McGill or Waterloo?


Hi everyone, I've been browsing the posts here but still haven't really gotten a definite answer to my question.

I applied to Ryerson, McGill and Waterloo for architecture. I have yet to hear from any of them, but barring that fact, which school do you think is the best?

As of right now, I'm looking mainly at McGill or Waterloo, and I have likes and dislikes for both of them.

McGill is first of all a very reputable university and is in Montreal, where I would love to live. However I really don't want that factor to define my education choice, and I have yet to visit McGill so I don't know all too much about their program.

Waterloo on the other hand has co-op, a term in Rome, and overall a great rep too. On the downside, it's in Cambridge lol, and I would also like to be a part of the nordic skiing team which I wouldn't be able to do with Waterloo because Cambridge is a good hour away from the main campus.

I mean, I guess when it comes down to it there are only so many universities in the area that offer this program, so unlike a program such as engineering its hard to say this one is the best or that one is the best. How much of a difference would you say going to either McGill or Waterloo would make? I was initially looking at US schools but unfortunately money is a major factor there. However I will most likely leave the country for my Masters degree.

Any input and comments are appreciated!


Mar 15, 08 2:14 pm

FYI - the arch campus in Cambridge is about a 20 or 25 minute drive from the main Waterloo campus.

Otherwise.... try using the search function on the main page, and if you have more specific questions, I'm sure the few Canadians on here can help.

Mar 15, 08 2:47 pm

What about university of Toronto? I'm american and was wondering about that school compared to other canadian schools. How does that fit in with mcgill and waterloo?

Mar 15, 08 3:40 pm

The University of Toronto does not provide an actual Bachelors in architecture, rather it gives a Bachelor of Arts. It does not require a portfolio to get in, and pretty much (from what I have heard and from what I have researched) you come out with very little practical knowledge useful to the industry. I did look at it, but did not consider it when applying.

Mar 15, 08 3:47 pm

Nowhere in Canada offers a Bachelor of Architecture. Waterloo offers a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture, likewise Carleton has the BA in Architectural Studies.

McGill's undergraduate program is actually a Bachelor of Science in Architecture. The big "issue" with the program is that the first year is composed of entirely chemistry/physics/mathematics (to fulfil the science requirement.) In contrast though, the program only selects 26 students---one third the size of Waterloo, so it might provide for a much more intimate education. Waterloo prides itself in offering history/culture classed as 1/4 of their curriculum--something you might want to think over if you're less inclined to architecture being an intellectual discourse.

University of Toronto excels in their graduate programs (the entire AL&D school) but their undergraduate, like previously mentioned, is not nearly noteworthy as any other school, as it is independent of their masters degree. One of the noteworthy benefits of Canadian architecture schools is the amalgamation of BA and M.Arch programs at Carleton, Waterloo, Dalhousie, and perhaps McGill (I don't know.)

Mar 15, 08 5:53 pm

Good points. I hadn't considered that maybe the post-er was asking about undergrad or grad programs.

'Architecture' undergrad degrees are usually one of the following, depending on the school: bachelor of arts, or sciences, or environmental design, or simply design. To get licensed, you'll eventually need to get a Master's degree.

Mar 15, 08 8:11 pm

Ohhh sorry I should have included that in my post. I'm looking at undergraduate degrees, coming straight out of high school.

Mar 15, 08 10:58 pm

Nah, you hinted at it:

"I was initially looking at US schools but unfortunately money is a major factor there. However I will most likely leave the country for my Masters degree."

In all honesty though, vintagepeoples, if you get into either school, you should be very very very thankful. Competition is ridiculous in Canada for architecture school. I'm praying to make it to the interview step at Waterloo!

Mar 16, 08 1:11 am

For my M.Arch (I didn't do a related undergrad) I had to move pretty far away, to a different province to find a program that fit me.

Besides looking at numbers, if available, I'm not sure how one would assess the competitiveness of a given school.

What I do know is that there were 9 people accepted into my program this year, including me. One dropped out in the first month. One isn't coming back next year. One is at serious risk of failing, and four have broken down crying (during crits or in class) due to stress in the last two weeks. The fun doesn't start until you get accepted!

Mar 16, 08 4:08 am

S6, I didn't know UofM's M.Arch program only accepted 9 people! The Env. Des. undergrad accepts close to 100, if I'm not mistaken. That's some serious downsizing.

Mar 16, 08 12:31 pm

That's not the entire program, higherness, just the specific entry route that I took, which accepts students from non-architectural backgrounds. The actual m.arch program is ~50 students/year enrolment. Not sure if that's both years, or just entering students.

Mar 16, 08 2:19 pm

Now that I look again, that ~50 is the amount of students in both M1 and M2 years.

Mar 16, 08 2:22 pm

Oh right, you had to do a year of "masters prep" if I am not mistaken.

I had intended to apply to UofM, but I have a strong distaste for the general studies first year, which is ultimately why I didn't apply to Toronto either.

Mar 16, 08 3:09 pm

Pretty much, higherness. 2 years pre-m.arch, then 2 years m.arch. Technically I'm in graduate studies, but of course I can't get a lot of the funding available to m.arch students. Meh. In due time.

Mar 16, 08 3:56 pm

Oh my, all of this about breaking down and reading other posts about most architects hating it is really starting to scare me....

Can someone honestly tell me what its like as a profession? I applied to two different programs this year (engineering as a backup) and after reading some of these posts I'm starting to become really really unsure of myself in terms of being an architect.

Mar 16, 08 5:49 pm

The strongest candidates I interview right out of school are always from Waterloo. The Co-op program is longer but the skill and experience they arrive with is very good and step right into a working role in the office vs. model maker / gopher.

Mar 16, 08 7:26 pm

the foundation year is not so bad is actually quite nice to not have to worry about electives so much.

you should apply for TA positions too slantsix, once you are able. it is good money and experience...and so very nice that the commute is literally just walking to the building next door.

vintagepeoples, please take comments on archinect a bit tongue in cheek. architects like to complain about their jobs. it is a nice profession, all in all. pay can be relatively low considering everything you have to go through to become an architect, but it is rewarding as job on most days. the first few years of graduation can be a shock as you learn to work (usually at bottom) of a team rather than be the chief designer like in school, but after you get your groove the biz is satisfying...and eventually you get to be leader of the team...which is also very fun.

Mar 16, 08 7:34 pm

jump's right (as usual, haha!)

As much as people have been crazed with stress in studio lately, it's also an absolute riot. I love every minute of it.

It also helps if you don't believe all the bullshit that you hear, even from people like me. Every student's experience is absolutely unique. What is chaos and sleep-depriving for some, is bliss for me. I've never particularly enjoyed sleep, but if it makes you feel any better, I'm probably getting MORE sleep now that I'm in school, thanks to a great partner who has yet to boot me to the curb. When it's necessary, I work my ass off. Time management goes a long way.

All of this is getting off-topic.

The place where you do your undergrad degree is much less important than your M.arch (which doesn't matter much, either, actually). In fact, there are schools such as Ryerson and OCAD in Toronto which offer Environmental Design degrees, which can lead you to M.arch if you go that route. You don't have to pick one of the 10 accredited schools for your undergrad. That might open up more options for you, too.

Mar 17, 08 2:49 am

You´ll prob get an excellent education at either place. Don´t know much about waterloo, but it seemed alright. Went to Mcgill. Had lots of gripes, but that would happen anyways. There are excellent teachers in history and theory. The program is a bit on the theoretical side (ie, it doesn´t matter sometimes if your building can exist, or if it is even a building).

Montreal is fun. You´ll have lots and lots of work, so it´s nice to be in a big cosmopolitan city with different musical acts, languages, things do to, won´t get bored. If you decide that you hate architecture (as some do), you can transfer to another department. If you decide you don´t want to be an architect, after 4 years you´ll have a respectable BSc. If you decide to do your Masters later on, you can get one in 1.5 years at mcgill (very quick) or apply somewhere else. Several people that I went to school with later went on to other very well recognized schools.

At McGill, you´ll spend most of your time with the same small group of people, so you´ll have the opportunity to really get to know people and all of their quirks and charms. Don´t fret too much. Just pick one that you think believe is the best fit (both in academics and extra-curricular/downtime). Some people can´t survive in the middle of nowhere, I wouldn´t have been able to. Since, you can´t really go wrong between the two now, worry about the "where to go?" question for masters.

Mar 17, 08 11:29 am

Thanks xalip, thats really helpful :) Just some further questions on this...

How did you find the job hunt after you got out of school? Was it difficult?

Also, just how big is McGill's program? Is it really only 26 people?

Mar 17, 08 9:06 pm

don´t know what it´s like now. for undergrad bet on 40 to 50 people a year (just an estimate). I have a job. Everyone I know got a job, some people are really well known places, others decided to do other things.

Mar 18, 08 12:53 pm

Vintage, did you get an interview with Waterloo?

Mar 25, 08 8:24 pm

yes, higherness I did.

Mar 25, 08 8:58 pm

wow vintage, I'm actually in the exact same boat as you! Haha I have an interview at Waterloo on the 21st and am still waiting on McGill... I'm still stumped though on which one I would rather go to... Waterloo seems more innovative and Co-op based but is not as well known and as you mentioned, out on its own :(, where as Mcgill is world renound, ranked #2 in English Speaking Undergrad Arch Schools in North America and is in Montreal but doesn't have as much co-op and there application is much less personal then Waterloo... uhgg I know how you feel man haha

Apr 6, 08 10:09 pm

lol, well I think that IF (big if) I do get into McGill, I would prefer to attend there mainly because of the fact that they offer a Bachelors of science instead of a Bachelors of Art. You are required to take a number of civil engineering courses, and since I prefer the science side of things, I think that I would benefit from that significantly more.

And as of right now, I've begun to debate which course I am going to take. I can either go straight into architecture, or do an engineering degree first and then do a Masters in architecture.

Best of luck to you!

Apr 6, 08 10:18 pm

oh and for the record my interview is on the 22nd :) hope yours goes well!

Apr 6, 08 10:19 pm

I've applied to Waterloo, Ryerson and Carleton for architecture. I've seen both Carleton and Ryerson.. waiting to explore waterloo's building on the day of my interview (21st) but so far hearing the profs discus the program I found Ryerson to be the best well rounded place... you take a general program for a few years and then select architecture, building science, or project manager. The nice thing about their program is that I could focus on architecture while taking some classes from the project management side. My father owns a construction company(and I'm working there until the fall) so I know how frustrated everyone gets at the architects when they dont fully understand all aspects of the building process.

For some reason(most likely proximity) my parents are still set on me going to Waterloo, however I liked the Carleton campus very much. I found their program to be more artsy and found I fit in better in that environment.

Though I haven`t visited the Cambridge(UW) campus yet so who knows I might like it better there.

On a side note, for those of you who have interview, how many pieces are you planning on bringing with you... are you bringing any large models... and what have you heard regarding the précis

Apr 15, 08 6:25 pm

Im a prospective architecture student (i.e. straight from high school) and got into UofT, McGill (all undergrad architecture), and finishing up the mail-in interview for Waterloo. For those that are going to the Waterloo interview, the precis is not that bad (I took it already)

I was set on going to Waterloo because of the co-op program until I got the acceptance letter from McGill. Before I applied, I only knew that Waterloo's program only accepts 75 students, and the acceptance rate (before the preliminary interview) is around 7%. Now that from what I've read on this site and what my friends told me, I found that McGill offers a much smaller class.

My question is:
- Is McGill's program competitive (the selection process and the classes)
- Is McGill really an English school (i.e. if I don't speak French at all (which is the case here), will I get excluded?)
- How is the life in Waterloo like? I heard that the Architecture department is really like a separate school from UW since its like 30 mins away. Is there really nothing to do around there?

Apr 19, 08 12:23 am

Congrats, xgracyx!

A few answers/opinions:

McGill's program is excellent by all accounts. No worries about that.
McGill is an english-speaking school. You don't have to know a word of french - and most people won't. You don't even have to know french to live in Montreal, it's much more bilingual than you'd imagine.

As for Waterloo..... Waterloo is nice. The architecture school is in Cambridge, and the campus is about a 25-minute drive. Beautiful building, but Cambridge is a hole. I wouldn't worry about not being able to find something to do: you're in school for an education; you'll make friends who are also looking for something to do; and you'll be in architecture school, so you won't have any free time anyway!

Preston890: Be aware that if you stay at Ryerson to do a Master's in architecture, the school is not yet accredited. This means that you will not be eligible to be licensed as an architect in Canada. It could be a decent education for the right person (especially if building science is your thing) but if you're really going to pursue a Master's in architecture, there's no reason to stay at Ryerson, as all the accredited schools have established programs that can lead to licensure.

Ryerson's hoping to become accredited within 5 to 6 years.

Apr 19, 08 8:09 am

Funny, I'm also in the same boat, with my Waterloo interview being tomorrow. I guess I'll see you there, though I'll have absolutely no idea who you are. I hope your's goes well, as I, personally, am terrified. The fact that it's so competitive is daunting, although I guess that in this field, it will always be that way.

Apr 21, 08 5:13 pm

Don't be worried about the interview. i was so nervous but i think it went really well, ditto with the precis.. i finished in 45 minutes(they give you 1 hour 15 min). and good news! they said they'd start sending out decisions by may 1st!

Apr 21, 08 6:05 pm

may 1st??? really?
that's good news for me
then i can choose btw mcgill n waterloo sooner

Apr 21, 08 7:36 pm

I'd say that all of the architecture schools in Canada have their pros...

If you have your mind set on architecture out of high school, McGill, Waterloo, and Carleton are good places to be. If you are unsure about it and want to get your feet wet while doing a degree, and have the flexibility to try other things, I think U of T or UBC are good options... While both U of T and UBC do not offer accredited undergraduate architecture degrees, the professors will be good, and both schools are associated with larger design faculties- al&d at U of T, architecture, landscape and urban design... and UBC has architecture and landscape architecture... I went to both schools... U of T for undegrad doing business, and then M.Arch at UBC...

Depending what your goals are (which whatever school you choose requires you to do an M.Arch to have an accredited architecture degree), there are schools that offer a more direct, focused route to a professional architecture degree (that get you there faster), and schools that give you more flexibility. U of T and UBC are good schools in my opinion if you want to go to larger, internationally well known schools that have broad offerings by diverse programs and faculties most of which are pretty strong... Business schools, law, arts and sciences, medical schools, history, fine arts, music, etc... Strong graduate and research institutions...

The benefit I can see for choosing U of T is that you can do a double major, or even do a degree that is not architecture, with the intent to apply to an M.Arch later. You could for example, do an architecture / economics double major, or architecture / history, architecture / philosophy, or geography, or computer science, etc... Or you could even do an engineering degree and follow up with an M.Arch and later in your career have a choice between architecture or engineering as a profession. I have friends from architecture school who are working towards licensure in both architecture and engineering.

As mentioned above, schools typically are interested in diverse backgrounds when selecting students for a 3.5 year M.Arch...

Apr 21, 08 10:01 pm

bRink, the engineering and architecture route is what I am considering now. What is UBC's Masters program like? Did you enjoy it there? and also how did you find U of T in terms of grading and such? I am currently considering U of T for engineering, but there are a few things deterring me...mainly the fact that I've heard there is a whole lot of bell curving down and it is very hard to get good grades (making it harder to get into grad school). Any input?

Apr 21, 08 10:08 pm

Regarding Waterloo vs. McGill, both our outstanding schools. I know very good architects in the profession in Canada and the states who graduated from those schools. Waterloo has probably the strongest practical experience reputation of any school in Canada... The program requires you to do alternating work and study terms and they have a studio in Rome which I believe most students will be able to go to once a year... (other schools have studies abroad too, I know U of T goes to Rome as well... I studied in Rome and Hong Kong during my architecture school at UBC) I think, as far as undegraduate programs go, it is the hardest school to get into. McGill, in general, along with U of T and UBC is a top university in most fields, well known internationally. You also get to study in a very cool city, Montreal, which has a lively arts and fashion (at least it used to) scene... McGill, like U of T, is an urban campus, at the heart of a very cool downtown core, which has its benefits. Although Waterloo lacks the urban life where it is located, most of the work terms, you will end up getting internships in other cities... A friend of mine who went there years ago I believe worked in San Francisco, London, and maybe New York during architecture school... I'm not sure...

Apr 21, 08 10:15 pm

Has anyone heard from Carleton yet? I still haven't heard from Carleton, or Ryerson yet and I'm getting kinda nervous. My interview is on Wednesday, I'm worried about the Precis, is it difficult?

Apr 21, 08 10:32 pm

I loved architecture school at UBC... Part of it was the professors, part of it was the student body which was very diverse, people coming in from alot of different backgrounds... The UBC campus is the other end of the spectrum from U of T and McGill: rather than an urban campus, it feels alot more like its in the middle of nature... The campus is, while more isolated, very beautiful. It is is situated on a peninsula in Vancouver (one of the most beautiful man meets nature cities in north america IMHO. To the south, west and north, you have water and views of mountains, to the east is a forest... There's even a small golf course on the peninsula... Although it's not an urban setting, Vancouver is kind of small, not the kind of big highway sprawling city, it's more dense, and on a river delta so lots of bridges and water and mountains, and downtown, which is alot more pedestrian and diverse with good food and public life is maybe just 15 to 20 minutes away... It rains alot in the winter, so that means the greenery is huge, trees dwarf anything you'd see in other urban places... The architecture school has some pretty diverse talented faculty... Ray Cole is basically the leading expert in sustainable design in Canada, certainly in the region, and maybe one of the leaders in North America... Great dedicated history and theory professors, design professors with some of the very good architecture firms in Canada, structures... My law and contracts courses were tought by a very good professor who is both a lawyer and an architect... They also have a strong post professional masters program, and some interdisciplinary doctorate students there. Some interdisciplinary graduate seminars with other faculties... I took a course an gender and space while there, with the school of gender relations. They have a CNC machine, decent enough wood shop... Some design build electives that are interesting... Your foundation studios are sort of out there... The first week they have a sort of initiation project... My year, we spent a few days camping out and had to design and build a single hole for a miniature golf course in the woods with limited materials... We worked in teams, at night sat by the fire and got to know our colleagues, and at night had little parties and watched planet of the apes and other short films like powers of ten on the beach, projected on a huge fabric screen suspended from trees... Another year, I know they had to build (and race) boats out of cardboard... (life sized that they actually had to sit in and race)... Alot of people sank... I think they've stopped doing the camping thing, now I believe they do a fashion show... One year the show was called "Garmenture" basically, design a piece of clothing that was a sort of furniture hybrid... School there was fun, but intense... I pulled alot of all nighters and crits are tough, so it's important to bond with your classmates and maintain a sense of humour... Studios were pretty diverse... There were studios in collaboration with planning,.. large scale, small scale... A common studio that is known as the "details studio" where you focus on details, but not primarily technically, mostly from a conceptual point of view... Where you develop a building from a detail rather than the other way around... I'd say that the school emphasizes conceptual strength in design, it's strong in theory, probably a bit weaker in technical aspects than say Waterloo, but from my experience, you learn alot of that stuff best while actually working out of school...

Regarding U of T, I know a number of really smart guys who did engineering there. It's probably one of the hardest and strongest schools of Engineering in Canada. My brother started there in Engineering and switched to Computer Science... Engineers, as in any school are typically a bit nerdy... There is, I think some truth the "bell curve down" at U of T, but I don't think that really matters... In the end, do your best, and you are always scored relative to your peers. Besides which, applying to M.Archs later, you are evaluated less, I think on your grades than on your portfolio and diversity of experience and statement of intent, references, etc. Grades matter, but I wasn't a straight A's student at U of T and I got into the four architecture schools I applied to... I will say though that if you go into Engineering at U of T, work very very hard in your first couple years... You need to stay on top of things and take your first years seriously, because it is not very flexible if you do poorly... (it's very competitive)... Not to scare you or anything, but University life in a downtown campus has alot of distractions, there is alot to see and do... But if you do badly in your courses, it can mean trouble... It's trickier to get our of probation from what I've seen in engineering than in say Arts and Sciences which is easier, but just do your best and you will be fine... Don't miss any classes even if they seem boring and pointless because you don't want to fall behind... Also, I'm not sure what the class size is in Engineering, but in Arts and Sciences, because U of T is large, and has some large class sizes at the undergraduate level, there is an emphasis on self discipline... Not that smaller classes don't require self discipline, but in a large lecture hall, you really don't interact with the lecturer, and you only know what is going on if you do the readings and prep before hand... You need to be a self starter and hit the library and study because the classes can be somewhat impersonal in the first year... Later classes become more specialized, and you will have closer connections with professors... Engineers at U of T do well upon graduation from what I've seen. I've known guys there who have gone on to Med school, or to start careers in Aerospace engineering...

This makes it sounds hard, but I think hard is actually good, because when it comes to education, better to work hard, struggle a bit and learn alot of things than to take the easy road... Trust me, it's worth it, architecture school will be tough too, so get into a good habit early... I may be exaggerating, but I know a number of people who have fallen for the pitfalls of taking college lightly... That's not to say there aren't "bird courses"... Courses that people take because they are easy and you can get good grades if you study... But even in the bird courses, there is alot of depth and you'll get alot more out of them if you do alot of reading and study...

Sorry if I make college seem scary or if I sound like I'm lecturing... It's really alot of fun too, but i'm just trying to offer some advice based on my own personal experiences.

Apr 21, 08 11:03 pm

How many people have got a response from McGill? I didn't know they sent out acceptances yet :(. I really want to get in there

Apr 22, 08 7:02 am

mine still says "ready for review" on the site

Apr 22, 08 7:04 am

i got "admitted pending final results"
but they havnt sent me anything yet

Apr 22, 08 7:57 pm

i've got my interview set on friday at Waterloo... soooo nervous... English is not my first language so I'm just hoping not to baffle to much... how was it for you people? any advice to give?

Apr 23, 08 1:09 pm

i got into Ryerson architecture
I was wondering if anyone had ANY information about the school/the program. I would be moving a far distance to go to the school and I know nothing about it, so i'm just wondering if its worth it or if it is a good architecture program. (undergraduate)

and what is this about it not being accredited? does this mean that my degree wouldn't really be worth anything, or does it mean that i would have to do my bachelors of architectural science at ryerson and then go to a different school to do my masters in order to liscence?

Apr 23, 08 6:18 pm

xgracyx what are your grades? I thought mine were decent enough.. at least I haven't got a denied yet haha

Apr 23, 08 8:24 pm

91% ave.
took physics12, math 12 last yr
taking ap calculus, bio 12, chem 12, jap 12,
2 art classes(but didn't self report them)

btw, where r u from?

Apr 23, 08 9:24 pm


Ryerson, while it does not itself offer a professional architecture degree has a prety good undegraduate program. Graduates from the bechelors degree will need to apply to one of the M.Arch programs offered by another university if they want a professional degree... UBC, U of T, Manitoba, and Calgary are the Canadian M.Arch programs that are designed to take students out of a non-accredited 4 year bachelors in architecture or another field... Most M.Arch programs in the States are also 3.5 year M.Archs that take students out of a 4 year degree.

While I was at UBC, there were a number of Ryerson graduates who had continued there to get their M.Arch. The graduates from Ryerson were generally pretty strong, they typically had advanced standing in the M.Arch, getting credit for certain requirements that allowed them to shorten their degree by a year + or -. Generally, I think the Ryerson grads in my program were very good, and my impression is that Ryerson does a very good job providing advance preparation for students to enter a professional degree program. The Ryerson gradds came in with strong graphical skills and they were generally quick and skilled in design studio. Some of them had some architectural work experience between degrees, or had done work while in college, so they were generally quite knowledgable about the industry compared to those with no prior experience in architecture.

Most of the Ryerson grads did well in architectur school, some of them went on to work at top architecture firms in Canada, after their M.Arch... I believe Ryerson has alot of adjunct faculty, good architects from the local Toronto firms teaching there... Eberhard Ziedler? A.J.Diamond? Guys like that may have taught there... but maybe I'm imagining things, I'm not really sure why I have that impression... Their architecture facilities seem from what I've seen pretty nice, at least it was a large modern dedicated facility, much newer and larger building than the old hand-me-down building that the University of Toronto inherited, but I only visited there once... I don''t remember too clearly, but I seem to remember that it felt alot more like a nice new business school in the lobby than a poor architecture school... Conrete and glass, tall space I think... Maybe built in the 80's? U of T's building by contrast was an old revitalized building, but it had undergone a number of very nice renovations from what I've seen, including a pretty innovative new gallery and library addition...

Although the Ryerson B. Tech degree is not accredited, it is still worth something. You don't need an accredited degree to apply for jobs-- I know a number of people who graduated from Ryerson and worked a while gaining really good experience before going to an M.Arch. Also, Ryerson is located in the heart of downtown Toronto, so you're surrounded by alot of urban life and architecture firms. The good thing about Ryerson's undergraduate program I think may be that it's faculty is 100% dedicated to an undergraduate education, whereas U of T and UBC is maybe primarily geared towards graduate professional degree programs. This means that Ryerson will be fully focused on what it does: prepare students for practical careers in the architecture industry or to apply to professional degree programs later with advanced standing. I'm not sure, but I heard that they may be seeking accredation as well soon, but even if they remain an undergraduate degree program, it's not a bad move to switch up schools for Grad school anyway if just for some variety...

Ryerson has some other very interesting schools there too... It has one of the best film schools in Canada...

The neighborhood around Ryerson is pretty awesome... Yonge Street is like the major north south street, you can hop on the subway to anywhere in the city, and you can walk to some pretty sweet shopping districts, the eaton center, lots of good restaurants, city life... I remember my favorite thing about that campus was the really great street hotdog vendors and the great street chess games there... There are more dedicated hardcore street chess junkies there than around Harvard square... ;p The campus atmosphere is pretty nice too... Off the main street, quieter and a nice canopy of trees if I remember... I think there are some pretty sweet new buildings on that campus too... I think Calatrava was going to design something, not sure... But if I remember correctly, they ended up switching to another Canadian architect... Maybe it was KPMB... Or Diamond Schmitt... So some cool new buildings... Plus Toronto has some pretty nice architecture... U of T graduate housing by Morphosis / Teeple... West 8's upcoming waterfront... some nice museums... old school stuff... Mies, calatrava... If you like CRAZY there's the Ontario College of Art and Libeskind's ROM addition... Generally alot of other neat buildings... Haven't been back to tour the new stuff, but even when I was there, downtown Toronto was a pretty exciting place to be a student, and there should be a decent enough job market there out of school...

Apr 23, 08 11:53 pm

But when choosing any school, I would definitely visit the school yourself before making a decision... Walk around the campus and surround area to get a feel for what it would be like to go there...

Give them a call and ask if you can schedule to be shown around... Or just walk into the admin office, introduce yourself as a potential student and ask if somebody can give you a tour...

Apr 24, 08 12:02 am

I wish I had found a thread like this one or some like bRink to share experiences with all these different aspects of arch school when I applied last year. Last year I had applied to most of the schools you guys have been discussing.

Anyway, I'm just finishing up my first year at U of T and still have to get into the Architectural Studies Major program to be on the way to becoming an architect. I applied to Carleton as well this year to be safe.

bRink, did you go to U of T for your undergrad? Do you, or anyone else know what the next three years are like in the major? Prospective students should know that it's also competitive entry, with about 50 getting in in 2nd year. However, this is not exactly clear when you first apply from high school. My current dilemma is whether I should stay a U of T or start at Carleton (providing I get in). I'd like to do the latter, but U of T does have its advantages, such as being able to do another major (keep options open), the city campus, being able to live at home. However, if I don't get into the major program, then I'd be spending the next 3 years not studying architecture.

Worst of all, you don't find out if you've gotten into the program until around July, well after the May 28th deadline to accept university offers.

In case anyone was wondering, 1st year at U of T consists of only 2 half courses in architecture (my 4 other full courses were in very different subjects), and these are mainly theory and history.

Apr 24, 08 3:06 am
lawrence chow


I am a student from Hong Kong and am currently taking the British A level courses. I am currently taking A level physics, A level maths, and A level Art. I have applied to Waterloo, Mcgill, U of T, and Bath. I have been accepted into both U of T and Bath. However, U of T doesn't offer an architecture degree, where as Mcgill, Waterloo, and Bath does. I am very interested in Waterloo for the co-op course, as I believe it will be very fun to work and study. However, I have been told by my friends that Canadian schools are not as good as schools from the UK or the US, as the schools and environment in Canada is not as good.

In addition, I have just completed the English Precise test for the Waterloo admissions process. I have not performed as well as expected, and had been writing about how art is like poetry, and how art should be judged. Anyone else completed the English Precise test, and would like to discuss about it?

More over,I have sent my portfolio which contains my A level artwork, and have sent in my 7 minute video discussing my work. However i am not sure whether my video was good enough. I can send you the video if you want to comment.

Another troubling factor is the environment in Cambridge Canada... I was wondering what the lifestyle is like over there.. Is there a wide range of restaurants, malls, parties like in Hong Kong?

Apr 24, 08 5:12 am


I went to undergrad at U of T, but I didn't do the BA Architectural Studies Major... Actually when I was there, U of T was in a transition from the 5 year professional B. Arch to the 4 year BA + M.Arch, so it wasn't until I was towards the end my four years that all of the BA courses became available electives for any Arts and Sciences student...

I graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce at the business school, but I'll admit that I was a bit of a wanderer before settling on my major... I started in the sciences, Phys Chem Bio Calc and at one point I was briefly planning on a double major Computer Science and English before deciding to apply for the B.Com... The nice thing about U of T is the flexibility if you're in Arts and Sciences to switch majors, especially given the degree requirements for electives. Just be careful that if you take alot of different things that you don't waste any courses. This is kind of obvious, but basically, read through the course catalogue and always keep a running course plan for your entire four years at U of T, and make sure that you are fulfilling your requirements. For example, there are only so many 100 level, and 200 level courses that actually count towards a four year degree, and whatever majors in order to graduate, so plan out the credit numbers and choose your majors that you want to focus on... Do your best in your courses, and try to maintain a decent GPA, and start making a portfolio (can be art in any medium, photography, or anything creative), learn some CAD or 3D modelling software and photoshop, and . That "worst case scenario" of not spending the next three years studying architecture is not really that bad, whether or not you are in the architectural studies major, you need a four year degree before you apply to an M.Arch. anyway and so IMHO it's not really that bad to take the opportunity to study something totally different that might give you a different point of view once you are in architecture school.

I didn't decide I wanted to go into architecture until the fall semester of my last year at U of T when I took "Intro to Architecture" as an elective... I'm not sure how it works now, but back then, even if you were in a different major, there were sufficient elective requirements to allow you to take some architecture seminars if you wanted to. I loved the 100 level course, the assignments and readings, and ended up taking two more 200 level architecture seminars in my final semester... One I think was called "Architecture, Technology, and Communication", and the readings and lectures covered things from cyborgs and art to media and the city... The other seminar was called something like "Architecture and Cultural Representation"... Or something like that... Can't remember if that was the name exactly... But I think some of the readings had to do with gender and architecture, some with history, the power structures of places... So just history and theory type seminars...

This is just my impression, and I never went to Carlton, although I do know people who did, so I may be just talking out of my ass, but I think the experience will be quite different there and I think it depends what you want to do, how clear you are on what career path you want to take. If you go to Carlton, I think you will dive in, hands on right away... My limited impression is that it is a school with heavy studio emphasis, more like the "art studio architecture school" of canada... You will be doing hand renderings in year one, building stuff, maybe welding?, making models out of resin, really creative stuff, not sure... But that might be back when they had the B.Arch... The new system might be different... I would go there and visit and look around, talk to some people there. But years ago when I was looking at architecture school and talked to people, it had the reputation of being a bit "out there", a little bit cutting edge, not necessarily so academic, but creative, but possibly on the lower end as far as practical education goes among architecture schools... People said, you either graduate from Carlton and became Hani Rashid, or you graduate and can't get a job... I never went there, so this is totally second hand, so I'm probably full of shit... But my impression is, U of T might be a bit more theory, Carlton might be more artsy... If that means anything... Keep in mind you can go to Carlton and then apply to U of T for M.Arch with advanced standing... My friend who went to Carlton and then to UBC was really great in studio and he's now doing well in his career... Come to think of it, I know of another guy, quite a bit older who graduated from Carlton B.Arch. and has his own successful architecture practice in Toronto, so don't let what I said deter you...

Carlton might be like the "Cooper Union" of Canada, and U of T like the "Harvard GSD" of Canada, not necessarily saying that U of T has that level of prestige... More in terms of style of the M.Arch... Anyway, this might be all B.S...

Really I would just go and visit Carlton to compare... Good luck with your applications!

Apr 24, 08 5:19 am

xgracyx I'm from New Brunswick
I have a 94.2 ave with chem 12, Bio 12, grade 9-12 art, graphic arts course, and Advanced (Level 1) grade 11 and 12 English, Grade 11-12 Level 1 Math and am currently taking physics 12 and AP calculas and science 12... lol you would think my grades would be good enough.... also did you apply to any major scholarships?

Lawrence, I found the precis test to be more about how no idea's are original, all have be previously thought of and are takin from (in this case) dead poets...

Apr 24, 08 6:17 am

when i was looking for archi-schools in the late 80's (!) things were not so good as they are now. archi-school in canada and america too has become much more interesting now than back then. you guys are lucky i think to be students now...

@lawrence chow...
i don't get the impression the us or uk schools are any better than canadian ones. in 2004 i went to a conference/award thing where a bunch of gradute students from all over world were showing off their stuff. aa school students and u penn student were definitely on the edge of things doing extremely high quality work...but apart from those exceptions where the quality is sort of expected to be higher i thought the education (as expressed by the projects) was on par, more or less even really, from NZ to Italy, to Holland...i was there as the only canadian, but went to university of manitoba (which is why can't speak directly about ontario archi-schools).

so i wouldn't worry so much about the canadian schools being good enough. the hong kong being different from canada thing wil be more of a shock. but nowhere is like hongkong, so you would face that anywhere you go...and anyway, if you ever get into archi-school malls shopping and parties will be hard to fit into prepared for architecture all the time from now on. unless u o t and the other ontario schools are really entirely different from u of manitoba the architecture school will be very brutal eater of time.

Apr 24, 08 7:07 am

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