Deciding My Future (TIME SENSITIVE)


Tomorrow, I'll be deciding whether I want to pursue engineering (discipline undecided, but I'd likely be minoring or double majoring in art) or architecture. I've narrowed my choices down to Rice University for Architecture and the University of Michigan for engineering.  From what I've collected, Rice is an amazing choice. Unfortunately, it's $30,000/year more than UMich. Just how advantageous toward my future would a BArch from Rice be (versus a degree in engineering from UMich)? Is the benefit it'd provide to my career worth the cost?

Apr 30, 14 11:23 pm

What do you want to do? Arch or Engineering?

If you're just into money (which is not a bad thing) the choice should be really obvious, as you'll likely make more money in Engineering anyway. If you're not that sure on what you want to do the choice seems like it should be obvious, as most people will tell you to only do Arch if you are sure you want to be an architect, and some will just tell you not to do it at all.

On the other hand, if you really want to be an architect...then 150k is not a reasonable debt to incur from arch school and you might be wise to still go with the other option.

Apr 30, 14 11:53 pm
boy in a well

did you really just give us a deadline?

are you gonna be this last minute in school?

May 1, 14 12:01 am

holy shit. the posts on archinect have been great. 


and the question again is - what do you want to do? do you enjoy more art or more math? 

i wouldnt worry about how much you make at the end because if you get paid 100,00k for a job that you dont enjoy, is it really worth it?

do something that you love and the money will come to you, man

May 1, 14 12:24 am

^If the alternative is getting paid half as much for a job you dislike equally as much...then yes.

May 1, 14 12:32 am

a job is a job at the end, same levels of enjoyment and undesired crap work everywhere. some people tend to take fairly mundane positions because of the freedom to think for themselves around the clock. clock in, finish quickly, clock out, get paid enough to do what they want at home.

consider what you can tolerate for the next forty or fifty years. consider debt making life miserable for you and your future financial outlook.

May 1, 14 6:52 am

Get an undergraduate degree in civil engineering specializing in structures on the co-op plan so you graduate with minimal debt. Work several years and pick up a masters in architecture at a later date, The idea of an undergraduate minor in art, or art appreciation, is a good idea.

May 1, 14 7:10 am

-student, who is your local state university and why are you not considering them for either architecture of engineering?

May 1, 14 7:23 am

I wish I was in your position. Go for undergraduate in engineering. Minor in art if you want. When you graduate in 4 yrs with less debt and a job paying 20k more to start, you can weigh whether an M.Arch in 2-3yrs (which would be 1-2yrs more than the kids graduating with 5yr B.Arch) is worth it.

May 1, 14 7:37 am
I am much older than you. But I started in engineering at Michigan, switched to undergrad arch at Michigan and finished off w MArch at Rice w/ many engineering friends at rice. My opinion on the two engineering schools is that rice has a smaller and more creative engineering program. Most of the rice engineers were much more interesting people than the Michigan ones. Both schools have excellent archi undergrad programs. Mich is huge and has great resources. Rice is smaller and very personal. Depends what you want.
May 1, 14 9:06 am


May 1, 14 9:10 am

Also take a look at the different requirements needed to get licensed in both. It may be a deciding factor when you see the length of the process. Getting licensed in architecture is quite a lengthy process. I have a post written on my site if you'd liked to read more about it. Good luck


May 1, 14 9:11 am

Thank you all for your responses!

(My parents have told me to make my decision independent of tuition now.)

I feel that I could swing either way. I'm not necessarily passionate about either field as of now, but then again, my passions change frequently; I think I'd want to choose the profession that'd allow me to use my skills to the fullest extent. I'd definitely say that I have more of an artistic mind, and I ultimately want to capitalize on it. As shallow as it may sound, I do want to ultimately earn a substantial income, but I do want to enjoy what I'm doing.

The consensus seems to be that engineering is the way to go (for money and other reasons), but I feel that studying architecture from a university such as Rice would enable me to reach a level of success/financial success that engineering would. Is this true? *please correct me if I'm wrong*. Of course, there's no guarantee that I'll become successful either way, but my young, optimistic (maybe idealistic) self is hopeful.

(UMich is my local state university. Also, I've ruled out Cooper Union; Rice came off as more career oriented.)

May 1, 14 9:48 pm

lol wrong..people coming from harvard aren't even guaranteed financial success.  they get offered the same pay, but perhaps graduate with more well known connections. Connections who still end up paying measly salaries, perhaps moreso since they're starchitects. 

May 1, 14 10:10 pm
pale shelter

Depends on how you measure success of course - if you mean money - than no; going into Rice for architecture will very likely not be more financially rewarding than going into engineering. You make your own success with the tools you have; in my opinion, finding 'financial' success in architecture is very very difficult and takes many years. Engineering will pay better from the beginning and may offer more opportunities with other fields considering you are learning more raw sciences, math, physics, etc. It's interesting how a degree that earns far less will cost you much more to get..... I sit around ivy league grads; we all make the same... I just don't have $100k+ in college debt just for a grad program alone. Do not come out of architecture school with more than you'll make your first year... which is a measly $42k as of the recent intern 1 national avg.

May 1, 14 11:03 pm

If you are more artistic, an architecture education could open up many avenues not directly related to architecture.  You could earn a good living taking this experience and using it creatively in another design field. 

May 1, 14 11:29 pm

Accesskb, This is the old "liberal arts teach you to think" mantra, slightly recycled. Millions of liberal arts grads living in their parent's basement found out it is not necessarily true. For the kind of tuition Rice is charging good career prospects should be expected. I am sure prospects are wonderful for Rice engineering graduates, not so much for Rice architectural grads.

May 2, 14 8:29 am

sitting on the couch critically thinking about what the f*ck am I qualified to do.

May 2, 14 10:51 am
pale shelter

Accesskb; can you be more specific on what good earning careers are in the artistic fields? I'm sure there are some, but I'm skeptical of the abundance of those jobs and giving architecture an upper hand because it's 'artistic'.

I agree prospects for a Rice engineer are higher than a Rice architect. I've been researching large real-estate development companies ( a 'related field to architecture) ... I have found an equal number of engineers in high mgmt positions as architects.

I have also found it interesting that an engineering degree can be obtained in 4 years or 3.5 fast tracked ... i have the 'quickest' professional arch degree with a 5 year b.arch ... however the 6 year path is now most common. I have colleagues who went 7 years to achieve their masters because their first 4 years was a bacherlor of science in architecture. lol I think that's the 'artist' degree right there.... What is it that we're teaching in architecture that requires so much education??? lol It's so bogus. Why are we so special?

4 years in arch school = have to go back for more school to achieve licensure ... and make the bottom of earnings as an intern designer (can't use architect title)

4 years in engineering school = done...go practice and make money; attain 2-yr mba for further professional growth.

May 2, 14 11:02 am

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