Best combo degree w/architecture.


What would you say is the best degree to have in combination with a B.Arch or M.Arch?  MBA, engineering, economics??

Jun 6, 11 11:18 am

First you have to answer the question: what do you want from your career ... how do you want to spend your time?

Jun 6, 11 11:56 am  · 

'best' in this market, if you are just looking for work, I'd say interior design...zzzzzzz, zzzzzzzzz, I know

Jun 6, 11 12:17 pm  · 

Lets just say I mean to build a successful business that is held in high esteem for both creativity, and managment. As much as I see my degree as useless for practical skills in arch, I actually think it will be a great asset in the future. My degree is in pr/adverrising. I have some knowledge in bussiness, alot in outreach (social media, press releases etc.), I personally think this will be invaluable.


If I could go back however, I would say a straight marketing degree from a good school with a M.arch from a school that teaches more practical allow for greatest bussiness success.

Jun 6, 11 12:23 pm  · 

Given your aspirations, I would say you probably already have more than enough marketing and pr knowledge and experience - if you're trying to shore up your business skills, go for an MBA to supplement your design training. Further training in economics -- while surely a scintillating endeavor -- probably won't help much in day-to-day practice. An engineering degree would be useful only to the extent you want your firm to provide both architecture and engineering services.

Jun 6, 11 12:31 pm  · 
le bossman

I'd say business, construction management, or planning.  You already will get more than enough engineering training (unless, as quizzical notes, that's really your thing).  What architects tend to be short on is business

Jun 6, 11 2:30 pm  · 

Unfortunately, the MBA curriculum (finance, accounting, strategy, operations, marketing) is overkill for most architectural firms.

A high-end MBA might be useful if you network with a lot of future clients, or want to work in real estate development where an MBA is fairly common credential. 

Jun 6, 11 2:46 pm  · 

I wouldn't recommend to do any second degrees.

It is better in school to concentrate on doing what you most like.

Jun 6, 11 4:21 pm  · 
won and done williams

Yeah, there's a lot of chatter on this site about how wonderful an MBA, but I question how many people here actually have one and what difference it has really made in their careers. Business is interesting in that it really doesn't require advanced degrees. I've happened into real estate development because it overlaps with my interests in urbanism. I have no MBA and haven't had trouble breaking in. In fact most of the people I work with couldn't care less what degree I hold as long as the work I am producing is effective. I think because we work in a profession that is obsessed with credentials (RA, AIA, NCARB, LEED, etc.) we assume that the rest of the world is too. I don't really think that's the case.

Jun 6, 11 9:01 pm  · 

Won - I can only speak for myself, but I do have an MBA in addition to my architecture degree. I went for it to obtain the education - the 'credential' was incidental. I used the degree a) to do real estate development and b) to better manage the business operations of my design firm. For me, I believe it's made a big difference in my career.

Jun 6, 11 9:25 pm  · 

quizzical, if i may ask, what do you think of doing something like self-study a la the open courseware courses or just buying books and applying principles in practice while working in a firm?  I did go back to school to get a research-oriented degree after about six years in pro practice (not licensed).  I do not want to go to school anymore after this but figure getting some education in business is invaluable.  So I am planning to do a self-study once I (hopefully) break back into the profession.


Jun 6, 11 9:44 pm  · 

I have a math degree in addition to an Architecture degree and I've found very versatile both professionally and generally.  So much of the world increasingly runs on numbers--it is nice to be able to understand them.  I'm certain that an MBA is useful too.  Knowledge is increasingly accessible with just an internet connection and a .pdf reader.

There was another thread that stated in a few places that there isn't a need for any math beyond trigonometry.  Sure, that may be true.  In the same sense, there isn't any need for English beyond "brick go here", that sort of thing.  However, I find architecture in isolation to be a rather intellectually impoverished place.  Disciplinary gatekeeping is a sign of a declining profession.

Jun 6, 11 11:02 pm  · 

j - to the extent you're disciplined, I think that would work well if your goal is to achieve a general background of business knowledge. What you will miss is the interaction with other students - the chance to argue and debate concepts. In many ways, business school is a lot like design school. Much of the coursework is analysis and discussion of real world cases. There are no real right or wrong answers - just varying degrees of appropriateness (much like design). If you go that route, I recommend you seek out some venue where you can interact with like-minded individuals. I know many local AIA components have active Practice Management Knowledge Communities - that'd be a good place to start.

Jun 6, 11 11:03 pm  · 

thanks much


Jun 6, 11 11:26 pm  · 

Thank you all for replying to this. Quizzical, I especially appreciate your input on this thread, and the others regarding this topic. I do not currently have an architecture degree so when I said "If I could go back", I met if I were to restart my undergrad. I really do not understand why anyone would say "Another degree does not matter." From what I can tell with my limited experience working closely with architects, it can matter a lot, and it will matter more in the future. People often question what will become of architecture, and I am certain that these limitations created on architects are more self limiting than a result of the external environment. In today's economy tangible skills are extremely important, and if you only have one skill, I.E) a great designer, than you need to be in the top 1% to have a lot of success. I think a good read for anyone is a book called "Lynchpin" I think it was written by Seth Godin, this will make more sense. 


If you are a solid designer, but have a rare understanding of the healthcare industry (perhaps a nurse who gets into architecture), I imagine you will be indespensible. On top of this, architecture is truly one of the rare fields where a liberal background involving a through understanding of mathematics, Geography, History, hell even Botany or Geology (you pick) could be truly invaluable. 


One of my biggest pet peeves is when people on this site (or anywhere for that matter) discuss talent. The notion of natural talent is usually just primitive and retarded. PLEASE READ ON.. first off, I read a lot on neuroscience, and the pendulum is almost fully swung back to "talent is a result of environment and experience more than genetics." The problem is kids are more open to experience, and adults don't have time to gain it.  On another note, there are people that suck at school making more money than amazing artists who went to a top school. This isn't an anomaly it happens quite regularly, I believe this more a result of having an ecclectic mix of experiences and this matters more in an intuitive field. Hence this is to preface a theory of mine. Perhaps those that just get their B.Arch (by in large) do not develop the necessary social skills as a result of a curriculum that creates introverts (excess time in studio, less sleep etc.) You really only get two options to make money, be one of the very best at something technical where people need you all the time, or know how to network and both would be best. That's it. 


Lastly an architecture degree means more to me than just being an architect or designing buildings, you become a master of manipulating space and the built environment. When people start looking at it this way, they will find that they have value beyond that of just being someone who stamps the buildings and I believe that when we will notice more go getters utilizing this degree in other areas that  believe in their value as both master technicians and creative thinkers.


Jun 7, 11 12:05 am  · 

jordans99 - one crucial element you are missing is "luck".  There are plenty of companies that are poorly run, with little talent, that thrive due to luck, timing, etc., etc.  Social skills help with networking, but are certainly not something that creates a big difference, it is more about luck, determination/perseverance, luck, funding/working capital, talent, luck.


To your last point, that's already something that everyone with architecture degrees knows/appreciates.  That does not, however, mean that you can have a successful career simply because you are a "master technicians and creative thinker" - we are all that.  


I am one of those that did leave the profession to pursue an alternative career path.  What I find the most useful is business knowledge.  Networking, communication, etc., are all things anyone can do, some more naturally, but anyone can do those (again, luck, effort, luck, etc.).


So, if you want to have flexibility in your career, then business knowledge is essential.  Everyone can shape their careers in many ways, nowadays it is largely influenced by the economy (unfortunately), so creating a more adaptable skill set that you can use in many different ways will serve you best, now and the future.


I would get a March/MBA/MSRED combination degree, if I were you.



Jun 7, 11 8:28 am  · 

One of my pet peeves is when people assume the only way to learn is through academia.

There is an epic glut of MBA, MArchs and grad-educated people in general - what will set a person apart are their actual skills and connections, not a series of overpriced credentials.

Jun 7, 11 9:43 am  · 

Agree w/ Sectional. Get out of school and get to work.

You're own post:

"I believe this more a result of having an ecclectic mix of experiences and this matters more in an intuitive field." 

You won't find all of the "ecclectic" experiences you desire by obtaining more degrees. After you get your first degree, get out there and work for a few years and then start thinking about    an MBA, MSRED, MARCH, etc. You'll have a much better idea of what you want professionally and out of life after you've worked a few years.

Agree w/ Trace that an March/MSRED could be useful, provided it comes with plenty of luck.

Jun 7, 11 9:59 am  · 

That's not what I mean. Also, few people (even in their 20's) believe degree > work experience. This experience can be obtained on the job, but to say that education whether it be through university, traveling etc. is not extremely important, and wouldn't help someone in architecture, or any field is just wrong.

Jun 7, 11 11:01 am  · 

BTW Intotheloop, I am all about getting work experience. I am right now, I don't think people should really ever go to grad school immediately out of undergrad.

Jun 7, 11 11:07 am  · 
won and done williams

I think due to the rising cost of higher education and its associated debt load, there is a zeitgeist both here on Archinect and in society at large to move away from unnecessary multiple advanced degrees. Whether you buy in to that zeitgeist is your choosing. Having been out of grad school a number of years now, my feeling is that higher education forms the foundation for a career that will lead you in any one of many unexpected (and hopefully fulfilling) directions. I'm not convinced that loading up on advanced degrees before you have even started your career is valuable given how little actual experience you have.


If you know you truly want to be an architect, I would get your B.Arch and work a few years to see where your interests in the profession lead you. If development is your thing, go back for that MBA/MRED, if you believe another degree will further advance your degree (a big "if" in my mind). If you are not convinced architecture is your thng, I'd look into a BS in Architecture or some other form of broad-based liberal arts education that would give you exposure to everything from economics to botany. After four years at university, you should have a better idea (though far from fully formed) of what you want to do with your career.


Best of luck.

Jun 7, 11 11:12 am  · 

no one's said Computer Science yet?

Jun 7, 11 12:15 pm  · 

good call, 18x32

Jun 7, 11 12:20 pm  · 

quizzical, if i may ask, what do you think of doing something like self-study a la the open courseware courses or just buying books and applying principles in practice while working in a firm?

I know you didn't address this to quizzical but I wanted to answer.

The problem with self-study is that it's not quantifiable. There's nothing there to say you've learned anything— degree, diploma or certificate. However, in the hyper-inflated employment market washed in funny degrees and post-tertiary education... it seems like very few really believe a degree to mean much.

I suppose the saving grace here is that with professions like architecture, you have some sort of portfolio that demonstrates what you know [or don't know]. If one could figure out a way to represent a knowledge of economics (excel spreadsheet, maybe?) in a portfolio, self-study in said subject would be valuable.

I'm currently doing this by trying to create some visual examples of office upkeep.

Jun 7, 11 1:46 pm  · 

thanks for the response, J. James R. 

Don't know if it will work, but what I've thought about is getting into the self-study a good bit, where I am fairly confident with the materials, even perhaps, in the back of my mind, treating the projects i'm working on as case study projects and analyzing them to what ever degree i possibly can on my own.  Once I feel confident enough, i might go to a principal and tell them that I've been studying for a year or two, that case study research and practical experience is an important part of the learning, that based on what I've learned, I would like to propose that such and such upcoming project or two would make ideal case studies and then outline how i'd like to approach them to test/prove my business/management acumen, noting the details and reassuring that it will not adversely effect the project.  then after two or three formal case studies with the firm, i would hope that the powers that be trust me and my intentions enough to point out ways to better approach each and feel it worth their time to take my management potential seriously, perhaps guide me a bit and hopefully it alleviates any fears down the road that i'm not cut out for management.   ------  

on your visual examples of office upkeep project, please do keep us posted --- i think that is very interesting and i see the value in it.  i mentioned in another thread that a lot of what i've done of value for the firms that i've worked for is not design related, more strategic planning, budget estimating, facilities evaluations, loss leaders to bring in work, but also some large studies where i was managing a disproportionately large percentage of the firm's revenues and managing several teams of people for a quarter or two --- but how do you adequately represent that?  the portfolio does not seem the answer.  so i'm very interested in your thoughts and how you attack your challenge.


Jun 7, 11 3:18 pm  · 

Business, law or engineering

Jun 7, 11 7:28 pm  · 

If you have the ability, combo in an engineering degree.  Even during recessions in which architects find themselves out of work, you will also find that engineers have a great deal of job security.  I am an architect and my spouse is a mechanical engineer in the same industry with a national firm and he has never once worried about his job in the same way I have.  It helps that when architects and engineers are teamed for interviews, engineers have the opportunity to team with more than one architect, thereby increasing their chances to win work.  Architects don't have this ability.  The second suggestion would be an MBA because it gives you fluidity to move in and out of the architectural industry if necessary and it also provides mobility and upward trajectory within the industry because it opens up the world of business development and operations that are essential to running a firm.  Architects are great at design but are not always great at running an efficient business model, so the MBA will do wonders for you.

Jun 7, 11 9:02 pm  · 

Blah, blah, blah,engineering, business, law, computer science, blah. Do you really want to spend your life doing these things? If so, why waste your time -- and that of your peers -- and that of your faculty-- studying architecture? Real estate lawyers are the bottom of the pecking order, an the MBAs who consult on architecture are just there to meet the interior design intern. Just go get the law/business/engineering degree of your choice, and forget about being an architect.

Jun 7, 11 10:12 pm  · 

Oh, I should have said -- I have other degrees in archeology, anthropology, sociology, renaissance studies, art history, and fine arts. Do they make me more money? Probably not. On the other hand, I'm making a reasonable living, I don't have to screw anyone to do it, and when I went to work today I made cast bronze sculpture, tomorrow I'll work with some charcoal on arches, and Thursday I'll talk about cockfighting. Friday through Sunday I'll spend at the beach and the playground with my wife and kid.

Jun 7, 11 10:20 pm  · 

This fall I will be pursuing a masters degree in social work and architecture. Although I realize that going to school for this could be a huge risk I am pursuing it because I would like to revitalize urban low income areas in the US. I am hoping that my passion for this will carry me through and be successful.

From my experience of working for a small firm, good business sense is lacking from the profession and a MBA makes a great deal of sense especially if you want to be a principal at a firm. I also think your pr experience is all but none existent in our industry and is a really great resource. Architects do not market themselves and the public has forgotten how valuable. It is time that we change the industry standard of “word of mouth” business and really capitalize on the new marketing tactics out there.


Jun 11, 11 6:29 pm  · 

Personally, I have a bachelors degree in Landscape architecture.  Right now I am pursuing my master's in Architecture.  I think that it will be extrememly beneficial to have both degrees, and truly conquer site design as a whole.  I have worked with many architects in the past and its rare to find one that considers all the site features, especially topo, into the design (at least in my experience).  LA's consider everything, existing features actually drive the design.  Once I graduate and get a few years of experience at an architectural firm, I plan on starting my own firm that has architects and LA's.  Im incredibly excited for the future. 

Jun 17, 11 9:53 pm  · 

What can I do with this degree? Architecture

Description: Designing new homes or renovating existing ones for either single or multiple families.

Single Family Housing
Multiple-Unit Residential
Tract Homes
Senior/Assisted Living
Architecture firms
Real estate developers
Construction firms
Individual homeowners
Gain experience in an architect's office.
Obtain an internship while in school.
Develop strong communication skills and patience which are important when working with individuals in designing their homes.
Study houses and architecture styles.
Read books and magazines about architecture.
Develop computer skills.
Description: Designing office buildings, factories, laboratories, malls, schools and other commercial or government facilities.

Private Industry including: Office buildings, Convention centers, Medical offices, Health clubs, Motels, hotels, Restaurants, Shopping centers, Supermarkets, Theaters, Arenas.
Public/Government including: Schools, colleges, universities, Government facilities, Military facilities, Libraries, Hospitals, Recreational facilities, Churches, Museums
Architecture firms
Large corporations
Research institutions
Transportation companies
Universities and colleges
Local and state government
Federal government agencies including:
Department of Defense
Department of Interior
Department of Housing & Urban Development
General Services Administration
Preservation firms
Get hands-on experience while in school. Learn the technical side of preparing construction documents; spend time in the field to understand the mechanics of construction. Important to understand the various jobs and processes that will take place in the buildings. Advanced training may be helpful if specializing in a certain typology such as historic preservation and renovation or a certain type of building such as schools or hospitals. Get involved in leadership roles on campus; architects may serve as project leaders coordinating the work of engineers and contractors. Take computer classes. Writing skills are necessary for advancement in firm.

Part-time Instruction
Special Collections
Colleges and universities

Graduate degree in architecture desirable for full-time professorships
Professional experience and licensure in the field of architecture is beneficial.
Develop a working knowledge in the building design or construction industry, along with knowledge of CADD, project planning, and estimating.
Create a portfolio for faculty review.
Urban Planning
Real Estate Developing
Property Assessment
Landscape Design
Interior Design
Architectural Engineering
Facilities Management
Product Development/Marketing
Federal, state, local government
Real estate firms
Architecture firms
Design firms
Engineering firms
Architecture departments
Law firms
Specialized training or advanced degrees may be required, i.e. master's in urban planning, degrees in landscape design, interior design, etc.
Learn about real estate market and supply and demand in area for developing.
A contractor's license is considered valuable for working in the design/build area of architecture.
MBA degree may open more opportunities with business and industry.
Many large corporations employ architects to serve as client representatives when working with architectural firms.
Design and organizational skills are helpful.
Earn JD for law practice.
Hands-on-experience in architecture and construction will help prepare one for contract negotiation and litigation.
Take courses in English and journalism.
Develop writing skills.
Get involved with campus publications.
To gain entry into the field of architecture, one must receive either a Bachelor's or Master's degree from an accredited school of architecture, complete a full-time internship (three to five years) and pass a licensing examination.
Architecture is a combination of art and science.
Architecture involves much more than designing buildings. Talk to architects and visit their offices to learn more about the field.
Students of architecture must be able to conceptualize and understand spatial relations and be detail-oriented. Develop creativity, analytical skills, and a sense of quality.
Take many art and photography classes but not mechanical drawing classes.
Oral and written communications skills are important, particularly when working with clients, construction crews or government officials. Good writing skills are valuable for developing architectural proposals.
Computer Aided Design and Drafting (CADD) and other computer technologies are prevalent in the field of architecture. Develop as many computer skills as possible.
The job market for architects, especially residential, varies with changes in economy as demand is often tied to level of construction.
One third of architects are self-employed as either partners or running their own firms.
Most architects work in firms of fewer than five people.
Related fields include: graphic, interior, or industrial planning, real estate development, civil engineering, and construction management.
Some architects specialize in a particular building type. Graduate study in the field may be helpful for specializing. Other architects may specialize in a certain function of the firm such as project management or specification writing.
Areas of specialization include: historic preservation/renovation, healthcare facilities, sports facilities, educational facilities, master planning and interior design.
Students should design a portfolio to use when interviewing. Include freehand drawings, final drawings by hand and computer, process sketches, photos of study models and finished models, a sample of writing, and work from technical courses.

Source : Cal Poly Website

Dec 20, 11 5:31 pm  · 

Mespellrong..........Oh, I should have said -- I have other degrees in archeology, anthropology, sociology, renaissance studies, art history, and fine arts.

was that sarcastic or did u really manage to get so many degrees? how did you do it cos evn im interested to pursue archaeology psychology  and astrobiology..

May 31, 13 10:41 am  · 

is an architecture degree so useless that people feel the need to acquire additional degrees in order to accomplish anything in their professional life?  should architectural pedagogy change so that people don't need to get MBA's, or other degrees?  

Jun 1, 13 1:45 am  · 

From what I have heard most MBA curriculum is based on corporate operations, so unless you plan on working in the administration of a very large firm it might not be the best option.

If you want another degree don't do it after/during your MArch. I think you are on the right track with the mindset of wishing you could go back. Doing something else for an undergraduate degree and then going into architecture for your MArch seems to be the way to go, architects/schools love that.

A lot of architects like to get urban planing/design degrees too. Depends what you want to do though.

Jun 1, 13 12:53 pm  · 

I have a bachelor degree in Science in Construction Management and a MBA in Architecture, an all I can say is the best combination, I am a licensed architect, which means I can start my own construction company, and perform Design-Build if i like.

Apr 28, 16 8:30 pm  · 

MBA as long as its a pretty good university. 


CS would be over kill. a cs degree is probably just as intensive as an arch degree with long hours working on MP's. Not so much of the repetitive process like architecture but the frustration trying to figure out complex problems. Also a CS and Arch degree really dont go hand in hand, Its either or.

With a MBA you can seek out management positions with in a design or construction firm. It will set you up with good leadership skills and when i was at UIUC the duel students seemed to enjoy the MBA track very much. 

Construction Mgmt i would say is ok. The problem here is that IMO the MBA overrides the constuction mgmt track because if you every want/need to switch fields then the Construction degree is useless where you can apply the MBA anywhere in any business. 



good luck!

Apr 29, 16 4:15 pm  · 

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