Taubman College

Ph.D. in Architecture / Overview


Description and Objectives

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Architecture degree is the highest degree offered in architectural research and scholarship. Students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct substantive and original work in a specialized area that creates a deeper and broader understanding of the discipline of architecture, including its theoretical and methodological bases, and contributes to its development.

Doctoral students come from a variety of backgrounds. They are graduates with the professional M.Arch. or B.Arch. and/or the post-professional M.S. Some are continuing students, others are mid-career professionals, or while some already hold academic positions. However, all have in common a demonstrated ability to conduct research in a specific area in architecture. Furthermore all share a commitment to achieve and maintain expertise in that area through study, research, and scholarship, not only during doctoral studies, but also later on as the core activity of their professional careers. For most this is united with a desire to teach, and upon graduation they go on to take positions in four-year colleges and research universities. A number however return to professional design practice or gain positions in research institutions. Whether as academics, researchers, or architects; working alone or collaboratively; disseminating their work through teaching, publication, or practice—Ph.D. graduates are able and ready to pursue specialized, rigorous research and scholarship at the highest level.

The doctoral curriculum is structured to enable students to pursue coursework in a major area of specialization, as well as in a minor area that complements and supports it, guided by major and minor advisors respectively. It culminates in highly specialized and original dissertation research, supported by major, minor, and cognate committee members from within the university, but also in some cases outside of it.

Major And Minor Areas of Specialization

Each Ph.D. student identifies a major and a minor area of specialization, and works with faculty advisors associated with each area.

The major is one of the three areas of specialization within Doctoral Studies: Building Technology, Design Studies, and History and Theory. The student is advised by a faculty member from that area, and takes core and other coursework as well as writes a dissertation within that area.

Note: Building Technology, Design Studies, and History and Theory are called "subplans" in the Rackham online application.

The minor is a subject area that is distinct from but complements the major. The minor can be in one of the other two areas within Doctoral Studies, in Urban and Regional Planning, or within another University of Michigan department, program, or center. The student is advised by a faculty member in the minor area. Coursework in the minor must be approved for Rackham graduate credit, deemed appropriate by the Doctoral Studies Advisory Committee, and approved by the major advisor. Minor areas of specialization that students have pursued include:

  • American Culture
  • Anthropology
  • Behavior, Education, and Communication
  • History
  • History of Art
  • Information Technology
  • Information and Media Integration
  • Material Sciences and Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Middle Eastern Studies
  • Museum Studies
  • Organizational Behavior and Management
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Psychology
  • Public Health
  • Sociology
  • Sustainability
  • Urban Planning
  • Urban Planning History
  • Women’s Studies

Cognate courses may be used in partial fulfillment of the major or minor areas of specialization, if approved by the Advisory Committee. Cognates, required by Rackham Graduate School, are courses that are in a discipline or area different from the student’s major area of study, but are related or connected with some aspect of this area. They may include course offerings within Taubman College that are outside of the student’s major area of specialization, as well as courses offered by other units/departments on campus.

Visit How To Apply for information on the application process and online forms.

Students can pursue their minor area in even greater depth by enrolling in a certificate program offered in that subject.