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Struggling Architects Find Safety in Graduate Schools


With the AIA Billing Index seemingly in constant free fall down the abyss, we think it’s safe to say that architecture isn’t the most stable profession at the moment (along with banking, insurance, and every other job on earth). And with so many architects out of work or awaiting that dreaded pink slip soon, what’s the option for a concerned builder of buildings? According to Architectural Record, graduate schools are now exploding with applications, as higher education now seems either a route to a new career in teaching or staving off starving for a few years (albeit with payments of tens of thousands of dollars spent in tuition in order to do so). Apparently this has become a very sudden trend, with applications coming into grad programs at an increase of more than fifty percent. Which is sure to mean, if we do somehow overcome this big economic hurdle, architects are going to be the most intelligent people in the job force, which certainly can’t be a bad thing. Here’s a bit:

At Clemson University, there’s been a 57 percent rise, to 180 from 115, most of them in the two-year’s master’s program, says associate chairman Robert Hogan. The University of Illinois, meanwhile, has had a 28 percent increase, to 485 from 380. The increase is evenly spread between its one-, two-, four-year and Ph.D. programs, says associate director Robert I. Selby, FAIA.

“Architecture is the most optimistic of professions,” says Mary Comerio, chair of the architecture department at the University of California at Berkeley, where there was a 40 percent uptick. This year’s pool of 850 applicants is the largest she has seen during her 15 years reviewing applications. “Students see this as a temporary downturn,” she says, “and they’re hoping by the time they are out it will have turned around.”

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