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Comparison of B.Arch programs

Sam4818Sam4818 34 replies1 threads Junior Member
D got admitted for the B.Arch program to Illinois Institute of Technology/RPI/Pratt Institute/Syracuse/University of Miami/Sci-Arc/Auburn and Iowa State.
Can anyone elaborate on the pros and cons for each of these programs. Specifically we are looking for:
1.Studio environment.
2.Career center/internships after graduation.
3.Tie up with any architectural firms for summer projects/internships.
4.Study abroad semesters.
5.Any help offered after graduation with the ARE (Architect registration Examination).

We researched the DI rankings for the above schools too. Looks like Syracuse is at the top followed by Sci-Arc/Pratt(in a tie) then Auburn and then IIT-RPI ( in a tie). At the end of the list is Iowa State.

We are OOS for any of these schools. Auburn and Iowa State seem to be in the same price range whereas other 6 have a similar scholarship and price structure. Our only concern with Auburn and Iowa State is they have a pre-arch course after which you have to compete for a spot in the architecture program which essentially means going thru the admission process again.

Any opinions are greatly appreciated.

She also got admitted to Cal Poly SLO which was our first choice but she got for Landscape Architecture. Changing majors at SLO isn't easy though not impossible. Has any been successful in changing the major at SLO from LA to Arch.

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Replies to: Comparison of B.Arch programs

  • momrathmomrath 6022 replies39 threads Senior Member
    @sam4818, First let me say that I'm not an architect, but the parent of an architect. I've learned a lot as an observer of my son's journey to becoming a licensed architect and of the experiences of his colleagues and the parents and students on this discussion board. I don't have insider information on any of your daughter's choices, but I can give you my impression of the points of differentiation.

    Although BArch curriculums are regulated by NAAB to cover required courses in design, construction and technology, the balance and emphasis will vary depending on the type of university/college that the school of architecture is housed in.

    Syracuse, Miami, Auburn and Iowa are "full service" universities, offering a wide range of academic disciplines, and your daughter's classmates would be majoring in just about everything. The universities' architecture programs would offer a fairly equal balance of design, structures and technology.

    IIT, RPI are at their foundation technical schools so your daughter would expect an increased level of emphasis on structures and technical aspects of architecture. This focus would the prevail in the studios as well. Although most tech schools offer liberal arts classes, the interest level in STEM programs would dominate.
    Pratt is an art school with an intense focus on the creative and design elements of architecture. All of your daughter's classmates would be dedicated to some aspect of visual or creative arts. Sci-Arc which is all architecture all the time is in a class of its own, focusing on the intersection of design and technology.

    All are good choices, but some may be a better fits than others depending on your daughter's interests and what she's looking for in a college environment. DI ratings can matter, especially if your daughter intends to live and work practice outside of an individual school's scope of name recognition.

    The studio environment will vary depending on the focus of the school. Self-inflicted competitiveness in the design studio can be stressful for students not accustomed to undergoing critiques of their work. Your daughter may want to talk to current students about the studio culture.

    Most schools of architecture will facilitate summer internships and job placement after graduation. If your daughter intends to live at home over the summer holidays then the school's connections and name recognition with firms near your home would be a factor. Summer internships are notoriously underpaid (or unpaid) so living arrangements can be costly. My suggestion would be to ask the individual schools for more specific information on their networks. You could also look at the firms that their visiting professors and critics are employed by.

    Study abroad opportunities specifically tied to architecture will be listed on the schools' websites. Again, consider the costs involved. Other details would be requirements for thesis semesters, summer sessions and in-term travel opportunities.

    The licensing process comprises six exams and hundreds of hours of work experience in various aspects of architecture under the supervision of a sponsoring firm. It's quite common for the whole process to take 3-5 years, and in fact quite a few architecture professionals never bother getting licensed. Some firms expect licensure within an established time period; some don't really care.

    I don't think the Integrated Path Initiative which is meant to help students start the licensing process during their undergraduate years is offered by any of the schools on your daughter's list. She can, however, gain credit for hours worked during the school holidays.

    How well her BArch will prepare her for the exams really varies and is, I think, a good question for the individual schools. NCARB lists each schools pass rate on their website, though I believe the success rate varies widely with individual motivation and the firm's expectation. Many firms will absorb the exam fees, but taking the exams more than once is common.

    These are all good choices. None is better than the others, just different in overarching cultures and day-to-day experiences. Good luck and let us know what she decides!
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  • Sam4818Sam4818 34 replies1 threads Junior Member
    @momrath Thank you for such a detailed explanation. She visited IIT yesterday and seems to have liked it. We are visiting Syracuse/Pratt/RPI in second week of April. UofMiami has the largest scholarship so cost effective but I am a little concerned as they are quite low on the DI rating list. I am more for Sci-Arc as it is a school of its own but D says it too small so she may not have the "college experience". May I know where your son studied architecture? Also where will I find more info on the Integrated Path Initiative? I will let you know where my daughter decides to enroll.
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  • momrathmomrath 6022 replies39 threads Senior Member
    @Sam4818, UMiami has been moving up in visibility as a go-to destination for building in urban environments. They have a dynamic program with a talented and energetic faculty. Sci-Arc is unique, very conceptional, very avant garde. Terrific for the right student, but not for everyone. I would think that Syracuse and Iowa would offer the most traditional college experience. I not familiar with Iowa's program. Syracuse is well respected, especially on the east coast.

    I would also mention that the fallout rate for the BArch is quite high so it's good to think about alternative majors at whatever college she choose, just in case.

    My son got a BA in visual art and art history at Williams and his MArch at Cornell.

    You can find more about the Integrated Path (every time I see that name I think of the Shining Path!) on NCARB's website along with a lot of information about licensing. The IPAL is relatively new and it's unknown how effective it will be.

    Many, many people working in architecture are not licensed (though technically they're not supposed to call themselves architects). Licensure opens up opportunities and in theory adds income, but taking exams may not be a priority for entry level architects who are already working long hours. Each state regulates its own licensing requirements: some require additional exams, some require fewer work hours, some allow licensing with just a BS and additional work hours.
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  • Sam4818Sam4818 34 replies1 threads Junior Member
    @momrath thank you again! I am curious if may people working in architecture don't have licenses how are they able to work? I had the info unless you have a license you are not able to work . Just like how a doctor cant practice if he/she doesn't have a license.
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  • momrathmomrath 6022 replies39 threads Senior Member
    Put simply the firm will need a licensed architect, the architect of record, licensed in the same state as the building site, to sign off on the building plans. So if a firm based in New York builds a museum in Missouri, then they need a team member who holds a MO license to take responsibility for the plans. But other team members (and there are usually a lot of them) can be licensed in other states or not licensed at all. Officially, unlicensed architects are called designers or architectural designers.

    Obviously architects at one or two person firms need to hold appropriate licenses, but big firms hire people with all kinds of back grounds: designers, technical experts, model makers, illustrators etc. Not everyone in the firm is licensed or motivated to become licensed.

    At schools of architecture, the professors are often not licensed, even though they may hold the requisite degrees, which is, I think, one of the reasons that many architecture schools don't emphasize the material found on the licensing exams. Same for many big name architects ("starchitects"). Look for the AIA after their name.

    Personally, I think getting licensed is important. It increases hireability (and theoretically income), but recently NCARB has been getting a lot of push-back on the issue. Over the years, the process has become more streamlined, fewer exams, fewer work hours. And some states allow BS degree holders to become licensed with additional work requirements.
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  • bk1366bk1366 173 replies0 threads Junior Member
    edited March 2019
    @Sam4818 Congrats!. My daughter in the same boat. She got accepted to Cal Poly/SU/UM/U Oregon/OSU/UH/PSU. Rejected from TU/RU/UT(Cap)/CMU.
    I think @momrath provided some good insights I agree with as my thought process was very similar. We did visit a few schools. Based on the information we have seen Cal Poly SLO stands out. For now, that is her first choice. Regarding changing major with CAED I don't think it is difficult to change from Landscape design to Architecture or Arch Eng.
    She does not like the cold places so lots of schools got dropped out.

    She did receive money but it does not come close to covering the tuition fees. I did do a lot of research for her. My recommendation was Cal Poly, PSU, UO, SU, UM based on the information you have mentioned. The size of school matters also - Cal Poly is one of the largest.

    Talking with prof every one recommended - Arch + Arch Eng combo. The argument I was told was no point in designing something that cannot be implemented. So have knowledge of AE help in making the design more practical. So the school selection I had proposed my daughter is one that has both programs.

    Regarding IPAL only USC supports it in your list. But you can do it on your own by working with the school.
    Wish you all the best.
    edited March 2019
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  • Sam4818Sam4818 34 replies1 threads Junior Member
    @bk1366 Congratulations. We applied only to the NAAB accredited B.Arch programs so didn't apply to ones on your list like OSU/UH/RU. We first had UOfOregon/Tulane on our list but when D got into IIT ( rolling admissions) we decided to skip these 2 as they were considerably low on the di-ranking list than IIT.
    Cal Poly was our first choice. I have been talking to the architecture department there about the change in major. According to them change from LA to Arch is possible but not guaranteed. The change can only be submitted after the first quarter. If it gets approved, D can start arch next fall, attending LA this year. Essentially it means she will take 6 years instead of 5 to graduate. Doesn't seem like an easy or viable option to change the major if she enrolls in Cal Poly.
    Arch Eng is definitely on her mind. We visited IIT and they have a co-terminal program of B.Arch-Arch Eng for 6 years and they will grant the scholarship for 6 years too if she chooses to enroll . Excellen ROI so far! We don't have any accredited B.Arch in state so every thing is OOS for us. We will be visiting 3 more schools in April before we make a decision. They are across the country from us so time consuming and expensive. However we want to make sure the school is a perfect fit before we jump into anything.6 years is a long time and a big investment.
    @momrath thanks much for the detailed insight on licensing.

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