PH.D Program in Architecture Program Requirements


Ordinarily, a student with a master's degree in architecture or equivalent may expect up to two terms of Advanced Standing (30 points).  All students are required to complete a minimum of four Residence Units, during which time they are expected to take thirteen courses (39 credit points), of which eight must be taken for a letter grade, and of which at least ten must be seminars.  Given the overall aims of the program, students are encouraged to pursue coursework in two main areas:  the history and theory of architecture and urbanism, and cultural history and critical theory.

Coursework should be spread out over the first four semesters of study, with a typical load being eight courses in the first year and five in the second year.  In addition to one elective course chosen by the student, the distribution pattern for the course-work is as follows:

Doctoral Colloquia

One dedicated PhD seminar (8000 level) in each spring semester of the four-semester sequence.  These must be taken for a letter grade

Ph.D. Seminars

One dedicated Ph.D. seminar (8000 level) in each spring semester of the four-semester sequence. These must be taken for a letter grade.

History And Theory Of Architecture, Urbanism, And Landscape Architecture

Two graduate-level courses in the history and theory of modern and contemporary architecture, urbanism, and landscape architecture, in addition to the Ph.D. seminars and colloquia. 

Two graduate-level courses in the history and theory of architecture, urbanism, and landscape covering eighteenth- and/or nineteenth-century subjects, and one course in this area covering a period prior to 1700. All courses may be western or non-western in scope.

Students with extensive, prior graduate-level experience in any of the above subjects may request a waiver of certain requirements, to be granted at the discretion of the program director in consultation with the faculty.


At least one graduate-level course in a department within the University other than Architecture or Art History, generally with an emphasis on comparative historical and critical studies, and at least three open electives.


The Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation uses a High Pass/Low Pass/Fail grading system. Ph.D. students, however, must receive letter grades.

No more than 15 of the 39 points of required work can be taken for an R credit. Grades of "incomplete" are strongly discouraged. Any student who receives a grade of "incomplete" must complete all outstanding coursework before the beginning of the next academic year. Those who do not meet these terms will be required to take a leave of absence at their own expense to complete all necessary coursework. All students are expected to meet the requirements of Satisfactory Academic Progress as stipulated by the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, http://gsas.columbia.edu/content/satisfactory-academic-progress#phd.

M. Phil Degree

The degree of Master of Philosophy is conferred on students who have passed the comprehensive examinations prior to defending their dissertation proposal.

Advancement to the M. Phil. is contingent upon completion of required course work and upon adequate reading ability in two languages other than English. It is recommended that at least one of the two languages be chosen in relation to the student's area of specialization.

The four-semester course of study concludes with the M. Phil. examination, which must is generally taken in the third year. The M. Phil. examination covers a major and a minor field of study and is divided into three sections:

1) Three revised research papers based on course work, chosen to reflect the student's research interests and experience to date.
2) Two essays written in response to two of three specific questions formulated by the examining committee based on bibiliographies submitted for the major and minor fields. Preparation of these bibliographies in consultation with faculty is an important component of the M.Phil. One of the essays shall pertain to the major field and one to the minor field. The essays are to be completed in a two-week period and submitted at least one week prior to the oral examination.
3) The oral examination, based on parts 1 and 2, above.

Major and minor fields are to be determined in consultation with the program faculty. The major field should be relatively broad and comparative, covering at least a century in time. The minor field should focus on another topic, historical or theoretical in character, distinct from the major field. Either the major or minor field may define a general context for dissertation research.

The examining committee will typically be composed of three members, two covering the major field and one covering the minor field. In general, at least two members of the examining committee should be drawn from the Ph.D. program committee or from the affiliated faculty. Each member of the committee will be responsible for one question.

Ph.D Dissertation

Within six months of successfully completing the qualifying examination, each student defends his or her dissertation proposal before a faculty committee. Prior to submitting a dissertation proposal, each student selects a Ph.D. dissertation sponsor to act as a guide during the course of dissertation research and for the dissertation defense. The faculty committee is typically composed of the student’s dissertation sponsor and two other readers, at least one of whom should be from the Ph.D. program committee or approved affiliated faculty.

Following successful defense of the dissertation proposal, the candidate is free to pursue his or her research topic independently, in ongoing consultation with the dissertation sponsor and other faculty. It is expected that the dissertation be completed within three years of the approval of the proposal.

The dissertation must be submitted four weeks before the dissertation defense, per GSAS procedure. A copy is to be provided for each member of the examining committee. This committee ordinarily consists of five members, at least three of whom are drawn from the Ph.D. committee or affiliated faculty. One member of the committee must be from outside the GSAPP. The student is granted the Ph.D. upon defending the dissertation successfully and depositing the final copy in accordance with University regulations.

Teaching Requirement

Participation in the instructional activities of the department for three years is required. As a rule, in the second, third, and either fourth or fifth years of study, students gain exposure to teaching as assistants to professors, as section leaders, and as instructors. There are also opportunities for students to gain experience in curating exhibitions and in editing publications.

Financial Aid

A comprehensive program of financial aid is provided. Assuming that they maintain satisfactory academic standing for the duration of their five-year enrollment, all students receive a full tuition fellowship and a stipend to assist with living expenses.

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