Getting into teaching


I am interested into getting into teaching.

Does one usually need M.Arch to even get an assistant professor position?

What is usual route to get into teaching?

I hold a 5 year B.Arch degree from US, and has been working for three years.

I am also debating if to go ahead and get M.Arch degree, or to keep continue working

for couple years more - and in the latter case, would be great if I can get

an assistant professor position while working at a firm.

Also- is it possible to maybe get into a Ph.D straight without M.Arch degree?

It seems like certain programs/under certain circumstances schools do allow this,

but would like to hear if anyone knew those kind of cases.

I am interested in taking Ph.D route b/c it seems like if you are in the Ph.D program,

you get opportunities of teaching.  And also, is Ph.D program usually paid for?

I look forward to your inputs!  Thank you! :)

Jun 30, 13 7:22 am

This has become a more difficult question to answer.  The reason is because more schools of the "not chased after" variety have come on line (not as in cyberspace) to offer PhDs.  In the past, the M.Arch., along with some notable work and/or a slick firm on the resume, even without licensure, could fetch employment on the faculty at an a-school.

I may be interested in the academic process and curricula, but a PhD in architecture would not be my bag.  However, yes, they can be done from other fields, bypassing an architectural education.  The PhDs from Princeton who teach architectural history are often not trained in architecture.  A structural engineer can get a PhD in architecture and teach.  And I believe a M.Arch. can still teach, though I think that some are in fact getting PhDs with their work focusing on design methodology and theory, and teach studios.  I would expect THAT group to be previously schooled in architecture.

I believe the M.Arch. can still allow one to teach, but it would have to be from a prestigious school.  Otherwise, some teach at the community college level, if they were granted a M.Arch. from a less prestigious school.  The issue with the latter is that the admission process is not selective and most students do NOT transfer to a university to continue their studies.  To me, that might be a slightly depressing environment and situation.

I think that some type of graduate assistantship or teaching assistantship is part of the PhD venue, given that some schools extend these to masters' candidates. Having it fully paid for is not likely, but you can inquire at the various schools.

Jun 30, 13 1:53 pm

Observant makes some good points, and here are a few more, with some overlap:

Teaching and being an assistant professor are related, but not the same thing.  Lots of part-time faculty in professional programs (like architecture, planning, law, etcetera) are called lecturers (even if teaching in studio).  Rising through these adjunct ranks (lecturer, adjunct assistant prof, adj associate prof) is a common career path among architecture faculty. 

Breaking into this is sometimes almost accidental, of the who-you-know variety.  Network; get to know local architecture faculty; volunteer to be on as many juries as you can stand; get involved however you can, so that people know who you are and what you can do.  Of course, “front door” applications for posted positions should be pursued, too.

Full-time tenure-track positions are relatively few and very, very competitive.  How much education is required depends upon what you hope to teach.  Most sub-fields (computation, history, theory, technology) will almost certainly require a PhD.  For a TT design-related position, it’s possible that a master’s (probably from a top-tier program) would suffice, but everything else would need to be stellar.  Of course, “your mileage may vary”: all these things depend upon school, rank, timing, funding, and other variables.

The option of teaching in community college –depressing to some, but perfectly legitimate and fulfilling to others—expands these opportunities even further.  (It’s ironic that so many in our profession—supposedly so concerned about social justice—sniff at the idea of teaching architectural design, history, and/or appreciation  to low-income students, many of whom are minorities.  Many of these students are young, or even older, and are their families’ first generation in college.  Many are very excited about learning, and work very hard.  But because the setting is not a professional degree program, surrounded by the trappings of traditional architecture school, the worthiness of this teaching is ignored.)

So: if all you’re interested in is teaching, there are many more opportunities to do this than there are positions titled “assistant professor.”

Good luck!

Jun 30, 13 2:35 pm

P.S.  Some of these other, lower-profile kinds of teaching could be gotten without a master's degree.  Intellect, attitude, and willingness can go a long way.

Jun 30, 13 2:41 pm

P.P.S.  Getting a PhD just to (hopefully) land a job is like becoming a parent just because you like toys.

It's a lengthy and arduous process that takes a toll.  Benefits are there, but it's an undertaking that should be its own goal, not just the means to a professional end.

Jun 30, 13 2:57 pm

citizen -

I agree with what you say and do believe the community colleges are valuable because they put teaching ahead of research, so it's all about the student, and they give students who wouldn't otherwise have an opportunity the ability to make college a reality.  However, they are not jobs that turn over, possibly even less so than at 4 years where so many other gymnastics are necessary to remain there.  Then, add that one has to be an adjunct for a good long while before getting a full time position.  On top of that, add that, in some jurisdictions, a B.Arch., or less, can compete with holders of masters degrees, and the license is preferred, giving the selection committee a lot of latitude in who they pick.  I've taken community college (and other public univ.) courses as non-matriculated to prep my portfolio for M.Arch., and I could see the long term stays of the faculty members vis a vis the adjuncts coming in at night.  However, I do know people who teach at c.c.s full-time in a few other fields and it is a weird system.  One thing that is seriously wrong with it, though the teaching emphasis might be right with it, is that it does not reward the prospective teacher's academic performance (quality of school and grades) in selecting candidates, and this may be for an academically oriented segment of the c.c.  Aside from the other negative bullshit after being hired, such as the mindless publishing in some fields, the 4 year schools do tend to "correctly" weigh schooling - if you are going to teach business at Arizona State, for example, I would imagine a PhD from UNC generally trumps a PhD from UArkansas, all else held equal.  I have friends who have doctorates in business who teach and the stupid and vague topics (to me, and even others) they research, as described on their faculty homepages, really is Pile it Higher and Deeper.

So, while being an educator is honorable, there's more to it than meets the eye.

Jun 30, 13 3:11 pm

I hope I didn't come off as critical of you, Observant.  Your opinion was honest and respectful.  It just served to remind me of the bigger issue, and the larger wave of hypocrisy I read on here sometimes.  (+/- "We are the 99 Percent!  Oh, and Ivies rule!")

Also, you're right: teaching is hard, and CC teaching is probably much harder, and with fewer conventional rewards.

My larger point was that, if someone wants to teach, there are lots of worthy and hardworking students out there, eager to learn.  And many (most?) are not in accredited architecture programs.

Jun 30, 13 3:31 pm

No, citizen, I didn't take it that way at all!  No worries. When you brought up other options, it got my mind going on c.c.'s.  I have a few friends who now teach in either c.c.'s or 4 year universities.  The c.c.'s have that "no meritocracy" factor and other quirks in employing, while their mission is good.  And the 4 years seem to respect the "meritocracy factor," but also have a lot of ivory tower mystique that becomes thin and transparent once enrolled in one.  And since I didn't go to hoyty-toyty schools, I think dissing on them can be fun, and sometimes even warranted.  For one, the moniker GSD sickens me, as if it need not be preceded by a clear reference to the university, while HBS is appropriately used for Harvard Business School.  Therefore, I like to refer to it as HUSOA - Harvard University School of Architecture.

Jun 30, 13 3:57 pm

Points taken, and agreed upon. 

And I love "HUSOA"!  (In a nice coincidence, I ran into an old colleague at a wedding last night, who used to head HUSOA's history/theory program.  She's actually very nice and down-to-earth --not elitist in the way that so many students and alums seem to be.)

(Also, if you know The Office, look up an episode in which Dwight, the office toad, absolutely tortures ivy-leaguer Andy by pretending to apply to Cornell, Andy's dear alma mater.  It is hilarious.)

Jun 30, 13 4:12 pm

thank you observant & citizen.

seems like I should get a m.arch first ;)

and look for many teaching opportunities possible...!

I myself transferred from c.c, so I think I know few tips and experiences

I can guide students upon.

Being active practitioner & teacher is my dream route.

Jun 30, 13 9:38 pm

thank you observant & citizen.

seems like I should get m.arch first :)

and look for many teaching opportunities possible.

I myself transferred from cc, so I think I got few tips and experiences I can

share with them.

Being both active practioner & teacher is my dream route.

Jun 30, 13 9:41 pm

citizen has it down pretty good.

a few points from someone in the trenches...

when you mention the job of "professor" it is worth knowing that there is a hierarchy and its competitive all the way for each step up the ladder.

if you wanna move up you have to produce buildings and or articles.  the former better be good and the latter are supposed to be filled with rigorous and painstakingly produced content.  its a serious job, in spite of observant's observation to the contrary.  its not really so much piled higher and deeper, as much as its a bloody hard slog.  and it don't get any easier.  if you like learning and don't mind that you can never stop with the research and the essay writing then i recommend it.  if you just want to teach then adjunct prof is better.

at my university (I'm in Japan) the profs teach, and do design-build with the students in locations all over the world during break. All of us have offices.  It requires serious dedication and basically sleep is elective, not a given. in our school if you want to teach graduate students a phd is required or else have a pritzker. It is preferred that we have license too and we are all required to publish, and if not publish then we better win some serious awards (every year). Articles are ok but after awhile there better be a book on the table or we get hazed.  its not pretty.

i am sure there are other schools were the workload is lighter but I suspect even community college is a real job if the person teaching takes it seriously.

i'm in tokyo so the world is a bit unique, but surprisingly not so much.  phd is becoming normal requirement for schools all over the world. Lots of publications and a book is about standard for anyone looking for mid-career job nowadays.  on the other hand my first years after phd the only job i could get was adjunct lecturer for very low wages.  since i have an office that was totally cool with me at the time, but if you plan to live off teaching i would budget in 5 to 10 years of low pay to start with. its becoming a real problem lately, this culture of exploitation. unlike nasty internships this one seems so likely to end either.

in which case i wouldn't recommend the job so much.

if you just want to drop in on studio once in awhile you don't need anything but a connection to the school.  if you want to run a studio a m.arch is probably minimum nowadays and a phd more better. Running an office on top of that is stressful beyond belief but possible. it is most definitely not remotely easy though.

Jul 1, 13 10:40 am
It's a drag. It's hard work. Low level schools full of entitled and/or idiot students. Higher level ones with backstabbing colleagues. That's if you get a job. Be prepared for disappointment on that front cuz it's really competitive. Or, low paid adjuncting. Ask me how I know...
Jul 1, 13 6:31 pm
Sarah Hamilton

You could also look into teaching even lower.  I wanted to teach architecture at a college level, but I'm teaching at the high school level, now.  Many larger districts actually have architecture as a class and career path in the high school level.  The benefit of teaching at the grade school level is that you get all the benefits of teaching - making a difference in others' lives, but you don't have to publish or research to keep your job.  It does, of course, have its drawbacks, too.

All that to say don't be afraid to look below college.


And out of personal curiosity, why are all of your posts written with poem-like spacing?

Jul 1, 13 7:14 pm

Sarah beat me to it.  I don't know which architecture degree path she took, but I mentioned I knew a BS Arch, the very first person I got to know socially in the workforce, who headed back for a teaching credential, though i don't know what level he was aiming for - HS and beneath, though.  The thing is that K-12 is mandatory, more or less, and that's what you do - teach.  And there is NO research. 

On the other hand, community colleges are rather few, and not all of them have architecture (I'd say 1 in 3 or 1 in 4), since many students go right to baccalaureate studies at a university. 

As for university level teaching, I've often wondered what those with M.Archs. do when they teach at a place like Arkansas, Minnesota, or Penn State.  It seems like they have these ostentatious lengthy CVs with line items for every jury, every committee, every 4 paragraph article, and every time they sneeze, making it look like they are more substantial than they really are.  Seriously, what are these people doing besides teaching, if they're not practicing on the side, and what makes it so political?  Some move around between full time gigs at 4 year universities, too.

Jul 1, 13 8:21 pm


Thank you for your insight! Teaching at lower level would be a great experience, but of course teaching at bachelor/graduate level will be awesome. I would be happy to experience all different levels of teaching.  And I myself still need more professional experience, and hopefully licensure soon as well, and also master degree.  From the opinions, my perspective on ph.d is a bit clear now... I wouldn't go for it because merely I want to teach, but to really research my interest area (which I am still developing) - and if teaching comes along the way, great. 

Great that you are holding an office while teaching.  Leading design build workshop sounds awesome as well.  For sleep deprivation, I have some training and tolerance ;)  I probably won't be able to have my own office for quite a while, it will be nice to have competitions/small scale commissions I can work from my living room get going...:)


how do you know about low-paid adjunct?  how bad is it?


Thanks Sarah, that gives me another area to look into. As for the spacing, I was pressing enter before I reached the maximum boundary of comment box. Now I figured out how to type in regular


I think it is ok to make your experience quite descriptive and  I think many things born and develops out of lot of bs why not your experience and stance? maybe better than under-descriptive.  Maybe people who concentrate on teaching only just prefers it over practice, which I feel legitimate, as well.  I personally would like to do both.

Jul 2, 13 1:01 am
If you do pursue phd be quite careful that you are doing it for good reason. It's at least 3 years of your life and probably more. In my case I got full scholarship and living stipend and had the chance to study with an amazing group of architects. But it's not necessarily the case for most phd students.
Adjuncts make a few thousand bucks per course per term usually. Because adjuncts are so cheap many universities are swelling their numbers and letting full time jobs fall away. To make a living wage its necessary to work at several schools at once. It's a real hardship and for some there is no path towards real professorship. It doesn't pay well per hour either. For myself a 90 minute lecture takes one or two full days to prepare. 15 lectures per term means at least one month of full time preparation before doing any teaching. It gets easier if you teach the course again but is quite a lot of work even then. It's not easy by any means in spite of all the bile that folks on this site pile on to the people who taught them. If you are looking for respect or certainty teaching ain't necessarily the way to get it unfortunately.
Jul 2, 13 4:36 am
My experience is same as will g's. low pay + no job security + need to work at several schools to make ends meet. I found that every semester I was hired for just 1 or 2 semesters at a time. Maybe OK if you are also running an office but really disconcerting if you are actually counting on the $$.
Jul 2, 13 9:40 am

Lots of schools are looking to expand their digital fabrication capabilities and professors need people who understand and can run the equipment to further their research. So you might be able to get an assistant professor job doing this and possibly teaching a furniture design class or something else that utilizes digital fabrication. I have two friends who took  a staff job in the arch department to run the equipment and ended up teaching a couple classes as well. 

Jul 2, 13 9:50 am

Most of these posts underscore again the important difference between teaching as an activity, and teaching as a means of self-support.  Good discussion.

Jul 2, 13 10:30 am


I think it is ok to make your experience quite descriptive and  I think many things born and develops out of lot of bs why not your experience and stance? maybe better than under-descriptive. 

Well, then focus on just my first post, which says everything I want to say, more or less.  I was responding to the ensuing dialogue.  The bottom line is that a lot of academic types and the academic environment, especially at full fledged universities, are dysfunctional and some of the articles and other cute things they crank out are ivory tower fluff.

Jul 2, 13 11:59 am

hm, don't think so observant. I humbly propose that you are perhaps not looking in the right direction when it comes to writing about architecture.

dysfunction does happen in some cases.  not in any school i have worked thank goodness.  but anyway, it doesn't mean those people write fluff though, only that there is a culture war going on. 

i must say if you can get a proper teaching gig salaries are pretty good.  more than most architects make. the problem is to get to that point though.  lately the process is really tough and looks to get harder and harder.  its quite disheartening really.

Jul 3, 13 3:42 am

I just read observant's comment about those lengthy CV's in which, seemingly, everything from birthday cards to bowel movements gets a line or two, going back to junior high.  Those strike me as misguided at best, and pretentious at worst.  Of course, there's a place for a certain level of detail, but the bar needs to be set high enough so that one doesn't come off as desperate.  (If you want a fuller CV, do/ write/ create/ organize more substantial stuff.  It's that simple.)

And it is true that academia attracts oddballs.  Sorry for the bad news, but it's true.  This, in my opinion, comes from the more independent nature of the work, allowing often smart but awkward folks a place to succeed more than they might in the general marketplace.  Now, as Will points out, there are plenty of exceptions.  Universities have lots of more typical folks, too... thank goodness.

Jul 3, 13 11:56 am
I didn't mean to imply that Universities don't have lots of odd folks working there ( what kind of university would it be if that were the case - tech school?). Only taking exception that professors are fucking around producing content-free rubbish because its basically an elitist escape land. Some schools maybe if they are crap enough that is true but why define a group by how the bottom tiers perform.

Anyway the oddballs are often the ones who change the world. We could do with more of them.
Jul 3, 13 6:15 pm
+1 opportunity cost
Jul 3, 13 6:46 pm

So it is o.k. to be an oddball as long as you don't have standards about what you are doing? Mr. Galloway, your distinction doesn't make any sense.  Just because cause you don't understand what's going on don't mean it don't make no sense, And just cause you don't like it, don't mean it ain't no good. 

what most people don't seem to understand about anti-elitism in academia, is that it is the tool by which mediocracy has been promoted to a position of authority for a generation or so at many universities. so now most universities aren't really sure if better is all that important.

Remember, that the reason most of us go to university is that we want to get better. So if the OP is interested in getting in to acedemia, than the important question should be something like: do you want to help others get better, or are you just interested in it because you aren't that happy with practice?

According to the AAUP, 87% of courses in the US are taught by adjunct faculty. According to the adjunct project, the average adjunct is paid less than $2,900 per 3 credit course. In both categories, design is considerably less well off. Many schools only have a contingent faculty,  and many of the design adjuncts I who have been teaching for more than a decade effectively earn incomes that are below a living wage.

A PhD is rapidly becoming the minimum criteria for entry, but it is a necessary, not a sufficient, condition. I know more than a dozen people who have spent more than a decade traveling from annual appointment to annual appointment before earning an entry level position. I do know a couple of adjuncts who are earning six-figure incomes by teaching 20-30 sections a year, but they are all in business or artificial science.

Jul 3, 13 10:04 pm

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