Rice School of Architecture rises in national undergraduate rankings

The Rice School of Architecture program for undergraduate students rose one place to No. 4 in the 2017 ranking of the best architecture schools in America, as reported by Architectural Record magazine.

The RSA graduate student program remains in the top 10 nationally at No. 9.

The undergraduate program has been among the top 5 since 2011. RSA has been among the top-10 graduate programs for four years running.

The Rice School of Architecture has risen among the ranks of the nation's schools for undergraduate education.

The Rice School of Architecture has risen among the ranks of the nation’s schools for undergraduate education.

“This demonstrates the continued recognition of our programs,” said Sarah Whiting, RSA dean and the William Ward Watkin Professor of Architecture. “Even though we are one of the smallest schools in the country, which would presumably put us at a disadvantage for rankings, the system works.”

The rankings by DesignIntelligence and the Design Futures Council are based on survey responses from hundreds of leaders at architecture firms who have had direct experience hiring and judging the performance of recent architecture graduates. Participants were asked which accredited programs have best prepared their students for real-world practice.

“Our reputation exceeds our numbers,” Whiting said. “The fact that we don’t have people in every office in the country and yet surveyed participants rank us highly is terrific.”

Cornell University and California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, retained the top two undergraduate positions, and Syracuse University came in third. Harvard University led the graduate ranking for the sixth year in a row.

Whiting noted the National Architectural Accrediting Board recently delivered a glowing report as it re-accredited RSA for another eight years. The board is the sole American agency authorized to accredit professional degree programs in architecture offered by institutions with U.S. regional accreditation.

Among the dozens of categories on which schools are judged, the board recognized RSA for six “conditions met with distinction.”

“That’s unprecedented, apparently,” Whiting said. “And that’s rewarding recognition for the work that the faculty has done to make our curriculum so innovative and so strong.”

The board noted Rice’s high level of student achievement in professional communication skills, investigative skills, ordering systems, technical documentation, structural systems and integrated design.

That last was particularly gratifying to Whiting as it related specifically to RSA’s unique totalization studios for undergraduate and graduate students. Totalization studios require students to carry a project from conception to the verge of construction, accounting for documentation, accessibility and safety, sustainability, cost analysis and specifications, materials and financing, all the while pushing the boundaries of architectural design to the height of innovation.

“That combination of feedback from the rankings and the accreditation makes for a stellar report card. What a great way to start a new year,” Whiting said.



About Mike Williams

Mike Williams is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.