Harvard University has been named the best graduate school for Architecture for the fourth year running.

Unveiling its top architecture schools for 2015 based on a survey of thousands of industry practitioners, university deans and chairs and students, US consulting outfit Greenway Group said Harvard had earned the number one ranking ahead of Columbia University, Yale University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cornell University.

Meanwhile, Cornell took back the top spot regarding undergraduate schools, which it had held before being beaten out by California Polytechnic State University last year.

Harvard, which was also ranked number one in a student survey for design and cross disciplinary teamwork and fourth at computer applications, has held the top spot in architecture every year since 2007 except for 2011, when the University of Michigan claimed that spot.

Greenway chairman James Cramer said increasing levels of globalisation meant architecture schools were interacting with the profession more so than in the past.

He said recent times have seen a shift in curriculum away from art and theory toward a greater emphasis on Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology (STEM) skills.

“In essence the trend indicates that art and theory are less important and that the highest-paid careers will be in the STEM domain,” Cramer is quoted as saying in a recent interview with US-based design publication Architectural Record.

“We all know that architecture is both an art and a science, but we expect to see more research and alliances with the product manufacturers on materials, and with the public sector on city planning and urban design.”

The latest results come amid ongoing debate about education in architecture and how universities can best prepare architectural students for a changing world.

In Australia, newly elected head of Architecture for Bond University Professor Adrian Carter said recently that an international perspective was crucial and called on students and universities to seek more opportunities for overseas study trips and exchanges.

Encouragingly, students who took part in the survey indicated positive sentiment toward their course, with 83 per cent indicating their intention to take the Architecture Registration Examination and 93.1 per cent believing they will be well prepared for their profession upon graduation.

Key facts, according to the survey:

  • Harvard University is the highest ranking graduate school followed by Columbia University and Yale; Cornell was the top undergraduate school followed by California Polytechnic State University and Rice University
  • In terms of individual areas, Harvard ranks top for Design and Cross-Disciplinary Teamwork whereas University of Oregon comes out on top for Sustainable Design Practices and Principles, Massachusetts Institute of Technology for Computer Applications and California Polytechnic State University for Construction Methods and Materials
  • Around 83 per cent of students intend to take the Architecture Registration Examination while 93.1 per cent believe they will be well equipped for the workforce upon graduation
  • More than half of all students (54.7 per cent) say they intend to work in private practice upon graduation
  • Sustainability and climate change is the most important issue for architecture education from the point of view of both deans and chairs and firm leaders, followed by speed of technological change and integrated design in the case of deans and maintaining design quality and integrated design in the case of firm leaders.