The Top Architecture Schools in USA

top architecture schools

Every year for the last nine years, the Design Futures Council and the journal DesignIntelligence have produced a ranking of the architecture schools that best prepare students for professional practice. The results are determined through a poll of firms and organizations that hire graduates. Many of the country's leading firms participate; collectively, these participants employ more than 100,000 people. This year, for the first time, a selection from the ranking and its accompanying survey of deans, practitioners, and students appears in ARCHITECT magazine.

The ranking has experienced some fluctuation over the years. Last year's list of the top 15 undergraduate programs also included the Illinois Institute of Technology, Auburn University, and the Rhode Island School of Design. At the graduate level, last year's list also featured the University of Pennsylvania, the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), the Rhode Island School of Design, Texas A&M, and the University of Illinois. Each of these programs just missed the top 15 cutoff for 2008. It would not be surprising, based on nearly a decade of results, to see these programs reappear toward the top again next year.

Architecture schools are becoming ever

more selective and are offering a wide variety of learning options, even as accreditation standards have stayed relatively rigid. The National Architectural Accrediting Board will be evaluating changes to its accreditation rules in 2008, a move that is sure to provoke interest from students, practitioners, and professional organizations.

Leaders in the profession warn that architecture is going through disruptive changes: Increasingly, students are more knowledgeable than more experienced practitioners about green building and technologies such as BIM. This is bringing about a phenomenon known as “up-mentoring,” in which interns and architects in their 20s and 30s have more-valuable roles in professional practice than ever before, helping baby boomer and even Generation X colleagues keep pace with technology. Firms using recent graduates solely for AutoCAD production are sorely underutilizing their talent. When our survey asked practitioners if their firms got an infusion of new ideas about sustainability from recent hires, 57 percent said yes, and that response is expected to increase.

James P. Cramer is chairman of The Greenway Group and the founding editor of DesignIntelligence. His full report is available for a fee at


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