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Postgraduate architecture: Entry requirements explained

James Davis

Architecture courses at the postgraduate level can boost your career, but navigating the admissions process can be tricky at times.

Architecture concerns the entire process governing the construction of buildings, right from the initial planning stages and design to overseeing structures coming into being. Developing these skills can be taxing, which is why university impose some of the entry requirements to follow. After all, they only want the best in their courses. This article will cover the dominant types of postgraduate degrees, what’s normally required between institutions and how to meet those requirements.

Graduate certificates and diplomas

Where graduate certificates take six months full time or one year part time to complete, graduate diplomas take twice as long in all respects. In most cases, this is the sole difference between the two, so entry requirements are normally quite similar. The content of these can sometimes be quite specialised, such as the Specialist Certificate in Green Roofs and Walls from the University of Melbourne or the Graduate Certificate in Architectural Science (Sustainable Design) from the University of Sydney. In all cases however, admission requirements are often as simple as ‘possess a bachelor’s degree in a cognate discipline’. In other words, so long as your prior degree featured sufficient aspects of the course you want to undertake, you’re eligible for entry. So for instance, if you’re applying for that architectural science course at USYD, you could have come from engineering, project management, environmental studies, climate science and more. Better yet, there aren’t normally even GPA requirements for these, making them an alternate method of entry into master’s degrees if your GPA was only a pass.

Master’s degrees (coursework)

Getting into a coursework master involves a couple standard requirements. For one, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in architecture most of the time. Granted, some institutions will let you in if you’ve only got one in a cognate discipline, but the courses really aren’t designed for novices.

So, even if you find a course of your choosing to accept applicants from merely cognate disciplines, we’d recommend checking the units of that course and whether or not you’ve got the knowledge to tackle them sufficiently.

You can check the units involved in a course by going to your university’s site and navigating to their study guide, course planner or named equivalent. In some cases, possessing a graduate certificate or diploma is sufficient for entry, which is something you can capitalise on if your undergraduate GPA was below a credit (65%, 5/7 or 2/4). Deakin requires even lower than that at 60% for their Master of Architecture, but won’t accept entry via graduate certificate or diploma. What they will accept however, which reflects some other courses mind you, is a portfolio of work instead of a university degree. Theoretically, you could slide into one of these courses without even a bachelor’s degree, but just building that portfolio might be difficult without the necessary qualifications to start. For this reason, we’d recommend a more standard method of entry. If you’re someone with some sort of grandfathered qualification from a technical college and a portfolio of work however, then by all means, you ought to seek admission by portfolio.

Master’s degrees (research)

These often require a different set of skills to those applying for coursework programs. Most institutions will require you to prove that during your undergraduate degree you completed sufficient research. The definition of ‘sufficient’ varies between institutions, but it tends to mean ‘multiple units dedicated to research’. This is pretty hard to pull off in a highly practical course like undergraduate architecture and it’s unlikely you have this if you’re fresh out of uni, so we’d recommend considering an honours year of undergraduate to build up that research portfolio. This is a great way to see what it’s like getting into academic research and potentially increase your GPA while you do it.

Doctorates

The requirements for these are like a master’s by research on steroids. Requiring a 70,000 - 100,000 word thesis and years of original research, selection committees are trying to ensure you’ve got the research and writing chops for the job. You’ll need to prove you’ve done some research, preferably published, or at the very least taken part in extensive research components throughout your honours year of undergrad or master’s degree by research. It’s actually possible to get into a doctorate via master’s by coursework too because research components are always either mandatory or an elective, just not to the same extent as a research master. So, you’ve got some options! GPA requirements can get nasty however, ranging between distinction and high distinction. Another reason to take an honours year if you need to boost it! Failing that, a master’s degree is like a clean slate. If your undergrad GPA’s an irredeemable tire-fire, once you’ve done your master’s that’s what they’ll be looking at because:

  • It’s your most recent qualification and theoretically indicative of current academic performance
  • It’s your highest level qualification

So, no matter who you are, you’ve got options if you really want to pursue that doctorate.

Hopefully this article has been of some help in learning what these admission requirements are about and what you can do to meet them. Whatever you choose to do and wherever you choose to go, we wish you luck!