2011 M.Arch applicants, commiserate here!


Approx. 14 months ago, somebody created 2010 m.arch thread. I feel compelled to start the 2011 thread, since no one has done so.
(I wonder why.. does it mean 2011 applicant numbers are significantly reduced than last year's?) let's hope.

i am 26/ f/ arch/ international student/ 3.5 yrs work experience/ currently employed.
i am aiming high & wishing to apply to:
gsapp m.arch I
cooper union b.arch as 4th yr (hopefully) transfer student
gsd m.arch I
pratt m.arch I (because on their discretion they award merit based scholarships to a few qualified students upon admittance)

things i need to prepare:
- gre
- toefl
- portfolio.portfolio.portfolio 0% executed.(consists of undergrad work, office work & competition work i plan to enter just for portfolio's sake)
- rec letters
- app forms (not avail. yet)

my back up plan(s) for next year:
gsapp ny/ paris program
gsapp intro to arch program

now, this post will not be complete w/o some questions..
1. admission req.: who can prove their ability to support themselves financially while in the United States are eligible for admission to Columbia. For a single student, a minimum of $36,000 for living and tuition expenses for each academic year (early September to mid-May), plus travel money, is considered essential.
now, does it mean you have to attach your bank statements to the application??? any Int. student in gsapp can shed some light to this??? thanks

2. i have a few acquintances who are cooper's, gsd's, pratt's alumnis. can i approach them for rec letters, altho i haven't worked/ studied under them before? some are from work & undergrad school whose i've not had any chances to work/ studied under, but still contactable.

i hope this post at least entertain some ppl in this forum, if not help.

Jun 4, 10 3:30 am

in response to 2. - you need to ask for letters from people you've worked or studied under, so I'd rely on other sources. If you're in a pinch for letters, though, and one of these acquaintances would come through with something, you'll just have to ask.

Jun 4, 10 10:13 am  · 

i should be able to get a letter from head of arch dept from undergrad, but i thought the alumnis would carry some if not more weight.. from my naive point of view. hey, i recognized you jk3hl from 2010 thread? :D

Jun 4, 10 11:38 am  · 

btw maybe i come off as a bit more confident than i should, but i figured i might as well try & have some faith..

Jun 4, 10 11:49 am  · 

hey all, long time lurker, first time poster (i have been waiting for the 2011 discussions to finally surface)

I am 20/m/ BA in environmental studies. Don't have much experience related to architecture but looking to change that this summer. I will be taking UCLA's Jumpstart intro to arch program and am really looking forward to it. Has anyone had any experience with this program? I have heard good things about the program but am just wondering how helpful it could be with developing a portfolio (i too am also 0%) ?

I have 3 ideal schools (all west coast) in mind for M Arch II:
-U of Oregon
-UC Berkeley

any impressions on those schools and their differences? I hear UCLA is the more theoretical of the bunch while the other two have good sustainability emphasis (which is good for me since I'm an Environmental student)

Also, I am looking for what i guess you call "safety schools" (hate that word). NewSchool san diego? CCA? I saw recently a post that said SciArc's acceptance rate for last year (or year before that) was 70%... is that true?

Sorry for all the questions, they have been building up. ;)

Jun 4, 10 3:38 pm  · 

19/f/international from toronto, canada/b. interior design

wishing to apply to (m.arch I):


u cinn


-ill be taking the GRE late august, i am currently taking a study break (lol)
-i have ideas on how to set up my portfolio, ill be using my studio projects as well as other media
- rec letters i can receive easily though faculty members in my program, and hopefully one through an employer as i do co-op next summer

michacw , i am still applying to gsapp even though im not able to support myself financially in nyc alone... i, too, would like to know some deeper information from intl. students at gsapp

Jun 4, 10 10:19 pm  · 

REALLY make sure you want to be ab architect before applying. It means long hours, low pay, and little personal satisfaction unless you get yourself into an authority position (which a very few do). On top of that, during recessions you get laid off quickly, only to go back to low pay when the world needs buildings again. Make no mistake, I love architecture...but it is VERY HARD to make a living in it. Competiton is STEEP. good luck for those of you that wish to follow through with three TOUGH years only to get to the other things I described. Think about this decision a long time.



Jun 5, 10 12:07 am  · 

do you go to UCLA, sk6045 ?

Jun 5, 10 4:12 am  · 

sk6045, wouldn't you be applying to M.Arch I programs, not M.Arch II, seeing as you only have a BA in Env Sci (not a B.Arch)?

Jun 5, 10 8:59 am  · 

I was wondering if someone would start this thread.

I'm 22/f/graduated last weekend with a BA in environmental studies

I've been planning on applying to grad school for architecture for a while and have been steadily working on portfolio work, but am still going to spend the next six months finishing up projects. I have lots of ideas, but nothing is 100% complete. I plan to use mostly independent design projects, but using techniques I've learned in studio art courses (wood block printing, book binding, some other stuff). I just hope it all turns out as planned. If anyone has done a successful portfolio using mostly fine art work I'd love to ask about it!

Applying to:

MIT, Columbia, Yale, UC Berkeley, UBC (maybe), UPenn (maybe), Pratt (maybe)

I'm trying to figure out safety schools, maybe someone can give some advice. Ideally, I'd like to be back in the northeast.

Jun 5, 10 1:50 pm  · 

vyan, no I'll be graduating from UC Santa Barbara next week. Their environmental program is much better than UCLAs (I got in there but wanted to move away from LA/home), and is one of the premier in the nation.

Byen01, I see a lot of conflicting titles for the degree I want to get (I,II, or III) ... obviously, I'll be applying to a 3 year program for non-arch background students whatever that may be called. I just checked and in UCLA its m arch I while in u oregon and berkeley its III.. so i guess II is generally not the case for myself haha

cmndcntrl, thanks for the notice... that is exactly why I signed up for the UCLA jumpstart program.. to put my foot in the water and really find out if architecture is the thing for me. How realistic is it for me to want to start my own practice (I minored in business entrepreneurship)? I can see myself doing that not right off the bat but definitely within ten years of getting a degree because I simply cannot stand working for others (eg I was a student tutor for a company for a few weeks and immediately quit and started tutoring independently)

Jun 5, 10 4:18 pm  · 

i have a question regarding GRE. do we have the option of sending the scores to the schools ourselves?
looking thru the gre website, i understand they will send the official scores directly to schools. but what if you score less than unsatisfactorily after you receive the score & wish to have the option to send or not to send the score?
i thought some school online app has a section whereby you attach a scan copy of your gre score yourself?

regarding m.arch i ii or ii, i understand each school calls them differently, so better check the program description

Jun 6, 10 4:53 am  · 

michacw: yes, you can choose to send your GRE scores to the schools after you've received the scores. However, you will have to pay a fee per GRE score sent ($23). The only benefit to having your GRE scores sent prior to finding out your results is that it's free.

(I highly doubt that schools would allow you to just scan in a GRE score; opens up the possibility of forged scores)

Jun 6, 10 11:35 am  · 

environmental studies BA ? what is that about?

Jun 6, 10 2:03 pm  · 

I saw there were two of us who had bachelor's in environmental studies. I can't say anything about the degree from other schools, but my department was fairly interdisciplinary, sort of in the spirit of "creating your own program" (I went to Brown, so the philosophy of the entire school was like that). My focus, broadly, was on sustainability in the built environment, but since I always planned to do architecture for grad school a lot of the courses I took were in support of that - sustainable design, GIS, historic preservation, natural science, architectural history, I think even an intro arch studio I took at RISD counted. I guess other schools offer degrees in environmental design/systems/science. I don't know what any of that entails, but enviro sci at my school meant field work.

Jun 6, 10 3:08 pm  · 


I'm a Brown student too, graduating this December (BA International Relations). No portfolio yet - very worried about it. Am going to GSD Career Discovery next week.

Jun 6, 10 6:05 pm  · 

I will be starting my MArch in the fall so I thought I would share some things I learned from going through this last year.

Take the GRE Twice - Don't agree to send the scores out before the test begins, you be able to send them to schools after you have seen your score but before you end your testing session. The GRE is far from the most important part of your application but can help you land a fellowship.

Portfolio, Portfolio, Portfolio - Get your portfolio in front of as many sets of eyes as possible. Professors are your greatest asset in this, especially those that do not know you particularly well...provided they are the kind of person who is approachable and would help students outside of office hours.

Think before you apply - Sounds a bit ridiculous but make sure that you would actually attend each school that you would apply to. People get caught up in names and never get a feel for the actual school. If the school is within a reasonable distance make a visit. There is nothing better than seeing a school with students in actual critiques to get a preview of life at that institution.

Check out student work - there is no better measuring stick than seeing student work from where you would like to attend. It's out there online, on issuu, blogs, publications, etc...if you look hard enough you will find it.

Last but not least, think about what kind of person you are - Borrowed this bit of advice from a fellow archinecters rant last year...

"Are you pie-in-the-sky or down to earth? If you're into far-out trippy cutting-edge shit, you maybe more at home at a place like sci-arc which will help you indulge in seemingly every kind of LSD induced flight of architectural fancy you care to dream up, and is full of equally trippy professors and students. If you're down to earth, maybe you'll want to see if Rural Studio at auburn has any openings and you can go build pretty houses for poor people. Is name/prestige important to you? Is it Harvard, Columbia or nothing and to hell with what that entails? Can you handle the debt a "top" school will give you when you may end up making the same as a person from a state-school?"

Good luck 2011 applicants!

Jun 6, 10 7:45 pm  · 

34/m with a BS in Architectural Studies from UW-Milwaukee
2.9 GPA
GRE V 570 Q 660 AW 2.5

Probably applying to:
Univ. of Minn.
Who knows who else...

Though I can't apply to UWM until 2012 since they include my GPA from the university I attended prior to my 4 years at UWM, so they say my GPA is 2.3, as opposed to the 2.9 on my UWM transcripts. So I'll have to pay $4,000 for 6 grad level credits before I can apply to UW-Milwaukee.

Haven't started my portfolio yet, most the the projects I have from school are about 10 years old, so I pretty much have to redo them all.

My GRE scores are good until May 2014 so hopefully I can get into a school by then.

I can't really afford out-of-state tuition, so any other schools I apply to are just to see if I'd get in. Some schools in the midwest have deals (like I think Minnesota) where I can get in-state tuition, so that's a maybe.

Jun 6, 10 8:10 pm  · 

Hey monosierra - IR to architecture? Interesting transition. How'd you come to it?

Jun 6, 10 8:11 pm  · 

Hi therebyfar - I've always been interested in architecture, but wasn't sure if I had the drive or talent to turn that from interest to career. I fear I might be too late to the game though.

Jun 6, 10 9:01 pm  · 


i was thinking of applying to UBC (University of British Columbia?) as well. have you visited it?
an about a safe school how about University of Maryland. they have a good program thou.

Jun 7, 10 1:15 am  · 

Monosierra - I understand the hesitation. I think for liberal arts people having a taste of studio life is essential for deciding whether arch grad school is the thing to for you. It is really is A LOT of work, so doing career discovery is probably a good decision. Since you're also graduating in December you could also consider applying for 2012 if you think you might need more time to develop your work/interests.

Sivarch - I haven't visited the department, but I have seen the campus. I live in Seattle, so it would probably be a good idea to take a trip up there. I love Vancouver though.

Jun 7, 10 11:27 am  · 

your lucky you live so close thou.. i live on the East coast but i would love to go see the campus one day before i apply.

Jun 8, 10 12:32 am  · 

Well, if I take the trip I can report back to you lol. Just curious are you in the US or Canada, since it seems like not many Americans think to apply to Canadian schools? I don't even think I would if I didn't know Vancouver so well.

Jun 8, 10 4:47 pm  · 

hey sounds like a plan therebyfar. email me lots of pics...well im in the US.. i would apply to many schools here in the US (same as you) yet i would love to go study outside the US (Canada seems to be a better option than Europe, yet i would do study abroad programs In Europe) why are you applying to UBC?

Jun 8, 10 11:50 pm  · 

Hey All,

I am also a long time reader, but I never post. I am currently at Clemson in the undergraduate program. Currently, I am trying to put the portfolio together (stressful already, whew). I am planning to take the GRE in august, so I have started lightly studying for that.

In addition, our school is offering a summer studio in nyc that is a joint studio between 3/4 years and graduate students. I'm pretty excited as the project is something I do not have currently in my portfolio!

I am looking at schools out of the south, as I have lived here all my life- currently:

sci arc
wash u

21/m 3.78 gpa with a BA in Architecture
minor in business administration

Jun 9, 10 12:02 am  · 
J. Blake Lane

Hi everyone!

I am an Interior Design student at Valdosta State University, in Ga, looking to apply to some M. Arch programs, which include:

GSD, MIT, Berkely, Ga Tech, Virginia Tech, and UF.

I broke over 1000 my first GRE take, planning on a retake in August and I have a cumm. GPA of 3.54 with a major GPA (last 60 hours) of 4.0.

Jun 10, 10 10:28 pm  · 

Done with the GRE today. 720 Verbal, 800 Quant, Writing not known yet. Hope I don't have to take it again.

Jun 10, 10 11:39 pm  · 

Been on these boards since 2006, but will finally post due to applying and finally knowing architecture is it!

23/m/3.1 gpa BA in Architectural Studies with Minors in Film and Studio Arts from the University of Pittsburgh

Working on my portfolio all summer - hopefully including stills on the films i've made and some of the other sculpture and art work besides the drawing i've done and somewhat architectural models my two studies gave me...

GRE in August, still need to take physics in the fall, just in time to have applications in by december/jan!! I have an internship at a three person firm where I live, so def. hoping to get a letter of rec out of it, plus the others i can get from professors.

Founder of the AIAS University of Pittsburgh Chapter


MIT, Yale, GSD, Cornell, Penn, Oregon (love the program), Virginia, Michigan(best brochure so far, most informative and friend goes there and tells me all about the great things they have), (Maryland?)

with Oregon, Mich as my safeties. Living in PA outside philly, so it'd be nice to go to Penn, plus i've been to their campus and love it. I really want to do a semester abroad, so it will be a big part of the schools i pick/choose

Jun 11, 10 12:01 am  · 

Maryland its a great school ukchomper..

Jun 11, 10 1:16 am  · 

Anyone else out there applying from the UK for M Arch 1 programs?

Jun 11, 10 5:04 pm  · 
The Arquitektonix

34 / m / PuertoRican
Already hold a 3.5 year masters in arch. Certificate in Urban design.
working and teaching.
Looking to specialize in a field or teach permanently
6month-1 yr left w/ IDP.

GRE: Haven't taken it yet
GPA: 3.67

Schools interested in:

Clemson <-- PhD or Health
U.Cinc. <-- PhD
MIT <--- PhD
AA <--- Landscape Urbanism
RISD <--- Landscape


As you can see, I'm very torn as where to go and what to do. A part of me wants to give up the private sector and commit to academia while running small office. Another part wants to build a bit more. I like being involved in the public sector as well...non profits, gov'ts, etc..

Am confused as to where to go. Do I go the school with the best specialization, or go to the school with the best name? Texas is known for sustainability, clemson for health, RISD for the arts, but are any of them better than going to Toronto , MIT, or Harvard who specialize in none of that??

Jack of all Trades or the Specialist?

Jun 11, 10 10:08 pm  · 

captain a hole - be a specialist. 10 years down the road, you wont look back with regret. A generalist never commands a premium over a specialist. Zoom in on what you are good at and truly feel for, and work really hard to establish yourself in the industry. It will pay off.

btw, i m not too sure from where you got the idea that UT is well known for sustainability. There isnt much of that stuff within the faculty. You should check out the faculty before you send in your apps.

Good luck !

Jun 11, 10 11:29 pm  · 

Does Toronto even have a PhD program?

Jun 13, 10 3:39 am  · 

Graduated w/B.S. in Architecture

gpa: 2.9
gre: v-650 m-700

just begun my portfolio.

Schools i'll be applying to

dream schools - gsd, gsapp,
others- washu, tulane? auburn?

working on my portfolio, bonne chance everyone

Jun 13, 10 3:48 am  · 

could you elaborate on the whole 'UTSOA not being well known for sustainability' point? I've yet to physically visit the school, but from my quick perusals of the UT curriculum, their M.Arch 1 w/ specialisation in sustainable design seems quite impressive, as is their sustainable d/b work.

Jun 19, 10 2:43 pm  · 

Hi Everyone,

I'm 24/f with a BA in English, minor in Art/Art History from Colgate

3.2 Undergrad GPA, just took the GRE's today and scored 570 v/ 640 q

Have not begun to assemble a portfolio yet.... I do not have any past experience with architecture, but took a number of studio art classes as an undergrad (drawing and painting) so I have a start for a portfolio but I'm not sure if the quality is good enough. Will be doing GSAPP's NY/Paris program this year, and I am hoping that I will have enough studio experience by December to put a better portfolio together--has anyone done the NY/Paris program?

I'm planning on applying to:

UT Austin

I would love suggestions on where to start with assembling a portfolio...I'm getting a little anxious about it

Jun 29, 10 10:44 pm  · 

Hi everyone,
I was wondering if anyone could give me a quick description of each school's "style/approach" for lack of a better word...Sci Arc is techy...Berkeley pretty much arts&crafts but I think they are trying to move into the computer age...

Anyone more familiar than myself with these schools?
How would you describe their programs?

Harvard GSD

Appreciate the help!

Jun 30, 10 10:15 am  · 

how much should one really worry about GRE scores? if they are good enough, but maybe a little low, will they send a thick resume and excellent portfolio to the trashcan?

Jul 1, 10 1:43 pm  · 

Hi Everyone,

I am 24/m with a b.s. in business and minor in music from Indiana University, 3.4gpa. I finished undergrad in May of 2009, but I am returning to IU this fall to take a few art studios and a interior design studio.

I have no formal architecture background, but this is something I've always been interested in and I know its time to get busy pursuing architecture.

I am studying for the GRE now and plan to take it as soon as I feel confident. I have a few good sources for letters so I am feeling okay about that part. My biggest concern now is my portfolio. I am hoping my classes this fall will give me some decent examples, but that is going to be my biggest focus over the next several months.

Any advice for a business/music undergrad going into this process would be great.

I am not trying to go to any top tier schools. I am most likely to stay here in the Midwest, probably Indiana, IL, or OH. That being said, here is my "rough" list of schools at this point.

UIC, IIT, Notre Dame, Ball State, Ohio State, CUA, Miami Ohio, and Clemson.

Its a mixed bag, but I am planning to visit most of these schools this fall to help narrow the list. Any input is welcome

Good luck everyone and thanks for the help!

Jul 1, 10 4:56 pm  · 

cmarshalle: What state are you a resident of? Indiana? Find out which other states share reciprocity with you....meaning, what state will offer in-state tuition.

Notre Dame is VERY expensive, and completely classical. If you're going to apply to schools in Ohio, apply to U.Cincinnati's DAAP program. It's well respected, and ranked high in the grad rankings last year. Not sure if Ball State is a public education or not.

Jul 2, 10 1:19 am  · 

Yes, I am a resident of Indiana.

Notre Dame is one of the schools on my list that I really need to explore more. I know its a very classical approach and that its incredibly expensive. However, its not too far from me and I have always had a love for the school.

Ball State is probably the least expensive option. Its a public school in northern Indiana. However, it really doesnt offer much in terms of architectural inspiration. Although its inexpensive, I am not sure I could stand to live in Muncie for 3+ years. Its more of a safety school.

I'll definitely check into Cincinnati. Its only a few hours away and I could easily add it to my Ohio arch school tour circuit.

Is there any good websites for researching m.arch acceptance rates and incoming class sizes?

Jul 2, 10 11:49 am  · 

Is there any good websites for researching m.arch acceptance rates and incoming class sizes?

Not that I know of, but there should be!
Look at architect magazine online, they did an analysis of almost all arch schools, showing acceptance rates and such.

Jul 2, 10 9:26 pm  · 

Things seem pretty quiet around here. What is everyone up to?

I'm studying a bit for the GRE and researching schools to narrow my list and start planning my school visit circuit for this fall.

I had the chance to make a quick stop at the Knowlton school at OSU as I was driving through Columbus a few weeks back. It was summer and the place was dead, but definitely an incredible facility.

Anyone around here considering applying at OSU?

Jul 20, 10 8:43 pm  · 

What I'm up to:

posting for the first time, working on bridges, working on portfolio, making excuses not to study for the GRE, listening to "Savant" by Oceansize..

but I have a conundrum:

Architecture grad school is in my future (I've had many dreams about it - true story), but I'm taking a year to do some volunteer work. So...

Option A: apply this winter, specifying that I'll be deferring admission until Fall 2012

Option B: wait until next year to apply.

My portfolio will likely be better with a year of incubation and additional work; on the other hand it may be easier to get everything done this Fall, and I'd appreciate some peace of mind before I head off into state-sponsored volunteer purgatory...

any thoughts?

Jul 23, 10 6:05 pm  · 

BTW Has anyone said "fuck the GRE" yet?

Fuck the GRE... but I need that fellowship...

Jul 23, 10 6:12 pm  · 

Royce- you will not get a fellowship from your GRE unless it is from a shitty school. I got a 1580 and no extra money except from OSU (which is not worth the time/money). Actually you should run from architeture. We all are running if we can. I went to the best school in the nation but make 60k per year WITH A LICENSE AND 8 years experience (160k in loans so not much left to spend). It is going to be 8 years most likely before architects will be able to make a decent living again. If you are willing to wait that long plus another 10 for licensing, respect enough to have some responsibility more than IDs etc then go for it. Otherwise go to law school. Or medical school. RUN FROM ARCHITECTURE. This is something your teachers will not tell you because they are being paid not to (and don't know anyway).. Good luck.

Jul 23, 10 6:44 pm  · 
sofia k

I'm 26 with a 5 year degree in architecture and 3 years experience in an architecture office. Just scheduled to take the GRE at the end of September.

Below is my tentative list of Post-professional programs for consideration. I hope to reduce my list to 5 in time for applying.

Columbia (Hist. Preservation and/or MSAAD)
Cooper Union
University of Oregon (Hist. Preservation)

As you see, I have interest in Historic Preservation, but am not sure if I want to apply to that program specifically or stay in the more general field and focus my studio or thesis work on preservation in some form.

As I am sure many of you, I have been thinking about my portfolio for quite some time. I have tried to envision the projects in my post-undergrad portfolio (done 3 years ago) in a new format and feel it necessary to rework or even recreate some of the images. The new work I have to add is mostly professional.

I'm looking forward to exchange of thought in this forum. Good luck to everyone.

Jul 23, 10 6:55 pm  · 

harvard sucks, yale too. only one that might be ok is Columbia maybe. sounds like you are going for name colleges, not architecture colleges.

Jul 23, 10 8:31 pm  · 

Are you kidding me!?! I have degrees from two of those places and Columbia is the worst. We learned bubble-tecture. No skills, just professor ego. The other two at least teach you how to be an architect (if you can get in). Besides, there is nowhere to go that is safe anyway. How about accounting school? you have a better shot at getting a job (and hence fulfilling career within the forseeable future) from the WORST accounting school than from the BEST architecture school for the next decade. Like math and budgeting? Go be an accountant and be able to support yourself and maybe - I don't know- a FAMILY?

Jul 23, 10 10:45 pm  · 

And yes, he DOES seem to be name shopping, but now is the time to do so. Can you blame him/her? I can only imagine Harvard grads are doing SLIGHTLY better than grads from lower ranked schools. Either way, the new debt will not be worth the sanity and time you lose. Stick with the b arch and maybe a degree in something else. Architecture is broken. ID emplyees will make as much as you with less school and responsibility. I wish someone had told me to run before I racked up two degrees. Now I have to go find a third degree that will actually get me a decent job.

Jul 23, 10 10:52 pm  · 

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