Design firms and organizations take a particular interest in the qualities that design program graduates display. After all, they must ensure that a new hire not only brings the right mix of skills to the firm, but is also a good fit in the organizational culture.

The survey in the 2014 edition of America’s Best Architecture & Design Schools from DesignIntelligence included responses from 1,108 professional practice organizations in architecture, interior design, landscape architecture and industrial design that hire graduates of design programs. When asked what about the most important characteristics a new graduate needed when entering the workplace, responding firms were clear: attitude matters most. 

Personality and attitude, key determinants of whether an emerging professional will be a cultural fit, was the most frequent choice by all types of firms:

  • Industrial Design: 70.8 percent*
  • Interior Design: 74.4 percent
  • Landscape Architecture: 73.3 percent
  • Architecture: 70.7 percent

A strong portfolio was the second most important attribute:

  • Industrial Design: 64.6 percent
  • Interior Design: 48.8 percent
  • Landscape Architecture: 38.37 percent
  • Architecture: 42.7 percent

Work experience was also an important factor that was cited by 24.8 to 29.8 percent of firms, depending on discipline.

Surprisingly, the job candidate’s alma mater ranked relatively low. Fewer than 13 percent of firms in all categories indicated that it was among the most important qualities of a new graduate entering the workplace. Only the graduate’s current location and college GPA mattered less.

America’s Best Architecture & Design Schools also includes survey rankings and information from more than 4,855 architecture and design students, as well as deans and chairs of 119 programs in architecture, landscape architecture, interior design and industrial design.

* Multiple responses were allowed


Print and PDF editions of the DesignIntelligence America’s best Architecture & Design Schools issue are available at