Harvard and Columbia claim the top spots once again in BAM’s ranking of postgraduate architecture programs

Coming Out On Top (Again)

Harvard and Columbia claim the top spots once again in BAM’s ranking of postgraduate architecture programs

The John Andrews-designed Gund Hall, home to the Harvard Graduate School of Design. (Peter Alfred Hess/Flickr/CC BY 2.0)

The 2021 edition of Spain-based architectural education platform Best Architecture Master’s (BAM) Ranking has been released, with a (not entirely surprising) repeat performance at the top of the list: Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD)’s Master of Architecture II and Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP)’s Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design programs hold their places at number one and number two, respectively, for the second year in a row. Harvard has placed first all four years that the ranking has been in existence.

Other American universities and schools that made the cut this year include Princeton University (sixth place, Post-Professional Graduate Program in Architecture); Cornell University (ninth place, Post-Professional Master of Science, Advanced Architectural Design), the Southern California Institute of Architecture/SCI-Arc (15th place; M.Arch 2); and the University of California Los Angeles/UCLA (tied for 17th place; M.S. Architecture and Urban Design). Like with Harvard and Columbia, all of these schools also appeared in the 2020 ranking with Princeton and UCLA being new additions that did not appear in 2018 and 2019. One American program that took the number five spot last year (and ranked as having the number three and number two top program in 2018 and 2019, respectively) is MIT’s Master of Science in Architecture and Urbanism, which disappeared altogether from this year’s edition.

Pointedly international in scope, the 2021 BAM Ranking invited a 15-person committee composed of architecture professors from around the globe to conceive a list of the 22 top master’s degree programs offered by a range of different universities that appear on the latest QS World University Rankings in the Architecture/Built Environment category. (The 2021 list is shorter than in 2019 and 2020 years in which 30 and 29, respectively, programs were ranked.)

These programs were then compared, evaluated, and ranked using BAM’s point system-based methodology which includes 11 educational performance indicators and 42 sub-indicators. The programs are ultimately ranked according to how many evaluation points they received on a one to 100 scale. Among the 11 key indicators in 2021 were Consolidation in Time, Teaching Approach & Program, Publications, Faculty Competence, Job Opportunities & Networking, and all-important Affordability & Length.

The top tier of all 22 programs evaluated and ranked for the BAM Ranking 2021 are below, while the full list can be found here.

  1. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts | Master of Architecture II
  2. Columbia University, New York City| Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design
  3. Delft University of Technology (TUDelft), Delft, the Netherlands| The Berlage Post-master degree in Architecture and Urban Design
  4. Universidad Politécnica de Madrid / ETH Zurich, Madrid |Master of Advanced Studies in Collective Housing (MCH)
  5. Tsinghua University, Beijing | English Program for Master in Architecture
  6. Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey | Post-Professional Graduate Program in Architecture
  7. Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA), London | MArch in Architecture & Urbanism (DRL)
  8. University College London |Architectural Design MArch (B-pro)
  9. Cornell University, Ithaca, New York | Post-Professional Master of Science, Advanced Architectural Design
  10. Technische Universität München (TUM), Munich | Master of Arts MA in Architecture