ACSA 2014-15 Budget and Enrollment Survey Results

November 2014

This year’s Budget and Enrollment Survey reflects budget, academic staffing, applications, and enrollment changes at 70 schools, including over 47% of ACSA’s full and Canadian member institutions. This is more responses than we have received in the past for this survey, conducted annually since 2010-11. Below are this year’s findings. You can also read the summarized findings in the our news release or download the slides as a single PDF.

Architecture Program Budgets

Architecture school total budgets remain stable. The percentage of schools reporting increases in total budgets is greater than last year, while the percentage reporting no change remains fairly consistent as compared with the past several years. With fewer than 10% of responding schools indicating an anticipated increase of more than +6% or a decrease of more than -6%, the majority of institutions are not anticipating major changes for the next academic year.

Most schools continue to report no changes in their travel budgets from last year, although a greater percentage of schools is reporting decreases than in the past two years. 

The trend for discretionary budgets is similar: a majority of schools report no change, while a greater percentage of schools is reporting decreases than last year. 

Even flat budgets for travel and discretionary expenses can hurt architecture programs, as costs for airfare, lodging, technology, and materials—expenditures that enhance student and faculty experiences at schools—fail to keep up with inflation. 

Several ACSA regions reported similar patterns in their total budget changes this year, so we have grouped regions accordingly in this chart. Schools in the Gulf and Mid-Atlantic regions saw the most  total budget decreases (more than -6%) this year, while no school from this region reported a large increase (more than +6%). In the East Central and West Central regions, over 40% of participating schools saw no change to their budget, but those that did see a change were more likely to have a decrease than increase. In contrast, over 60% of reporting Canadian schools saw a budget increase. Finally, schools in the Northeast and West were more likely to report a large budget increase (more than +6%) than schools in any other region.
Survey results also showed some patterns for total budget changes by ACSA member size and type. “Large” schools, with greater numbers of architecture faculty members, were more likely to report budget increases than “small” and “medium” schools. Candidate schools were most likely to report no changes, while all of the international schools that responded to our survey reported increases.

How does institutional structure affect how architecture programs fare in budget decisions? For this chart, we categorized ACSA’s full and Canadian member schools based on the number of administrative levels that sit between the entire institution and the department or program level that includes only the discipline of architecture.

The results show a marked difference in total budget changes between stand-alone programs (i.e., those not nested within larger multi-disciplinary colleges or schools) and programs within multi-disciplinary units. Over 80% of programs teaching only architecture saw total budget increases. Half of these reported large increases of more than +15%.  On the other hand, among schools and departments where architecture programs have two or three administrative levels above them, fewer than 40% reported a total budget increase. This is true even though the colleges, faculties, and special focus institutions were more likely than their counterparts to see drops in enrollment this year.

Enrollment and Applications

Similarly, at all levels among participating schools, international student enrollment decreased less often than overall enrollment. 

The next four graphs each plot the change in applications against the change in enrollment at individual programs. 

At the pre-professional level, with only two prominent exceptions at mid-sized programs, changes in applications and enrollment tracked each other fairly closely: many programs decreased both their applications and enrollment, while others increased both.

At the B.Arch level, enrollments are most often increasing or steady, and schools reporting increasing enrollment were more likely to also have increasing applications.

At the M.Arch level, however, many schools reported decreasing applications even while enrollment increased. Both larger and smaller programs followed this pattern, although a minority of programs reported the opposite situation of increasing applications and decreasing enrollment.

Among other non-professional graduate programs, both enrollment and applications were more likely to increase than decrease, although several programs also reported decreasing or flat enrollment.

Faculty Hiring Patterns

In terms of anticipated academic staffing changes, the results continue to show increases in faculty hiring overall. Adding full-time faculty members remains the most frequently reported change, although not as frequent as last year, as an increasing percentage of schools this year reported adding part-time faculty. Another salutary sign is that the percentages of schools reporting full- or part-time faculty reductions or increased teaching loads decreased this year and are generally lower than over the past several years.

This detailed view of admissions changes at each program level shows that a majority of participating Bachelor of Architecture programs saw increases in applications this year, whereas a majority of graduate-level professional programs saw decreases. Other (non-professional) graduate programs were the most likely to report no changes in their applications and enrollment, while more often seeing increases than decreases. Preprofessional programs, on the other hand, reported decrease in both applications and enrollment more often than increases. 

As with last year, international applications increased more often than applications overall, among participating schools.

This Venn diagram shows the combinations of staffing changes that schools reported this year. For instance, looking at the blue and white areas, no schools reported increased teaching loads or reducing full-time faculty without also making other changes. On the other hand, 10 schools increased full-time faculty and 7 schools increased part-time faculty without making other changes. Eight schools reported increasing both full-time and part-time faculty, while only two schools reduced both.

Participating Schools

This last chart shows the distribution of respondents, by region and ACSA member type. 

ACSA thanks all schools that shared their data, allowing this year’s survey to provide a full picture of architecture school budgets, staffing, and admissions than in previous years. Do you have questions or comments about this report or ACSA’s annual Budget and Enrollment Survey?  Contact Kendall Nicholson, Director of Research + Information.

Return to ACSA's Budget and Enrollment Survey page or Data Resources.