Below is a special guest entry written by Ms. Charlotte W. who applied to Master of Architecture programs for Fall 2020. Learn from her experience over the last year. — Thanks, Charlotte
Tips for Applying to a Master of Architecture
If you intend to apply to a Master of Architecture program, here are a few lessons from my own experience that may be useful. Applying to a graduate program requires a great deal of time and energy. To maximize your time, organization is key. No matter how much time you have prior to the application deadlines, staying organized will serve you immensely. However, if you are on a shorter timeline, creating a schedule with personal targets and due dates will ensure you meet your actual deadlines with a strong application.
After deciding to apply to graduate programs last fall, I found myself on a tight schedule—especially while juggling a full-time job. I had about four months to apply before most deadlines in January. Before pulling together any materials, I took the time to chart out those next four months of my life. I obtained the materials needed to complete my applications; from there, I created a schedule to ensure I dedicated a certain amount of time each day to the process (allowing myself breaks here and there so I would not burn out).
Planning it all out set me up for success because it held me accountable and kept me motivated in the beginning when there was less pressure to make progress (as someone who procrastinates, feeling a sense of accountability is even more valuable for productivity). It also reduced a lot of my initial stress about the long list of materials needed for each application to have a plan and sense of direction.
While organization is important, another valuable lesson is to be intentional with your applications. Being intentional involves taking time to think about what you want before you start applying to schools; What do you want to get out of your graduate school experience? This question became relevant when I found myself wanting to apply to two very different institutions—one was known for emphasizing technical skillsets, while the other had a reputation for being more creative and experimental.
To make a decision on which programs to apply, I thought about the larger question; What do I want in an architectural education? In an effort to find answers, I reached out to the directors from both graduate programs, as well as alumni and current students. After having many conversations, I felt comfortable making a decision based off howIfelt each school would help me grow as a designer.
There are numerous resources to access information about the programs. Based on my experience, I encourage you to gain as much information as you can on the programs to which you might apply. First, I gained valuable insight from networking and scheduling conversations with program directors and past/current students.
Resources on Architecture Programs
Next, I attended college fair events and portfolio review sessions. I highly recommend you attend one of these events (see below) near you; these events are a great way to gain information and you also have an opportunity to make connections with representatives from each school.
Boston Society of Architects – Architecture / Design College Fair – Boston, MA
Consortium for Design and Construction Careers – Chicago Architecture + Design College Day – Chicago, IL
AIA Dallas – Architecture and Design College Fair – Dallas, TX
Temple University – Philadelphia Architecture & Design College Fair – Philadelphia, PA
Center for Architecture – Architecture & Design College Fair – New York, NY
Another resource is online architectural forums (Archinect), which are very easy to look up and find answers to questions from former or current students at the institutions to which you are interested.
During this process, be honest with yourself during the process and remember that you are picking the program as much as the program is picking you. I hope these tips are helpful to you in your application process—good luck!
And for those interested, I recently learned of the decisions from the institutions to which I applied and was admitted to the following programs:
Harvard University – Declined
Rhode Island School of Design – Admitted
University of Maryland – Admitted
University of Michigan – Admitted
University of Pennsylvania –Declined
Washington University in St. Louis – Admitted
I plan to accept my admission to the Rhode Island School of Design for the Fall 2020.