Best Undergraduate Programs by Area of Study

Universities and colleges around the country offer undergraduate degree programs in hundreds of different fields. Some publications offer rankings of programs in certain areas of study, such as business or architecture. Read on to learn more about using program rankings in your college decision-making process, and get ranking details for programs in some popular degree fields.

School Overviews

Incoming freshmen may turn to college rankings to help get a bearing on which programs are considered among the best in the nation. Rankings are often available in vocational and academic publications that use a variety of standards to narrow down the best programs in a particular field. For instance, Businessweek puts out an annual ranking of the best undergraduate business programs around the country. Rankings are compiled by analyzing a program's length, tuition fees, student enrollment, graduate employment success rates and other factors, along with students' surveys.

Published rankings may not take into consideration all the individual components that make up a degree program. For example, a program's accreditation is important, but it may not be factored into rankings. Although rankings are not all-inclusive, they can be a valuable jumping off point to start your research into college degree programs.

This article looks into college rankings for programs in architecture, business and engineering. A high-ranking undergraduate architecture program can be found at Cornell University. Notre Dame's business program and Massachusetts Institute of Technology's engineering program are considered the best in the country. Each school provides students the opportunity to specialize in a particular area of the discipline or to receive training to enter a career or pursue advanced education after undergraduate study. Continue reading to learn more.

Best Undergraduate Architecture Program

Cornell University in Ithaca, NY

Most architects are required to complete a professional degree program before they can become licensed. In 2010, the architecture journal DesignIntelligence ranked Cornell University's 5-year undergraduate architecture program the best in the nation for the sixth year in a row. The school's Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.) professional degree program provides students with an understanding of architectural theory, history and design. Students participate in design studios to pick up basic conceptual skills and learn to create physical and computer-generated models. They are also allowed the opportunity to study architecture in New York City and Rome for one semester.

Best Undergraduate Business Program

University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, IN

According to Businessweek, Notre Dame offered the best undergraduate business program in 2010. Undergraduate students enrolled in Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business can select their own major from the following categories: finance, marketing, accountancy, management (consulting management), entrepreneurship and information technology management. Students may participate in international study programs. A solid undergraduate degree program in business can provide students with a thorough understanding of business, finance and accounting theory and principles, as well as management, financial and accounting skills. Graduates are typically prepared to enter a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program.

Best Undergraduate Engineering Program

Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA

U.S. News & World Report ranks undergraduate engineering programs within schools that also offer a doctorate in the field. It chose Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge as having the best undergraduate engineering program in 2011. MIT offers undergraduate engineering degrees in eight areas, including chemical engineering, biological engineering, civil and environmental engineering and mechanical engineering. It also offers a flexible degree program option that allows students to complete the technical, core requirements of an engineering program while also incorporating multidisciplinary elements from fields like transportation, robotics or energy.

Comparison of Schools: At a Glance

School NameDistinctionLocation
Cornell UniversityIvy League school with the top-ranked B.Arch program in the U.S. by DesignIntelligence in 2010Ithaca, NY
Dartmouth CollegeIn 2013, U.S. News & World Report ranked this Ivy League school #1 in undergraduate teachingHanover, NH
Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyRanked first in the U.S. for undergraduate engineering education by U.S. News & World ReportCambridge, MA
Princeton UniversityU.S. News & World Report ranked the undergraduate teaching at this Ivy League school #2 in 2013Princeton, NJ
University of Notre DameRanked the best undergraduate business program in the U.S., according to BusinessWeek in 2010Notre Dame, IN

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