1. I do not have a background in architecture. Can I still apply to the MArch program?
Yes, definitely. The three-year, professional Master of Architecture (MArch) at UIC is open to students from any academic background. To qualify for the program, applicants need a Bachelors degree in any subject (completed or in progress) and three prerequisite courses: one in Trigonometry/Calculus and two in Art History or Architecture History. It is in a student's best interest to proceed directly to the MArch if he or she already holds a baccalaureate degree in any field, since this degree counts as the first step in the architectural licensing process. A list of all professional architecture programs can be found at www.naab.org.
2. What classes will count as prerequisites for the MArch program if I don't have a Bachelors degree in Architecture?
While Calculus is preferred for the math requirement, the department may also accept Trigonometry depending on the institution and course content. Advanced Placement credit for Calculus will be accepted where offered by an undergraduate institution.
The art history or architecture history course prerequisites can vary somewhat. Essentially, the two courses combined should cover a visual history from ancient or Renaissance periods up through the present. The second course should emphasize (or at least fully cover) modern and contemporary art and architecture.
3. Where and when do the prerequisites have to be completed?
Unless a student has already completed equivalent college-level courses or is currently enrolled at a college or university where he or she can take them, a local community college may offer the best options in terms of cost and time. Applicants can be enrolled in the courses during the admission process or prior to acceptance, but courses must be completed before enrollment.
4. I have an undergraduate major or some coursework in architecture. Can I transfer credits into the MArch program?
The MArch program does not accept transfer credits. Three-year MArch students must complete 104 credits at the School; students with advanced standing must complete 68 credits at the School. However, if a student has taken a particular course before (usually structures), that student may submit a course syllabus, coursework, and transcript to the professor for waiver consideration. If the student has adequately completed the required material for the course, the professor will approve the waiver and the student is then required to take an advanced architecture elective in its place. Course waivers are not possible for studio courses and are unlikely in the case of theory and technology. Only grades of a "B" or better will be accepted to waive courses.
5. I already have a Bachelors degree in architecture. Can I get advanced standing into the MArch program?
Applicants with a degree in architecture may be considered for advanced standing into the second year of the MArch if they have a background that includes a minimum of six design studios (eight preferred). Also required is upper-level course work in theory and history equivalent to Arch 531/532, at least one year of architectural and environmental technology, and one year of structures.
Placement in the MArch program is determined on an individual basis, and an applicant's portfolio of academic work plays a very significant role. The portfolio should include creative design work from all studios and must demonstrate work that is at a level commensurate with advanced placement. Another factor in placement is how well work undertaken at previous schools provides the knowledge and experience provided in the first year of our program. Through the portfolio review, the School evaluates an applicant's aesthetic sensibility, conceptual thinking, ability to construct a visual or graphic argument, and the quality and sophistication of the work.
Advanced placement is not guaranteed; only 10 percent of applicants with a degree in architecture will be placed in the second year of the program. Students are placed where the admission committee thinks they have the greatest chance of success and hence greatest chance for future financial support. When a students studio count is fewer than six to eight, and/or the previous projects are not of the scale and scope that are commensurate with advanced placement, the admission committee often recommends placement into our three-year MArch program. More than 60 percent of incoming three-year students in the past two years had architecture backgrounds.
6. When should I apply?
Students are encouraged to apply online in October or as soon as possible to facilitate the application and decision processes. The official deadlines are December 15 and January 15. Note that an application must be complete with all supplementary application materials in order to be reviewed. Applications that are not complete by January 15 may still be reviewed, but will not receive a decision until later in the spring.
7. How should I send my application materials?
UIC's Office of Graduate Admissions requires online submission of most application materials including the application, application fee, letters of recommendation, statement of intent, and unofficial transcripts. Note the portfolio must be sent directly to the School of Architecture.
Please carefully review the complete application instructions. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that all documents are sent and received at the correct offices in a timely manner. Note that the online application must be submitted first, and within 3–5 days, applicants will have access to upload their supporting credentials through the online application portal.
Please do not mail the portfolio to the UIC Office of Admissions, as this will cause a significant delay in processing and it is not guaranteed that it will be forwarded to the School, as it is assumed applicants have read and followed the instructions listed on our website.
8. Who should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?
For students from architecture backgrounds, the School prefers to see at least two of the three letters from architecture professors. For students from non-architecture backgrounds, letters from professors who can assess your academic abilities and potential for graduate school are the most useful. Letters from employers are also acceptable. Note that letters of recommendation written by friends or family will not accepted, regardless of their position, as they are not credible or objective.
9. How do I submit transcripts?
The UIC Office of Admissions requires that applicants submit unofficial copies of their transcripts through the online application portal, which will be used for review purposes. The request for official paper academic credentials will be noted on the official admission letter from the Office of Admissions. Official transcripts must be sent directly from all past and/or current institutions with the necessary degree award dates to the UIC Office of Admissions before enrolling in the program. If a student does not submit the official transcripts in a timely manner as required by UIC, the student will be unable to register for classes.
10. I do not have a background in architecture. Is the portfolio still required, and what do I submit?
Yes, the portfolio is required for consideration into the MArch program and is a significant part of the application. Applicants from non-architecture backgrounds are not required to include any architecture work. While some creative design studios or summer architecture design programs might help students develop preliminary work that is useful for inclusion in the portfolio, other drafting or technical projects are not as helpful. The School would rather see personal creative work such as paintings, collages, freehand drawings, sketches, photographs, sculpture, etc. Students should not try to overstate a limited architecture experience, but rather look to exhibit their creative design potential through other artistic forms.
The architecture programs at UIC focus on creative, original design and urbanism. The inclusion of your best personal artwork helps the School to evaluate your potential within the program, while technical or building work does not always provide that insight. As a designed book, the portfolio indicates an individual's aesthetic sensibility and intellectual curiosity. Both in the works themselves and in the inquiry or argument framed through their presentation, applicants should exhibit their potential to develop original design work. While not required, students that wish to further develop their creative work might look to take an art class or attend a summer architecture program such as the YArch program at UIC.
11. UIC is my first choice. What can I do to compile a strong application?
The School carefully reviews all of an applicant's materials to identify his or her potential contribution and fit within the program. Students from any background should carefully research the program based on the information and work presented online at www.arch.uic.edu. Applicants should work to gain an in-depth understanding of how their interests and aesthetics fit the strengths and focus of the school, and then clearly articulate that fit through their application materials. There are many accredited, professional programs available and the School wants to know why the specific academic approach at UIC is the right match for an applicant's graduate study.
In addition to getting to know the School, program, faculty, and student work via the website, prospective students are also encouraged to attend the evening lecture series and the spring Portfolio Day and Year End Show events as well as the prospective student open house in October. It can also be useful (though not required) to plan a visit, particularly to review sample portfolios from past applicants and to get a better sense of the School's work.
Please note it is recommended that applicants consider and apply for other programs even if UIC is their first choice. Admission is competitive and it is useful for applicants to have different programs to compare in making their decision of where to attend graduate school. Applying to several schools allows an applicant to pinpoint his or her potential fit within each.
12. Are there required minimum scores for the GRE?
While there are no required minimum scores for the GRE, the recommended scores are 153 on both the verbal and quantitative sections with a 4.5 in analytical writing. Scores that meet or exceed these minimum recommendations will be a positive component of the application, but lower scores will not necessarily discount admission, as the School looks carefully at all aspects of a student's application in the decision process.
Please note that GRE scores remain valid for five years from the date of the test. Please allow at least two to three weeks for the scores to arrive at UIC via institutional code 1851. No department code is required.
13. Is there a minimum undergraduate GPA required for admission?
Yes. Applicants are required to have a minimum GPA of 3.00/4.00 in their last 60 semester hours (or last 90 quarter hours) of undergraduate study in order to be accepted with full standing into the program. Students with lower GPAs will still be evaluated, but acceptance will be more difficult and greater emphasis will be given to the strength of their other application materials. Admitted students with a GPA below the required minimum will have one probationary semester to achieve at least a 3.00/4.00 graduate GPA and gain full standing in the program. All graduate students must maintain a minimum 3.00/4.00 GPA in order to keep good academic standing and remain at UIC.
14. What is the acceptance rate to the program?
Admission to the program is competitive. The UIC School of Architecture receives approximately 200–250 graduate applications each year and admits about 40-60 percent.
15. How do I know if all my application materials have been received?
After applying, students can log in and view the status of their application materials at http://www.uic.edu/depts/oar/grad/check_status_grad.html. If all required items have reached the applicant's file, the status will say "complete" or "pending manual review." A missing received date and any status other than "Verified- Correct" may indicate that you must upload documents again or follow up with the Office of Admissions.
The applicant is responsible for the receipt of all required application materials as instructed on the website. It is advised to send and upload materials well in advance of the deadline.
16. Will my portfolio be returned?
Upon completion of the admissions process, the portfolio may be claimed in person or returned by mail if the student is denied admission. Applicants who would like the portfolio to be returned via US mail should enclose a USPS stamped, self-addressed, appropriately-sized mailing container that weighs less than 13 ounces. Do not send return envelopes from other courier services (FedEx, UPS, etc.). The School will not accept money or checks to cover postage. We cannot guarantee the return of portfolios.
17. Will my other materials be returned?
No. Per University policy, all documents submitted to UIC become the property of the University. Documents will not be released to the applicant or forwarded to other institutions or agencies.
18. When will I hear back regarding the decision? How are decisions communicated?
Decisions are released in late February or early March. However, some student applications are retained for multiple reviews, in which case a decision may take longer. Admission notifications will be sent out via email and posted letters from the School. These will be followed by official acceptance from the University through the application portal and by mail. Students who are denied admission will be notified only by the Office of Graduate Admissions via the application portal. Applicants will receive an email from the Office of Admissions when their application status has been updated and can check their admission decision online.
19. What is the cost of tuition and fees?
Please see the UIC Office of Admission and Records website for current tuition and fees costs.
20. How can I apply for assistantships, tuition waivers, or other scholarships from the School of Architecture?
Every completed application is automatically considered for all available forms of aid from the School; no additional paperwork is necessary. Awards are merit-based and highly competitive for incoming students. A larger percentage of the school's funding supports many of its continuing students based on their academic performance and their overall contribution to the School. Approximately 10 percent of newly admitted students receive aid in the form of a tuition waiver or scholarship, etc., whereas more than 30 percent of our continuing students receive various waivers, scholarships, or assistantships.
There are resources at the University to help students navigate any potential opportunities related to scholarships and aid, but it is the responsibility of each student to actively explore all funding options. Prospective students are encouraged to supplement their potential graduate funding by searching for external scholarships (i.e., those beyond what the School or University offers). The Graduate College provides a good resource of funding databases to get you started.
All eligible applicants and continuing students are strongly advised to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as it becomes available (January 1). The FAFSA should be submitted by UIC's priority deadline of March 1 for the upcoming academic year. To apply, visit www.uic.edu/depts/financialaid/apply.shtml.
Admitted Student FAQs
1. My letter from the SoA states that I have been recommended for admission and my application is pending a final decision from the Graduate College. What does this mean?
Applications are reviewed by the School of Architecture, Office of Graduate Admissions, and the Graduate College. The School reviews not only applicants' academic performance but also their fit and potential within the graduate program and makes an initial admission recommendation. Our letter states our intention to recommend a student for admission to the program; however, only the Office of Graduate Admissions has the authority to officially admit students to the University by ensuring that the University's minimum GPA and test score requirements are met and that all documents are official. That office handles tens of thousands of graduate applicants, so the application review and official notification process takes longer. Typically, applicants can expect an official admission letter in the weeks following the initial departmental letter.
Cases of unapproved recommendations from the Graduate College and Office of Graduate Admissions are rare, as the School has higher requirements for GPA and tests scores than the University's minimum requirements.
2. How do I find out if I have been awarded any funding?
If awarded a scholarship, an award letter will be sent with your admission letter from the SoA. For students who submit a FAFSA, the Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) begins announcing aid in March. After the admission decision, FAFSA, and any additional required documents have been processed, the OSFA will award financial aid and an email will be sent with instructions on how to view the Award Notification online.
3. When do I need to respond to the offer of admission?
We request students to respond with their decision to accept or decline by April 15. If accepting admission, then a $500 deposit and intent to enroll form is required. Extensions may be possible on a case-by-case basis, but are not guaranteed. Applicants declining the offer of admission should inform the School as soon as possible so those seats can be offered to other qualified applicants.
4. I am currently an out-of-state resident. Is it possible to change my residency and be charged in-state tuition?
The University of Illinois requires that students are bona fide residents of Illinois for one calendar year prior to the term of application for resident status. Bona fide residency involves being gainfully employed, living in the state for one year, and taking other specific actions which link the student to the State of Illinois. It also requires residing in Illinois primarily for reasons that are not related to receiving an education. These actions must be completed before the beginning of the term when residency is to be established.
The process for requesting a residency change is managed by the Office of Admissions and Records. They can be contacted at email@example.com. For more information, please see http://www.usp.uillinois.edu/residency.cfm.
5. I received a tuition waiver, but it is not posted to my financial aid account yet. Is there anything else that needs to be completed?
Students should inform OSFA as soon as possible if they have been awarded any awards. The tuition waiver information is not sent to Financial Aid until after classes start. Students receiving waivers complete a form a few weeks before the start of the term; Financial Aid will update their records once all the documentation is received, approximately 1–2 weeks after the semester begins.
6. I was placed in the three-year MArch program, but I have an undergraduate degree in architecture. Why wasn't I placed with advanced standing into the second year?
Placement in the MArch program is determined on an individual basis by taking into account each applicant's undergraduate curriculum, portfolio of academic work, and overall application materials. Advanced standing is not guaranteed; only about 10 percent of applicants with a BS or BA in Architecture will be placed in the second year of the program. When a student has completed fewer than six to eight studios, and/or the previous projects are not of the scale and scope that are commensurate with advanced placement, the admission committee often recommends placement into our three-year MArch program. More than 60 percent of incoming three-year students in the past two years had architecture backgrounds.
7. Can I waive out of a class that I already took as part of my undergraduate degree?
If a student has taken a particular course before (usually structures), he or she may submit a course syllabus, coursework, and transcript to the professor for waiver consideration. If the student has adequately completed the required material for the course, the professor will approve the waiver and the student is then required to take an advanced architecture elective in its place. Course waivers are not possible for studio courses and are unlikely in the case of theory and technology. Only grades of a "B" or better will be accepted to waive courses.
8. Can students work while in the program?
Generally, no. The architecture programs at UIC are only available for full-time, degree-seeking students. Although some students may manage to work part-time for 10–15 hours a week while in the program, it is strongly encouraged not to seek outside employment during the school year. The summer is an ideal time to pursue employment or internship opportunities. By focusing fully on school during the academic year, students can make the most of their time in the program, become more competitive for assistantships and scholarships, and further develop themselves as designers in order to increase their opportunities after graduation.
9. Does the School offer internship or job placement?
The School does not have any job placement programs, but faculty members are good resources for connections and suggestions for offices that might be a fit for a particular student's interests. Students are required to develop a portfolio at the start of each spring semester that documents all of their work within the program use when for seeking summer work and after graduation. The School also hosts a Career Fair each spring for all School of Architecture students.
10. If I am admitted, but cannot attend for the fall term, can I defer my admission?
The offer of admission is valid only for the fall term to which the student was originally admitted. Requests to defer will not be granted. If students are interested in attending the following fall term, then they will be required to reapply for consideration; all application requirements will need to be resubmitted. If reapplying within one year, the School may still have official transcripts and test scores on file. Readmission is not guaranteed.