Most recently, we have presented essays on the process of selecting an architecture program; see below for the topics and links to the essays.

Today, we will focus on Rankings and discuss their merits; ultimately, are they worth it?

Architectural Education – B.Arch, M.Arch, or D.Arch.


Resources for Researching Architecture Programs


Criteria – Institution


Criteria – Program


Career Days – College Fairs 2023


Criteria – You


Student Debt



We will start the discussion by stating that Rankings are NOT worth it!  We would suggest that Rankings are a means to gather information, but not to decide on where to attend.

Just today an article discussed the topic.

U.S. News Not Behemoth Perceived?

In a survey of just over 800 recent high school graduates from this spring, 58 percent said they actively considered ranking in some way during their search; yet very few knew the U.S. News ranking for their first-choice school.

So, use the rankings in your research, but do NOT rely on as the ultimate source.


One potential resource we did not discuss in the essay on Resources for Program Research was Rankings.  Many individuals and institutions will promote rankings to determine how best to select an architecture program.  But we would caution you on using rankings as a major resource for selecting a program.

While rankings are a popular method of assistance in selecting an architecture program, be CAREFUL. Do you know what criteria the book or magazine article uses when ranking programs? Are the criteria used important to you?

You should use your own set of highly subjective criteria (see recent posts) when determining which program is best for you. Consider that none of the 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.

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

DesignIntelligence (di.net) previously published America’s Best Architecture & Design Schools,  (https://www.di-rankings.com/); A few years ago, DesignIntelligence shifted from title to America’s Most Hired From and Most Admired Design Schools, recognizing that a BEST school does not exist as each student’s needs are unique and each subjectively view “best” as what’s best for them.

Over the past year DesignIntelligence designed a new, more relevant study to highlight the strengths of every design education program across the US. This new program shifts from Rankings to Ratings. Our newly created surveys will focus on program differentiators and will discourage direct comparisons of programs.

For the publication, the professional practice survey posed participants the question, “In your firm’s hiring experience in the past five years, which schools are best preparing students for a future in the profession and designing a sustainable future?” Thus, if you wish to base your decision on the above question, you may wish to pay attention to these rankings, but we would argue that your own selection criteria will want to be much broader.

Another available ranking is Best Colleges for Architecture (https://www.niche.com/colleges/search/best-colleges-for-architecture/) that we found thru a simple web search. The ranking is based on rigorous analysis of academic, admissions, financial, and student life data from the U.S. Department of Education along with millions of reviews from students and alumni.

As stated on their website, the factors with different weights considered include the Overall NICHE Grade, Architecture Student SAT/ACT Scores, Percent Majoring in Architecture, Architecture Program Demand, Percent of U.S. Architecture Graduates, Architecture Student Surveys, and Architecture Test Scores Compared to Schools.

As with the rankings by DI, do you fully understand the factors used in these rankings.  Probably not.  As such, I would NOT put too much consideration into this ranking.


Recently released, the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020 features 201 of the top higher education institutions to study architecture.  The Rankings are based on four indicators: academic reputation, employer reputation, research citations per paper and the H-index (a way of measuring the productivity and published work of a scientist or scholar). For more details about the methodology behind the subject rankings, visit the following


Of the 201 schools featured in the architecture subject rankings, 38 of these universities are found in the US, including 12 featuring in the top 50 worldwide – the largest amount in any one country.  For the full listing of ranked institutions, visit the following:


As already stated, pursue the rankings with some trepidation; for example, Stanford University is listed at #29 and they do not have an NAAB accredited architecture program.


Instead of relying on rankings, rely on your own criteria to develop your own ranking.







Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.