architecture,  grad school,  physics,  science

why do i have the feeling that you’re not going to follow my advice

Hi Aska,I see you’ve already mentioned you’re not an Architecture major like your predecessor (I assure you, I read all the messages with the architecture tag) but I was wondering if you knew what the primary factor is in getting in to the Architecture program. I see they require a portfolio and also have some minimum marks in certain courses, as well as a required GPA, but which of those matters most? Are they all equal? I believe I can at the least attain a GPA of 3.7 or so, but I am worried about the depth of my portfolio (or lack thereof). Any tips?

Also, perhaps the is going beyond the scope of things answered here, but I see the Masters program gives “preference” to applicants with a well-rounded set of credits from the three disciplines. Do you think it’s better to be well-rounded or have better marks? Sciences are definitely my weak point and if I take those courses they will hurt my average.


Thanks for any information you can give!


Yes, you?re right, I am not an Architecture major. I?m actually a (*dun dun dun*) Physics major. I bet you?re shocked. I know what you?re thinking: ?A Physics major who can actually write coherently instead of thinking in expressions like? 2x*exp(xyz)? LYK NO WAI!!? But then it dawns on you: aaahhh, so THAT?s the reason for all the silly alien jokes. Anyway, rest assured? I may be someone of a mad scientist… but I’m totally sane. *aska quickly sweeps up from the floor the harvested brain from last last post and throws it into a huge box containing a lot of other brains*

Anyway, how may I help you today? Well, I got you some inside information from my architecture ancestor (lucky you) so here goes.

First of all, you?re getting your entrance requirements mixed up. I?m going to assume that you?re an undergraduate student and that you?re talking about getting into the undergrad program, because you?ve talked about ?minimum marks in certain courses?. You don?t need a portfolio for the undergraduate program at UofT at all. So don?t be worried about the (lack of) depth of your portfolio. Your portfolio could be empty space for all they cared and it still wouldn?t matter. As for the other two requirements, GPA is definitely more important. A lot of people achieve 71% in ARC131 and ARC132, but an overall GPA that is high is rare, especially in first year.

You do need a portfolio to get into grad school, but 1) you have four more years to complete the portfolio, and 2) if you do get into the undergraduate architectural design program at UofT, you?re going to have a lot of studio courses that would provide you with many chances to add extra pieces to your portfolio. According to aska?s ancestor, you should come up with pieces using as many types of media as you can, as it shows your creativity. 😀 If you are unable to get into the architecture design program, then you’re going to have to work on your portfolio on your own time — but this is something that you want to do in the long run if you want to be an architect anyway, right?

As for well-roundedness giving you an advantage in graduate school, I don?t really think you have to worry too much about that either. Yes, it?s true that the architecture program at UofT does really like to take in people from every discipline (apparently, one of the master students in architecture had an undergraduate biochemistry degree). But in the end, architecture at UofT is only a major program (as opposed to a specialist), which means that you have to combine it with another major program or two minors in order to graduate anyway. As long as you don?t combine it with something like Art History, you?d probably end up with a pretty diverse mix of courses in the end. Hint: if you don?t have any other good ideas for the second major, you could try out something from the Centre of Environment. Green architecture is always in. As for the sciences being your weak point, you probably don?t have to worry about that. The admissions requirements for the Master?s program only require ?secondary calculus? and ?secondary physics?. So you only have to take calculus and physics at the high school level.

tl;dr version (that’s “too long; didn’t read” for all you non-geeks): undergrad architecture doesn’t require a portfolio. The grad program does but you have four years to make the portfolio. So my advice to you is: Relax, go out and have some fun, and stop freaking out.


  • Theomanic

    Thanks for such a thorough answer Aska! I guess I was getting mixed up. I think U of T needs a course in course selection. I’m really glad to know GPA is more important – bird courses here I come! (okay, not exactly correct…) It’s also good to know to vary my media to prepare for the Masters program.

    Currently I’m thinking of minors of Environmental Anthropology and Communications and Semiotics. I was actually looking at green architecture as my focal point, so an Environmental Studies major would be sensible. I’ll have to give it some deep consideration as there are more science courses involved and I am leery of my science brain (maybe I could borrow yours?). Also, I was confused (like others I read on this blog) and thought “no double majors accepted” meant you can’t major in a second subject at ALL, not that you can’t major in the other Architecture major. Knowing that now, I’ll have to reconsider my ideal course selection.

    Unfortunately I do not have those secondary school courses so I’m going to have to take them in the next four years – I’m looking forward to that! Maybe they will encourage science brain to emerge, though. Wouldn’t that be wonderful!

    A thousand thank you’s, Aska! You and your architecture major cohort are my heroes!

  • aska

    You’re welcome!

    With regard to Environmental Studies, there are a lot of ENV courses that are actually listed as social science/humanities type courses. (check out In these courses, it’s likely that very little science-type knowledge would be used (judging from the prerequisites needed). You’d just have to check your particular major/minor (since there are so many of them offered by the centre for environment) to make sure that most of the courses you need to take aren’t science courses :D. For instance, for the Environmental Anthro minor you listed, there doesn’t seem to be any science courses needed. So if you decided to get a major or minor from the Centre for Environment, you could probably do so with minimal to none science courses.

    Also, you may want to check out the master of architecture programs for other Universities because their requirements may be slightly different. Still, try not to worry so much – enjoy University :).

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