DesignIntelligence 2016 Landscape Architecture Program Rankings


DesignIntelligence recently announced its 2016 landscape architecture graduate and undergraduate program rankings. For the second year in a row, Louisiana State University (LSU) was deemed the best undergraduate landscape architecture program. And for the 12th continuous year, Harvard University retained its dominance as the best graduate program, in the annual survey conducted by DesignIntelligence on behalf of the Design Futures Council.

Detailed rankings are available in the 16th edition of America’s Best Architecture & Design Schools, which assesses program rankings and education trends in architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, and industrial design.

Respondents from nearly 1,420 “professional practice” organizations answered questions about how well prepared graduates are from different undergraduate and graduate programs. The number of respondents is essentially the same as last year.

Satisfaction with landscape architecture graduates among employers increased slightly from last year. Some 73 percent said they “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with the state of landscape architecture education in the U.S., up from 71 percent in 2015, but down from 74 percent in 2014 and 80 percent in 2013.

Employers still think landscape architecture students lack basic knowledge for many aspects of their job. A minority thought that landscape architecture students had “more than adequate” or “adequate” knowledge of building, facility, or equipment life cycles or procurement processes, while a majority thought they had “more than adequate” or “adequate” knowledge of the environmental impact of materials and processes, biology, and biodiversity. Employers overwhelmingly said that students’ attitudes and personality were the number-one factor as they entered the workplace, followed by their portfolio and work experience.

This year, the top five emerging concerns by practitioners are:

Maintaining Design Quality (55 percent)
Sustainability / Climate Change (51 percent)
Integrated Design (41 percent)
Speed of Technological Change (38 percent)
Retaining Quality Staff (32 percent)

The set of concerns is virtually unchanged from last year, except retaining quality staff is now a top concern.

DesignIntelligence asks us to only list the top five schools for each program. To see the top ten rankings for each category, go to DesignIntelligence’s web site, and, to see the top 15, purchase the report.

Bachelor of Landscape Architecture Degree Rankings:

1) Louisiana State University
2) Pennsylvania State University
3) Cornell University
4) University of Georgia
4) Texas A&M University

Master of Landscape Architecture Degree Rankings:

1) Harvard University
2) University of Pennsylvania
3) Louisiana State University
4) Cornell University
5) University of Virginia

An additional deans and chairs survey asked leaders of 40 landscape architecture academic programs about the issues they find significant. According to 82 percent of the professors surveyed, their biggest concern is climate change and sustainability, while another 51 percent said urbanization and 45 percent said maintaining design quality.

Among the biggest changes to curricula in the last 5 years: some 55 percent thought it was “more emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration and integrated practice,” while 51 percent saw an increased focus on sustainable design.

For the fifth year, DesignIntelligence surveyed landscape architecture students to gauge their satisfaction with the programs covered. This year, more than 432 students were surveyed, up 16 percent from last year. On average, just 58 percent thought their program was “excellent.” The greatest number of students thought their program was excellent at the University of Pennsylvania, followed by those at the Kansas State University and Virginia Tech. Just 59 percent of graduates plan on working in private practice when they graduate; 13 percent remain undecided. Graduating landscape architects can expect to make around $52,000 in their first jobs.

To see the full responses from professors and students, purchase the report.

Check out our archive of 2015-2009 rankings.

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