Want to apply for M.Arch. Background in Chemistry?


Hi everyone,

I have always had a keen eye for architecture and now in my third year of a B.Sc Chemistry degree with a minor in visual arts and art history, I am seriously considering changing my career path and applying for  M.Arch in two years time.

The problem is, is that I don't know where to start with this whole process. I was looking through some portfolios people have shared in this forum, and it looks like people who have not had any background in architecture academically have interned at firms looking to get experience and it shows in their portfolio. Is this necissary, or frowned upon if I do not have this type of experience? I do not know how I would approach a firm looking to intern as an undergraduate with a background in Chemistry. I don't know how to incorporate design into my portfolio when all I have is creative pieces such as drawings and paintings (both of which I am very proud of).

I would really appreciate any help at all because I am a little confused, and I am not sure how to approach this because I really want to follow a career in architecture.

Thank you!

Feb 9, 14 1:06 pm

Just art is fine. Don't worry about finding an internship until after you have completed a studio class or two and decided that you actually like the experience. A summer program like the GSD's Career Discovery or the program at GSAPP might be a good way to help you determine if the field is right for you and further develop your application.

Feb 10, 14 8:23 pm


If I am you, I would...and my suggestion to you is to....

- start reading a lot of,, just to get yourself familiar with architectural terms and trend.(not really important but may be helpful)

- start using programs such as, adobe suit, sketchup,rhino, Aucad, revit (this will help you to get a job in architecture firm)

- design something like chair, table, architecture competition and put in your portfolio

- work in the architecture firm for 3 years+ (normally I heard it's already hard to get into good master degree. 3 years of working is about the time)

- try glasshopper, a plug-in for rhino program.and use your chemistry knowledge to design something cool

- attend final presentation of architecture student to see how they present and how the prof commend.

etc etc, 

anyway good luck, I hope you keep your hope alive haha. Also please concern the working life of architects, may be you wont like it.


Feb 10, 14 9:30 pm

Thank you both, I really appreciate the recommendations :)

Feb 12, 14 4:16 pm

We could shake hands. I am in my junior year of material chemistry degree and share the keen for architecture with you. I want to apply for summer program of architecture. It's a tough choice for me to choose between Intro to Arch in GSAPP and [IN]ARCH in UCB.....Maybe we could see each other in the studio this summmer.

Feb 18, 14 8:19 am

I'm really glad to hear of someone who is going through the same process as I. Unfortunatley, I do live in Canada and as far as I am concerned, there are no summer architecture programs here. Best of luck to you and keep me updated on how things are going. How many years down the road until you finish your degree and start applying to schools?

Feb 18, 14 9:52 am

Apologies for the delay in response. I will graduate next summer so that I have to start applying this autumn. That's why I want to go to summer program. I have decided to go to GSAPP in July. I think it is a chance for me to gain experience related to arch.

Will the graduate schools in Canada enroll students whose major are not architecture? I learned that in US, the students with other majors could apply for MArch 1, which is 3 years.  

We could keep in touch and share our experience and information.

All my best

Feb 26, 14 4:03 am

As far as I'm concerned, each school here is different. There are some that are a bit longer (4 years) but require a co-op program which could be very beneficial to gain work experience as well as some contacts for future employment. Others vary from 2 to 3.5 years. Each program is different.

I would certainty like to keep in touch with how your application is coming along as well!

Feb 28, 14 3:07 pm

Hey guys! I'm a chemistry major too! I just graduated and want to study architecture as well. I'm looking into summer programs in California.

emdubour you are probably way ahead of me since you have actually taken arts courses, while I did not. All I have are bad digital illustrations that need serious critiquing.

Ideally I'd like to stay in the bay area and attend Berkeley's summer institute in environmental design. Does it matter if it's called environmental design or not? That confused me a little.

Or are programs in LA very good as well?

Is a portfolio a deciding factor to get into these programs?

Jul 22, 14 4:30 pm

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