CCCP Thesis Requirements

The second year of the CCCP program is dedicated primarily to the research and writing/production of a final thesis. This can take the form of: a written thesis on a historical or theoretical topic; a portfolio of critical writings; a print-based demonstration and visualization of rigorous, original research, or; it could involve the conceptualization, design, and a detailed prospectus and documentation for, or when feasible the production of, an exhibition, publication, institute, major event, web-based initiative, time-based project, etc. Regardless of format, it must contain evidence of substantive research and conceptual rigor, and involve a written component and other materials that can be submitted in the form of a bound document in its final presentation. Each student conducts his/her research independently, under the supervision of a faculty advisor, as well as participating in mid-term and final reviews each semester.

The thesis is intended to be the culmination of a CCCP student's education and work at the GSAPP. It provides the opportunity to undertake and develop a project in detail, a project that demonstrates the student's capacity to make a significant and original contribution to the field of architecture (or a closely related discipline), and which allows them to synthesize their critical approach, experience, and expertise in a relevant format of his/her choice. In this regard it is also conceived as an opportunity to build on and demonstrate critical and research skills that will be relevant to subsequent pursuit of a professional or academic career, whether as an architectural critic, theorist, journalist, historian, editor, publisher, curator, gallerist, institute director, teacher, designer, research-based practitioner, etc. Concomitant with the ambitions of the CCCP program more generally, emphasis is on forging new critical, theoretical, and historical tools, and producing new concepts and strategies for researching, displaying, and disseminating modern and contemporary architecture and closely related fields.


Students are responsible for identifying and contacting an advisor for their thesis by the beginning of the second year of the program. It is important that students choose an advisor who is able to critically contribute to the development of the thesis during the year including: reviewing the thesis prospectus; meeting periodically, as per requirements of the student; attending mid-term and final reviews in both the Fall and Spring semester; and grading student's work in consultation with CCCP director.

The thesis is typically undertaken under the supervision of a GSAPP faculty member. In special cases, and subject to approval by the program director, a student's thesis might be supervised by an appropriate outside qualified specialist, such as a curator, critic, or editor.


In the Fall semester, students begin by developing a 3-5 page written prospectus under the supervision of their primary advisor. This document should:

1. Introduce the project, including setting out its critical stakes or ambitions, its relation and intended contribution to the field or mode of practice in which it participates, its general scope and proposed content, its format, its intended audience, and any other important characteristics of the work.

2. Identify the theoretical or methodological framework through which you will approach the thesis, including a bibliography or list of relevant or related work and key resources (whether they be archives, libraries, institutions, technologies, spaces, buildings, faculty, other experts, etc.) This part of the document can also indicate the other courses a student intends to take during the second year which relate to the development of their thesis.

3. Outline a schedule for the development of research during the Fall semester and for the writing or production of the thesis during the Spring semester. This should indicate both a set of self-imposed deadlines and those of the program, and it should clarify the format and scope of each phase of the thesis, including what will be presented at each of the four reviews (described below). While this schedule might change during the course of the thesis year as the work develops, it should be set out as a guideline to direct the work and, along with the collective reviews, keep the student on schedule. The completed prospectus must be submitted to both the CCCP Director and the student's advisor by the end of the fourth week of the Fall semester. It can be updated during the year and serves as something like a syllabus for the project.


Students will be required to present their thesis project four times during the course of the year. In the Fall semester there will be a collective mid-term and a final review of each student's research. In the Spring semester there will be a mid-term and final review of the overall project in a format appropriate to the work. In addition to being attended by all students, these reviews will include the CCCP Director, the advisors, and invited critics. Students are encouraged to suggest names for invited critics to the CCCP Director.

At each review students make a 15-minute presentation for the purpose of feedback and discussion of their thesis. The presentation format can vary according to the format of the thesis, but in all cases should include a succinct thesis statement, and an indication of working method, and proposed contribution to the field. The ambition, as with any review, is not only to present the work to a more public audience but also to get feedback for further development.

End of Year Exhibition

Students are required to display some aspect of their thesis at the GSAPP's End of Year Show. This will vary according to the nature and format of the project. Students will coordinate with each other and with the Director of Exhibitions in preparing this installation.

Format and Final Documentation Requirements

The specifications of the final thesis documentation varies according to the format of each project and any specific requirements detailed by the student's advisor. The following are provided as general guidelines of what is expected.

1. History/Theory
Expectation: 12-15,000 word, illustrated documentation of a carefully researched and argued written thesis.

2. Exhibition
Expectation: Approximately 80-100 page document including detailed prospectus for the exhibition along with schematic design, identification of key objects and other media, key wall texts, and other elements such as a pamphlet or catalog. The written component should include a text equivalent to a catalog essay.

3. Criticism
Expectation: 12-15,000 word, illustrated document, which includes an introduction to the work, along with 8-10 individual pieces of criticism which together demonstrate the development of an original critical voice and position, and an understanding of the history and state of the field.

4. Research and Visualization
Expectation: Approximately 80-100 page, illustrated document including introductory text and extensive and developed form of visualization of an original research topic.

5. Publication
Expectation: this could range from producing an issue 0 of a magazine or journal, to a well-developed catalog or book proposal, including a significant text component, design (or design guidelines) along with detailed evaluation of funding, audience, contribution to the field, etc.

6. Institution
Expectation: 12,000-15,000 word document outlining in detail the nature and operation of a proposed institution dedicated to architecture or a related field. This might include a carefully developed set of framing documents outlining its ambitions and mandate, and its proposed contribution to its field, as well as situating the institute within a broader framework of related institutions, both contemporary and historical. It should also describe the institutional structure, identify possible funding sources, location, activities, etc.

7. Other
To be approved in consultation with advisor and CCCP Director.

Regardless of format, each thesis must have at least a short written component, which builds upon the student's prospectus and includes other relevant documentation produced during the year. This needs to be bound and produced in triplicate: one copy for the advisor, one for the records of the CCCP program, and one for the student's own records.

Requirements of Thesis and Method of Evaluation

Theses will be assessed according the following criteria:

  • -Clear articulation of the stakes of the project and evidence of a strong understanding of its contribution and relevance to the field(s).
  • -Evidence of extensive research and a strong understanding of the material under study and its critical context. Knowledge of existing work in the field and reference to it.
  • -Evidence of an innovative approach to the topic or format.
  • -Evidence of a strong understanding of the history and contemporary importance of the practices the thesis relates to, and a self-consciousness regarding how the work is situated within such critical, discursive, institutional, and/or historical contexts.
  • -Clear argument or "thesis."
  • -Appropriate acknowledgement of sources and accurate citations.
  • -Clarity of presentation, including verbal and visual components.