Aesthetic, they say, is the hallmark of the cultural significance of a society and rightly so. With the progression of the world expanding at an increasing rate with each passing day, societies, be it cities, organisations, countries or neighbourhoods, are looking to ramp up their aesthetic appeal in order to be able to build up their profile and attract attention. In the world of social media, likes, views and comments, the visual appeal that can be linked to the repute or image of an organisation or location becomes integral. In the lieu of all of this, architecture has appropriately become an important area in the current scenario.
Architecture is defined as both the process and product of planning, designing and constructing structures. Historically, these structures have come to attain significance as cultural symbols. The architecture of a country is a type of an artform in it as well as a representation of its progression over the years. Like all artforms, architecture, too, is often used to give statements. In addition to this, with urban expansion a consistency of the world we inhabit, architecture becomes a necessity.
The element of sustainability becomes a crucial part of architecture as well. This increases the popularity of architecture courses. An architecture degree increases the employability chances of a student owing to the demand of the activity in recent times. In addition to this, a formal education in the subject provides students with an interest in the field an educational base to hone their practical skills and intrigue. All of these factors contribute towards making architecture a sought-after subject. Among all other degrees, the Masters of Architecture (M. Arch) is one of the most prominent.
Arch is a postgraduate degree offered in the realm of architecture and teaching various fields affiliated with it. It is usually a practical sort of course, focusing on the vocational perspective of the subject. Irrespective of the variations one chooses to their course, a few topics remain consistent to the course. Design, building science, structural engineering and architectural history remain a part of syllabus no matter what even though some colleges and institutions might offer their students a chance to specialize in one field.
There are various ways in which one might attain qualifications for architecture. One of the routes is to pursue the 3-3.5 years M. Arch program which takes in students who have pursued different courses at the Bachelor’s level. Since the course seeks to give out an overview of a myriad of topics essential to the concept of architecture, it is advantageous with reference to the wide array of topics covered.
Other Degrees for Architecture
There is a myriad of ways in which the degree is meted out in various institutes and universities. The usual techniques adopted by an educational institute in meting out architectural studies are technical, historical and artistic. While some universities offer courses taught under a combination of these techniques, if given a choice, it becomes crucial for the student to choose their university on the basis of the technique used as the method goes on to influence the understanding of the subject. A glance through the classes offered by an educational institute should be enough for candidates to ascertain the method used. Another crucial distinction that arises in this context lies in the field of architecture studies is with reference to M. Arch, MSc (Masters of Science) Architecture and MA (Masters of Art) Architecture. The MSc program is research-based and deals with the technology involved in the process of architecture, their progression over time, their usage in the process, their advantages, their flaws and the like. The MA program focuses on the artistic part of the process, i.e., the design and layout of a structure and methods to enhance its outwardly beauty and appeal. The M. Arch program, however, is somewhat of a combination of these elements. Most M. Arch courses teach architectural technology, history, design, and other common topics intended to give students a complete overview of the topic.
Best Countries to Study Architecture
Owing to the popularity of architectural courses, multitudes of Indian students aspire to study the subject. Many of these students choose to apply to foreign universities as a foreign-acquired degree could push up employability appeal and prospects owing to the learning garnered and triggered by studying in a multicultural, diverse environment that a foreign university provides. The best 10 universities of the world are distributed among 6 countries – USA, UK, Switzerland, Netherlands, Italy and Singapore. It is important to note that these 6 countries all have distinct styles of architecture and are renowned the world over for their architectural prowess. To be surrounded by such architectural efficiency while studying the subject formally is bound to increase the educational progress of a student. Moreover, these countries have access to better architectural technology, another contributor to the educational progress of a student. While USA is renowned for academic excellence and flexibility in its course of study and UK is more popular for its diverse populace and multicultural environment, Switzerland, Italy, Singapore and Netherlands are prominent for their architectural beauty, playing home to a host of beautiful buildings.
Top Universities to Study Architecture
The top 10 universities offering courses in architecture are -
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology: The best university in the world for the past few years, MIT is renowned for its research facilities and initiatives. The university has a very healthy student-faculty ratio and has a separate school for architecture and planning.
- UCL (University College London): A university eminent for the quality of its research programs, UCL’s location allows its students a direct contact with the culture and nightlife of London. The variety of subjects it has to offer is complemented by its highly-qualified faculty. The university’s Faculty of Built Environment is involved in meting out education in architecture and related fields.
- Delft University of Technology: Home to one of the largest campuses in the world, Delft University is particularly proficient in the field of STEM subjects like civil engineering, environmental studies, mechanical engineering and architecture. The university ranks particularly high on the index of international students and faculty, indicating a highly diverse and multicultural environment.
- ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology): The alma mater of the great Albert Einstein, ETH Zurich is an institute eminent for its technological and scientific proclivity. The institute is renowned for its theoretical studies and hosts multiple seminars and speeches by great minds regularly in order to give its students an opportunity to exercise themselves mentally. The institution also boasts of an extremely diversified faculty base and student populace.
- University of California, Berkeley (UCB): One of the most prestigious institutions in USA, UCB is the alma mater to multitudes of Nobel Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners. The university hosts a large campus, with many of its buildings designated California landmarks, a plus point for its architecture students who get an opportunity to view the buildings from close quarters.
- Harvard University
- Manchester School of Architecture
- University of Cambridge
- Politecnico di Milano
- National University of Singapore
The fees for architectural programs in foreign universities range from as low as 2 lakh rupees to as high as 11 lakh rupees in some universities. In addition to that, the living expenses also ranges from around 4-8 lakh rupees per year, accounting for rent, insurance, food, stationery and books. Banks and financial institutions often offer education loans for foreign education at easy terms and affordable installments. Furthermore, most countries provide scholarships and other aids to foreign students in order to enable them to afford education. Moreover, most universities allow its students chances to do internships, enabling practical application of the coursework and some money on the side, in order to be able to handle their expenses.
Many universities conduct entrance tests to admit students into their architectural program. Some universities might mention a related degree at the Bachelors’ level as a prerequisite while some others might just require for the candidate to hold competence and interest in the subject. Numerous institutes ask candidates to prepare portfolios, consisting of their ideas and designs for various type of structures. Other than the subject-related materials, universities require candidates to submit statements of purpose, letters of recommendation and scores of tests for English proficiency such as IELTS, GRE, GMAT and TOEFL.
An education in a foreign environment increases the knowledge base of a student while also contributing to their resume and personality. Architectural firms are always on the lookout for candidates for their designing, building, planning, budgeting and analytical team. Moreover, the government also offers multiple contracts in a year for a myriad of structures. A student might also open their own architectural firm, choosing to build residential or commercial properties on a project-to-project basis.
The course of the degree is extensive and fundamental towards understanding the subject and its job prospects are also high. Moreover, it presents a strong base to the subject should one want to pursue further education. It is fitting, then, that Masters in Architecture is a popular choice for students from all over the world.