Research Methodology

America’s Best Architecture & Design Schools is conducted annually by DesignIntelligence on behalf of the Design Futures Council. The research ranks undergraduate and graduate programs from the perspective of leading practitioners. This 13th annual survey was conducted in mid-2012.

Selected professional practice leaders with direct experience hiring and supervising the performance of recent architecture and design graduates are invited to participate in the research. Survey participants, who are drawn from the Greenway Group database of leading firms throughout the United States, must verify they are currently responsible for hiring or supervising design professionals in each of the design fields for which they respond: architecture, industrial design, interior design, and landscape architecture. Surveys from non-qualifying individuals, including those not invited by DesignIntelligence to participate, are excluded from the results.

For the four professions surveyed, a total of 392 professional practice organizations participated in the research. 

The professional practice survey queried participants on the question, “In your firm’s hiring experience in the past five years, which of the following schools are best preparing students for success in the profession?” In addition, they are queried about additional issues, such as how programs rate in teaching various skills.

Deans and Chairs Survey

In addition to the undergraduate and graduate school rankings by professionals, deans and chairs from 351 academic programs participated in surveys, the data from which is presented separately from the practitioner rankings.

Student Surveys

More than 2,840 architecture and landscape architecture students completed satisfaction surveys about their education, and that data is also presented separately from the rankings.

Research Assistance

Research assistance was provided by the American Institute of Architecture Students, the American Society of Interior Designers, the American Society of Landscape Architects, and the Industrial Designers Society of America. Research is aided by information from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, the National Architectural Accreditation Board, the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board, and the Council for Interior Design Accreditation. DesignIntelligence  and Greenway Group staff conducted each phase of research.