USC vs SCI-Arc M.Arch 1 (3 yr program)

Hey all,

I was wondering if I could get some serious advice here on which of these two schools to attend:

SCI-Arc M.Arch 1 (3 years, 7 terms)

USC M.Arch (3 years, 6 terms) - This is the first year that USC is offering this program, so I think there are pros and cons in that alone.

What are the pros and cons of these two schools?  How different are the educations?  I'd like to hear from anyone who has some good advice to bestow on me, a neophyte of the architectural world!  Any current students/recent alums?

Thank you so much!

Mar 27, 14 1:23 pm

UVA and SCI-arc are like oil and water. 

UVA will provide with a more traditional education, focused on sustainability and hands-on work. I've also heard they have a great design/build program. The facilities are great and the overall program is of great quality. The program also has a variety of interesting research topics that you can choose from, if you're interested in research. Charlottesville is a quaint town which some great colonial/georgian architecture. However, it's not going to provide with you with the exposure of a city like LA.  (I lived in VA and visited the school various times).

SCI-arc is known for it's avant-garde focus and experimental nature. You will see a lot students dabble in various forms of architectural representation that diverge from the normal conventions. The reputation of the schools seems to be polarized by people who feel the students are not receiving enough real-world skills that would help them find and maintain a job. However, I've seen some beautiful student work and the student community seems to be noticeably driven. Another point to make is that you will have access to a lot of young faculty that is constantly pushing the boundaries of the profession, ambitious like the students themselves. 

Hope this helps. 

Mar 27, 14 2:34 pm

Wait, where did UVA come into play?

Mar 27, 14 3:02 pm

@Hp87: Thank you for the helpful info about SCI-Arc, but I think you may have been a bit confused because I was accepted to USC (University of Southern California), not UVA.

Mar 27, 14 3:08 pm
C. Watts

I think Hp87 just misread the name.

I am also curious about the differences between the program, though I am curious how they relate to UCLA as well.  UCLA was my top pick but I didn't get in (now I am hoping they loose in basketball).

A professor of mine taught one year at USC, but I think it was an elective course, not a studio.  He said "The graduate program in particular has shifted to a focus on advanced digital processes and you will see a lot of great symposia and conferences occurring there now around the faculty's particular interests.  It seems to be an up and comer but it is a bit more specific in it's focus.  I have been really impressed with what I have seen coming out of the program recently, but remember it is a private school so you must weigh that when considering your options."

Any info on how these schools relate to UCLA and other LA schools would be great. I will be choosing between SCI-arc and USC in concern to west coast schools.  

Mar 27, 14 3:09 pm

this is relevant to my interests

Mar 27, 14 3:30 pm

I think USC will get you a job faster than SCI-ARC. The trojan network will get you into places, mostly corporate shit.

I was considering USC only, but I know a lot of people in SCI-ARC. For sure I think SCI-ARC has the better names in pushing archtecture and better digital work, but  USC have people that actually DO architecture.

Mar 27, 14 8:47 pm

I'm in the M.Arch +2 program at USC now and in my humble opinion the biggest difference is that SCi-ARC is way stronger than USC in terms of digital modelling skills and methodology, yet USC has a stronger focus on the realistic issues such as site analysis and technical issues (structure, HVAC)... If you wanna achieve the products that make people wonder "how the F did he do/model that?", go to Sci-ARC. If you want a more comprehensive architectural education, go to USC.

Mar 29, 14 1:05 am

I just completed a tour today of SC with a current student (previously went to the open house in November). I must say it was very lax there, which is understandable considering they just returned from spring break.

@Manh Tran I have to agree with you. Within that little visit, speaking with Gayle Borden today, the head of the architecture dept., he hooked me on the fact that they produce architects and designers who posses skills that real firms and companies are looking for; ie employable.Yes, they may not design in such a way where they challenge engineers on a day to day basis (sci-arc, imho) but they provide the skills necessary to gain great employment.

I personally am still torn as I am heading up to UW for their accepted students open house next Friday. Comparing the two, I see two paths to which I can take:

1) more creative and humbler (UW)

2) more practical and readily employable (SC)

On paper it reads like a no brainer, but it depends on how you want your life lived.

Mar 29, 14 3:46 am

Block this user

Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

  • ×Search in: