MS.AAD graduates, candidates, and prospective students.. lets chat :)


hey everyone,

i thought it be great to start a conversation for those who are interested in GSAPP's MS.AAD degree program. i was recently accepted to my first choice, GSAPP, with a really nice scholarship!! i only applied to three schools and was fortunate enough to be accepted to Columbia. i just have a couple of questions before i make my visit to NY next week:

1) what to expect from the program? 

2) how big is the MS.AAD class? 

3) is it mostly digital work rather than analog?

4) is it very competitive and challenging?

5) are you able to work part-time?

6) advice for prospective students? DO's and DON'T's?

Mar 10, 13 1:11 am


just wanted to add to this list of questions to weigh in on decisions that i have between different graduate schools:


Campus housing or Living in the city?

Living in the city or train ride in from further away?

Hows living in harlem/hamilton heights/upperwestside/yorkville?

Mar 10, 13 8:41 am

@sensation, same here! First choice out of 3 schools I've applied to and the first to respond!

Did you take a look at the YOU ARE IN booklet? I took a look at the studio critics list from 2011-2012, there were 30 listed - so 10 studios per semester? I assumed the program was much smaller than that, though this is only my guess.

My question is: what is the schedule of classes like? I'm considering keeping my part-time job though this doesn't sound feasible. Also considering a 3 hour daily commute (total) rather than off campus housing.

Mar 10, 13 11:42 am


Same here! I only applied to three schools. I cried (like an idiot) when I received my acceptance letter and award to GSAPP MS.AAD.

I've read the YOU ARE IN booklet. Did you pay the $700? I hope the program is small, but I heard that MS.AAD class is bigger than M.Arch I, which is hard to believe. I also heard that there are so many international students in the MS.AAD program, either carrying a B.Arch or M.Arch degree.

The schedule of the classes are in the booklet, but they aren't specific on time and day of the week. I noticed that each semester has less classes which is nice, but I heard that during the spring semester we are required to travel abroad before spring break for one week (which Columbia pays for). I HOPE it's possible to work part-time -__-

Mar 10, 13 1:17 pm

Hey, I just got in too. I'm not from the US and I'm now applying for a scholarship in order to be able to afford this, but I still have to hear from other universities that I've applied so I can make the best choice. It would be great to find out more about this program since it is almost imposible for me to go visit the campus or to participate in the open houses.

Mar 10, 13 1:49 pm

@sensation, I haven't yet, as of now I wouldn't be able to afford it so I'll wait on the financial aid package to get a better idea. It's really the only reason I haven't accepted the offer yet, that and also we'd have a few days between the open house on April 3rd and decision deadline on April 15th which is nice.

Mar 10, 13 3:42 pm

Hey, Im accepted for the AAD too. out of curiosity where else did you apply? I did columbia, AA, bartlett, pratt & sci arc.. 

Mar 10, 13 8:45 pm

@robrmm, oh wow.. i hope you get more aid.. i already paid...i just pray that i get on campus housing

@phil.pidis.. i applied to yale (safety) and gsd (2nd choice)

Mar 10, 13 9:56 pm

@arquito... understandable.. i hope i'll be able to answer your questions next week.. i'm flying out to NY this week from Cali

Mar 10, 13 9:58 pm

i found this link on issuu which gives another overview of the course..

Mar 10, 13 10:25 pm

thanks for sharing!

Mar 10, 13 10:41 pm

No problem. if you also want to check student work produced during the course you can again check issuu. there are quite a few portfolio examples from AAD.

seems most of you have the AAD as your first choice.Can i ask why? which criteria or thinking was behind this decision? only asking so that it gets a bit clearer for me as well as i need to decide quite soon,


Mar 10, 13 10:55 pm

Hello ...

Over the weekend I found out that I was accepted to the MSAAD program also! Great news! Woooot!

@robrmm and sensation...

I visited the school during the open house this fall, where I was able to meet and chat with MArch and MSAAD students. I spoke with them about class sizes, and I believe the 2012 class for MSAAD had around 96 students, and the MArch also had close to 100.

This was very appealing to me, because I want to attend a larger program. The post-professional Master's programs offered at most schools are actually quite small.

Mar 11, 13 10:56 am

@lbstudio, congrats!!

how was the studio environment? did each student have a desktop computer? can you describe more about your visit when you have time? i'm glad the class is around 96 students. i wonder how many applied for the MS.AAD program...

Mar 11, 13 11:43 am

I am also a recently accepted MSAAD student (found out Friday), unfortunately, without scholarship.  I knew it would be expensive going into it, and I'd hate for tuition $$ to be the deciding factor, but I'm not sure ~70k tuition for the program is worth it for me. Obviously still waiting on fin aid package.  I'm still waiting on Harvard, but I'm in @ UCLA Suprastudio.

Mar 11, 13 2:30 pm

@sensation I would really appreciate that... and thanks everybody for the info.

Mar 11, 13 4:19 pm


Thank you! I am very excited [and honored] to be enrolling in such a prestigious program. Congratulations to you also -- especially on the awesome scholarship!

I have visited and applied to many different schools through my graduate application process, and the environment fostered by the GSAPP was [by far] my favorite. To me, the environment seemed to be very collaborative - as I walked through the spaces, there were students working together and reviewing eachother's work everywhere. It seemed to be very active and enthusiastic (which can sometimes be missing in an architecture studio).

The studio spaces do have desktop computers - but some people were also working on their personal laptops. The areas were a LITTLE cramped (at least, in comparison with my undergraduate school - where every student had multiple desks to work on). If you have not visited, then you will be amazed by the Avery Library whenever you do visit!

Overall, I was very impressed, and loved how many architecture graduate students were present when I visited. From speaking with current students, I believe that the MS.AAD students are mixed with the M.Arch's. There are a large number of studios to choose from (I think they had 22 studio options last semester). The MS.AAD curriculum is NOT  a thesis-based program, which was appealing to me when I was choosing a program that fit my interests. (You may have found in your own research that MOST post-professional master's programs are thesis based.)

I am not sure how many applied to the program this year - when I asked about this, I did not really receive a direct answer. I would be very interested to know - if anyone finds out, hopefully they will post about it.

As you may be able to tell - I am ecstatic about going to Columbia! It was absolutely my first choice in schools, and I am such an advocate.

Mar 11, 13 4:23 pm

I wasn't accepted to the MS.AAD program, but I am going to be in the M.ARCH I program. 

For those of you who didn't receive scholarship/fellowship aid, how are you guys paying for the first year? are there other scholarships to apply out there?

Mar 11, 13 4:49 pm

@batman, I am currently applying for a scholarship that supposedly will cover all the expenditures, but it is only for citizens of my country.

Mar 11, 13 5:37 pm
Anyone going to the open house? I'm planning on making my decision after I check it out... Hopefully fafsa kicks in, no scholarship so it's gunna be a lot of debt to take on for 3 semesters without aid... Still pretty excited regardless!
Mar 11, 13 5:57 pm

I attended the open house for prospective students this November, I wonder how different (if at all) the April open house will be? Is anyone planning to go to the April open house that also attended the November one?

Mar 11, 13 6:04 pm

@lbstudio,  i'm so glad you mentioned it isn't a thesis-based program! i'll start looking closely at past projects they've done published on issuu you think they mostly use grasshopper or similar programs? is required?

i'm really happy that we both got our first choice... do you mind if i ask.. why did you choose MS.AAD program? and how will you use your degree?

Mar 11, 13 6:54 pm

i don't plan on going to the open house on the 3rd of April because i already made plans to visit NY again this Thursday-March 24th :(.. so i'll just have to stalk some students when i arrive to New York.. hopefully, next week i'll get to spend time with some students and get to know the program much better. 

Mar 11, 13 6:57 pm

hi, is the AAD still pushing on digital & fabrication practises or has it gone more theoretical?

Mar 12, 13 10:56 am

i  believe its more digital.. project-based

Mar 12, 13 8:16 pm

@ango & sensation, you can browse through GSAPP's Abstract publications here:

It was one of the deciding factors for my applying to GSAPP.

For comparison, here's student work from:






All schools I've looked into though tend to have a decent amount of work focused on digital fabrication & parametric design. Though I think you get out of it what you put into it and gear the project towards what you're interested in pursuing.

Mar 12, 13 9:05 pm

thanks again!..  i'm soo excited.. have any of you looked for housing yet?

Mar 13, 13 12:13 am

I made my decision and I'm going to Columbia this summer. Hope everything will work out with my scholarship and visa. So if everything does fine, I'll see you guys in June. Any additional information about housing or anything you guys could share in this forum, would be extremely helpful.

Mar 15, 13 6:36 pm


At the studios do the students bring their own desktops? Because i invested alot of money into a desktop with large 3 screens for my undergrad (@sciarc) and was wondering if that was even feasible because of the lack of space. Or should i go out and invest for a laptop?  

Mar 18, 13 6:50 pm

did everyone get their financial aid package? i just got mine today

Apr 2, 13 8:06 pm
Anyone receive a decision about housing yet? Really hoping I can get on campus...
Apr 11, 13 1:29 am

i haven't heard anything.. yet.. did you fill out the UAH online application? If so, did you check Arbor and I-House in the application?

I did both and I've been calling and I keep getting their voicemail. I guess we will hear back after everyone responds to their offer by April 15th.

Apr 12, 13 1:25 am
Yeah I checked both as well... That makes sense that after the 15th we'd find out... @Sensation - you're coming out from So Cal as well? I'm down in SD, excited to be going out to NYC for this program!
Apr 12, 13 6:19 am

Did you send in the additional  I-House application, including essay? I believe I-House is the dorms.

I'm coming from Los Angeles and I'm super excited to move to NY. I'm just getting annoyed that I don't have an address yet, even though I paid for a one-way ticket already.

Apr 12, 13 8:01 pm
Yeah I sent in the personal statement, just started looking into the one way ticket... I just opened up the abstract app from 2011-12, pretty good resource if you haven't checked it out... They gave us the 2010-11 book at the open houseand it's awesome but the app is more current with the classes offered I believe ( Fingers crossed for housing on campus!!! Good luck! See you in June
Apr 12, 13 10:06 pm

i'm impressed with their work. i really wish i attended the open house. 

hopefully they have enough student housing, especially apartments and studios. i was told that the arbor and i-house aren't the only campus-owned housing offered for GSAPP students (according to kwesi). so i guess the UAH application was for all campus-owned housing. i just wish it detailed what housing it offered. however, we should be fine with housing since we start in the summer, while others start in the fall.

if you have an columbia's app! its nice! 

Apr 13, 13 1:15 am

According to GSAPP, they will start the housing application lottery tomorrow.

Apr 15, 13 5:38 pm

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