2005 Architecture Schools Discussion

November 15, 2004 · by DesignIntelligence

Beyond ranking the top 15 NAAB-accredited bachelor’s and master’s architecture programs nationwide, we also tracked how firms in each region view the architecture schools within their region.

This is our sixth annual ranking of U.S. architecture and design schools—the only national college ranking survey that focuses exclusively on design. Our study asks practitioners, who hire and recruit graduates, to comment on how recent graduates from different schools fare in the marketplace. And this year for the first time, we added a separate ranking for landscape architecture education.

The 2005 study contains a number of components. Beyond ranking the top 15 NAAB-accredited bachelor’s and master’s architecture programs nationwide, we also tracked how firms in each region view the architecture schools within their region. A historical comparison of where the schools have fallen since 2000 is included. Our interior design study ranks the top 10 FIDER-accredited first-professional programs with this year’s results, followed by how the schools have ranked in the previous five years. The first annual ranking of landscape architecture programs captures the top 15 LAAB-accredited bachelor’s and graduate programs for landscape architecture nationwide; we also show how firms in each region ranked the schools in their own part of the country.

The architecture study was conducted in May and June 2004. A cross-section of firms of all sizes dispersed geographically made up our respondents. The study also included firms recognized as leaders in their market sector (i.e. healthcare, commercial, institutional) and who have won major national, state, local and market sector awards. For the interiors survey (conducted in July and August 2004) participants included interiors firms and also architecture firms with interior design departments. The landscape architecture survey was conducted in August 2004. Firms that responded represent a healthy cross-section of the profession geographically and based on scope of firm size and work.

The surveys were targeted to those individuals in each firm that have direct experience with the hiring and performance of graduates: design partners, managing principals and human resource directors. We asked them to reflect on the graduates they have hired during the past five years and consider how prepared for real-world practice they have been, then to indicate from which schools the best prepared hailed. The question was posed “In your firm’s hiring experience in the past five years, which (graduate or undergraduate) schools do you feel have best prepared students for the profession?” The form reflected either NAAB, FIDER or LAAB-accredited programs.

While these rankings can be helpful to current and prospective design students, there are other important considerations: What is the job placement record of the programs? Focus of study? Faculty repute and areas of specialization? Availability and caliber of internship program? Aesthetically, does the campus align to the expectations of where one wishes to spend the next several years? What scholarships are available? And of course, from a student perspective, visiting campus makes a real difference. From a recruiting standpoint, repute adds up—good employees are hard to find in any field, and professionals tend to remember those who stand out. We hope this survey benefits readers from all perspectives.

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