The University of Virginia School of Architecture’s Master of Architecture and Master of Landscape Architecture programs both rank in the top three of their categories for graduate degree programs, according to the just-released 2013 Design Intelligence rankings of “America’s Best Architecture and Design Schools.” The two programs also rank in the top 10 overall, including both public and private universities.
Additionally, associate professor of landscape architecture Elizabeth K. Meyer was named one of the 30 most admired design educators in the U.S. for the third year in a row.
The Design Intelligence rankings are issued by the Design Futures Council, a global network of design community professionals founded in 1995.
The council annually ranks the top 20 American undergraduate and graduate architecture programs and assesses key skills in several areas. The survey covers architecture, landscape architecture, interior design and industrial design programs, and queries CEOs, managing partners and human-resources directors to determine the preparedness of the graduates entering their practices.
According to the report, participants were asked: “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?”
"It is immensely gratifying to learn that the accomplishments of our architecture and landscape architecture faculty and graduates are recognized through this national process,” Architecture School Dean Kim Tanzer said. “These rankings confirm what we know in the A-School – that we have an accomplished, engaged faculty and talented, committed students and graduates working together to envision and create a better, more sustainable world."
U.Va.’s graduate architecture program tied for first place among public Master of Architecture programs, and ranked seventh overall, tied with the University of California, Berkeley. Harvard University, Columbia University, Yale University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell University and Southern California Institute of Architecture ranked first through sixth overall. U.Va. is also the top program among both public and private universities in the South.
The program has been ranked the first or second public Master of Architecture program three times in the last 10 years, and in the top five publics for nine of the last 10 years. It ranked 14th overall in 2011 and 11th in 2012, and is one of two programs to have shown the most improvement in this year’s rankings.
The program is one of only two public university programs to appear in the top 15 overall every year since Design Intelligence began ranking graduate programs in 2004.
In the skills assessment ranking of U.Va. Master of Architecture graduates, the program ranked fifth in “Sustainable Design Practices and Principles” among public university programs and seventh overall.
Architecture Department chair Iñaki Alday said, “We know we have a strong Master of Architecture program, but it is great to have this validated again by practicing professionals. We believe in the value of our rigorous and interdisciplinary teaching methods, and look forward to continuously improving our program.”
Graduate Landscape Architecture
The graduate landscape architecture program is ranked third in master’s programs at public universities and fifth overall, trailing only Harvard, Virginia Tech, Cornell and Louisiana State University.
In a survey of deans and administrators, U.Va.’s program ranked third overall. In a skills assessment from practitioners, the Master of Landscape Architecture program is second for research and theory; fourth in the categories of design, communication and cross-disciplinary teamwork; and fifth in computer applications.
The program has consistently remained in the top six of public programs and top 15 overall since 2005. It is one of only four public programs and of seven total programs to do so.
In the deans’ survey of landscape architecture programs, U.Va.’s program was the third most-admired and was cited “for its excellence in interdisciplinary design work and professional practice.”
"The continued recognition of our Master of Landscape Architecture program by professionals working in the field, as well as deans and students, is a testimonial to the strength of our curriculum and the expertise of our faculty," Nancy Takahashi, chair of the Landscape Architecture Department, said.
“Also, we’re proud that the DI recognized the contributions of colleague Beth Meyer as one of the most admired educators for her teaching, scholarship and dedication to students.”
In recognizing Meyer as a most admired design educator and an education role model, the report stated: “With a powerful network of thought leaders she is shaping the future of the design professions. Her energy for criticism, writing and teaching is unmatched. She not only pushes her students to develop their own voice and to take the lead role in the future development of cities, but also grounds this in her historical and theoretical knowledge. She always makes time for students and those in professional practice who will be hiring her students.”
U.Va. Is a Good Value
The architecture and landscape architecture programs were also lauded for the value of their education, ranking favorably overall in a comparison of tuition compared to lifetime earnings. The Master of Architecture program has the lowest tuition of any top-10 program, and the Master of Landscape Architecture program has the fifth-lowest tuition in the top 10.
Rankings by Students
Students also rated the programs. A survey of U.Va. architecture graduate students showed that 91 percent said they “believe they will be well-prepared for their profession upon graduation,” and 95 percent said the quality of the program overall was excellent or above average.”
Ninety-two percent of the graduate landscape architecture students graded the program excellent overall and 100 percent believed they would be well-prepared for the profession upon graduation.
“Because the rankings are based solely upon a survey of practitioners on the relevant fields, they are known to vary sharply for many programs from year to year,” Tanzer said. “This survey approach tends to advantage larger programs with a larger alumni base, but the U.Va. graduate programs are relatively small compared to most of their peers.”
The undergraduate architecture program is a bachelor of science, non-professional program and is not eligible for ranking, she added.
Planning Program Also Ranks in the Top Ten
In another study — the Planetizen 2012 Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs U.Va’s Urban and Environmental Planning Program ranked seventh in national reputation according to educators.
Planetizen, an urban planning, design and development network, queried planning educators, program administrators and students to compile data on the top 25 urban planning programs. In addition, it compiled rankings by region and the best schools by specialty, including urban design, housing, preservation and other areas of planning curricula. They also include information from practicing professionals about what they look for in job applicants.
Programs at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California at Irvine, University of California at Berkeley, Cornell University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of California at Los Angeles were ranked first through sixth, respectively.