DesignIntelligence Research Methodology

Each year DesignIntelligence conducts the America’s Top Ranked Architecture & Design Schools survey, which ranks undergraduate and graduate programs from the perspective of the professional practitioners who hire and supervise graduates of architecture, landscape architecture and interior design programs. Rankings are compiled for the most admired programs (undergraduate and graduate), the most hired from programs (undergraduate and graduate), and the strongest programs in each of 12 different focus areas (undergraduate and graduate) in each discipline.

The 20th annual survey was conducted between March 22, 2019 and June 10, 2019.

DesignIntelligence sent, via email, requests for participation in the online survey directly to architecture, landscape architecture and interior design professionals across the U.S., seeking their perspective on the design education and professional practice. Deans and chairs of U.S.-based architecture, landscape architecture and interior design schools were invited, via email, to forward the survey to qualified hiring professionals.

Survey participants had to verify they have been involved in hiring or supervising design professionals in each of the design fields for which they respond: architecture, landscape architecture and interior design. Survey responses are individually validated by the DesignIntelligence staff.

For the three professions reported, over 9,000 hiring professionals from over 4,200 professional practice organizations returned survey responses.

Hiring Professional Surveys

To determine the “most admired programs,” we asked hiring professionals the following question: What schools do you most admire for a combination of faculty, programs, culture and student preparation for the profession?

To determine the “most hired from programs,” we asked hiring professionals: From which schools have you hired the greatest number of undergraduate students in the last five years?

Participants were asked to select up to 10 undergraduate and graduate programs respectively from a listing of schools provided.

Deans & Chairs Survey

Deans and chairs from 123 academic institutions participated in surveys eliciting program data and personal insights regarding concerns both inside and outside the profession. Small, medium and large-sized institutions are represented.

Students Survey

Students also participated in the research. DesignIntelligence sent, via email, a request to architecture and design school deans, chairs and program coordinators to forward a link to the online student survey to their current students and recent graduates in order to garner insights and personal experience related to their programs. More than 6,000 architecture, landscape architecture and interior design students and recent graduates (must have graduated within the past 24 months) submitted validated responses.

Program Eligibility

In order to be listed among the answer options in the architecture ranking questions, architecture programs must be accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). Only programs accredited by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB) are included in the answer options for the landscape architecture ranking questions. With the exception of undergraduate programs grandfathered in from before the eligibility criteria was changed in 2014, only programs accredited by the Council of Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) are included among the answer options for the undergraduate interior ranking questions. Because there are few CIDA-accredited graduate interior design programs, many non-accredited programs were listed as choices. Write-in responses were also allowed.

Most Hired From Schools

Beginning in 2018, DesignIntelligence began conducting research for the Most Hired From schools in architecture, interior architecture and interior design, as well as landscape architecture. The question, "From which schools have you hired the greatest number of undergraduate/graduate students in the last five years?" was added to the survey of professional practitioners who are responsible for hiring (or managing) staff.

DesignIntelligence asked deans and department heads/chairs to provide an average number of graduates from both their undergraduate and graduate programs during the past three years. While a notable majority of schools provided information on the size of their graduating classes, some did not.

Schools named in the "most hired from" question on the hiring professionals survey were grouped according to numbers of graduates before the rankings were calculated. Due to differences in the sizes of graduating classes in the disciplines of architecture, interior architecture and interior design, as well as landscape architecture, groupings vary among the disciplines. Schools that did not provide information could not be assigned a size category and were omitted from the rankings.