Here are the top architecture schools of 2021, according to the QS World University Rankings

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Here are the top architecture schools of 2021, according to the QS World University Rankings

Aerial view of the central campus of MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (DrKenneth/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0)

Higher education analysis firm QS Quacquarelli Symonds has unveiled the 2021 edition of its QS World University Rankings by Subject list that, along with 50 other areas of study, analyzes and compiles the crème de la crème of universities across the world with architecture schools. The subject-based rankings consider each school/program’s academic reputation and employer reputation as well as its research impact. (The full methodology can be read here.)

As pointed out by Archinect, the top five universities with architecture schools for 2021 are pretty much the same as they’ve been for the past several years, with some slight repositioning within the very top of the list. Like in 2020, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) claimed the top spot followed by University College London (UCL), Delft University of Technology, ETH Zurich, and Harvard University. In 2019, the MIT School of Architecture and Planning, led by dean Hashim Sarkis since 2015, was bumped from the top spot to second by the Bartlett School at UCL but jumped back up to the front of the list last year.

Within the top ten, there are only two new entries, including the National University of Singapore (up to sixth place from twelfth) and Tsinghua University in Beijing (leaping to the eighth slot from the eleventh) while England’s Manchester School of Architecture and Switzerland’s École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) fell out of the top ten to the eleventh and twelfth positions, respectively. The University of California, Berkley (dropping from sixth to seventh place) and Italy’s Politecnico di Milano (dropping seventh to tenth place) both hold their ranks within the top ten as does the University of Cambridge, which maintains its spot at number nine. So all and all, there’s hasn’t been much dramatic movement between 2020 and 2021.

In addition to MIT, Harvard, and UC Berkley, the top fifty North American universities with architecture schools are as follows: Columbia University (14), the University of California, Los Angeles (17), the Georgia Institute of Technology (23), Cornell University (26), the University of Pennsylvania (28), the University of British Columbia (30), the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor (31), Stanford University (34), University of Texas at Austin (40), McGill University (45), and the University of Toronto (46). North American universities to slip out of the top 50 include the National Autonomous University of Mexico and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

A total of 220 universities appear on the 2021 rankings.

In a different subject area, civil and structural engineering, the top-listed universities are nearly exactly the same as for architecture although the exact positioning varies. Only one unique school, Imperial College London, that is not on the architecture top ten is listed as one of the top-ten universities for civil and structural engineering. Politecnico di Milano, squeaking in as a top-ten university for architecture, is ranked thirteenth on the 2021 civil and structural engineering list.

Another newer, noted architecture school/program ranking published by the Spain-based educational architecture platform Best Architecture Master’s (BAM) draws its annual list of the world’s top-ranked master’s degree programs—29 in total—from universities that appear on the annual QS World University Rankings. As noted last August when the 2020 edition of BAM was released, the programs are compared, evaluated, and ranked by a 19-person committee composed of architecture professors using BAM’s point-system-based methodology that includes 11 educational performance indicators and 41 sub-indicators. The top five master’s degree in architecture programs per the BAM Ranking 2020 were: Master of Architecture II (Harvard University), Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design (Columbia University), Master of Advanced Studies in Collective Housing (MCH) (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid / ETH Zurich, Madrid, Spain), The Berlage Post-master degree in Architecture and Urban Design (TUDelft), and the Master of Science in Architecture and Urbanism (SMArch Urbanism) (MIT).

While the overlap is significant, the variation between the two rankings goes to show that some of the world’s most esteemed master’s degree programs in architecture aren’t exclusively offered at the top five—or even ten—universities with architecture schools per the QS World University Rankings by Subject.