Big Shifts in Design School Rankings for 2013

January 9, 2014 · by James P. Cramer

Survey shows dynamic restlessness for renewed strength and fresh relevance.

Note: The 2014 Rankings are now available in Print and PDF

--updated June 19, 2013--

As we discuss in the articles inside DesignIntelligence, you could argue that design education is pretty good the way it is. In fact, it is most likely the best that it has ever been. But according to educators, students and practitioners that we’ve interviewed, it’s not good enough. This year’s rankings by deans, administrators, students and practitioners show that there is considerable quality in design schools but also reveals an unrelenting and increasingly dynamic restlessness for renewed strength and fresh relevance. Any drifting away from quality expectations is most certainly the enemy to the design professions of the future.

In this year’s DesignIntelligence rankings we study several new areas including the strongest branded schools in 22 categories. We have learned, for instance, 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. Let’s take a closer look.

The zones of analysis for 2013 America’s Best Schools of Architecture and Design include the following:

Here are the top schools for 2013 in each discipline. For detailed analysis, see the full report in DesignIntelligence.

Top 20 Architecture, Graduate

Top 20 Architecture, Undergraduate

Top 15 Landscape Architecture, Graduate

Top 15 Landscape Architecture, Undergraduate

Top 10 Interior Design, Graduate


Top 10 Interior Design, Undergraduate

Top 10 Industrial Design, Graduate

Industrial Design, Undergraduate



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. 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.



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