Architect as Developer - Schooling


Hi, I'm really liking the idea of doing real estate development as well as being the Architect. I've read different threads on here about this subject but I don't recall much about appropriate schooling for doing this job. 

I know that in order to become an architect in Canada, I need a master's degree in Architecture and then the 3 years or so internship, plus examinations. But I don't need a bachelor's degree in Architecture. So I thought maybe it would be smart to get a bachelor's of business (maybe one related to real estate) and then apply to a master's degree in Architecture. Has anyone else done this??

How are my chances of getting into a master's of architecture program with an undergraduate degree in business? My dad is a residential designer and I could probably do an apprenticeship thing with him whilst doing a bachelor's in business. Would that help my chances?

Here are some programs I'm interested in : 

- , in this program I can do a two year diploma program in real estate, followed a bachelor of business administration (3 semesters).  

- , this program is just focused on business. no real estate... 

Hopefully after completion of one of those programs, I can attend UBC's master of architecture. That would be ideal. link here: - and then do my internship etc. 

What are your thoughts? Is this practical? realistic? possible? What are the routes taken from other architect/developers out there??

Thanks so much!

Feb 11, 14 1:30 am

I would stay away from any degree in business. Business degrees are now useless. I would suggest maybe the Architect route because that's the one I took and I met a lot of developers. The best route I would say is becoming a contractor. Most developers came from a construction background. I've actually met a couple of lawyers that became developers.

The key is of course money and risk. I'm am still trying to figure how I will get into developing myself. My plan so far is getting live sure in Architecture and having a small Design-Build firm and develop from there. 

Good luck. 

P.S.  f@&k any business degree!!

Feb 11, 14 10:42 am

Anob, When you say stay away from any business degree, does that include an MBA?  I've thought about going back to school to get an MBA for a few different reasons.  Mainly, to get some knowledge on how to run a business, especially when times are tough.  The reason the firm I worked for succeeded during the recession of 2008 was good business leadership.

Feb 11, 14 10:49 am


Why the hatred of a business degree? I would argue that the information learned in a good MBA program (notice I emphasize good, because many programs out there are complete garbage, but the same can be said for any degree program), can help out immensely in the type of work that KECS is speaking about. I do not personally have a business degree but I have many colleagues that do and they all hold to the fact that the information regarding finance and management of people and projects has helped them greatly in their professional lives. In most fields, when you progress you move into a management role. Architecture is no exception.

I would always be cautious about going to school for a post-graduate degree, as I am strongly against taking out student loans for a degree that may not be needed. Georgia Tech now offers an accredited on-line MBA program for a few thousand dollars, and other schools are looking into adopting this type of program.

Feb 11, 14 10:53 am


I certainly don't want to rack up more student debt.  I'm still paying off my debt for my bachelors!  There are two universities in town here that offer similar programs to Georgia Tech's.  The University of Memphis is regarded as one of the best business schools in the country, so I am currently learning more about the online program.  I don't have the time or means to enter at the moment, I was looking to get in to it down the road.

Feb 11, 14 11:06 am

I'm against business degrees because they were created for people who wants to work for a super big company. I've met entrepeneurs that have done very good for themselves and none of them have a business degree. I know a property owner that owns a couple if housing units that told he wish he went to school to become a mechanic and got a engineering degree. I know another guy from the Caribbean who specialized in building and repairing sale boats and he now owns apartment buildings in NYC. In my opinion I would choose a technical degree like civil, or architecture. Even better a construction management degree that offers real estate development courses.  My mentor told once said " it's easier for a architect to become a business man, than it isn't a business man to become a architect." 

Feb 11, 14 11:09 am

Jonathan Segal Courses

Feb 11, 14 12:42 pm

"it's easier for a architect to become a business man, than it isn't a business man to become a architect." 

and who is really designing your buildings?  not you-- the client.  the business grad.

Feb 11, 14 1:07 pm

The University of Florida offers a degree in Construction Management. They also offer a separate degree in Architecture. Their website indicate recent graduates start at $52,000 and are making $70,000 after four years. I would have to agree about the MBA - it is largely useless. About 30 percent of the courses have some utility, if and only if, the professor has some real world experience in the subject matter.

Feb 11, 14 3:30 pm
boy in a well

hey bb

is that a typo or are you just unsure if you're happy to see me?

Feb 11, 14 3:57 pm

The University of Florida also offers a Masters Degree in Real Estate in their school of business, which may be more along the lines of what the OP was seeking. 

Feb 11, 14 5:19 pm

Most of you are talking about MBA's. I was thinking of doing a BBA and then a M.Arch..

Feb 11, 14 9:54 pm

seems like what i copy and pasted was actually the typo.  all i'm saying is that business people tend to call the shots, not the architects.  really, they just tell us what to do. you're better off getting an undergrad in something else, but a graduate degree in business is certainly not a bad thing.  you can probably run a small business no problem without one, but if you're talking about running something with like 100+ people good luck to you, because you're flying blind and aren't informed enough.

Feb 11, 14 10:09 pm

Back bay has a point; the people who are putting up the money are going to have an important say as to what gets built. Only where public funds are involved do hideous, horrible Frank Gehry Bilboa-like buildings get green-lighted. By people who have no skin in the game, no personal liability for the massive cost-overruns, or responsibity for the eye-watering costs of maintenance and repairs.

Feb 12, 14 11:09 am


A little more 

-If you have money to burn, go for the MBA with a focus on Real Estate Development.  There are several grad programs available.  I completed the MSc RED at Portland State University. It was a great program and gave my a huge knowledge base to draw from when helping clients or going after the small projects on my own. Beyond the degree, what you get from a program like this is building your network of connections in the field.

-If you don't have money to burn, go learn on your own. Look at the programs you're interested in and study the books, look at the "business of architecture", Johnathan Segal's and other similar websites, for the knowledge base.  The best approach is to go out and start building your own RE Dev projects. You will gain exponentially more by experiencing how to analyze a project, find the funding, getting the permits, getting the work done and potentially making a profit, but learning from you're mistakes.

Either way you need to really access what you are going after.  Are you just building homes or are you planning to build commercial buildings in cities across the US?

Remember Real Estate is just another widget in the money machine of capitalism and there is a huge variety of people form diverse backgrounds all trying to do the same thing and make a buck.

Feb 13, 14 1:02 am

Are you interested in Architecture Design study? This is the first step towards a career in architecture. Develop the drawing, design and graphic presentation skills to express architectural concepts. Analyse architectural sites and explore how to ensure the environmental sustainability of architectural projects. 

If you want some sample of Architecture Design you can visit us and get some ideas.

Feb 13, 14 5:18 am

@Volunteer, you know Guggenheim Bilbao paid for itself through tax revenue and economic activity within 3 years of being completed, right? Sounds like a pretty banger investment to me... Also, at least in my experience, private money has a better chance of building something innovative/controversial/standout than a publicly funded project. Since when do voters take risks; they typically stick with the tried (read tired) and true.

To the OP, I don't think a B.Comm/BBA type degree is a particularly bad route to go. Another option might be geography. SALA takes people from a broad range of backgrounds (as do most architecture grad schools). It definitely depends on the scale and type of firm you want to work at. Also remember how beneficial work experience is. I expect that with the BCIT degree, you would be pretty well set to gain an entry level position with a local developer, which would be very valuable. Similarly, I think a geog degree would position you well for an analyst type position, either with a developer or real estate company such as Colliers. UBC also offers their Urban Land Economics programme, which might be something to look into. One of the benefits to that programme is that you come out a licensed real estate agent, and with the educational requirements to work as a managing broker. 

I think it's important to identify why you want Architectural registration. If you want it just for the cred, I would say its a waste of time. Those 3 years of M.Arch, plus interning plus exam studying/writing, etc. would be far better spent working and possibly doing an MBA or MSRED (or sim) degree, if development is really what you're about. 

Feb 14, 14 4:00 am

I did a quick google search and found this, just to get down and dirty.

Master of Real Estate Development Core Classes

  • Intersectoral Leadership (PPD 500) – 2 units
  • Economics for Policy, Planning and Development (PPD 501a) – 2 units
  • Market Analysis for Real Estate (RED 509) – 4 units
  • Finance of Real Estate Development (RED 542) – 3 units
  • Real Estate Capital Markets (RED 544) – 2 units
  • Applications of Real Estate Finance to Problems of Development (RED 546) – 3 units
  • Project Management and Construction (RED 547) – 2 units
  • The Approval Process (RED 551) – 4 units
  • Legal Issues in Real Estate Development (RED 562) – 4 units
  • Design History and Criticism (RED 573) – 2 units
  • Building Typologies (RED 574) – 2 units
  • Community Design and Site Planning (RED 575L) – 4 units
  • Real Estate Product Type Development (RED 598) – 2 units
Feb 14, 14 12:01 pm

@camhard. Are you aware that the titanium cladding is falling off the Bilboa building and the building has other severe discrepancies and failings which have driven maintenance costs out of sight? Are you aware that many residents of the city claim that the building has no context at all with other parts of Bilboa and are repulsed by it? The building had a Gee-Whiz effect for a short period of time. That is over. Gehry has franchised the look. You can go LA, Chicago, and God knows where else and see the same thing-a hideously ugly, impractical, building, devoid of a sense of place and history dumped on local citizens who are pretty much turned off. I look for Gehry to rent the design out to the Dairy Queen franchise pretty soon.

Feb 14, 14 1:01 pm

Bilbao... not Bilboa, but anyways. Not making any statement about the project as a whole, only trying to point out that just because a building is unique/offensive/etc. and/or has a large price tag does not mean that it is a bad building or expensive in relative terms. Bilbao and Gehry seem to be the standard choice for Architecture slamming, though the arguments against them tend to be ill-informed and flimsy. This is not to say that there are not great criticisms to be made. Anyways, we can continue the discussion in another thread, if you want.

@OP, urban planning would be another solid choice. Not sure what the undergrad options are like in BC. SFU and UBC both have programmes, but I'm not particularly familiar with them. UBC's SALA seems to be trying to tighten up its relationship with SCARP (the School of Community and Regional Planning), and have also launched the new MUD programme, though both SCARP and MUD are only offered at the graduate level, so more of an alternative to the M.Arch than an option for the immediate future.

Are you thinking you'll want to work locally, or internationally? Any preference for type or scale of project?

Feb 14, 14 1:18 pm

So some people think I'm more interested in development than architecture... not true. I was first really interested in architecture and have a huge passion for it. Then I found out about working as a developer as well as being the architect (for my own projects.. like Jonathan Segal)... and I like that concept. Just clearing that up. Also I'm not really thinking about MBA's; just BBA's or B.Comm's and then getting a master's degree in Architecture so I'm eligible for an architect's license. The only reason I want the license is so I can design buildings over 600m^2, etc.

@camhard, I'm thinking of working locally. I mostly like residential design. From small homes to big homes to smaller condo/apartment buildings. Nothing huge; but you never know. Interests change.

Feb 15, 14 2:05 am

Ah, okay, I think that changes things; I was thinking you were interested in larger scale, more complex projects. What you suggest sounds like a good route. I would probably do the BBA w/ Real Estate specialization at BCIT, followed by an M.Arch. I would also try very hard to do one or two short studios or workshops at schools around the world, during your undergrad or the summer between semesters. Maybe start with a general one like Intro Arch (Columbia GSAPP), Career Discovery (Harvard GSD), etc. then do a housing specific one if you can find something (try the AA Visiting Programmes). 

Also, make lots and lots of friends. Seriously, this could likely be more important than the degree you obtain. UVic would probably be the better choice, from this point of view...

Feb 15, 14 1:53 pm

Those studio/workshops seem like a great idea; as long as I could afford it. UVic would be nice because I live within 25 km of it. But it does not have any specializations in real estate. Only International Business, Service Management, and Entrepreneurship. Would any of those specializations work for my plan? BCIT also offers a bachelor's degree in Construction Management where you must do their Architectural Technology diploma (2 years) followed by 2 years of construction management to get the degree. Does that seem like a better idea than a degree in business/real estate?

Feb 15, 14 5:17 pm

Even though Jonathan Segal is an architect, I believe that he advises against getting licensed, for liability reasons, if you plan on becoming a developer. 

Feb 15, 14 10:05 pm

But without a license, I have limits to what I can design: Nothing over 600 square meters and some other restrictions that I can't remember.

Feb 15, 14 10:47 pm
Saint in the City

per ark1t3kt's comment -- here's is a link to an interview with j.segal's son matthew -- who is not licensed.

KECS -- you might also check if you could potentially have your work stamped by a registered architect where you live for a reasonable fee -- as both segal's have done in CA, and matthew segal is still doing.     

Feb 16, 14 2:17 pm

Was going to suggest the above, as an option. Architecture school might still be the way to go, but you might not wind up getting the actual registration. You could hire a project architect, or develop a relationship with someone outside your company.

I'm sure a non RE BBA would be good, especially perhaps Entrepreneurship. Then focus your projects, etc. and personal research on the RE business. I don't think I would do the Const. Management programme, in your situation. I am doing that, but have shifted from wanting to marry development and architecture to being more interested in bringing construction and design closer.

You should definitely speak with some developers, who are doing the type/scale of work that interests you. They will best be able to comment on the knowledge and experience that is necessary. I often find our perceptions of other professions miss the mark more often than not (i.e. architects don't actually have a very good idea of the day to day doings of developers, so seeking their advice might not be that helpful).

And yes, the workshops are definitely a bit pricey, but I would say worth it. I tied an AA one in with travels (i.e. found one in a city that I wanted to visit anyways), so I 'saved' the travel expenses.

Feb 16, 14 3:02 pm

I would get the undergrad biz degree and fill every elective with design/ construction classes.  Ideally I would double major in business and design.  I have an undergrad and master's in architecture then also took an MRED program.  Without a doubt, I have learned way more working than in the classroom.

I would say the MBA is only necessary (and mandatory) if you have serious interest in real estate finance per se, i.e. investment banking, structured finance, private equity, etc.

Otherwise, I would try to be efficient with your education and focus on finding a gig with a good developer via internships that you can leverage later.

Mar 27, 14 3:39 pm

greenlander1 -


how green is the other side of the fence now?(assuming you are in development)

Doing my master's in arch now, but just got into the MS.RED to do a dual. Getting sick and tired of architecture...

Mar 27, 14 8:44 pm

Development has been much better for me than architecture although I am now looking for a job.  I like the fact that I have full project visibility (for market-driven projects) and understand where all the money is coming and going.  When I was in architecture, the financial side was a bit of a black box which I personally found frustrating.  In development, at least for myself, I feel a lot more empowered and in the thick of things.   

If you can stomach the extra work, I would definitely do the MS RED and sharpen your finance skills.  It is pretty useful to have both finance and design/ construction skills whether it be your own business or for an employer.  If I had to do it over again, I would've gotten some joint M Arch/ MRED degree for sure.

Mar 28, 14 6:45 pm

guess im on the right track...


thanks greenlander1.


i do hope that i have my own - design and devevelop and build and then sell firm hahahaha

Mar 28, 14 11:21 pm
I will kindly ask you to stop spamming. Thank you.
Oct 13, 14 6:32 pm

nothing can replace the experience of an architecture undergrad... why waste 4 years of your life taking business courses?  just buy books, educate yourself on business and apply it as you move along

Oct 13, 14 6:50 pm

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