Doctor of Philosophy Program

Joan Ockman, Director of Doctoral Studies

Fields of Study

The doctoral program in Architecture currently offers two tracks of study: History and Theory of Architecture, and Ecosystems in Architectural Sciences. Both tracks aim to educate teachers capable of effectively instructing future architects in their own field and its manifold connections with the culture at large. The program forges a unique combination of professional knowledge with a historical and analytical grasp of architecture, deepening awareness of the field’s current state and the critical issues it faces.

The History and Theory track provides sound training in historical study and historiography, and cultivates understanding of intellectual trends that inform the reception and role of architecture in the world at large. It prepares candidates for careers in university teaching, cultural advocacy and administration, museum curatorship, and publishing, among others. Students draw on a wide range of disciplines including, but not limited to, the history of science and technology, social and political history, media theory, as well as the fine arts, literature, and popular culture.

The Ecosystems in Architectural Sciences track provides preparation in interdisciplinary scientific inquiry, qualifying students to incorporate scientific methods into experimental design frameworks in order to research and develop novel material and informational ecosystems. Students in this track engage in research related to the behaviors of living ecosystems, emphasizing their interconnection with the built environment.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must have a master’s degree or equivalent in Architecture, Engineering, Environmental Design, or, exceptionally, a related field. They should specify to which track of the program—History and Theory of Architecture, or Ecosystems in Architectural Sciences—they seek admission. Two years of professional work in an architecture office are recommended. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test taken no more than five years prior to application is required. All applicants whose native language is not English are required to take the Internet-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL iBT), which includes a section on spoken English. The TOEFL requirement may be waived only for applicants who, prior to matriculation at Yale, will have received a baccalaureate degree or its international equivalent from a college or university where English is the primary language of instruction. Applicants must have studied in residence at the baccalaureate institution for at least three years to receive the waiver. A waiver will not be granted on the basis of an advanced degree (such as M.A., M.S., or Ph.D.) from another institution.

In addition to meeting qualifying criteria, candidates are required as part of the application to submit a portfolio of their own architectural work; a writing sample in the form of a substantial research paper or publication; and an explanation of their motivation for engaging in their chosen course of study. Qualified applicants may be invited to interview with a member of the doctoral faculty.

The portfolio should be a well-edited representation of the applicant’s creative work. Portfolios may not contain videos. Anything submitted that is not entirely the applicant’s own work must be clearly identified as such. The portfolio is submitted digitally as a single pdf document optimized not to exceed 20MB and will need to be uploaded as part of the online application. Pages of the pdf portfolio should be uploaded as spreads. The digital portfolio will be viewed on computer screens, so resolution above 150 dpi is not necessary.

The Ph.D. program is administered by the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. For questions regarding admissions, please contact

The Application Process

The online application can be accessed at, when it is available. Applications for the program beginning in the 2021–2022 academic year must be submitted no later than January 2, 2021. Applicants will not be allowed to submit applications after the deadline has passed.

Special Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree

Entering students with sound professional preparation engage in a concerted course of study that leads directly to dissertation research and a doctoral degree.

Students are required to be full-time and in residence in the New Haven area during the first three academic years. (See Degree Requirements under Policies and Regulations in the bulletin of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.) Students in both tracks of the program take twelve graduate and Ph.D. seminars for credit. In the History and Theory track, these include a Ph.D. seminar taught in each of the first four terms by a member of the School of Architecture faculty that introduces the student to various methodologies and areas of study. Some seminars encourage primary research on a specific topic. Others offer a survey of historiographic approaches or focus on the reading of a body of texts. The four required seminars (ARCH 551, ARCH 552, ARCH 553, ARCH 554) form the methodological foundation of the program. In the Ecosystems in Architectural Sciences track, the requirements in the initial two years include four Ecosystems in Architectural Sciences seminars, ARCH 558, ARCH 559, ARCH 568, and ARCH 569.

All students are encouraged to take courses related to their specific areas of interest outside the School of Architecture. For example, a student working on Italian modernism would be encouraged to take a course in Italian history or culture. Likewise, a student working on biodiversity in urban contexts might take courses in the School of the Environment. Typically, at least two of the eight elective seminars would be in related fields. Students can also opt to do independent readings with individual faculty members related to their specific areas of interest.

Not later than the end of their second year, students are also expected to demonstrate competence in at least one foreign language relevant to their field of study. Language competence is more than a formality and requires some acquaintance with literature in the chosen language. Competency may be demonstrated by a grade of B or better in a full-year intermediate-level language course, or through examination.

The student’s field of interest within either the History and Theory of Architecture track or the Ecosystems in Architectural Sciences track is defined by the end of the second year, by which point all course and language requirements are normally completed. At this time the director of doctoral studies (DDS) assigns the student a thesis adviser, who may or may not be from the School of Architecture. During the fall term of the third year, students undergo three oral examinations on topics relevant to their doctoral research, in the presence of the thesis adviser. Following successful completion of the examinations, the DDS, in consultation with the student’s adviser, appoints a dissertation committee for the student. The dissertation committee consists of the student’s adviser plus two additional faculty members. One of the dissertation committee members typically comes from outside the School of Architecture, with selection based on the student’s area of interest.

By the end of the third year, students are required to present and defend their preliminary proposal of a dissertation topic. This prospectus should consist of a topic statement, an outline of a detailed program of research, and an annotated bibliography. Students are admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. upon completion of all predissertation requirements, including the prospectus and oral examinations. At this point, they begin dissertation research and writing, submitting drafts of the dissertation chapters as they are completed. The dissertation committee guides and monitors the student’s progress in writing the dissertation and evaluates the dissertation upon completion.

The Ph.D. program is designed to be completed in five years. However, if the dissertation has not been completed by the end of the fifth year and if, at that time, the program certifies that the candidate will complete the dissertation by August of the following academic year, the candidate may be eligible to take a teaching position in the School of Architecture or elsewhere in the University and extend funding for up to an additional nine months.

Graduate Research Assistant and Teaching Fellow Experience

The program in Architecture considers teaching to be an important part of graduate training. Students in the Ph.D. program in Architecture are expected to teach or serve as research assistants for four terms, normally in their third and fourth years. During these four terms, it is anticipated that a student in the History and Theory track will teach in two survey courses in the student’s area of study at the School of Architecture or elsewhere in the University and teach in two design studios at the School of Architecture. Students in the Ecosystems in Architectural Sciences track are expected to serve as both teaching fellows in the School of Architecture and research assistants in the School’s Center for Ecosystems in Architecture. All assignments are carried out under the direct supervision of senior faculty.

Master’s Degree

M.Phil. The Master of Philosophy degree is awarded en route to the Ph.D. The minimum requirement for this degree is the completion of all requirements for the Ph.D., with the exception of the teaching or research assignments and the dissertation.

Required Courses

History and Theory of Architecture Track

551a, Ph.D. Seminar I 1 credit. (Required in, and limited to, Ph.D. first year, fall term.) This seminar centers on a thorough examination of fundamental ideas of historiography, centering on Rome and exploring aspects of geology, culture, mapping, site development, the establishment of institutions, and the construction of buildings across several millennia, as well as a study of literature on the urbs and its worldwide impact. Faculty

552b, Ph.D. Seminar II 1 credit. (Required in, and limited to, Ph.D. first year, spring term.) This seminar centers on concepts of history and their application to architecture from Jacob Burckhardt to the present and a close reading of historiographic theories, including ethnography, modernity, and the emergence of the profession of architecture in the light of present-day critique. Faculty

553a, Ph.D. Seminar III 1 credit. (Required in, and limited to, Ph.D. second year, fall term.) Seminar content to be announced. Faculty

554b, Ph.D. Dissertation Preparation 1 credit. (Required in, and limited to, Ph.D. second year, spring term.) Ph.D. tutoring in preparation for oral examinations and formulation of a thesis topic. Faculty

Ecosystems in Architectural Sciences Track

558a, Ph.D. Seminar: Ecosystems in Architecture I 1 credit. (Required in, and limited to, Ph.D. first year, fall term.)

559b, Ph.D. Seminar: Ecosystems in Architecture II 1 credit. (Required in, and limited to, Ph.D. first year, spring term.)

568a, Ph.D. Seminar: Ecosystems in Architecture III 1 credit. (Required in, and limited to, Ph.D. second year, fall term.)

569b, Ph.D. Seminar: Ecosystems in Architecture IV 1 credit. (Required in, and limited to, Ph.D. second year, spring term.)

Summer Preparation Courses

In the week before the beginning of the School of Architecture fall term, the School of Architecture offers two preparation courses that are required of incoming Ph.D. students. (These courses are offered online during the fall term for 2020–2021.)

  1. Summer Digital Media Orientation Course. This half-day orientation covers accessing the School’s servers, use of the School’s equipment, and the School’s digital media policies and procedures.
  2. Arts Library Research Methodology Course. This course covers research methodologies and tools specific to the Ph.D. curriculum.