2012 United States Best Architecture Schools

  • 08 Nov 2011
  • by
  • Architecture News
Milstein Hall at Cornell University / OMA © Matthew Carbone

James Cramer and the have just released the 13th edition of DesignIntelligence, a compilation of different for accredited architecture schools in the United States.   The report attempts to create a level playing ground upon which to rank the universities by polling thousands of students, talking to deans and administrators, interviewing successful designers in private practices, and visiting each university campus.  While the findings may raise some debate, overall, the report creates a dialogue as to how, and to what extent, higher education responds to the changing demands of our profession.  We will be focusing on key aspects of the report throughout the following weeks such as regional for accredited universities, an interesting deans’ survey, a selection of top educators, and even charts featuring award-wining firms and their graduate affiliations.  And, to begin, let’s introduce the top 10 undergraduate and graduate Architecture Programs of 2012.

Check out the list after the break.

Cornell University continues to occupy the top spot for best undergraduate architecture program, a position it has held since 2005. Other highlights from this year’s report include Iowa State University grabbing 9th position after having fallen off the top 20 list last year, and The University of Texas at Austin jumping from 7th position last year to 2nd this year. As usual, Cal Poly has a strong standing and it is worth mentioning that the university has had a remarkable high ranking for the part nine years (it achieved rankings as follows: 4, 3,3,4,6,3,4,3)!

Switching to the top 20 graduate programs, Harvard returned to gain the prized number 1 position (the University of Michigan had ousted Harvard last year), followed by the power houses of Yale and Columbia.

While the top schools show a range of diversity in terms of design philosophy, they share a strength in motivating, inspiring and preparing students for the future.  As Cramer explained “We’ve learned that during this economic recession many design schools are perceived to be at their best…It’s not a bleak picture. The hopes and visions for the 21st century are robust, and leaders are envisioning new frontiers of relevance.”


Top 10 Undergraduate Architecture Schools

1. Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
2. University of Texas, Austin, Texas
3. Virginia Polytechnic institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia
4. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California
5. Rice University, Houston, Texas
6. Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island,
7. Southern California Institute of Architecture , Los Angeles, California
8. Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York
9. Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
10. Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York


Top 10 Graduate Architecture Schools

1. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
2. Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
3. Columbia University, New York City, New York
4. Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri
5. Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas
6. Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
8. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
9. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
10. University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio


Cite: Cilento, Karen. "2012 United States Best Architecture Schools" 08 Nov 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=182283>
  • i2h

    woot, go big red. though it is funny that all these years they’ve been ranked number one, they were a few steps away from losing their accreditation.

  • ajdf

    So, Karen went to Cal Poly. Awesome.

  • sjdie

    Prairie View A&M University’s SOA were also steps from losing their accreditation if they didn’t get a new facility. The University scrambled to get their act together and fund the new building there.
    To me it seems like a political ploy, but it works.

  • Robert

    I don’t understand what these rankings have to do with actually producing Architects?

    As mentioned above, some of these schools have been close to losing their NAAB status. Some of the pass rates for the ARE on these schools are also very low.

    Pratt and Cal Poly in particular are having trouble actually turning out Architects. 93rd out of 107 accredited schools on ARE pass rate for Pratt. Cal Poly is 90th, SciArch is 83rd!

    • Robert

      Sorry for the double post. Didn’t realize after the first attempt didn’t seem to post right away.

    • JJBRJ

      Well, I think that once provided with a top ranked college, it’s up to the student to take the initiative to become that ‘great’ architect.

  • FurnFixEquip

    I can’t give much validity to a list that doesn’t include Portland State in its Top Ten undergraduate schools – this judgment is based on the caliber of graduate work I’m seeing in Cambridge, MA from Portland State alums.

    • Robert

      Portland State does not have an acredited under grad program. Probably why they are not on any Top Ten lists!

    • Christian

      Interesting though the number of PSU alumni at some of the listed schools above (Cornell, Washington, Pratt, SCIArch, RISD, etc…).

  • Ammar Jwaued

    nice work i wont project for school :)

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  • Peter Garlic

    Why is University on Cincinnati now in place 10 in 2012? It was in place 6 in 2011? Can you provide some of the criteria so that we readers understand this selection?

  • haha

    this is they biggest bunch of hog wash i’ve ever seen. does anyone really still care about rankings?

    • Lu

      yes. I do care. as I wanna make sure going to America for grad school study will be worth it.

  • Don

    Lawrence Tech is a great school- I think it does not make these lists because not enough people know about it.

    • john

      i know a few people that weren’t so bright , get in lawrence tech.