The University of Southern California (USC) is a private university located in Los Angeles, California. The University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign (UIUC) is a public university located in the twin cities of Urbana and Champaign. The QS World University Rankings by subject 2020 – Architecture/Build Environment is given below –
University of Southern California (USC) - #51 - 100
University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign (UIUC) - #50
Syracuse University - #101 – 150
The rankings tell you one thing and the experience of the students another. The reputation and the number of graduates from the USC School of Architecture and Syracuse University School of Architecture are far more than the graduates from the Illinois School of Architecture – UIUC.
All these programs are quite close in terms of rankings as well. So academically you cannot go wrong with any of these three schools. Yet USC and Syracuse University still hold a little edge.
Your choice should also depend upon the area you want to settle down after graduating. USC is located on the west coast, UIUC in the midwest and Syracuse University on the east coast. If you want to work in New York, choose Syracuse University. If you want to work in California or Los Angeles, choose USC. It is not that they are not known nationally, but most of the hiring managers, some of whom may be alumni, are located in companies closer to the university itself, thus a better chance of getting employed in that region.
Also some may prefer the quiet regions of upstate New York or Illinois while some may marvel at the architectural designs in and around the city of Los Angeles. This is strictly a personal choice. Also factor in the huge and ever growing alumni network of USC, which makes it a compelling choice.
If you combine all these factors, then University of Southern California (USC) emerges as a clear winner among the three for studying architecture.