Want to pursue a career in Architecture? STUDIO FIRST will help you create a competitive PORTFOLIO for application to any 3-year Master of Architecture program!

MAY 22 – JUNE 26, 2019

Click here to Apply to STUDIO FIRST 2019

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STUDIO FIRST is a stepping stone to a 3-year professional architecture degree

Did you know that a Master of Architecture professional degree is available to students with an undergraduate major in any field. We have developed a ‘bridge’ program called STUDIO FIRST, to help students who are interested in such a degree.

“[STUDIO FIRST is a] great introduction to an architecture studio for somebody with little experience in a creative practice.”

2016 STUDIO FIRST survey response

Program Description

STUDIO FIRST, the first and only program of its kind in Canada – is an intensive immersion studio for participants with no formal academic background in architecture. The main goal of the program is to allow participants the opportunity to generate portfolio material appropriate for application to the three year Master of Architecture accredited degree.

STUDIO FIRST includes field trips to prominent architectural landmarks in the Capital Region and the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal, architectural firm tours with local architects, focused lectures from major thinkers in the theory and practice of architecture, as well as, workshops in digital applications, portfolio preparation, and writing statements of interest.

STUDIO FIRST Student Project

“STUDIO FIRST provided a nice outlet of exploration, through different mediums and thinking. Throughout the program I learned to find comfort in presenting my thoughts and ideas and not solely finished products. By the program’s end, I felt at ease that despite not having a bachelor’s in architecture I was still in the right place.”

2017 STUDIO FIRST student testimonial

Why you should participate in Studio First

  • STUDIO FIRST is designed for you if you have no formal academic background in architecture and want to pursue graduate education in architecture, urbanism, and/ or other design related academic fields.
  • You will get the chance to work on your graduate school portfolio under the supervision of our studio instructors, experience intensive studio culture, and network with like-minded participants.
  • You will be exposed to leaders in the fields of architecture, urbanism, heritage conservation, digital fabrication, as well as, participate in private tours of local architecture firms.
  • You will have the opportunity to explore architecture in the Nation’s Capital City, and participate in an exclusive tour at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal.
  • Your learning will take place in the Architecture studios and labs at the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism on the Carleton University campus in Ottawa.


Zach Colbert and Kevin Tomm

Professor Zachary Colbert AIA NCARB, Studio First Director, discussing a study model with Kevin, Studio First Alumnus and current Master of Architecture candidate.

I loved meeting so many interesting people and the environment was amazing. As the course progressed I felt more comfortable and inspired. The professors and TAs were all very kind and provided valuable feedback. Overall I’m super happy I enrolled in the program and it was an amazing experience – it really does tell you if you should continue into the M Arch program.

2018 STUDIO FIRST participate feedback


You are eligible for STUDIO FIRST if one of the following applies to you:

  • You have a Bachelor’s degree from a University or equivalent (it does not matter which year you completed your degree).
  • You are an upper year student (2nd year and above) currently enrolled in a degree program.
  • You are an international student who falls into any of the two criteria above.

The application process is the same for all applicants (graduates, undergrads and international students). Feel free to contact us for any questions regarding your eligibility for the program.

Please note: To be eligible for most Master of Architecture (M.Arch) degree programs in Canada, you need to have an Honours Bachelor’s degree (or 4-years bachelor’s degree).

Participants who are planning to apply to Carleton’s MArch program are encouraged to visit the Master of Architecture (M.Arch) page for information about the Masters.

I was very pleased with the program. It gave me the opportunity to explore my creative freedom and interest in Architecture. Inspite of not having an undergraduate degree in architecture, Studio first helped me have the courage in persuing a studies in Architecture.

2018 STUDIO FIRST student feedback

Program Cost

Program Fee: $2960 + HST (includes some studio supplies, and access to computer software while enrolled in the program).

Non-refundable application fee: $45

After being admitted into the program, a non-refundable deposit of 50% of the program cost is due on April 10. If your application is processed after this date, the deposit is due two weeks after you receive notification of being accepted into the program. The balance of the tuition owing will be due by May 10 to keep your spot.

The cost of STUDIO FIRST is considerably lower than the many similar programs in the US.  Coming to Carleton would allow students to experience living for 5 weeks in Ottawa and a studio excursion to Montreal. Please note: Participants will cover their accommodation and transportation costs while in Ottawa.

Typical STUDIO FIRST Schedule

STUDIO FIRST Academic Team



Zachary Colbert is an assistant professor and a registered architect. Before moving to Ottawa, he was an educator based in Brooklyn, New York where he served as an adjunct assistant professor of architecture at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) and a part-time lecturer at the Parsons New School for Design School of Constructed Environments.

Zachary is a Principal at Inter-Projects Architecture, an architecture firm dedicated to the intersection of building and experimental research. The firm operates in the realms of architecture, urbanism and landscape.




Adriana Ross was born and raised in Bulgaria and developed a keen interest in design and architecture after moving to Canada. Adriana has been teaching for the last 10 years as a sessional instructor. Her research, teaching and original work focuses on the translation of meaning from past tradition to a contemporary context in a way that incorporates the evolution of social values. Adriana has published and presented papers internationally on matters of the state and future of ecclesial buildings. Her personal work on the creation and preservation of ephemeral structures has been published in the international magazine DOMUS. Through her research and studies she has received several awards and grants. Adriana holds first place and honourable mentions from local and international architectural competitions.

“Over the past month, I have found the instructors for this program very helpful in teaching us the basics of studio and assisting us through our various projects. I have learned a lot through this program that I am sure will be very helpful moving forward into a masters of architecture degree.”

2016 STUDIO FIRST survey response

Guest Lecturers

Federica Goffi

Federica Goffi, PhD
Associate Director, Graduate Programs

Catherine Bonier, PhD

Catherine Bonier, PhD
Assistant Professor

Johan Voordouw

Johan Voordouw
Assistant Professor

Janine Debanne

Janine Debanne
Associate Professor, Associate Director

“STUDIO FIRST had great instructors. Thank you!”

2016 STUDIO FIRST survey response

Follow us on Social Media

For a behind the scenes look at previous year’s program, visit us on:

Instagram: @StudioFirstCarleton

Facebook: @StudioFirstCarleton      @azrielischoolofarchitectureurbanism

Twitter: @CarletonU_Arch

Hashtag: #StudioFirst2016 #StudioFirst2017 #StudioFirst2018

Contact us

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For more information:

Visit the Frequently Asked Questions page

Email: StudioFirst@carleton.ca

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