Thousands of e-mails. Hundreds of phone calls. Missing faxes; vanishing web forms. It’s a lot of trouble, we learned, to produce a guide to architecture schools. But already—even before the stacks of questionnaires have been cleared from our desks—we’re sure it was worth it.
Why? Say you’re a high-school or college junior, and you’re thinking about becoming an architect. Your first question might be, “Where should I go to school?” That’s not such a simple question to answer. A Google search yields little. The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture’s own exhaustive Guide to Architecture Schools doesn’t come cheap ($28.95 plus shipping) and weighs in at 352 pages. On the other hand, straight Top 10 or Top 20 lists don’t reveal what makes a school distinctive, and of course, they ignore the vast majority of schools that don’t make the cut. In brief, there is no accessible, applicant-oriented guide that identifies the varied teaching and research strengths of architecture schools, as well as their acceptance criteria. At least there wasn’t, until now.
Despite our best efforts, we regrettably weren’t able to reach every ACSA-member and -candidate school in the country. A few schools declined to participate, unsure of how we would use the information we requested. We hope they’ll agree that this new guide fulfills a need that previously wasn’t being met. Our goal for next year is to bring more schools into the fold (now 50-plus), while fine-tuning the methodology and presentation.
Readers with plaudits, gripes, or even better, suggestions for improving the guide: We’re all ears. Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is the first edition of the schools guide; an update will be published in September 2010, and a second edition is planned for 2011. ARCHITECT editors administered school questionnaires and faculty surveys from mid-September through early November 2009. Prior to that, we sent drafts of both documents to several architecture school deans for review, and incorporated many of their recommendations into the final versions.
ACSA member and candidate member institutions in the United States were eligible for inclusion. (This was a criterion we set independently of the ACSA.) All in all, 53 schools completed the questionnaire (some partially); one more submitted a special statement in lieu of it. More than 90 architectural educators completed our faculty survey. As an incentive to time-pressured faculty, we told them we’d donate $5 per completed survey to the American Architectural Foundation/AIA Minority/Disadvantaged Scholarship program. ARCHITECT subsequently made a donation of $500.
All statistical information about the schools is self-reported, except for tuition (researched on school websites). We calculated the student-to-faculty ratio based on school statistics. The formula we used is simple: Full-time students (x 1) + part-time students (x 0.5) / full-time faculty (x 1) + part-time faculty (x 0.5). However, in cases where the proportion of part-time faculty was substantial—in some cases nearly exceeding the number of full-time faculty—we realized that a different formula was needed and declined to calculate a ratio. As a result, many listings have “N/A” in this field. We hope to improve on this in the next edition of the guide.
Schools were categorized according to (in order of priority): 1) their own program descriptions, as submitted; 2) surveys of faculty (both internal & external); and 3) school websites. Information in the descriptive part of each listing was drawn from the same sources.