Three Iowa State design programs ranked among nation's best

College of Design

Iowa State University's College of Design. Photo by Heather Sauer.

(Update: Oct. 24) In an additional ranking by DesignIntelligence, Iowa State University's landscape architecture and interior design programs ranked No. 2 in the country in their cohorts, and the architecture program ranked No. 5 in its cohort in the "Most Hired From" ranking, showing that design firms look to Iowa State to hire recent undergraduate and graduate students in these programs.

AMES, Iowa — Iowa State University’s programs in landscape architecture, interior design and architecture are ranked among the top 25 in the United States, according to the latest survey of practitioners by DesignIntelligence.

The survey ranked Iowa State’s undergraduate landscape architecture program eighth in the nation for 2018-2019. ISU’s undergraduate interior design program ranked 18th and the undergraduate architecture program 23rd. Iowa State’s graduate landscape architecture program ranked 21st. Architecture, interior design and landscape architecture are in the College of Design.

DesignIntelligence Quarterly is a publication for leaders in design professions. The magazine’s annual report, “America’s Top-Ranked Architecture and Design Schools,” is the only national college ranking survey that focuses exclusively on design. Rankings cover accredited programs in architecture, interior architecture/interior design and landscape architecture. Published on a new rankings website,, the 19th annual survey was conducted in May and June 2018 on behalf of the Design Futures Council.

The DesignIntelligence survey ranks programs from the perspective of leading practitioners who hire and supervise recent graduates in each of the design fields represented. The publication received responses from more than 6,100 professionals who were asked about the schools they most admire, the ones they hire from the most and how recent graduates are performing in 12 key focus areas.

Landscape architecture program

Iowa State’s undergraduate landscape architecture program rose to No. 8 this year, up from 11th in 2017-2018. It has consistently been ranked among the top 15 programs for 13 of the past 14 years (DesignIntelligence began ranking landscape architecture programs in 2005).

Louisiana State University ranked first, followed by Cornell University and Pennsylvania State University. There are 44 accredited landscape architecture undergraduate programs in the U.S., of which 27 — like Iowa State’s — are professional bachelor of landscape architecture (BLA) programs.

ISU’s graduate landscape architecture program ranked 21st among 49 accredited graduate programs in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, of which all are master of landscape architecture (MLA) programs. The top three were Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University.

Among the 12 focus areas, ISU’s BLA program ranked fourth in engineering fundamentals; fifth in project planning and management; sixth in design technologies, design theory and practice, interdisciplinary studies, and practice management; seventh in healthy built environments; eighth in construction materials and methods; ninth in communication and presentation skills; and 10th in sustainable built environments/adaptive design/resilient design. The MLA program ranked ninth in practice management.

The ISU landscape architecture department has 120 undergraduate majors, 19 graduate majors and 12 tenured or tenure-track faculty.

Interior design program

Iowa State’s undergraduate interior design program ranked 18th among the top 25 programs this year. Savannah College of Art and Design ranked first, followed by Pratt Institute and Rhode Island School of Design.

Among the 12 focus areas, the ISU graduate interior design program ranked ninth in sustainable built environments/adaptive design/resilient design and 10th in healthy built environments and interdisciplinary studies.

There are 156 accredited undergraduate interior design programs in the United States, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, of which 76 are professional bachelor of fine arts, bachelor of interior architecture or bachelor of interior design programs. There are four accredited online programs.

The ISU interior design department has 186 undergraduate majors, 17 graduate majors and seven tenured or tenure-track faculty.

Architecture program

For 2018-2019, Iowa State’s undergraduate architecture program ranked 23rd. It has ranked in the top 25 for 14 of the past 16 years.

The list this year was led by Cornell, followed by Rice University and California Polytechnic, San Luis Obispo. There are 49 accredited undergraduate architecture programs in the U.S. and two in Puerto Rico.

There are 323 undergraduate majors and 25 tenured or tenure-track faculty in architecture at Iowa State.