PH.D Programs in Architecture

Who Should Apply

The Ph.D. is a research degree that requires general proficiency in one's field, distinctive accomplishment in a specialized area of expertise, and the conduct of significant independent research. Thus, the Ph.D. Program is appropriate for persons who wish to pursue environmental design research and building/landscapes/cultures from a multi-disciplinary perspective and who seek careers in research, consulting, government, and/or teaching in architecture and the design profession.
 The Program seeks to maintain a rich and diverse mix of students and thus encourages applicants with backgrounds in architecture, allied design fields, or the social sciences. The Program is open to applicants holding undergraduate as well as graduate degrees.

A number of faculty have been recognized for their achievements in research, teaching and service, including prestigious career awards by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, Environmental Design Research Association, and Vernacular Architecture Forum. With a critical mass of reflective practitioners, social scientists, cultural historians, and environmentalists, the Ph.D. Program represents one of the few internationally recognized academic centers for producing high quality research and doctoral graduates.


The Ph.D. Program attracts students from around world, including from the nations of Bangladesh, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, India, Nepal, South Korea, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Turkey, and the United States. Student dissertation research topics are integrative in their orientation, encompassing and combining perspectives and research approaches to address a wide range of substantive areas within the discipline of architecture. Recent examples include: urban cognition and historic preservation in a world heritage city, organizational and architectural change in an adult day service center, immigrant choice in housing and real estate strategies, the social construction of standards and guidelines for environmentally sustainable buildings, the working bodies of nurses and the design of nurse stations, culture and aging in relation to thermal comfort in Korean vernacular building technology, and concomitant changes in architecture and institutional culture in long-term care settings for the elderly.

Our over three-dozen graduates have a strong track record of employment, and they have landed positions at top universities in the U.S. and around the world. Other graduates are employed in building research centers and private industry.

From their various positions and sites around the world, alumni from our program continue to develop and strengthen new avenues of research, as well as disseminate critical knowledge to a large academic and professional constituency.

The Ph.D. Program is structured in three stages:

I. Residency, Course Requirements, and the Intermediate Research Project*
II. Doctoral Preliminary Examinations and Candidacy
III. Completion and Defense of a Doctoral Dissertation

The Program is structured so that students entering the program with a Master's degree can complete all degree requirements in four years, but individual timetables vary depending on background preparation, the number of terms spent in full-time residency, and dissertation length.

Part I:
The Graduate School requires that all students complete a minimum of one continuous academic year on campus.

Course Requirements
Students must complete 27 credits (minimum) of graduate course work before attaining full doctoral student status. For students entering the Ph.D. Program in Architecture without a Master's degree, the Graduate School requires completion of an additional 27 credits of graduate course work (54 total) beyond the baccalaureate degree. Twelve (12) graduate credits may be transferred from another accredited graduate institution upon approval.

Course requirements for the program fall into 4 categories:

1. Core Courses

12 credits minimum + any prerequisites

2. Area of Concentration

9 credits minimum

3. Minor area (separate from the major)

9 credits minimum

4. Intermediate Research Project*

3 credits

Applicants may be admitted to the Ph.D. Program in Architecture with full doctoral student status if they have:

1. A Master's degree in Architecture (M. Arch.)
2. A Master's degree in a related environmental design research field or
3. A Master's degree in another field as well as signifi­cant professional, teaching
and/or research experience in architecture or allied fields.

Students without such qualifications can be admitted, but are required to complete additional predoctoral coursework (see Course Requirements) and the Intermediate Research Project.

Program of Study
At the end of the second semester, students submit a Program of Study which proposes a time line for future program requirements, coursework, exams, and completion of the dissertation.

Intermediate Research Project (IRP)
The IRP may be waived for students with a Master's degree, extensive research, or teaching experience in a related field upon approval.

In addition to the core courses and residency requirements, students complete an Intermediate Research Project before advancing to candidacy and dissertator status. The research project must utilize primary sources of information (i.e., qualitative or quantitative empirical, interview, artifacts, or archival sources), be independently conducted by the student, be equivalent in scope and substance to a semester-long, graduate-level research project, and demonstrate development of a research problem, argument, and justification for the hypothesis or thesis proposed. It must also demonstrate the student's ability to critically analyze and interpret source materials. The choice of topic and research method is left to each student. Some students consider doing a project which is a preliminary study to the dissertation. Students are recommended to enroll in Arch 791 (Directed Research) and must request one Department of Architecture graduate faculty member to serve as Intermediate Research Project Chair. This faculty member must approve the research proposal, supervise the research, and approve the finished document.

The Intermediate Research Project must be completed by the end of the second year (for students entering the Ph.D. program with a master's degree) or third year (for students entering the program with a bachelor's degree).

If a comparable research project has been completed prior to entering the Ph.D. program (e.g., a research master's thesis), entering students can request to waive this requirement by submitting the project to the Ph.D. Program Committee Chair in the first semester. The Chair or another member of the Ph.D. Program Committee reads the research project to assess its merit to justify a waiver.

PART II: Preliminary Exams and Candidacy
Students must complete the Doctoral Preliminary Examinations in preparation for their major field of study, Environmental Design Research, their Area of Specialization, and their Minor Field of Study. The Preliminary Examinations are intended to test students' understanding of theory and methods in relation to their own developing dissertation research.

The Doctoral Preliminary Examination has three written components and one oral review. The three written portions include a question on theory, methods, and substantive area(s). Substantive area(s) may include the Area of Specialization only or the Area of Specialization and Minor Field of Study. Questions cover core course content, other coursework, and/or current published research. Students normally begin taking the exams during their second year in the Ph.D. program.

Members of the examination committee may assign additional readings to be completed in preparation for the examination. Students are expected to acknowledge and critique current and seminal research studies in the field, engage in critical and integrative thinking and writing, and structure and justify arguments, claims, and opinions in a credible, conceptual, logical, and convincing manner.

An oral review is scheduled after the completion of all three written portions of the exam, whereupon students answer questions, receive feedback, and are formally notified whether or not they have successfully completed the exams.

A student officially advances to dissertator status upon completion of 27 or 54 (without a master's degree) credits, additional coursework, the Intermediate Research Project*, preliminary examinations, and submission of a proposed dissertation title and brief summary of the dissertation topic to the Graduate School.

PART III: Dissertation
The Ph.D. dissertation represents the report of an original investigation designed, conducted, analyzed, and reported by the candidate under the direction of a Dissertation Chair and with the advice of a Dissertation Committee. While the dissertation may be the result of research on which the candidate has collaborated with others, the candidate must be responsible for the design, analysis, and conduct of a study which represents an individual intellectual and creative contribution.