REMINDER: GSD Cost of Attendance is Approx. $200,000



The tuition for the 2011-2012 academic year is $38,880 U.S. ($19,440 per term).

Projected budget for academic year
Tuition: $38,880
Health Service Fee: $1,834
Blue Cross/Blue Shield: $1,186
Course Supplies and Books: $2,598
Room or Shared Apartment,
Utilities, and Board: $11,786
Personal (including local
travel only): $3,078
Student Activities Fee: $100
Total (for a single student): $59,462


Enjoy $48,000 starting salary at SOM.

Just lol at this broken profession.

Apr 28, 13 2:21 pm
You mad bro?
Apr 28, 13 3:35 pm


Apr 28, 13 3:48 pm

No, SeriousQuestion, you are in your right mind.

M.Arch. 1, or 3 years, at a private school is for those with a silver spoon or a serious scholarship.

For everyone else, it's something to do at a public school, and preferably one where as an emancipated adult, you can get reclassified into resident status soon enough.

And then, will SOM give you a job?  From an Ivy or HUSOA (Harvard University School of Architecture - sorry, GSD is so presumptuous) they probably will.  From somewhere else, albeit reputable,  the starchitect or reputable corporate firm is not a given, either.

*Actually, the Blue Cross Blue Shield you indicate is a steal for a year, or even 9 months.  It's about $500 a month for regular folks*

Apr 28, 13 5:17 pm

Enjoy $48,000 starting salary at SOM.

If you can get a job there. Nice to see some intelligent thought applied to the subject.

Also note that those are last year's rates. Current rates are here.

Tuition  $42,056
Room and Board $12,384
Activity Fee $140
Health Insurance (BCBS) $2,190
Health Services Fee $958
Personal $3,202
Books & Supplies $2,702
Total (for a single student) $63,632

Apr 28, 13 6:07 pm

So, then, 64K x 3.5 > 200K

Apr 28, 13 6:11 pm

Shut it about the price already. You people cry wolf like you guys are the ones who are actually paying for it.

Ivies are expensive. We get it. They give scholarships, sometimes. We get that too.

Also, if you're not in dialogue with the schools, why are you still posting? You have no qualifications except stereotypes and no associations with any of these schools. Get a life.

Apr 28, 13 7:23 pm

@wutiswut:  you seem dumb.

Apr 28, 13 7:50 pm


Archinect is turning more and more into a chat board for school choice - just go to

I guess one has to just do Abra's thread central to talk serious talk -


look mate - only 2 choices out there - go to community college then on the road to a job at Subway or take some risk - life is too complex to use the metrics on betting 

alway do only what you love and the rest will follow - peace.

Apr 28, 13 8:03 pm

Most of these people are too young to know what the love any more than they know what they are doing. Romanticized notions and all that.

Hard to do what you love if you don't know what that is. The other way is to love what you do no matter what it is.

Apr 28, 13 10:26 pm

Actually, I take a blended middle-of-the-road position on this.

Ok, you go off to an accredited architecture school.  Can you be an architect?  Sure.  Can you be a famous one?  Not so sure.

With that in mind, you head for a state university, unless you are rich or they handed you some money.  Also, with the state university, read about their propensity to reclassify residency before applying and definitely before accepting.

That way, you get to be an architect and you keep some change in your pocket.  Get a life?  Seriously ...

Life for the first 5 or so years after a-school was not pleasant.  BTDT, so I speak from experience, even though I'm obviously not in the current applicant cycle.

Apr 28, 13 11:08 pm

Another typical whine post about how expensive Ivies are. Like wutiswut said, we get it; thanks sherlock holmes for your prudent investigation into this unknown and undiscussed problem! 


It's not just the architecture programs that are expensive... have you looked at any of the other masters programs at the Ivies and how much it costs? It's the profession, not the school. The school is on par with other masters programs in cost (actually, it's WAY lower than the MBA/Law programs, both of which are 78k a year+,  and rightly so), it's the profession that's paying low starting wages to graduates. But hey, you can go to a state school like observant pointed out, then you don't have to worry about the financial burden an Ivy education places on you. PROBLEM SOLVED. 

To me, an Ivy education isn't a right, it's a privilege, and those who want it have to first earn it, then pay for it. If you don't or can't, go to another school. Simple.

Just remember: not everyone wants an Ivy education, and not everyone needs one. But for those that do, it's there.

Apr 29, 13 5:35 am

Ah! its fame you want - and all about money - you'll make a great architect [sic] for certain - that's all that its about in the end - just go work for a developer where profits are high - real money and fame has nothing to do with architecture 

Problem with architecture, everyone wants to be a covergirl and there is so much more to real love.

Apr 29, 13 7:01 am

You guys have reading comprehension issues.  

Avanine: "The school is on par with other masters programs in cost (actually, it's WAY lower than the MBA/Law programs, both of which are 78k a year+,  and rightly so), it's the profession that's paying low starting wages to graduates."  

You're just parroting what I said in my original post.  I said that the profession is broken.

I said nothing about GSD students lusting after fame; in fact, I framed attending the GSD (or, for that matter, YSOA, Columbia, or similarly situated schools) as a pathway towards becoming a corporate cog at a large firm.

You guys seem bent on defending the prohibitive cost of these schools, all the while criticizing the students who elect to attend them.  If a student gets into a top program against great odds, why is it so shameful for him or her to want to attend such a program? 

And don't compare this to the cost of JD or MBA programs, which, I will add, are in a crisis of their own, churning out many unemployed graduates buried in debt.

Apr 29, 13 9:04 am

Zaha as a cover girl has the same effect on me as those anti-smoking ads where a guys is coughing his lungs out.

Apr 29, 13 9:34 am

Zaha as a cover girl has the same effect on me as those anti-smoking ads where a guys is coughing his lungs out. 

Bingo.  I've often watched those Viagra ads and wondered "Why do people need that stuff?"  Well, here's a situation where one might.

Apr 29, 13 12:13 pm

Back to SeriousQuestion, if you look at it as a long-term investment, and plan on going the corporate route, and are candid in your self-assessment that you have the je ne sais quoi for rising in the ranks at a good corporate firm then, sure, go to an Ivy League School.  It would be impressive and one would certainly proud to call such a university their alma mater.  For some, it's the solution.  For others, it's not.  For me, it would have never been the solution.  True, they have been real pricks at some public schools and have raised the cost of MBAs and JDs to outrageous proportions these days.  Their rates used to mimic the rates for other graduate study.  Now, some public universities are charging about $20K to $25K for out of state tuition, but charging $50K to out of state people for their MBA program, to which I say bullshit.  Architecture is in fact a profession while being an MBA is akin to being a hired gun and the "external factors" (clubs you join, looks, breeding, and your ability to bullshit)  matter more than what you know ... and quite a few of my friends who went that route are either "consultants" (WTF does that mean?) or motivational speakers who aren't even famous.  Good schools, too. 

Apr 29, 13 12:25 pm

Yes the profession is broken. I "parroted" what you said because I agree. What I don't agree with is you complaining about the price of tuition. Like I said, it's the profession that is the problem, not the price of the school, which is why I brought up the costs of attending graduate school in other fields. It's well known that graduate school in ANY field is expensive. At the Ivy level, prohibitively so. This is nothing new. Reminding us of the cost of attending GSD isn't news. It's old, it's tired, and it's not the problem here. So remind me again why you are complaining about the price of going to Harvard? If you don't want to pay the money and come out earning 48k a year, THEN DON'T DO IT. Simple? Yes. I don't understand the complaints. 

And although I do defend the costs of these schools, it's only because the costs of all graduate schooling at the Ivy level is at this price or above... and I do so without criticizing the students who attend them. I am to be one of those students, why would I criticize myself for something I chose to do? I don't understand where you're getting this from... I've never said there's anything wrong with attending an Ivy league school, only that it is a privilege and it is an expensive one at that. And remember... many alumni of the GSD go on to create their own firm and many are world famous. Corporate cog may be the norm, but it's not the only route.

Apr 29, 13 1:52 pm


I don't know who you are "talking" to.  Personally, I would spend that money for a-school before I would spend it for (grad) b-school.  Architects tend to like what they are studying and what they do.  MBA types try to convince you that they do.  The reality is that they only like the power and the paycheck, in most cases.  The attrition rate from corporate America seems to be higher than that from architecture, based on what my friends are doing today.  I endured about 5 years of extreme boredom past an u.g. degree in business and went to a-school, so I'm cool with people going to a-school, wherever the hell they want to go.  And, you're right, it's well known that Harvard, Columbia, and Virginia, for example, will let you tap architectural networks/opportunities and shroud you with a mystique you wouldn't have had you gone to Nebraska, Minnesota, or even UT-Austin.

Apr 29, 13 2:12 pm

"And although I do defend the costs of these schools, it's only because the costs of all graduate schooling at the Ivy level is at this price or above... and I do so without criticizing the students who attend them. I am to be one of those students, why would I criticize myself for something I chose to do?"

I think it's called rationalization.

Apr 29, 13 2:22 pm

I like the power and the paycheck.


There's much more mystique from non-local foreign language programs or a background in a profession that has some level of mysteriousness (like secret double agent) - and especially if you're dark and handsome (works for both male and female) and have an intriguing vaguely foreign-sounding name - like "Frank" or "Norman" or "Michael."  Deep sexy Barry White voice speaking only in haiku helps too.


also - helps if all your headshots are high contrast and looks like your visage is both emerging from and being consumed by the darkness.

(clearly Ando is contemplating the cost of the GSD)

Apr 29, 13 2:35 pm

"I think it's called rationalization."


Would I prefer to have a free architectural education at Harvard? Hell yes. Is it possible? Nope. So I accept the fact that it is the way it is, take it or leave it. Is this rationalization, or is this just being realistic?

Apr 29, 13 3:13 pm

Ummm. Yeh. Another way that is not discussed much on these boards (because i assume many people did not go this route?) is to get your B.Arch at an accredited state school (like Iowa State, Kansas State), and then just do a 1-2 year Masters at an Ivy. That cuts down on about $100,000. Just another reason to do the accredited B.Arch rather than a BS. I am attending Harvard this fall and my total college loans will be less than $150,000 for 7 years of great schooling - which translates to only $400 a month for 30 years. I would pay that for happiness...

And please. not a silver spooner... all paid by myself through loans...

Apr 30, 13 5:10 pm
Jono Lee

Can repayment be stretched out that way? Can you bring it down to as little as $400/month over 30 years?

Then that's quite manageable is it not?
Apr 30, 13 8:30 pm

Or you could just NOT attend GSD.  Plenty of amazing programs out there that won't put you in the hole that badly.  Remember, you have a lot of expenses down the stretch.

Since when do you have to be a graduate from GSD to work at SOM?

And also if you get a job at SOM, you should thank the lucky stars as people aren't nearly as lucky.  SOM is actually quite a good resume builder - take it from me!  :D

May 1, 13 10:53 am

no i dont think you can stretch the loans out that far. Just trying to say that over the course of a lifetime its not that much money.

May 1, 13 11:55 am

it is possible to stretch out loans that far, but keep in mind you're adding interest to that as well, 6.8% if you're lucky...

May 1, 13 12:46 pm

my loans are on a 30 year plan.  i'm only paying 1.875% though.  the economy used to work different.

that's an extra car payment every month, and i'll be paying it until i'm over 50.  is it 'manageable' in a hyper-competitive underpaying profession?  i feel like that's an odd term to use, but i manage to get by so i suppose so.

-edited to add, 1/3 of what i pay every month goes to interest, which does not reduce the amount i owe.  when i first started repaying, pretty much the whole monthly payment went to interest.  and that's below 2%. 

May 1, 13 1:10 pm

"Just another reason to do the accredited B.Arch rather than a BS. I am attending Harvard this fall and my total college loans will be less than $150,000 for 7 years of great schooling - which translates to only $400 a month for 30 years. I would pay that for happiness..."

Okay.  Let's just assume, for the sake of our analysis, that you're taking out ~ $100,000 for your M.Arch II at Harvard.  These days, Uncle Sam is giving out loans at 6.8%.

Look at the number I've grafted from  Pay particular attention to recommended annual salary and cumulative payments.

So, assuming that you are on a 30-year payment plan, you're going to be paying back more than twice what you borrowed from the government.  Beyond that, I don't know a whole hell of a lot of post-M.Arch positions that are paying $78,000.

I'm really not trying to be contrarian.  Just trying to open up discussion about problems in American higher education, which seem especially pronounced in architecture.

Loan Calculator
Loan Balance:  $100,000.00
Adjusted Loan Balance:  $100,000.00
Loan Interest Rate:  6.80%
Loan Fees:  0.00%
Loan Term:  30 years
Minimum Payment:  $50.00

Monthly Loan Payment:  $651.93
Number of Payments:  360

Cumulative Payments:  $234,689.16
Total Interest Paid:  $134,689.16
Note: The monthly loan payment was calculated at 359 payments of $651.93 plus a final payment of $646.29.


It is estimated that you will need an annual salary of at least $78,231.60 to be able to afford to repay this loan. This estimate assumes that 10% of your gross monthly income will be devoted to repaying your student loans. This corresponds to a debt-to-income ratio of 1.3. If you use 15% of your gross monthly income to repay the loan, you will need an annual salary of only $52,154.40, but you may experience some financial difficulty.This corresponds to a debt-to-income ratio of 1.9.

May 1, 13 2:59 pm

"Just trying to open up discussion about problems in American higher education, which seem especially pronounced in architecture."

The problem only seems more pronounced in architecture because the profession itself is broken as well. So the problems are compounded: we are paying too much for an Ivy education (but this is true in all fields, not just architecture, which was my point), but we are also being paid too little for our work after graduating (specifically in architecture, not usually the case in other fields that require a masters). 

So while I agree with you that there are problems with the system, I'm not sure that complaining about the costs of higher education is particularly useful in this discussion to begin with. Higher education overall (not just in architecture) has been pretty uncompromising when it comes to tuition,  so the solution in this dilemma is to either forego the expensive Ivy education for a cheaper one at a state school, or to affect change in the profession to raise wages (ha! as if!)...

The useful question is, does a Harvard education really benefit the student in such an extent that the heavy bill is worth it in the long run? Also, is money the only thing that is taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to attend?

All in all, I'm very pessimistic about architecture as a profession, despite my decision to pursue it... I'm hoping that things will look up, but it doesn't look like the clouds are parting anytime soon. 

May 1, 13 3:43 pm


thanks for being more thorough with this, it's a great tool and puts the true cost of future education in perspective. everyone should calculate their best case/worst case scenario before entering school.

May 1, 13 3:47 pm
boy in a well

for the number crunchers: how do you tally the relationships you might make? which might pay off immediately, or a decade later, if you're not somebody's favorite? I wont argue about architecture being broken, but the field does not have built into it the consistency that lawyers have built into their profession. That's not about school, its about how we all shape the practice, how we treat each other. You should add a variable: how much you're gonna hustle. Lord knows how that might effect your math.

May 2, 13 6:52 am

I don't know about you, but I don't normally pay someone $200,000 when I'm trying to establish a relationship with them, be it personal or professional.

May 2, 13 12:20 pm

I don't know about you, but I don't normally pay someone $200,000 when I'm trying to establish a relationship with them, be it personal or professional.

This is something that can't be denied.  That the relationships you forge is a huge part of architecture.  The Mozarts can go to Harvard, as well as those who have the money ... or very badly want that brand name and will borrow the money. 

True.  If you're a dentist or an accountant, transient trendiness will not be a factor in your success.  I seriously think that, if there are forums for dentists and accountants, they're sharing knowledge or talking about aspects of practice rather than complaining.

That's why I'm all about hedging your bets on this one.  Ok, so you're good at design - not by your own estimation, but by the feedback you've gotten by more seasoned people.  You live in Maryland or you live in Florida.  Go to UM College Park or UF, respectively, and blaze a trail within your class and establish relationships.  Then, go be an architect when you finish.  The issue seems to be that Ivy is equated with subsequent "starchitect" status and thus justifies the investment.  That's not always the case.

May 2, 13 12:32 pm

Wait a minute - but I want to meet Brad Pitt!!!!

May 2, 13 3:15 pm

Wait a minute - but I want to meet Brad Pitt!!!!

If Brad Pitt was pumping someone's gas in Tupelo, Mississippi, they wouldn't give him a second look.   The dude looks like total low life ... and America's idiots have lined his pockets with money.   European women aren't in the slightest bit interested in him.

Back on topic ...

May 2, 13 3:26 pm

^ someone's jealous I see...

May 2, 13 3:47 pm


I live in New Orleans, and a lot people actually view him very favorably here. While make it right has it's share of controversies/short comings, many people can see he's done more than most to help people in this city. I wish more celebrities did more and talked less like him.

May 2, 13 3:51 pm

^ someone's jealous I see...

Well, maybe of his money.  He has that.  I don't, being an architect.  As for his appearance, not at all.  What man of Mediterranean ancestry would trade places for his pedestrian pretty boy looks?  Not many. 

Incidentally, no Ivy a-schools for Brad Pitt.  I think he's a U of OK or U of Missouri drop out ... or maybe he finished in some lightweight major.  Who knows ...

May 2, 13 3:55 pm

@ zags:

Good to know he's helped out NOLA.  However, I tuned out Brangelina at least 10 years ago.  If I have E.T. on, I find I have to flip the channel since I don't care what the Kardashians or Lindsay Lohan are doing.

May 2, 13 4:35 pm

eww, Brad's getting phat.

May 2, 13 9:33 pm

My apologies for the hastily written response.  So there is a lot of frustration out there from a lot of people following this post.  I’d like to make a couple of adjustments to the following claims being made on this thread.

Plenty of people attend the gsd with modest means.  Everyone who wants to attend makes it work.  As annoying or insane as that sounds.  What’s actually not mentioned in this thread is the significant amount of aid in the form of non-academic financial grants offered to incoming students.  Depending on your personal situation it can vary from 0 to almost half tuition.  At least that’s how it worked 3 years ago. 

That said, my total debt including undergraduate from a state school was somewhere around 100,000.  I had my loans adjusted and make $1,200 monthly payments.  I’ll have it paid off in about 10 years, maybe less depending on how aggressive I plan to be and how much inflation occurs in the next decade.  I have a great job but it’s tough, I live in ny and I live check to check.  That said, I am far from destitute and enjoy my life and what I do.  I’m proud to say that I make a decent amount as an unlicensed architect and that I graduated from a great school.  But this is probably true for a lot of newly graduated students, not just ones from the GSD.

The person who mentioned the starting salary at SOM is sorely incorrect.  Incoming salary for m.arch graduates is higher, and in some cases much higher.  Also incoming architects at SOM make overtime, a lot of overtime, and the work is pretty damn exciting.  I worked corporate for a few years and now I work more small scale doing very interesting work.  I know plenty of fellow classmates with similar experiences now living all over the country.  Archinect posts have a tendency to flatten reality.  

Aug 20, 13 11:57 pm

The casual sexism here is concerning. It's disgusting to reduce an architect to her sex appeal, and to whether or not she turns you on. It's time to grow up and lose those attitudes.

Aug 21, 13 7:52 am


Thanks for the concern, coco-squared.  You're a little late to the castration party.  But welcome.  So, any thoughts on ponying up for an Ivy League M.Arch. I, the basis of the thread?

Aug 21, 13 3:25 pm

The market for law school graduates has tanked. Some prestigious schools (including Harvard) are actually hiring their own recent graduates at miserable wages just so they can report to the ratings agencies that that a high percentage of their graduates are employed. (Gotta keep the rating up to keep the tuition up) Also a lot of MBA graduates are accepting salaries quite a bit lower than the ones they had before they left to get the MBA degree. The GSD tuition is as high as it is only because of the federal student loan program.

Aug 21, 13 4:38 pm

if you dont want to go to school there, dont

if you dont want to hire people from that school, dont

if you dont want to send your kids there, dont

if you dont want to be an architect, dont


Aug 21, 13 7:39 pm


I could see the recent admits to good schools being indignant at this thread, and for good reason.  Those are the schools they've chosen and institutions they will be bonding with, for their education and for their alumni ties, which last a lifetime.

When the spring M.Arch. admission rush was in full bloom, only the top schools were being ruminated over on the forum.  That's understandable.  This is "archinect" and those waiting on results from public and less restrictive architecture grad programs wouldn't be here, though that says nothing about the value of the schools, the future practitioners, and their abilities.

Aug 21, 13 10:14 pm
Lian Chikako Chang

My two cents:

Yes, the GSD and other prestigious schools are expensive at full price, but they also offer excellent financial aid and scholarships. These institutions have large endowments and, for example, at the GSD, over 40% of tuition also goes directly back into financial aid. It's always a bit of a crapshoot--even great candidates aren't guaranteed a great scholarship--but that's why you apply to several schools.

What I would like to communicate to prospectives who (like me) don't come from a wealthy background, is this: give it a shot. If you want to attend school X and think it's possible you could be admitted, apply. And look for scholarships that could help you attend. When I applied to grad schools, after funding the GSD was the LEAST expensive of the options that came back to me. I just graduated with an MArch and have no regrets about it.

It's been found that qualified students from middle and lower income families apply for expensive, top-tier schools at a lower rate than their wealthier peers--possibly because they assume they won't be able to afford it. This is such a loss. I'm not saying that the Ivy Leagues are the be-all and end-all, and there are good reasons why they may not be your top choice. But I hate to see people talking themselves out of opportunities they dream of pursuing, based on these kinds of assumptions.

Aug 29, 13 12:25 pm


Not particularly - just thought I'd point out your mistake!

Aug 29, 13 4:40 pm

@ cocococo

Well then, you're a form over substance type of person.  Join the substance part of this discussion (Ivy League architectural education) and not the form part of the discussion (political correctness).  As for the "mistake," I have friends, including women, who like me just the way I am, and they are presumably older and more educated than you, doing more lucrative things than architecture.

Aug 29, 13 5:15 pm

@observant, cocococo

The thought of Zaha in bed also makes me blanch. It's some combination of her personality and architecture that does it, though. That and my heterosexuality.

Louis Kahn on the other hand, terrible parent/husband, but his shit was top notch.

Aug 29, 13 5:35 pm

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