America's Most Admired Architectural Schools 2020 Ranked

The annual DesignIntelligence architecture school ranking for 2020 classified the establishments according to the “most admired” rather than the “best”, for the second year in a row. The subjective classification is based on the responses of hiring professionals.  

The questionnaire revolves around 2 main questions, the first is related to a program and the second, more pragmatic, is associated with the actual people they hired and the schools they belonged to. In fact, through these interrogations, the survey can organize the list according to “the readiness and competence of the graduates” and personal preferences for one type of curriculum. The study asks: "What schools do you most admire for a combination of faculty, programs, culture, and student preparation for the profession?” and “From which schools have you hired the greatest number of (undergraduate or graduate) students in the last five years?” 

The performance of graduates was evaluated according to 12 types of expertise, ranging from digital technology skills to communication aptitudes, in order to create the top 10 for graduate and undergraduate programs.

The Top 10 Most Admired Architecture Undergraduate Programs

1. Cornell University
2. Rhode Island School of Design
3. Rice University
4. Cooper Union
5. Syracuse University
6. Virginia Tech
7. Pratt Institute
8. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
9. University of Texas, Austin
10. SCI-Arc (Southern California Institute of Architecture)

The Top 10 Most Admired Architecture Graduate Programs

1. Harvard University
2. Columbia University
3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
4. Yale University
5. Cornell University
6. Princeton University
7. Rice University
8. Rhode Island School of Design
9. University of Pennsylvania
10. University of California Berkeley

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This year’s results highlighted some unexpected information from students, especially a 5 percent drop in architecture undergraduate students wanting to continue graduate school, and the general desire to be self-employed rather than joining a firm. Most students underlined also the need to do a purposeful work that has an impact. In fact, people are searching more and more for a sense of purpose, and “working for a wage is no longer enough motivation”.

The survey reports that “The wonder of new graduates is that they’re digital natives and comfortable with all types, uses, and expressions of information and design technology. But what’s so often missing is the human necessity of effective personal interaction. Conversational and written communication to defend and support detailed design decisions is critical to the future of the profession, yet so many don’t possess these basic skills.”

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On future predictions regarding the industry, DesignIntelligence predicts “that the line between building design and technology design will continue to blur and that the economics of design will sharply improve as more architecture students enter the market as free agents […] they will utterly alter the industry through redefining the values in design, with an accompanying enhanced reward system.

They also add that “Institutions training architects will shift their educational programming to a radically more diverse landscape of learning. Architecture and design schools will become exponentially more effective when they kick down the walls between their programs and those of computer science, business, engineering, construction management and building sciences, social sciences, and other programs.”

News via Architectural Record.

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Cite: Christele Harrouk. "America's Most Admired Architectural Schools 2020 Ranked" 28 Oct 2019. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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