Department FAQs for Architecture Majors

Why do I need to apply for a studio art class before online registration?

Incoming first-year students need not submit applications, since space will open up in most 100-level studio courses as first year registration begins. However, rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors who wish to enroll in 100-level studio art classes should apply for permission to enroll about a week before registration begins (check the department home page for specific deadlines and forms). The instructors review these applications to determine which students may need the course most in a given semester before entering registration overrides. This helps insure that the needs of Architecture, Studio Art, MAS, and CAMS majors are balanced with those taking the class for general interest and distribution credit.

I really wanted to take ARTS XXX but it’s full... what should I do?

Plan to attend the first class session to see if space is available. It is not uncommon for students to change plans after registering or after being given permission to register, so the online enrollment figures may be misleading. But once registration has concluded, and classes begin, everyone needs formal permission of the instructor (in the form of a registration override or a signature on a paper form) to be added to a class, and you must be attending the class to obtain this. Email the instructor a week ahead so that he or she may know to expect you.

The class I wanted to take conflicts with my schedule, so could I do an independent study instead?

An independent study project is something that you might propose to a professor after you have exhausted the regular coursework in a particular medium. It provides an opportunity to research a specific topic in greater depth, or to combine topics or media in a unique manner, and should be seen as an extension to, not a replacement for, our advanced curriculum.

What’s the difference between an independent study and a thesis project?

An independent study project consists of one semester of self-directed research under the guidance of a faculty advisor who knows this subject (and you) well. Ideally, your advisor should be a regular member of the faculty with whom you have already taken advanced courses and have established a good working relationship. An independent study project may involve more than one faculty advisor, may involve collaborative work, and may be structured to earn a full or half credit. 

A 360/370 thesis project, by contrast, is a year long research project for two credits at the advanced level, structured so as to meet the requirements of the college-wide honors program, guided by a faculty advisor, but formally assessed by an orals committee consisting of several faculty members in the spring semester. By and large, Architecture majors are encouraged to pursue advanced projects in the context of a 300-level seminar or studio.

Will I be able to study abroad as part of my major?

Architecture majors are encouraged to travel and study abroad. First check with the Office of International Study regarding pre-approved programs for study abroad, and then speak with your faculty advisor and/or program director about how these options might fit with your overall plan of study. If you are planning to take a number of courses at MIT, you may find it hard to schedule a full year or semester away, so keep in mind summer internships, Wintersession opportunities, and post-bac fellowships that may also involve international travel and research.

How many transfer courses can I count toward my major?

Up to two courses may be counted toward the minimum major in Architecture (one studio/one art history). Students sometimes obtain transfer credit for additional courses taken elsewhere, but these are applied toward general degree credit. Note that students who wish to have a transfer credit in studio art counted towards the major must bring back a portfolio of work actually produced in the class for assessment and placement advising.

I heard that I might be able to take classes at MIT. How does that work?

Though not required, Architecture majors may elect design courses at MIT as part of their BA degree from Wellesley. (These courses are pre-approved for credit in the Architecture major and do not require any special transfer credit request forms.) Architecture studio courses at MIT must be taken in a specific sequence, however, beginning with MIT 4.021 in the spring of the sophomore year. (MIT 4.022 may be elected in the fall as a single course, but you will need to complete 4.021 or 4.02a before continuing the sequence)

How do I sign up for architecture design courses at MIT?

You’ll need to attend the first session of MIT 4.021 in the spring semester to see if there is room for you to add. Students who have finished their 100-level requirements before heading to MIT make the best use of this opportunity and find it easier to balance the necessary studio hours with the commute between the two campuses. We do not recommend taking a design course at MIT until you have completed ARTS105 (Drawing I) and ARTS113 (3D design) at Wellesley.

I think I might want to go to grad school... what should I do?

One of the many reasons to have a good relationship with a faculty advisor at Wellesley is so that you may have sustained conversations about this and other goals as you develop your major. First, aim to complete your 100-level requirements by the end of your sophomore year so that you can explore more specialized topics with a broad perspective and can see how apparently unrelated disciplines connect.

As you move into your junior year, you and your advisor should begin discussing where your academic and personal choices appear to be leading you, and what kind of advanced seminars or studios you might pursue in your senior year. It’s a good idea to take classes with a variety of professors, not only for intellectual and creative breadth, but also to insure that you’ll have advice, insight and recommendations from several mentors when the time comes to research relevant graduate programs and fellowships, and assemble graduate school applications and portfolios. While some students apply to MArch programs during their senior year, most apply for graduate programs a year or two after completing their degrees a Wellesley. This too should be discussed with your faculty advisor(s).

How do I go about getting an internship?

Check the list of arts-based internships sponsored and/or listed with the Center for Work and Service, talk with your professors, and compare notes with other majors throughout the department. Some internships are arranged informally, while others are the result of a comprehensive application and interview process. Consider the possibilities well in advance, and revisit your goals regularly so that you’ll have taken relevant coursework and will be ready to respond should a sudden opportunity present itself. Note that the Alexander Fellowship is available for declared architecture majors should you locate a compelling internship opportunity that would otherwise be unpaid.