UVA Arch vs PSU BArch(Schreyer’s)

My daughter got accepted into UVA Architecture and PSU Architecture, Schreyer’s. We are OOS for both and UVA costs so much more. Trying to decide which program is better especially for the cost. UVA has the prestige, but since she will be in Schreyer’s that is a bonus. Any advice?

Can your family afford either school without taking out loans?

Yes- PSU is manageable, but we would have to take put some loans for UVA. Difference is $25k/ year. And PSU is 5 years vs 4+2 if attending UVA.

I am not an expert in architecture, but I would definitely go with PSU. I’ve heard of many architects bemoaning educational loans and their effects on their careers. Being able to graduate debt free is a huge gift, Penn State has a great reputation, and your daughter would be out a year sooner. Sounds like a win to me.

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Thanks for the feedback. I am wondering about internships and recruiting after graduation. PSU has a large alumni assoc., but UVA is a higher ranked school overall. But the cost factor is huge. Thanks

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Does the 5 year vs 6 year matter in outcomes ? I know from reading on CC that all architecture degrees aren’t the same. Some require more schooling Afterward.

I would check the school for outcomes. That should clear up a lot.

Sure a bigger name is nicer but money is money and often times outcomes are similar.

Then there’s the schools. One is enormous and in the middle of nowhere. The other is mid/large abs more so in society.

Good luck.

First professional degrees in architecture are BArch and MArch degrees, accredited by NAAB.

  • BArch programs are 5-year programs, due to the volume of course work.
  • MArch programs are 3-year programs, although some allow for less time / courses / credits if the student has an architecture-related BA/BS (e.g. a 4-year non-NAAB-accredited architecture major).

So the choice is between:

  • Penn State 5-year BArch program.
  • Virginia 4-year BA/BS program, plus 2-3 year MArch program.

With the price difference, it looks like Penn State will be both faster and less expensive than Virginia + MArch program. And if you will be taking parent loans just for Virginia undergraduate, that means that there is no more money left for the MArch program afterward.

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Thank you

@Suzan, Both PSU and UVA are well regarded schools of architecture. It’s difficult to compare the ratings as they offer two different degrees.

UVA offers a 4 year BS IN architecture. With this degree students can continue on at UVA for a 2 year Master OF architecture. Or they can get a MArch at another school of architecture which would take 2 to 3.5 years depending on the school.

PSU offers several degree options. I assume your daughter has been accepted to their 5 year Bachelor OF Architecture (BArch). Graduates with this degree can begin the process of becoming a licensed architect.

(Some states allow graduates with BS degrees to become licensed, but it takes longer and is more complicated.)

The level of loans that you’re talking about seem to indicate that PSU would be the more pragmatic choice, but it really depends on your family’s financial situation and, to a lesser extent, your daughter’s preferred environment for her undergraduate years.

The BS/BA+MArch route generally offers more room for electives in other disciplines than the BArch, though I haven’t compared the actual curriculums. (BArch and MArch curriculums are mandated by the architecture board. BS curriculums are not.)

Your daughter might look at where students are employed as summer interns and where they end up working after graduation. The schools should provide this information. Also review the study abroad opportunities and points of differentiation such as summer terms and thesis requirements.

I would note that although the BArch is a terminal degree it is common (though not required) for architects to get MArchs on top of BArchs, maybe not back to back, but later in their careers.


In direct response to your questions:
1> The PSU program is consistently ranked within the top 20 BArch programs in the country.
2> Please see discussion below…
3> The course load is extremely heavy. Approximately 60% of D2’s BArch class changed out of architecture before graduation. As a point of reference, D2 spent about 36 hours in the design studio during her first weekend on campus. Not sure how representative that is since her class was over-enrolled by 40% to start.

I really can offer only one perspective, but I’ve been nothing but impressed with what PSU provided and enabled my daughter to grow into. Daughter #2 (aka D2) graduated from PSU in 2015 with her BArch:

  1. She was offered a job as an architect with a firm in Washington DC before graduation. The opportunity manifested from the visiting architects that participated in her crits (critiques) during her education. In other words , one of the partners of the firm, a PSU alumni, had been invited to participate in crit reviews and appreciated her designs and wanted her to work for the architecture firm when she graduated. (What I’m discussing here is the extensive PSU alumni network that can help new graduates get into jobs.)
  2. D2’s experience during her semester in Rome became a major discussion point when she interviewed for jobs as she approached graduation.
  3. D2 worked three years as an architect involved with designing buildings and interiors with multiple Fortune 100 corporations as well as several top 7 law firms. She was both a project manager, a design manager and customer relations liaison. The firm and D2 both received several awards and accolades for projects.
  4. D2’s goal, even before going to PSU, was to become a set/production designer for movies.
  5. During her 3rd year at the Washington DC architecture firm, a Burbank, CA design firm offered her a new job in California working as a set designer in the video game world. She accepted the offer, which also included reimbursing relocation expenses.
  6. In the past year and a half, she’s worked on designing and directing the building of sets in Madrid, Spain, Montreal, Canada, Austin and Dallas, Texas, New York City and others. The big plus in her resume and discussion with the California design firm was her BArch design from PSU.

Again, I want to emphasize that I’m discussing one graduate from the PSU BArch program…YMMV

Anyway, best of luck with you going forward!


D2 graduated with a double degree in 2015 - BArch and BS - Anthropology - both with Honors.
She was a Schreyer honors scholar and she informed me that she basically told her professors that she was an architecture major and EVERYONE of them recognized her need for studio time. She and two or three other SHC students were in the same situation and all of them commented on how their non-architecture professors acknowledged the extreme demands on time that architecture required. In other words, it’s well understood throughout PSU that BArch students need to devote a SIGNIFICANT amount of time to their major.