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    Looking for advice and thoughts on graduate school

    I'm looking to go back to graduate school next year to get my masters and I am interested to hear any advice people might want to share on that subject. I know it's quite a broad subject, but I'd be interested to hear anyone's 2 cents.

    Some of my main questions:
    - in general, what kinds of things does one look for in a program or judge it by?
    - based on where we see the building industry headed with regards to BIM, what else might be good to look for?
    - what are other non-architecture courses and/or degrees that people consider highly useful in their career?
    - thoughts on foreign masters programs from other americans who have or have heard of others doing them

    I'm looking forward to immersing myself back in academia after a couple years of working, now with a whole new perception of what architecture is compared to my naiive years of undergrad.

    Thanks in advance all

    #2
    Originally posted by darryl View Post
    I'm looking to go back to graduate school next year to get my masters and I am interested to hear any advice people might want to share on that subject. I know it's quite a broad subject, but I'd be interested to hear anyone's 2 cents.

    Some of my main questions:
    - in general, what kinds of things does one look for in a program or judge it by?
    - based on where we see the building industry headed with regards to BIM, what else might be good to look for?
    - what are other non-architecture courses and/or degrees that people consider highly useful in their career?
    - thoughts on foreign masters programs from other americans who have or have heard of others doing them

    I'm looking forward to immersing myself back in academia after a couple years of working, now with a whole new perception of what architecture is compared to my naiive years of undergrad.

    Thanks in advance all
    I am surprised you have not gotten any responses to this one yet. I will take a shot and describe my process. It has been 16 yrs since I started graduate school so take it for what it is worth.

    When I was looking at graduate schools I was mostly concerned with going somewhere else. I had gone to college in the town I grew up in and after finishing it was time to go somewhere else. Almost anywhere would work for me. I used one of the college ranking magazines to start my search. Those do a decent job of giving you an idea of how schools stack up against one another and how they might be different. I eliminated school I did not think I had any real chance of getting into. The application fees add up quick so I wanted to stay focused on schools I had a chance to make it into. Next criteria for me was to chose schools located in a city. I figured in graduate school you will make contacts (classmates and teachers) which can lead to jobs. I figured I had a better chance of leveraging the contact if I was already in a city rather than some college town where I would probably need to move to get a job once done. Plus there is a better possibility of getting a job while you are in school.

    With that information I selected 5 schools to apply to and was accepted by 2 of them. I was then able to better compare the 2 schools on a variety of criteria and then made my choice to go to the University of Minnesota.

    Based on your question about the direction of the building industry and BIM, if that is important to you then I think you want to make sure the school you choose has a lot of focus in the practice of Architecture. In my undergrad and graduate experience the focus was really about design and design based thinking. The technical and practice related stuff was just touched on a little bit. You will need to look to see the type of courses and see what is offered by the school in the way of BIM. I suspect most schools are still very focused on the design and architectural fundamentals and are not yet sure how to integrate classes focused on BIM. Most of what you will find in this area is probably still about just using the software and little about how it impacts architectural practice.

    Non Architecture courses that are goign to be of help are classes on basic project management skills (not even architectural focus) and communication skills (especially written). These skills can be aplied to MANY situations not just Architecture.

    I have no advice on foreign masters programs and don't know anyone who has done one. Just off the top of my head I think I would steer clear of them based on 2 factors. 1 - Graduate school is hard as it is, adding in the stress and difficulty of moving to a totally difffernet country might be enough to really impact your ability to focus on your education. 2 - I would be concerned how the graduate degree from another country would impact your ability to complete your NCARB credits and get an Architectural license in the United States. It would add another wrinkle to that whole process which is already a twisted mess. Many programs here in the states have a study abroad semester type of program where they direct the classes taken over seas and a teacher or teachers from your institution is part of the foriegn program. Maybe that is another criteria to help you choose a graduate school, Do they have a foreign study program? (If that is important to you.)
    Jeff Hanson
    Sr. Subject Matter Expert
    Autodesk, Revit - User Experience

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      #3
      Thank you for your reply Jeff!

      I was considering applying to a foreign program somewhere but like you said, the NCARB mess is indeed a big worry. I absolutely love traveling and living in foreign countries (had the chance to study at DIS in Denmark for a summer and also taught English in Japan for 2 years) so perhaps I'll stick to searching for programs with some good semester abroad programs.

      Good idea about choosing which schools to apply to based on location. I had that thought in the back of my head but sometimes it's good to just have someone reaffirm it so that I'm consciously thinking about it as I move forward.

      From what you're saying, it sounds like the graduate-level courses are quite similar to the undergrad courses in general content. I would have imagined in graduate school they would begin to cover much more of the practice-related topics...but I'm sure they do at some schools and I just need to do my own research at this point.

      I'm not big on those college ranking magazines but maybe just to get started, I'll pick one up and start flipping through. Thanks for the advice!

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