Master of Architecture - 3 or 3.5 year types


How are the 3 or 3.5 year M.Archs. viewed by the profession / working world?  They are NAAB accredited.  They give one the same educational content as the traditional programs, except that they are sequenced, for obvious reasons, without general education requirements.  The only complaint I've heard is that graduates of these programs aren't as talented in design because they are put through the studio sequence faster, without having summers and extra years to ponder architectural design and theory, either by traveling, reading, or reflection.

Generally, these programs are not found where the 5-year B.Arch. is the main model.  These programs are found where the 4+2 model (BA/BS + accredited 2 year M.Arch) prevails.  Students and professors view them as either people who are getting a "good deal," not real architecture students through reference to them by what they studied before, or students who add to the breadth of the student body.  In the working world, it seems to be that 3/3.5 year types see more of the negative point of view than the positive, in interviewing and in the early years, until they license and/or prove themselves.  I would think this would be even more noticeable in a smaller firm, where B.Archs or 4+2 types, typically from one school more than others, are more represented among the employees.

The numbers who go down this path for education, and licensing, are relatively few, given that not every graduate school offers this program and this is always the smallest of the incoming classes for the professional curriculum.  Does anybody have any ideas on this topic?  Is the retention of these graduates in traditional architectural jobs lower, meaning do they defect to allied fields, related types of work, or leave these fields altogether?

Dec 18, 12 1:38 pm
Kamu Kakizaki

I don't think there is a difference with a 2 year, 3 year, or 3+ year degree professionally but rather what you did in the 'm.arch' program. i personally have a 4 year BA and am working with B.Arch and M.Arch people, without any educational hierarchy or major difference in technical ability. We know that school isn't really about the technical part of architecture such construction documents or revit anyways (anyone can learn it by experience). People take different paths to do architecture but its just like how people marry and have children at different times of their lives.  there's no 'better' its just a difference.  

Dec 18, 12 3:23 pm

Kamueku Luke Kakizaki, agreed (again no like button!) M.Arch is primarily for lay people & clients. More important and what will get you paid in an architecture firm is master of the know how (know how, when, and where to generate details and put a building together) there is no such thing as 73degree angled walls in the real world, you can go crazy with them even in a M.Arch programs.

Dec 18, 12 8:42 pm

all other things being equal i'd expect the 3 or 3.5 year m. archs to have an advantage because they have an extra b. degree in another (hopefully useful) field vs those who have studied only architecture in school

Dec 18, 12 10:49 pm

shuellmi, one wud think grasshopper. but practice make perfect, not a game, practice. practice. we are talking about practice, wait wut were we discussing oh yhea practice

Dec 19, 12 4:16 pm


I only wish I could say that this is the way it shakes out.  Yours is the mature and progressive approach.

When the graduate students are doing their foundation work and placed in the undergraduate courses, the undergraduates are either intimidated or abnormally intrigued by them.  In the work force, I've heard comments like "Oh, you're one of those who got to go twice" from a B.Arch. from a great school.  I've also heard "People with masters degrees have a chip on their shoulder," again from a B.Arch. person, as if someone is going to sit around a campus for 5 years and take a less than full-time load when it can be done in about 3 years on a full-time basis.  Lastly, I knew of a principal who would always sign b-day cards with jokes about what a person had studied/done before, despite nailing the ARE as soon as it could be taken and the first time ... and having them "freeze famed" within those parameters. 

I have seen many defect.  Many defect upon graduation, never going into traditional practice.  Granted, many who are serious and committed still make a go of it, going the traditional route, but many do not.

Dec 22, 12 11:59 pm

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