PhD Overview

PhD studies with a major in architecture develop knowledge and technologies that enhance design imagination and the design process; articulate design choices and predict the consequences of design decisions; help to learn from precedents; support better building performance; and situate the practice of architecture within a critical understanding of culture, history, and the profession.  Our program includes concentrations in Design Computation, Evidence-Based Design, Building Technology and Performance, History and Culture, Urban Design and Cognitive and Organizational Performance. In each of these concentrations we intersect the perspectives of architectural design, science, technology, and the humanities even as we expect individual research projects to rigorously pursue specific disciplinary agendas. With sixty-seven students currently enrolled and seventy graduates (1987-2009), we are one of the largest PhD programs in architecture in the country.

Admission to the program is competitive and based on merit, taking into account the fit between applicants’ intentions and lines of research and scholarship active in the program. Excellent academic performance, GRE scores, and command of English—whether as a first or as a second language—are prerequisites. Incoming students often have a good record of creative work, documented through published papers or projects. We encourage potential applicants to study closely our Web site to ensure that there is a good fit between their interests and the active research and scholarship of our faculty.

Our demanding program of studies is designed to address motivated, imaginative, technically proficient, and dedicated students whose work embodies the highest standards of rigor and intellectual integrity. We are proud that, at the time of their thesis defenses, many of our PhD candidates have a strong track record of achievement in publications, research, and teaching and are ready to lead their fields. Thirty-seven graduates hold academic positions, nine hold senior positions in major architectural firms, and the rest work in consulting, government, or research organizations.

In the first two or three years of residence, students take courses to satisfy the requirements of a major and a minor field of study and the core requirement of the program, as well as additional electives (a minimum of forty-six credit hours in total). The minimum residency requirement is four semesters, not including summer semesters.

The first major step in their progress through the program is the completion of a qualifying paper of a standard suitable for publication in a refereed journal. The second major step is the written comprehensive examination in their selected major and minor areas of study.  After satisfying program requirements regarding course work, qualifying paper, and comprehensive examination, students move on to preparing a thesis topic and research proposal which is presented and defended in a public event. With the successful defense of the thesis topic and research proposal, students are admitted to candidacy. Finally, the completed thesis is defended in a public examination involving external examiners in addition to the members of the committee. Upon successful completion of the thesis defense the program recommends the awarding of the PhD degree.

Students are subject to Georgia Tech policies and procedures for graduate education as established by the Georgia Tech Faculty Senate. In addition, students must observe the stipulations of the PhD program handbook, as well as any additional stipulations that apply to a given area of study.

Read  the School of Architecture PhD Handbook.