3 years ago
Admissions Advice

B.S in architecture or B.Arch

B.Arch programs are usually 5 year degrees and B.S in architecture are regular 4 year degrees. I'm wondering which one is better or worth it, and what are the possible paths after getting those degrees?

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Accepted Answer
3 years ago

As a daughter of an architect, I asked my dad this question.

He was quick to point out that there are 3 paths, 1.) BArch. 2.) BS, and 3.) MArch.

Between BArch and BS, the BArch is the only path that qualifies you to intern for 3 years and then take that NCARB registration exam without attending grad school. If you take the BS path, you are required to attend grad school for 2 more years and get a MArch II which will then allow you to intern for 3 years and take the exam. So the BArch is superior to the BS program. But the downside is that you will not receive a well-rounded liberal arts education because in order to shave 1 whole year off your education you have to take a deep dive into architectural-related subjects right away. So your core requirements are plentiful and your elective choices are rather limited. Also, this means that if you want to switch majors after 2 or 3 years, you are at a complete loss of time because the School of Engineering or or School of Business or the School of Arts and Sciences are not going to transfer those Arch. classes and apply them toward your college degree. If you are 100% sure you want to be an architect, then go for it. But be aware that the top BArch programs like Cornell, SciArc, Syracuse are very rigorous and intimate like joining a monastery. They typically have 100 students per class and less than 50 will graduate after 5 years. I think he told me that his Freshman class had 110 and 38 graduates.

Now it wouldn't be fair to not mention the MArch I path which is to attend any 4-year college and study anything that interests you and then apply to Architecture school for grad school. While this takes the longest time 7.5 years in total, it is the most flexible. The real benefit is that the best schools in architecture are grad schools like Harvard, Yale, Columbia, MIT, UPenn, Princeton, you get the picture. If you want clout, then you take your time and apply to the best schools as a grad student and then you get the best opportunities for jobs when you graduate because typically the most famous architects went to the best schools and their firms hire from those best schools. If you want to work for Robert AM Stern or IM PEI , you would go to Columbia or MIT respectively, not Ball State or the University of Miami.

So what no one tells HS kids is that as the field of LAW or MEDICINE of BUSINESS, where you go to architecture school matters. There is a positive correlation between getting a great career start if you attend Harvard Law, Wharton, or Yale Medical School.

The big takeaway is that architects can do architecture until they die so it's a long professional life. Therefore, be smart and strategic about how and where you do your schooling because in the long run whether you went to college 5, 6, or 7.5 years doesn't matter if you do your job for 50 years.

Good luck and feel free to ask more questions.

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