PhD in Architecture

A Ph.D. in Architecture program focuses on the theoretical and historical sides of the field. Learn more about what this graduate program examines, and discover typical courses, specializations and what you need to be considered for admission. Schools offering AutoCAD Drafting & Design Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are the Degree Requirements?

In a Ph.D. in Architecture program, you'll spend at least two years of your studies developing expertise in an area of concentration. You may also be required to complete one or two minor areas of study in architecture or a field related to your concentration, such as sociology, art history or psychology. In addition, you'll likely take courses in research methods and one or two foreign languages.

The time required to complete Ph.D. requirements varies, but generally ranges from 4-7 years. One determining factor is whether you enter with a bachelor's or master's degree in architecture or a related field. Upon completion of your course of study, you'll typically take both written and oral qualifying examinations.

Once preliminary coursework is completed, the primary factor in time to degree completion is the complexity of your dissertation and how successfully you're able to organize your research and efforts to complete and defend it before a committee. The crux of the Ph.D. program is successfully proposing, completing and defending a dissertation, making an original contribution to your field.

Degree Overview 4-7 years completion time, studies in an area of concentration, completing a dissertation
Admissions Criteria Bachelor's degree, master's degree, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, official transcripts
Common Courses Building systems, research methods, urban landscapes, urbanization in developing countries, history of architectural theory
Specialization Areas Organizational and cognitive performance, building construction, social and cultural processes in architecture and urbanism, architectural history

What Are the Admissions Requirements?

Specific admissions requirements vary by university, but most share common themes. Generally, Ph.D. in Architecture programs are open to applicants who have earned a bachelor's or master's degree in architecture or a related field, such as urban design or landscape architecture. A degree in architecture isn't necessary to apply; however, some programs require that you take a semester-long course in architectural design if you lack this experience. If you have a master's degree, you may be eligible for advanced credit according to the conditions of the university. Other potential admissions requirements include a formal application, goal statement, biography, GRE scores, letters of recommendation and official transcripts.

What Courses Will I Take?

The majority of courses in a Ph.D. program in architecture are electives, so that you may pursue your concentration and unique areas of interest in this multidisciplinary field of study. Generally, programs require that you take between 16 and 20 courses to prepare for qualifying exams and a successful dissertation. If you have a Master of Architecture degree, the amount of required courses may be less. In addition to the examples of graduate-level architecture courses that follow, you'll take language and research methods courses.

  • History of American architecture
  • Urban landscapes
  • Building systems
  • Urbanization in developing countries
  • Research methods
  • Place and culture
  • History of architectural theory
  • Historic site documentation

What Areas of Specialization Can I Pursue?

As a doctoral architecture student, you'll select an area of concentration that may have a technical, theoretical or historical orientation. You may be attracted to an architecture school with well-established research centers in areas that include historic preservation, urban research or sustainable building. Research centers provide opportunities for Ph.D. candidates to develop expertise in their areas of study, by working with established authorities in these and other areas of architectural scholarship specialization, including:

  • Architectural history
  • Building construction
  • Organizational and cognitive performance
  • Design theories, methods and practices
  • Social and cultural processes in architecture and urbanism
  • Environmental design and urbanism in developing countries

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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Popular Schools

  • University of Pennsylvania

    Campus Locations:

    • Pennsylvania: Philadelphia
  • Florida State University

    Campus Locations:

    • Florida: Tallahassee
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

    Campus Locations:

    • Virginia: Blacksburg
  • Yale University

    Campus Locations:

    • Connecticut: New Haven
  • West Virginia University

    Campus Locations:

    • West Virginia: Morgantown
  • Washington University in St Louis

    Campus Locations:

    • Missouri: Saint Louis
  • University of Southern Mississippi

    Campus Locations:

    • Mississippi: Hattiesburg
  • University of Rochester

    Campus Locations:

    • New York: Rochester
  • University of North Carolina at Greensboro

    Campus Locations:

    • North Carolina: Greensboro
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte

    Campus Locations:

    • North Carolina: Charlotte