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 16 Sep 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=182283>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down +8

    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.

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    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    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!

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

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

    • Thumb up Thumb down +3

      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.

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    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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

    • Thumb up Thumb down +4

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

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  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

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

    • Thumb up Thumb down +4

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

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    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

  8. Thumb up Thumb down -2

    My daughter got into university of Southern California, Iowa state uty and Penn state for undergrad Architecture. Can anyone of you share your inputs about the quality of programs offered in these three places..Appreciate your thoughts.

    • Thumb up Thumb down +8

      Iowa State is an amazing and under the radar type program that your daughter should consider. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the program rises higher in the next few years on this list. Like most architecture schools you can show up any morning at 4am to the studios and have trouble finding a parking spot. Some of the hardest working students are in architecture. The architecture program at ISU is the hardest program to get into in the school (around 80 of 200) make it after their first year of core design. The quality of professors at ISU is great and the work that comes from the students is in my opinion some of the best. Their are many other great schools out there too. Ames is also a great college town and like most other schools, rarely do you hear anything but great experiences come from their alums. Without a doubt you will be more impressed with the program than you are expecting.

  9. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    How would you rank the undergrad programs in Uty of Southern california, Pennstate, Iowa state uty and Renesellar Polytech?

  10. Thumb up Thumb down -4

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      We are keen to talk to you for understanding the reasons of your discarding Architecture from USA. We are planning to send our daughter to USA for B. Arch. Will you please send your email id and phone. Neeraj. India. Nine One nine eight nine nine eight four seven four double five. odeon1234atgmaildotcom

  11. Thumb up Thumb down +4

    I am looking at architecture schools in San Fransisco, California, and i was wondering if anyone had any suggestions of a good school there or somewhere close. thanks.

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    Kansas State University has consistently ranked among the highest for years. This is a great program with balanced visionary teaching, great work ethic and nurturing environment! They do a lot with little and are poised for even greater things with the re visioning of their facilities.

  14. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    i m in 11th (non medical) what courses should i do , what all colleges can i take admission in after 12th if i want to set my career in us????

  15. Thumb up Thumb down -1

    how about the architecture schools in europe? are there any web site to get information about the schools especially about master studies?

  16. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I though that this school of architure is the best school for me to learn. Beautiful bark and its wonderful.

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  17. Thumb up Thumb down +2

    WHat about Boston Architectural College??…. one of the few NAAB accredited undergrad architectural programs.

    • Thumb up Thumb down +2

      I’m with James. i graduated there in 2000 and would not trade that education for any of the ones listed. a traditional apprentice style education where you get what you give. the school has resources to enable a student to master any aspect of the field, whether it be research and theory, or materials and methods. this school is by far one of the most under-rated of institutions in our field.

  18. Thumb up Thumb down -2

    hey guys, im an architecture student studying in india. i’d like to know your process of designing or working on a project and also please suggest me some good architecture universities in texas that has student excahnge programs. Thank you.

  19. Thumb up Thumb down -1

    hey guys, im an architecture student studying in india. id like to know the process of designing in other universities and also please suggest me some good arcitecture universities in texas having student exchange programs. thank you.

  20. Thumb up Thumb down -1

    hey guys please suggest some good architecture universities with student exchange programs in texas. thank you

    • Thumb up Thumb down -1


  21. Thumb up Thumb down -2

    hey guys please suggest some good universities in texas that have student exchange programs. thank you.

  22. Thumb up Thumb down -2

    I am from India doing my B.Arch. how can I apply to foreign colleges? what are the main criteria’s for applying for top colleges? is there any genuine chance for me?

  23. Thumb up Thumb down -2

    I am from India want to take admission in best US B.arch colleges.
    What are the criteria’s for it?

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