Whether they are still finishing their secondary school education or are older people considering a career change, it is natural that those considering a life in architecture would want to know which university that should aim to go to. And it’s natural that most would seek to go to the best.
How can they do this? How can budding architects find out what are the best architecture universities in their home cities or nations. And how can they find out what are the best architecture schools in the world? As with most things in this digital age, they can check on the Internet.
Each year QS Quacquarelli Symonds, a provider of services, analytics, and insights into the global higher education sector publishes QS World University Rankings by Subject, a list that includes the top architecture universities.
QS World University Rankings by Subject uses four key indicators to rank the best architecture universities: employer reputation, academic reputation, research citations per paper and a final measure known as the H-index, which measures the productivity and published work of the academics from that particular institution.
The most recent list for the architecture discipline, which was released in 2020 includes 201 institutions, from around the world including Australia.
Where are the best architecture universities located?
According to the report, the USA is home to 38 of the best architecture schools in the world, including Yale and Columbia. On top of that, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was judged to have the world’s best architectural school. Meanwhile, Canada has three of the top universities for architecture.
As might be expected, considering its strong history of academic excellence, Europe also has many top architecture universities. The UK alone has 19 of the best architectural schools in the world, while Spain has five, Germany has seven ranking on the list, Italy has eight, the Netherlands has five, and Belgium has four of the top universities for architecture.
China is the strongest Asian performer, which is understandable given its sheer size and ongoing growth. It has 12 of the 201 best architecture universities in the world, including three in the top 50. Japan is another good performer with nine universities, as is South Korea with eight. Other contributors from Asia include Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and India.
Overall, 11 of the top universities for architecture on the list are located in Latin America. Brazil, the largest nation in the region has four of the 201 best architecture universities in the world, Mexico has two, Argentina has one, Chile has two, Columbia has two, and Mexico has two.
South Africa’s University of Cape Town appears on the top 201 list at 51, while Egypt has two universities on the list: the prestigious Cairo University and the American University (also in Cairo).
Australia and New Zealand
Our region also performs well. Australian unis alone make four appearances, and New Zealand has two universities ranking in the Top 201.
The 10 best architecture schools in the world
Here is the top ten, according to QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020:
1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States
Where: Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Overall Score: 97.8
With a population of 261 students, MIT’s prestigious program is split into five disciplines: Architecture and Urbanism; History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture and Art; Building Technology; Computation; and the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture.
2. Delft University of Technology
Where: Delft, Netherlands
Overall score: 96.5
Guided by a philosophy of bringing research and education closer together, Delft University of Technology has a Bachelor's programme, two Master's programmes and also a range post-graduate study options.
3. The Bartlett School of Architecture | UCL (University College London), United Kingdom
Where: London, UK.
Overall Score: 96
This architectural school is guided by a vision of producing professionals who leave the university capable of enhancing human experience, providing a legacy for future generations, and making a difference in terms environmental sustainability.
4. ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), Switzerland
Where: Zürich, Switzerland.
Overall Score: 95.5
ETH Zurich’s architecture program adheres to the two-tiered Bologna process, whereby students complete the undergraduate and Masters degrees consecutively. The undergraduate program is divided into three sections: design and construction, engineering disciplines and historical and social disciplines.
5. Harvard University, United States
Where: Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Overall Score: 91.4
With numerous famous alumni, the program at this prestigious Ivy League university has long history of excellence. Students are exposed to a range of design investigations, expand their knowledge, and confront the challenges of the contemporary built environment and are invited to draw inspiration from a broad body of knowledge.
6. University of California, Berkeley (Berkely University), United States
Where: Berkeley, California, USA
Overall Score: 90.1
The USB architectural program at this Ivy League school combines research in constructed and speculative environments, architectural technologies, and architectural humanities with highly regarded undergraduate courses of study.
7. Politecnico di Milano
Where: Milan, Italy
Overall Score: 87.7
The program at this prestigious university covers Architectural Design and develops theoretical, humanistic, artistic and design competences based on the Italian tradition and more.
8. Manchester School of Architecture
Where: Manchester, UK
Overall Score: 87.5
The Manchester School of Architecture is not aligned with a single university. Unlike most other of the best architecture universities in the world, it is administered by The University of Manchester as well as the Manchester Metropolitan University. Its program covers urban design, urban development, ecological and landscape design and the conservation and management of historic environments, and more.
9. University of Cambridge
Where: Cambridge, United Kingdom
Overall Score: 87.4
This prestigious program covers design as well as the history and philosophy of architecture, contemporary culture, and urbanism, as well as construction, structural design, environmental design, and more.
10. Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)
Where: Lausanne, Switzerland
Overall Score: 86.2
EPFL aims to provide students with a polytechnic background. It covers the contemporary issues associated with architecture as well as its ancient roots. Architecture is seen as an art and a craft.
Australian unis on the list
17. The University of Melbourne
Where: Melbourne, VIC
Overall Score: 80.9
The University of Melbourne aims to teach students to apply design thinking, develop creative solutions and imagine future environments for living, working, and playing. The undergraduate and Masters programs incorporate digital capabilities to solve problems in an age of environmental change, rapid urbanisation and global flows of people, materials, and assets.
18. The University of Sydney
Where: Sydney, NSW
Overall Score: 80.8
With a hundred-plus years of history behind it, the University of Sydney is famous for its collaborative academic approach to its architectural program and diverse range of voices from designers, architects, planners, industry, artists, engineers, philosophers, government, and scientists.
25. RMIT University
Where: Melbourne, VIC
Overall Score: 78.6
The RMIT architecture program is focused on design. Students can explore innovative practices in an environment that promotes project-based research, critical debate, and rigorous enquiry.
27. University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney)
Where: Sydney, NSW
Overall Score: 78.1
UNSW Architecture focuses on four key areas: high-performance technology, housing, urban conditions, and social agency. On top of that, students benefit from advanced knowledge and techniques in architectural design and related technical and academic knowledge.
Although it doesn’t appear on the list, the University of Queensland also has a well-regarded School of Architecture.