Transferring into Architecture Program// No Portfolio

Hello! I’m very stressed out right now because I am currently getting a degree in English at an expensive and prestigious university but I am not interested in my degree and I think that I want to pursue architecture. I am starting my sophomore year and am only 3 credits behind graduated a year early, but I feel like I am constantly signing up for classes and programs I am not interested in so that I can stay on a path I don’t really want to be on. The three jobs I’m considering are law, education, and architecture. I have the least amount of experience/knowledge about architecture but it’s something I’m really excited and passionate about and I think the structure and creativity that apply to this career/degree could fit me well. I am considering taking my spring semester off and potentially transferring into an architecture program in the fall of 2021, but I am struggling to find a program that 1- takes transfer students and 2- does not require a portfolio. During my semester off, I plan on working part-time to save money and also taking some studio architecture/art classes at RISD.

I guess I have 3 main questions:

  1. Is this worth essentially starting my degree over?
    By the end of this fall, I will almost be halfway through my English BA. I am very fortunate to not have to pay for it, but I will almost definitely go to grad school for architecture (or the other two careers I mentioned earlier) and would be paying for that completely on my own. I have been working and saving during school for the purpose of grad school, but also the amount of money I have saved will not make much of a dent in the loans I will inevitably accumulate. If I start my degree over, it will almost definitely be less of a financial burden (for my circumstances in particular). Would it make more sense to chug through the rest of my English degree and apply for a M.Arch or should I take some time off and transfer into a 4-5 year bachelors program that I will likely be starting from the bottom of?

  2. Is it possible to transfer without a portfolio or without a strong portfolio?

Although I plan on taking some studio/art courses during the winter and spring semesters of 2020-2021, I don’t know if that will be enough time to have a portfolio built. Although I have a strong background in math and humanities, I did not take any art or graphic design courses in high school or college, so I essentially have no portfolio. I am not a terrible artist but it is not something I practice regularly and definitely not a strong skill of mine. Based on what I’ve researched, many programs right now expect applicants to have portfolios. Do these portfolios have to be very skilled and are there any programs that don’t require a portfolio (and ideally would take some transfer credits-- I’m taking an architecture history course right now and that’s probably the only course I have specific to the degree)

  1. What are Universities (preferably in the northeast/near new England) that accept transfer students?

Note that a BArch is a five year program. Out of:

A. Transferring to a BArch program, graduating in 2024 or 2025, or
B. Completing your BA/BS in anything at your current school, graduating in 2023, and then doing an MArch, graduating in 2026
C. If your current school offers a BA/BS in architectural studies or similar, you can look into switching to that major, since some MArch programs can be completed in two years (which would have you graduating in 2025) if you have that kind of BA/BS.

which one is less expensive depends on what schools you get admitted to, and their costs and financial aid.

You can check for NAAB-accredited BArch and MArch programs here:

See if any are at in-state public universities that may be lower cost for you. For the BArch programs, you can check on their transfer requirements on their web sites.