If you have determined that you are ready to pursue a lifelong, professional relationship with architecture, you will want accreditation.
More specifically, you are looking at approximately a five-year college plan in which you can expect to acquire appropriate technical skills by completing courses relating to building design, drafting, and a host of other architectural subjects.
Not all schools are created equal, so it is essential to plan and figure out at least a few that would most optimally set you up for success.
A simple way to figure out if a college or university is suitable is to determine if it is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). It offers a PDF that lists the schools in each state for easy reference (source).
There is a lot of information to take in, but it is worth taking the time to figure it out first.
The first question is: what will you need in applying for architecture school?
Items to Prepare for the Application
These are the four things that an architectural school would typically require you to submit:
1. Academic Transcript
A transcript is relatively straightforward: this is automatically provided by your high school (or college if you plan on transferring) and is an official document that conveys to institutions the subjects you have taken and your performance in them.
All you need to do is request a copy from your school (if you don’t already have one).
A portfolio – unlike a transcript – will require direct action from you to put it together. This is where you get to use that wonderful attribute called creativity to put your best foot forward.
It does not have to show blueprints and architectural designs exclusively; while these are useful, anything that demonstrates creativity and artistic flair would be significant.
See the things to include in a portfolio for architecture school so you have a more precise guide to produce one that will win you a place in your school of choice.
3. Personal Statement
A personal statement may or may not be required depending on the program you are applying to, but most architecture schools today would ask for one.
It is always a good idea to write one even if you do not end up submitting it.
There is a chance you have already thought one up without realizing it because it is all about your declaration of your commitment to architecture.
It could vary in nature, and there is no wrong way to address this item. A personal statement could sound like anything from “Ugly buildings enrage me” to “I want to inspire future generations with my designs.”
At its very core, a personal statement should declare purpose and motivate you.
Let this post guide you on how to write a personal statement for architecture.
4. Letter of Recommendation
Finally, a letter of recommendation is what gives you that edge in the application process.
Anyone can inflate themselves to high status, and while you certainly should not sell yourself short, it will help your case to have somebody credible (such as a professor) vouch for your talents.
These tips on architecture letters of recommendation should help you get one (or more) that will benefit your application.
Applying for Architecture School: The Necessary Steps
1. Plan, Based on Your Background
If you want to be successful, you need to ensure that you have a clear path carved out for yourself. This is where the crucial step of planning comes in.
Whether you are fresh out of high school or further along in life, the best way to go about applying will look a little bit different.
If you are of the former group, shooting for a Bachelor of Architecture degree is the most straightforward approach and will likely involve a solid five years at a NAAB-accredited university.
Suppose you are of the latter group and already have some college behind you for a pre-professional degree in architecture such as a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science (majoring in architecture).
In that case, you could apply for entry into a Master in Architecture program.
A Master may take two or three years, depending on the school.
Any degree you have relating to building or design may earn you a transfer into the second year in an architecture program, so check with the school.
It is where you can save a year or two of college time – and some money.
2. Up those Test Scores
As much as you may disagree with the premise of standardized testing, it is irrefutable that a higher score on the SAT or ACT will increase your chances for acceptance.
You can always retake these if you score poorly the first time, so there is no need to be devastated by an initial low score, as long as you can correct it.
Improve your scores, improve your chances – this is a simple truth.
3. Submit the Items Above and Start Applying
You may have a dream school in mind but fear rejection. Unfortunately, putting yourself in a position to get rejected is the only chance you have of getting accepted.
Just make sure you quadruple-check your portfolio so that it represents you at your very best to up your chances and apply to that dream school of yours.
Also, apply to other schools simultaneously so that you have a Plan B, Plan C, and yes, a Plan D. The semesters start around the same time for most schools – you don’t want to miss the bus.
4. Dealing with Rejection
Sure, it is hard to deal with and a real confidence killer, but a rejection letter should by no means deter you from your passion.
Take rejection as an opportunity to obtain feedback that will help you improve your portfolio for the next application (but you have got to respond quickly).
5. Realize That It Might Not Be You
Sometimes, the school you apply for is already saturated with applicants and cannot fit you into the program due to fierce competition or lack of funding.
Maybe only those who applied ridiculously early got accepted, and anyone else who applied after a specific date – no matter how perfect it might have been – was automatically rejected.
6. Apply to More Schools
Even if it seems your dream school has slipped out of reach, this does not mean your journey must end.
The result – whether you get your degree from an ivy-league university or a lesser-known college – is going to fall into the same ballpark.
Getting into any architecture school will provide benefits, so keep applying because there are many opportunities out there.
Remember, you can always get better as an architect, whether you prove yourself from the start or work your way to the top through on-the-job successes.
You’ve got this.
P/S – Once accepted into a program, you can start preparing for architecture school. Exciting times ahead!