As any aspiring architect knows, becoming a Master of Architecture unlocks new opportunities and professional possibilities a conventional architecture degree just can’t provide. Architects with a master’s degree are well-positioned to acquire high profile positions within the architecture and design industries and take on the most complex and demanding of architectural projects. It’s no surprise then that a growing number of prospective architects are putting greater emphasis on their post-graduate studies.
In order to obtain a master’s degree in architecture one must complete at least a bachelor’s degree. This typically requires a minimum of seven years of education as some institutions require a pre-master’s year, depending on the individual program. After that, the aspirant must complete the prescribed program in architecture, which usually consist of around 60 credit units and take between two to three years.
A master’s degree in architecture focuses on the development of practical elements, alongside an in-depth understanding of theoretical concepts and design practices. This includes developing professional skills such as project management, communication, organization, information technology, critical reflection and evaluation. Some of these skills can also be obtained through further optional modules such as a dissertation, a research project, or a studio-based design project.
Applicants generally need to pass entrance examinations, and demonstrate qualifications and portfolios in order to access the masters programs. Since the academic year 2019-2020, many universities have also introduced a master’s preparation year open to holders of a brand-new bachelor’s degree in architecture. This bridging year typically gives students the opportunity to focus on specific disciplines, topics or projects with teachers providing additional help and guidance.
To ensure the rigor of techniques used when conceptualizing and displaying architectural ideas and plans, MArch candidates can take specialized courses such as methods of representation, construction technologies, materials, urban history and architectural theory. Content will then typically focus on areas like restoration and conservation of architectural heritage, innovative sustainable design, and technological applications in architecture. As such, by the end of the program, a student should have developed an intricately detailed understanding of the architecture industry and the essential knowledge, insight and confidence to really make their mark.
Most Master of Architecture courses require a portfolio of work visualizing architectural processes, as well as written documents evaluating design work. These portfolios and documents evidence the capabilities and achievements of the student while also highlighting their scope and depth of knowledge acquired throughout their studies. These documents also often provide helpful assessment points from which an institution can evaluate the student’s understanding of the architectural principles, as well as their ability to think critically and present architectural designs.
While this portfolio is a powerful tool for getting accepted into a masters course, it is also invaluable for those seeking careers in the industry. It helps to provide organizations with an overview of the architecture and design skills held by the student and the abilities they possess.
Architecture Career Opportunities
A Master of Architecture degree opens up career opportunities in a wide range of industries. Architects are employed in a variety of disciplines including landscape architecture, urban design, urban planning and construction management, among others.
As a Master of Architecture candidate, you are more likely to attract more senior positions within organizations. This is because you are seen to possess the skill set and experience to expand upon project briefs and implement your own ideas and vision. These roles can often include managing teams of professionals, or planning and delivering creative briefs and strategies from concept through to completion.
Those who have completed their MArch are also in high demand within the private sector due to their knowledge of design and construction codes. With the sector always in need of qualified and experienced professionals, there are huge career opportunities available to those with a master’s degree in architecture in the private and public sector.
This new qualification can result in higher wages, increased clientele and job satisfaction, as well as a wider range of professional opportunities.
Master of Architecture holders are increasingly sought after abroad. Countries like the UK, Australia and Canada all have a vibrant architecture and building industry, and many employers actively seek candidates from outside their respective countries. With the world becoming ever more connected, designing and building projects with international scope has never been easier and the opportunities for international careers are huge.
Holders of MArch qualifications can take advantage of their skills in other countries, with the added benefit of obtaining valuable life experience from studying and/or working in a foreign land.
Studying abroad grants even more opportunities for both residential and international projects. This allows for different cultural, social and political perspectives to be incorporated into your design process. Furthermore, potential employers may find international experience highly desirable and even an essential component of any Master of Architecture holder’s résumé.
Aspiring architects should also consider completing internships abroad as well as at home. These could offer you invaluable insight into different architectural styles, cultural attitudes to design and alternative methods of problem-solving. Best of all, you may end up being hired by the organization you have taken an internship with.
In the modern era of digital technologies and advancements, architects are increasingly taking advantage of software and digital tools to create amazing designs with greater speed and efficiency. Masters of Architecture students should ensure that their studies include a fair portion of computer-aided design (CAD) applications. As well as typical CAD-based architectural design software such as AutoCAD, Revit, SketchUp and Rhinoceros, additional programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects can be valuable in demonstrating technical abilities.
A proficient knowledge of coding, web design and user experience techniques is also important for modern architects, as these skills are used to model and communicate new ideas in three dimensions. Such coding techniques also help architects to share 3D models, designs and prototypes with clients, colleagues and other professionals.
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are becoming increasingly popular in the architecture and design industries due to their ability to simulate and explore the built environment in real-time. Taking the time to learn such technologies during a Master of Architecture program can give graduates a huge advantage in the job market.
The cost of obtaining a master’s degree in architecture can be high – so it is important to make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck. There are a number of financial incentives available for students of architecture, such as merit-based scholarships, grants, fellowships and bursaries which can all help to alleviate the financial burden.
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) also provides a number of competitive awards for Master of Architecture students, as well as for architecture graduates. These awards can provide a financial reward, recognition and a platform for graduates to share their work and network with architects from all over the world.
Many universities also offer greater discounts for architectural students who have obtained their bachelor’s degree from the same institution. It is important to do your research and check with the university or college to see what discounts and financial assistance they can provide.
Obtaining a Master of Architecture degree is an intensive program and will require a great deal of effort and determination. Working through the course material as well as seeking out job opportunities will take dedication and dedication is something that won’t go unnoticed by a potential employer. Therefore, a strong work ethic and commitment to a goal demonstrate quality and knowledge, not just of the architectural process and design, but of the industry as a whole.
Having a positive mindset, working hard and staying focused are all traits of a successful architecture student. It is important for applicants to remember that even if parts of the program seem daunting, the results of their hard work and dedication can be hugely rewarding in the long run.
Students can further validate the hard work required for a Master of Architecture degree by receiving letters of recommendation from past employers or peers. These letters not only demonstrate technical know-how but they also infer that the architect-in-training has been exemplary in the workplace and is a motivated individual who is capable of bringing creative solutions to even the most complex of projects.
Networking is a key element for all aspiring architects. This could be discussing potential collaborations with other schools or universities; attending exhibitions and seminars; and making connections with industry peers through events such as architectural awards and studio nights. By building up good relationships, this can open up opportunities with potential employers and allow you to get your name out there.
Attending conferences and conventions can also be extremely beneficial in terms of gaining contacts as well as findings out about up-and-coming projects and developments in the industry. This can often be the first step towards a successful career as an architect, so it’s important to leverage such opportunities to the fullest.
At the same time, it is important to remember that networking doesn’t have to be a formal process. By simply talking to architects within your network and exchanging ideas, experiences and opinions you can gain invaluable insight into the industry and find out information that may be of assistance throughout your architectural journey.
Holders of a Master of Architecture degree can continue their studies and take on further qualifications within the architecture industry. Higher diplomas and master’s degrees can offer additional architecture-specific skills and knowledge, as well as specializations such as cultural heritage or conservation research.
Additionally, a doctorate in architecture can be conducted in four to six years and usually involves researching an area of interest in greater depth, such as structural engineering, design studies or urban planning, for example. This could further expand the opportunities available and potential to contribute to the architecture and design industry.
Completing a postgraduate degree in architecture is also an exceptional way to support your academic and professional qualifications. With a degree such as a Master of Architecture, you can also teach at universities and offer your services as a consultant or as an executive in the industry.