Ranking of Design Programs: Worthy Resource?

In researching and determining the BEST architecture program for you, what resources will use?  How do you decide which programs you consider, apply and eventually attend?

One that you may be encouraged to consult is the RANKING of programs.  For the design professions (architecture, landscape architecture, and interior architecture / interior design, the most widespread is America’s Top Ranked Architecture & Design Schools from DesignIntelligence that was released just this week.


While rankings are a popular method of assistance in selecting a university or an architecture program, be cautious.  Do you know the criteria that is used when ranking programs?  Do you know the methodology of the ranking?  Are the criteria used by the ranking important to you?

Consider that none of the collateral associations involved with architectural education attempt or advocate the rating of architecture programs, beyond their term of accreditation.  Qualities that make a school good for one student may not work that way for another.  You should consider a variety of factors in making your choice among schools.

You should use your own set of highly subjective criteria when determining which program is best for you, the subject of a future entry.

Although few would argue that certain programs, particularly those at Ivy League institutions are worthwhile, the fact is that if a degree program is accredited by the NAAB, it is valid for you to consider.

As stated on the website “America’s Top Ranked Architecture & Design Schoolsoffers a perspective from three key audiences: the professionals who hire architecture and design graduates; the deans, program chairs, and department heads who help form architecture and design education; and the students and recent graduates who have an up-close view of the architecture and design school experience.”

Further, the stated methodology for the ranking is that the “DesignIntelligence survey each year; it ranks undergraduate and graduate programs from the perspective of the professional practitioners who hire and supervise graduates of architecture, landscape architecture and interior design programs.  Rankings are compiled for the most admired programs (undergraduate and graduate), the most hired from programs (undergraduate and graduate), and the strongest programs in each of 12 different focus areas (undergraduate and graduate) in each discipline.”

Certainly, any ranking should be a resource when choosing a design program, but it should not be high on your list; for example, do you truly only want to consider the programs listed as highly ranked?  Instead, start with the full list of accredited programs – NAAB: Architecture, CIDA: Interior Architecture / Interior Design and LAAB: Landscape Architecture.

Next week, I will share additional resources and criteria that you may wish to consider.  By going through this process, you will be better matched with your eventual college choice and more confident in your decision. As you develop criteria on which to base your decision, certain degree programs and universities will surface as logical choices.



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