Doctor of Philosophy in Architecture with Specialization in History and Theory of Architecture

52 credit hours beyond the master’s degree (master’s degree required)
Written qualifying examination
Comprehensive examination
Dissertation and oral defense
Reading knowledge of two foreign languages (generally German, French, or Italian)

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Architecture program is for those individuals who desire to pursue careers in academia and/or in research-based professional practice. As the most advanced academic degree, the Ph.D. recognizes both the highest level of expertise and the production of significant novel work. The program, which is offered in two tracks, Technologies of the Built Environment (TBE) and History, Theory, and Criticism (HTC), demands a deep understanding of the related theories in contemporary intellectual terrain, a command of advanced research methodologies, and a commitment to critical inquiry that extends the frontiers of knowledge.

The program begins with advanced coursework and culminates in a dissertation that is the result of extensive, original, and rigorous research and thought. The Ph.D. program grows out of the school’s collective commitment to progressive research that is grounded in the realities of the workplace and devoted to contesting existing values and ideologies. Doctoral students also have the opportunity to participate in the experiments of design studios and later help guide these efforts in mentoring roles, helping to shape the debate within the college through their involvement in the college’s “advanced studio.”

Admission Requirements

An applicant to the doctoral program generally must hold a professional Master of Architecture degree (M.Arch.), or Master of Science in Architecture (M.S.Arch.) from a NAAB-accredited U.S. university or Master of Landscape Architecture (M.L.A.) from an LAAB-accredited U.S. university or the equivalent. Students with graduate degrees in allied fields, such as engineering and art history, are also eligible. Students holding a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.) can apply through the Master of Science program at the College of Architecture.

The applicant should meet all entrance requirements of the university’s Graduate College, plus a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale, a TOEFL score of at least 80/550, and at least three letters of recommendation from immediate supervising professors. The applicant should also submit a statement of purpose indicating a subject of study or research work and should provide a portfolio demonstrating the qualities of their accomplishments and expertise.

Degree Requirements

The program requires a minimum of 52 credit hours usually completed in three-and-a-half to four years beyond the M.Arch. degree. The majority of the coursework will be selected from the curriculum within the College of Architecture, though students are encouraged to have their research find connections to other doctoral programs at the university.

Upon completion of the first academic year, the candidate will be required to pass a qualifying examination in both written and oral formats. The student is also required to take and pass a comprehensive examination, often at the end of the second year, before they will officially be admitted to Ph.D. candidacy. At the end of the program, the candidate will take a final examination which will consist of an oral presentation and defense of the dissertation. Current areas of study include urban energy modeling, high-rise and long-span buildings, technology applications, energy conscious design, emerging urbanisms, housing, history/theory, and advanced computer applications. Work for the Ph.D. must be completed within six years after admission to doctoral candidacy.


All students will enter the program with a master’s degree, hence the minimum credit hours of Ph.D. study is 52. The first doctoral methodology course (ARCH 601) is taken in the first semester of the first year; the second doctoral methodology course (ARCH 602) is directed to the preparation of the comprehensive exam proposal. 

Required Courses (22)
ARCH 500Global Modernism3
ARCH 501Contemporary Architecture3
ARCH 502Advanced Topics in History and Theory I3
ARCH 503Advanced Topics in History and Theory II3
ARCH 595Research in Progress Forum 14
ARCH 601Research Methodologies3
ARCH 602Crafting a Dissertation3
Electives (14)
Select 14 credit hours 214
Ph.D. Research (16)
ARCH 691Doctoral Research 316
Master's Transfer Coursework (32)
A maximum of 32 credit hours may be transferred from master's degree. In certain cases, 10 additional semester credits of applicable graduate transfer work may be considered. It is the responsibility of the student to initiate this consideration, which requires a full course-to-course articulation (using eForms for Graduate Degree Works).32
Total Credit Hours84

The one credit ARCH 595 course must be taken four times (usually during the first four semesters). 


Electives will be tailored to the student’s particular field of study. For instance, a student working on the social dimension of architectural thought might take higher level courses in the social sciences or humanities. Electives include the special projects or directed readings course (ARCH 597). Students may also choose from 400-level or above ARCH, AURB, or LA courses, as well as the following courses from other university departments: CAE 597MMAE 597, or PHIL 597.


CAE 691 and MMAE 691 credits will also be accepted towards Ph.D. research hour requirements.