyscraper designing/planning. Is it covered under UD, B.E.M or Housing?

If anyone has any idea about it, please do let me know.

Thank You.

Sep 3, 19 5:34 am

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