2013 United States Best Architecture Schools

Milstein Hall at Cornell University / OMA © Matthew Carbone

UPDATE: The lists have been updated from showing the Top 5 Schools in each category, to the Top 20. 

James Cramer and the Greenway Group have released the 14th 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.

Although design education is generally well respected, several of the educators, students and practitioners interviewed this year were critical of its current state, believing that it is simply not good enough. As Cramer describes, “Respect for design education is high – and can grow further. This will require that there be a deep understanding of the dimensions of the trends in the design profession. When schools and practitioners are in harmony on these dimensions of change, they can reinforce and enhance each other. In this there is art and science. Leadership is at issue. The big shifts can be signs of new strength in a time of flux.”

A closer look after the break…

has evolved the way they conduct their rankings by studying several new areas that include the strongest branded schools in 22 categories. For instance, the full report reveals that the top branded schools for construction leadership are now perceived to be Iowa State, Clemson University and Cal Poly, San Louis Obispo. The strongest branded schools for best campus building and facilities are the University of New Mexico, University of Minnesota and the Savannah College of Art and Design. Leading practitioners in North America believe the top Canadian architecture programs are now the University of British Columbia, Dalhousie University (Halifax) and Carleton University.

And now, onto the top five  twenty list for U.S. design schools in 2013. As you can see Cornell University continues to occupy the top spot for best undergraduate architecture program, a position it has held since 2005, while Harvard maintains it’s number one ranking for best graduate architecture school.

Top 20 Architecture, Graduate

  • 1.Harvard University
  • 2. Columbia University
  • 3. Yale University
  • 4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 5. Cornell University
  • 6. Southern California Institute of Architecture
  • 7. University of Virginia
  • 7. University of California, Berkeley
  • 9. Washington University in St. Louis
  • 10. University of Cincinnati
  • 11. University of Michigan
  • 11. University of Texas at Austin
  • 13. Kansas State University
  • 14. University of Kansas
  • 15. University of Pennsylvania
  • 15. Rice University
  • 15. Princeton University
  • 18. Iowa State University
  • 18. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • 20. Clemson University
  • 20. Savannah College of Art and Design

Top 20 Architecture, Undergraduate

  • 1. Cornell University
  • 2. Southern California Institute of Architecture
  • 3. Rice University
  • 3. Syracuse University
  • 5. California Polytechnic State Univ., San Luis Obispo
  • 6. University of Texas at Austin
  • 7. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • 7. Rhode Island School of Design
  • 9. Iowa State University
  • 9. Auburn University
  • 11. Pratt Institute
  • 12. Carnegie Mellon University
  • 13. University of Notre Dame
  • 13. University of Oregon
  • 13. Boston Architectural College
  • 16. University of Southern California
  • 16. Cooper Union
  • 18. Pennsylvania State University
  • 19. University of Arkansas
  • 19. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Top 15 Landscape Architecture, Graduate

  • 1. Harvard University
  • 2. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • 3. Cornell University
  • 3. Louisiana State University
  • 5. University of Virginia
  • 6. University of Pennsylvania
  • 7. Pennsylvania State University
  • 7. Rhode Island School of Design
  • 7. Texas A&M University
  • 10. University of California, Berkeley
  • 11. Kansas State University
  • 11. University of Georgia
  • 13. Auburn University
  • 13. University of Texas at Arlington
  • 13. University of Texas at Austin
  • 13. University of Washington

Top 15 Landscape Architecture, Undergraduate

  • 1. Louisiana State University
  • 2. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • 3. Pennsylvania State University
  • 4. Kansas State University
  • 5. Texas A&M University
  • 6. Cornell University
  • 7. Calif. Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
  • 7. Purdue University
  • 7. University of Georgia
  • 10. Ball State University
  • 11. Iowa State University
  • 11. Texas Tech University
  • 13. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
  • 13. Michigan State University
  • 13. Ohio State University

Top 10 Interior Design, Graduate

  • 1. Savannah College of Art and Design
  • 2. Rhode Island School of Design
  • 3. Pratt Institute
  • 4. Cornell University
  • 4. Parsons The New School for Design
  • 6. New England School of Art & Design at Suffolk Univ.*
  • 6. School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  • 8. Boston Architectural College*
  • 9. Kansas State University*
  • 9. University of Oregon

Top 10 Interior Design, Undergraduate

  • 1. Savannah College of Art and Design
  • 2. University of Cincinnati
  • 2. Rhode Island School of Design
  • 4. Pratt Institute
  • 5. Auburn University
  • 6. University of Texas at Austin
  • 6. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • 8. Boston Architectural College
  • 8. Cornell University
  • 8. Kansas State University
  • 8 Parsons The New School for Design

Top 10 Industrial Design, Graduate

  • 1 Art Center College of Design
  • 2 Pratt Institute
  • 2 Rhode Island School of Design
  • 4 Arizona State University
  • 4 Auburn University
  • 4. Cranbrook Academy of Art
  • 7. Georgia Institute of Technology
  • 7. Ohio State University
  • 7. Savannah College of Art and Design
  • 7. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Industrial Design, Undergraduate

  • 1. Art Center College of Design
  • 1. University of Cincinnati
  • 3. Pratt Institute
  • 3. Rhode Island School of Design
  • 3. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • 6. Auburn University
  • 6. College for Creative Studies
  • 6. Savannah College of Art and Design
  • 9. Carnegie Mellon
  • 9. Syracuse University
Cramer points out, “One story behind the rankings this year is that there are some outstanding programs that are either too new or too small to get recognized in the lists of top schools. However, this is a time of tremendous change for the design professions, and with it, massive opportunity for schools of all sizes.”
See more (including Regional Rankings and surveys) at DesignIntelligence.
Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "2013 United States Best Architecture Schools" 21 Nov 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=295331>
  • SEW

    An article discussing the state of architectural education today is a particularly pathetic place for incorrect usage of its vs. it’s. Please edit.

    • student

      well someone wasn’t pleased with the results here…..

  • common_cents

    Good to know.I remember as an undergrad, feeling ‘inadequate’ because i didnt go to a top architecture school,so i thought i would never become a good architect..but at the end of the day,it shldnt really matter whether you go to harvard or some unknown school. After all Tadao Ando has no formal architecture education

  • Walt

    To add credence to that notion, Ben Bernanke, the ‘architect’ of U.S. economic policy, went to Harvard. U.S. debt is $16+ tril., enough said.

    • jam142

      ben bernanke runs the Fed, not the Treasury. the Treasury issues debt.

  • kdf

    Ive never seen anyone in the field mention these rankings ever except to brag, so I’m pretty sure this these are pretty much a joke these days. MIT grads hire MIT grads, GSD grads hire GSD grads, etc.

  • Frank

    Completely arbitrary list..
    How is the work produced at MIT even comparable to the work at Columbia? Architecture is more of a profession of style which leads to a metric system of “good” that cannot really be compared homogeneously.

    • sagar hiware

      Hey frank,
      read your comment out there…Dude can i ask u for a favour?
      I m an fresh architect from INDIA.I m planning to persue my graduate degree from USA.for this i m not really aware of how to shortlist colleges there in usa.Read your comment as not to compare MIT and Columbia work?May i ask why is it so?
      Please revert me back on this to my mail thats- “sagar.hiware@gmail.com”
      I shall be obliged to receive your words on this….

      • Neha Bhusri

        hey sagar.. i’m Neha, a resident of Delhi, India.. even i have just finished off with my B.Arch .. so it would be really helpful if could get some help from each other. Even i am confused about the shortlisting universities for post-graduation. .. reply me at nehu.bhusri@gmail.com

      • Ghosh

        hey Sagar, hi.. I’m Amrita from New Delhi, India. I’ve also just finished with my B.Arch this year. I’ll be grateful if you could forward me the information you received regarding this..it’ll help me in college selection..thanks alot..

      • Rajvi

        hey.. hoping that by now u might be having enough info to share. please i would be very much obliged to get enlighten by those. m seeking admission for masters in US.

      • Sagar

        @Amrita,From delhi and Rajvi also

        yes m through with research on many of those..also done with GRE ,TOEFL etc…..I m also in contacts of few group of students from various universities in india …who r willing to apply to US….Forwrd your mail ID to me on sagar.hiware@gmail.com

      • neha

        Sagar sir, can you send me the list of colleges that you have as I’m planning to take up masters in US at nehapradhan671991@gmail.com. Thank you.

  • Walt

    Fair enough, I detract my previous comment. Educational background aside, the architect is at a polar opposite relative to the economist regarding means to an end. Where as the former utilizes real constructs to create, the latter uses theoretical models to destroy.

    • alex

      your lips move but i can’t hear what you’re saying

  • Phil Wilson

    I find it really interesting that Dalhousie is mentioned. I am a student in the graduate program and I truly believe that the program here is truly exceptional – the problem is that no one knows about us over here! Notice how they put (Halifax) next to our name!

    Our website is terrible! Extremely out dated, I wish we had a bigger online presence and were more connected with the broader architectural discussion. With the internet there are no excuses!

    • Eric

      Hi Phil, I think Halifax is awesome and the people from Halifax are equally cool.

    • june

      Hmmm looks like you need an internet architect to design/create your virtual house.

  • felipe

    Cooper Union anyone?

    • Juan Camilo González Bayona

      I’ve been looking forward to apply to Cooper Union for a grad degree, but I’m really surprised not to find it on this ranking.

      • Nic

        Cooper Union is more of a undergraduate school.. on the official website it says there are usually around 10 students in the graduate program it still is a really good college though!!

  • Carlos G.

    Any comments on graduate programs at the BAC (Boston Arch. College) ?

  • Carlos G.

    Any comments on graduate programs at the BAC (Boston Arch. College) ???

  • florrijane

    how do people in the field feel about Roger Williams Univ program? Also is your grad degree more impt than undergrad?

  • Prachiti Shingote

    I am presently a third year B.arch student from India, willing to join a summer school in USA. I would like to know the schools that offer the best summer school courses related to architecture.

  • will

    “As you can see Cornell University continues to occupy the top spot for best undergraduate architecture program, a position it has held since 2005″

    This is incorrect. Virginia Tech was ranked number 1 in 2008, with Cornell ranked number 2.

  • Ahmet

    How come U. of Cincinnati is in top ranking for Graduate study but not in top 20 for undergraduate ranking? Can someone comment on this


    Any reviews about lawrence technological university,Detroit,Michigan on master’s?

  • farooq

    Best schools of architecture, both undergraduate and graduate .

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  • sri

    i wanted to do interior desiging so wt i want todo

  • mayukh

    can any one please say about the credibility of the rankings in the site, or to what extent do they correctly suggest the compparative quality of education they impart?

  • shubham

    hey..i saw these articles..but am confuse cz some articles shows another universities are good..some shows diffrent n many others…am planning for studing for masters degree for architecture in next session (2014)…and i dont know much info. about those universities…can anyone one suggest me the slection process and good universities and the requirements for that….and ya..they are affilated and autherised colleges for architecture or fake…. plz anyone…. ar.shubhamchauhan@yahoo.in its ma email id.

    • Professor

      You will NOT get into any school listed until you take the time to write something worth reading, use proper grammar, and without acronyms made solely to speed up your typing. You wouldn’t make through to the second year of design school. Good luck and make it seem like you care because it you don’t show that you care, the school won’t care about you. Design school is not for the lazy. facts of life

      • S

        Hello there..
        I want to do Masters or Phd in US. I know I am not sure exactly what to do but, I have a particular interest. Its in Sustainable or Environmental Architecture. I have already done my Masters in my home country in same field. So I would like to explore more in that.so can you please help me with good colleges in my interest. Specially in Texas or California.
        Thanks a lot for your time ..

  • shivam mehta

    Wat is the cut off percentage for your college

  • joseph beltran

    can some one help me wish has a better program cal poly, Berkeley or Sci-arc?

    • Jeremy

      Joseph, those 3 programs are very different! All are good for somethings and not others. The reason people are giving this rankings such criticism is because they lack an ability to define what they are judging. Ie, practical education or theoretical design research. I could give you my personal opinion and many others here could also give you theirs, but it won’t help unless the program is what you are looking for. Me I say Cooper Union, but I am biased since I just graduated from there. My advice, look at the work being produced and read the course description and try to focus on the schools pedagogy.

  • Edes

    I’m new in the country, and I wanna start an M.Arch but I’m a little unsure about the architectural profession in the US, i hear its not striving well. Is dat true? Pls do u know of a good scholarship schemes coz of these schools on these rankings are expensive. Any one gat any info on the fees art Univ. of Texas, Austin and Univ of Calif, Berkeley?



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  • AA

    Hey there,
    is anybody willing to share their pdf of “design intelligence” 2013 architectural school rankings referred to above?

  • AA

    Does anybody have a pdf of the above mentioned ” design intelligence” 2013 school rankings guide? If you’re willing to share, it would be much appreciated. Thanks.

  • S

    hey there.. can anybody share the list for top 20′s in Sustainable or Environmental Architecture in US.? Thanks a lot in advance..

  • Tej Kanitkar

    What is everyone’s thoughts on Virginia Tech’s undergraguate program compared to Cornell’s? Also, what is the acceptance rate of Cornell and VT’s architecture undergrad program? Thanks.

  • karen

    I disagree with this list. I do not know how they rated it but just the fact that SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry is not on this list for landscape Architect shows that it is wrong because it is extremely well known as one of the best schools in the United States for what it offers

  • B.Thakker

    There’s always going to be a dichotomy you know. Every university has their own respective discipline and it’s not something that can be ranked. I know of people who were less than thrilled finishing their desired courses at an Ivy League, and even more people who finished their M-Arch from the less popular universities and who liked the course a lot.