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M. Arch. with a non-related undergrad degree

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Hello all!

As the title suggests, my post is about getting into an M. Arch. program without having any previous architectural studies.

So this is my current situation: 29 years old, new immigrant in the US from Northern Europe, applying to do a M. Arch. with zero previous professional experience in the field of architecture. To make matters even more difficult for myself (because why not, lol), I am applying for one school only, because it's basically the only one that has the kind of a program I want and at the same time is located close enough for me that I'd be able to attend. It also happens to be one of the best schools in the field, so I realise it's a long shot, but I want to try and I want to give my all while I'm at it.

Now, my situation with the required application materials is as follows: My GPA is not stellar, but it is not too shabby either, and it exceeds the required minimum. I am not required to take GRE, but TOEFL is a must and I am going to take that next weekend. As for the personal history statement and the statement of purpose, I have some ideas, but haven't gone beyond jotting them down on random post-it notes. 

My first question is regarding the recommendation letters. We don't have to get those when applying for grad schools in the country I am from, so this is a bit of a new concept for me. The grad school I'm applying to right now wants a minimum of three recommendation letters, which I have sorted out; I can get two from my old professors, and one from my old boss at the Red Cross, where I'd been volunteering up till the time I left my home country. Are these good enough, or should all three letters come from the academia?

As for my second question, it is (predictably, lol) regarding the portfolio. This is what is worrying me the most right now, to be honest. I have some ideas of what I could include in mine, but I wish I could have some examples just to know if I'm on the right track or no. I've tried googling samples of portfolios by non- B. Arch. people who got accepted into their desired schools, but I haven't found any so far. Issuu and the likes have a lot of portfolios, but most are clearly by people with previous architectural background. I have managed to find a few that seem to have been done by people like me, but it is not clear whether they got in or no, so I still find myself not having a clear picture of what is required. Does anybody have any beneficial tips they could share with me? Or could someone kindly link me some of such portfolios?

I'd be very grateful for any help! :)

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