RCA and MIT named as world's top design and architecture schools for second year running

| 9 comments

London's Royal College of Art has been named as the top art and design school in an annual international ranking, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has retained the title of top architecture school.

The RCA was judged as the world's best art and design school out of 1,376 institutions in the sixth annual QS University Rankings, published today. MIT beat 1,668 institutions to be named the world's best architecture school.

It is the second year in a row that both schools have claimed the number one spot in these rankings.

The 2016 top 10 for art and design was largely dominated by US schools, with MIT rising to second place from fourth position in 2015.

The Rhode Island School of Design took third place, while New York's Parsons The New School for Design dropped from second place to fourth. London's University of the Arts, which includes Central St Martin's, the Chelsea College of Arts, London College of Communication and London College of Fashion, took the fifth spot.

The remainder of the top five were the Pratt Institute, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Stanford University, Yale University and Italy's Politecnico di Milano.



The top five architecture schools were largely the same as in 2015, with the UK's Bartlett taking second place, University of California, Berkeley in third, Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands in fourth and Harvard in fifth.

The University of Cambridge, ETH Zurich, Tsinghua University in China, the National University of Singapore and the University of Manchester rounded out the top 10.

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The RCA was judged as the world's best art and design school out of 1,376 institutions

QS bases its annual rankings on a combination of factors including academic reputation based on a survey of over 75,000 academics internationally, and employer reputation assessed in a similar manner.

Harvard and MIT were named as the best overall universities internationally, with the most top scorings across 42 subjects.

The announcements come less than a week after the RCA was granted £54 million by the UK Government to help extend its campus in Battersea, which already has a series of new facilities designed by UK architects Haworth Tompkins.

The postgraduate school plans to build a 15,000-square-metre campus development at an estimated cost of £100 million.



The school hit the headlines in 2015 following a series of staff changes and the suspension of its Design Interactions course at an estimated cost of £300,000. The course closure was blamed on the departure of key members of the school's teaching staff.

Earlier this year it was revealed that Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby were joining the teaching staff at Parsons design school in New York, after leaving the Design Interactions course last year.

MIT researchers recently unveiled a proposal to do away with traffic lights, while a team of students won a competition to design the transport pod for the Hyperloop – a conceptual high-speed transport network conceived by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk.


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  • Timothy

    This is just bad reporting. Combining the best of two disciplines in one heading and saying each is best for all art/design/architecture is incorrect.

    RCA does not even feature in the top ten for architecture.

  • Colonel Pancake

    Assuming the goal is to actually make architecture, everyone else is playing second fiddle to ETH Zurich.

  • Carlos Gamez

    “New York’s Rhode Island School of Design took third place” a little bit of research goes a long way. The Rhode Island School of Design is in Providence Rhode Island, not New York City OR New York State. I know America can be confusing, but the RI (Rhode Island) in RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) gives it away!

    • agagnu

      Where did you read RISD in NY?

      • Carlos Gamez

        @agagnu:disqus Dezeen goofed and when they initially posted this story they stated that RISD was in New York… it seems like they’ve fixed it since then.

  • agagnu

    What can I say; I am a proud MIT dad.

  • Dave

    The problem with these kinds of rankings is that great independent schools that are not a part of a university like Mendrisio, Mackintosh or Belleville never make it, which is why these lists rarely make sense.

  • joyce

    Who ranks them?

    Bartlett? Fine. Top 10, Manchester??? AA? Bath? Cardiff? Edinburgh? Maybe need to lookup national rankings first.

  • dadv

    Every year this list is reported and every year a multitude of fair comments are posted about how inaccurate this list is even looking at basic facts. Stanford is “a top US school” even though it does not even have an architecture major.

    Berkeley is in the top 10 even though their undergrad degree cannot even get you licensed in the US, and by other national rankings like DI is not even included. These rankings are purely based on name power of degree + prestige of faculty, since these were things that they could quantify easily.

    It’s a terrible system, and many commenters from around the world have flooded the ArchDaily version of this post to explain the problems specific to each country. Don’t spread this misinformation further. Please exercise better journalistic standards.