PhD Browser

PhD Building Science, Technology and Sustainability

Berkeley University of California
College of Environmental Design
Berkeley, California
United States
Sustainability, Construction & Technology

The Ph.D. in architecture is a research degree appropriate for those seeking careers in teaching and scholarship in architecture and its related areas, or in roles in government or professional consultation that require depth in specialization and experience in research. Berkeley’s Ph.D. program in architecture is interdisciplinary in outlook, reaching into the various disciplines related to architecture and incorporating substantial knowledge from outside fields. Students admitted to this program carry out a program of advanced study and research, both on the basis of formal class work and of individual investigation. Work centers on three related fields of study, the major field (the basis for the dissertation), and one-to-two minor fields, at least one of which must be from a discipline outside architecture.




The Building Science, Technology and Sustainability faculty at Berkeley study environmental quality in buildings, and ways of producing desirable environments in an energy – and resource – efficient manner. The environmental attributes studied (thermal, luminous, air quality, acoustic) have both physical and psychological dimensions. The intellectual objective of graduate research in building science is uncovering the processes by which a building affects its occupants, evaluating the human/economic/energy consequences of the effects, and incorporating this knowledge in new procedures to design more acceptable buildings.


A secondary objective is to prepare the student for a career involving building science, by having them participate in important funded research ongoing at Berkeley, and by engaging them in the activities of the professional societies where research is presented, debated, and put into forms that influence design practice




Environmental requirements for occupant: health, satisfaction, comfort, and productivity. We have worked extensively on thermal comfort standards appropriate for energy-conserving building design, on lighting and are also involved in ventilation and air quality standards. We have also developed climatic requirements for pedestrian safety and comfort in the outdoor environment.


Design of climatically-adapted buildings that conserve energy and that may help preserve (in naturally heated, cooled, lit and ventilated buildings) long-standing architectural traditions and patterns of habitation. Although the general principles by which such buildings operate are well-known, it is very difficult to predict their actual performance in terms acceptable to a designer. We have developed a number of computerized design methods to help put climatically-adapted architectural and energy efficient mechanical systems on a quantified footing.


Integrated and personalized conditioning systems to improve the energy efficiency and living quality in buildings, both at the large commercial and the residential scale. Our past work has concentrated on heating and ventilating, lighting, windows and glazing, and new solutions that provide occupants with control of their personal environments. We work on radiant and underfloor air distribution systems. We also develop technology and post occupancy survey techniques with which one can diagnose how well a building is performing.


Innovative structures and new fabrication techniques that transform the way buildings are designed, built, and operated. With this pioneering area, we are investigating a different approach to design and construction that integrates hitherto neglected structural behaviors such as bending and buckling as potential form-giving strategies for flexible and adaptive structural systems. By incorporating emerging building technologies such as elastic structures, smart materials, and 3D printing, we are exploring the potential of producing mass-customized functional parts that are tailor-made for their task and can provide a time and material-efficient alternative to traditional construction processes.



Parametric and generative design methods to support architects in designing sustainable buildings from early design stages. Design decisions with higher impact on future building energy consumption are typically made at conceptual stages. However, it has been difficult to develop ways to integrate energy and sustainability into those architecture design workflows. Taking advantage of recent developments in computational approaches, such as parametric and generative design, optimization through heuristics, and new evaluation metrics in daylighting and comfort, we develop innovative ways for early deployment of sustainability knowledge into pedagogical and professional practice.


Design and simulation in immersive environments allow architects to design and modify buildings within Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR) platforms. Following the creation of our AR/VR Architecture laboratory, we are developing methods to support interactive design in immersive environments, and to simulate environmental factors from inside VR models. Using state-of-the-art, research grade simulation software, our platforms enable architects to get immediate and accurate feedback on the impact of design decisions on the sustainability performance of their buildings.



Coursework is largely decided on an individual basis through consultation between the student and his or her advisor. In general, each student will be required to develop competence in a range of building science, technology and sustainability topics that border the main topic of interest. Students often participate in research projects conducted by the faculty for external sponsors. Thesis research can be structured in many ways, but must be based on an appropriate combination of theory, modeling, digital simulation, physical prototyping, and testing in the laboratory or field.


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Admission Requirements

NOTE: Details of these requirements are currently under discussion by the Ph.D. committee and will be updated when finalized. Program requirements will also be made available in a forthcoming student handbook.


The Ph.D. program in architecture is governed by the regulations of the University Graduate Division and administered by the departmental Ph.D. committee. Specific degree requirements include:


-A minimum of two years in residence.

-Completion of a one-semester course in research methods.

-Satisfaction of a foreign language requirement. Note: Language requirements for Ph.D. students are currently being discussed and may vary depending on the specialty area. Details will be forthcoming.

-Completion of one-to-two outside fields of study.

-A written qualifying examination, followed by an oral qualifying examination.

-A dissertation.



The College of Environmental Design’s admission cycle begins in September, when the UC Berkeley Graduate Division online application becomes available. Application deadlines are in December but vary by program, so be sure to check your program’s deadline. Admission is for the fall semester of the following year. CED does not offer spring-semester admission.


All applicants must submit the UC Berkeley Graduate Division online application. In addition, applicants to the graduate programs at CED must meet CED program prerequisites and submit all required application materials, including any supplemental materials such as portfolios or writing samples.




All application materials must be submitted via the UC Berkeley Graduate Division online application by your program’s deadline. Please be advised that Examination requirements vary by program, and some programs may require a portfolio of creative work or writing sample. Read our frequently asked questions, and contact our graduate program advisers if you have any questions.



Submit the UC Berkeley Graduate Division online application, completing all of its sections.

UC Berkeley begins accepting applications in early September for the following Fall term only and on a full-time basis.



This is your academic statement.

It should include a description of why you want to study your proposed subject field, why you want to study at UC Berkeley, and how our program can help you achieve your professional goals.
For additional information, see our frequently asked questions page.

*Note to Ph.D. applicants and applicants to the academic master’s degree programs: The admissions committee will read your Statement of Purpose seeking an account of your prior research experience and looking for evidence that you are prepared to undertake a significant, sophisticated, independent and in-depth research project.

Your competence and intellectual potential to undertake research is among the most important criteria considered by the admissions committee.


Architecture Ph.D. and Master of Science applicants should structure their Statement of Purpose as follows:


Part 1: Goals (500 words). A statement describing your general academic and career goals, the field(s) in which you would like to study, and why you wish to attend UC Berkeley in particular (you may want to refer to specific classes, faculty, or research projects that interest you). Your ideas should be clear, specific and persuasive.

Part 2: Research Proposal (500 words). An example of a specific research proposal that you may wish to undertake while at UC Berkeley. You may present a single proposal, or perhaps two alternates, about your dissertation Although you are not committed to do precisely what you propose (and, if fact, it is expected that your ideas will evolve during your studies), the committee will use this proposal to assess your ability to conceptualize a research plan. Your research proposal should succinctly frame a research question, articulate why it is important, demonstrate an understanding of the relevant literature and gaps in current knowledge, and identify what types of research methods one might apply to address the problem. If possible, identify faculty in architecture and/or other departments with whom you would like to work.


The Personal History Statement should convey how a combination of life experiences, idealism, role models, education and work experiences have influenced your decision to apply.
You may also include any educational, familial, cultural, economic or social experiences, challenges or opportunities relevant to your academic journey.

For tips on writing the Personal History Statement, see UC Berkeley’s Personal Statement Guide.


Architecture Ph.D. and Master of Science applicants should structure their Personal History Statement as follows:


This essay (500 words, maximum) is a narrative description of your life background in terms of how it has prepared you for this next stage of your studies.

It should describe relevant aspects of your life story and achievements, as well as educational and cultural opportunities or circumstances that supported or deprived you of such achievements; family background; economic circumstances; special interests and abilities; and community or social service involvement.

Throughout, be selective in describing things that specifically relate to your academic goals and intellectual pursuits.

In particular, please be sure to focus on details of your research experience, and how your background has prepared you for the next stage of your studies.


A minimum of three letters of recommendation must be submitted via the UC Berkeley Graduate Division online application by the application deadline.

Applicants may submit additional letters if desired.

The most helpful letters of recommendation are from individuals who have supervised the applicant’s work in either an academic, employment or community service capacity, and who can evaluate the applicant’s intellectual ability, creativity, initiative, leadership potential, and promise in your desired field.

Please follow the instructions on the online application for the online letter of recommendation submission process as only letters that are submitted online will be considered.

If your recommender is having trouble with the sumbitting online, please contact the department graduate advisor.


Applicants to the College of Environmental Design’s graduate programs may be required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and/or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)/International English Language Testing System (IELTS). See the table below for the examination(s) required by your program. Please plan ahead and schedule your examinations at least one month prior to the application deadline so that we may have timely receipt of your scores. It can take up to 2.5 weeks for your scores to be received and matched to your application.



Applicants taking the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) must have their official scores reported to the UC Berkeley Graduate Division by the Educational Testing Service (ETS).

Only GREs taken after June 2014 are valid.

There is no minimum score requirement.

The LSAT and GMAT cannot be substituted for the GRE.

To assist you in preparing to take the GRE, ETS offers a variety of free and low-cost tools.

Reservations for the GRE exam should be made in advance through: The Education Testing Service (ETS), P.O. Box 6000, Princeton, NJ 08541-6000, Phone: (609) 771-7670 or 1-800-GRE-CALL or


Our institution code is 4833.

You do not need to list a department code.


All applicants from countries in which the official language is not English must demonstrate Evidence of English Language Proficiency by taking the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Only TOEFL and IELTS taken after June 2017 are valid.

Minimum TOEFL scores required are 570 for the paper-based test and 90 for the internet-based test (iBT).

Minimum IELTS overall score required is 7.

You may sign up for the TOEFL through an agent in your country or through: TOEFL, CN6151, Princeton, NJ 08541-6151, Phone: (609) 771-7500 or

More information about evidence of English Language Proficiency, including qualifying for an exemption, can be found here.


Our institution code is 4833.

You do not need to list a department code.

We will only accept TOEFL tests administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and sent to us directly by the TOEFL office.


Submit an electronic or scanned copy of your unofficial transcript(s) in PDF format from every post-secondary school that you have attended, including community colleges, summer sessions, and extension programs.

If you studied abroad, either as part of an exchange program administered by your school or on your own, please upload each transcript separately.

Please make sure that transcript images are properly rotated, and not sideways or upside-down, and remove your Social Security number and birth date before submittal.

If you accept your offer of admission, all official transcripts of all college-level work will be required to be sent to the Graduate Admissions Office (318 Sproul Hall).


A Grade Point Average (G.P.A.) of 3.0 or better (on a 4-point scale) in the last two years of undergraduate study (also known as your advanced G.P.A.).

Please calculate your advanced G.P.A. (last two years of undergraduate study).

For those applicants whose undergraduate university does not use a 4-point scale, the calculation of an advanced GPA is not required.

If this applies to your previous institution(s), please enter “N/A” in the GPA section.


Submit an electronic copy of your resume or curriculum vitae in PDF format, reflecting your work experience, education, publications, awards, community/volunteer experiences and any other relevant information.

We advise students to be detailed and expansive.



A recent publication, report or writing sample must be submitted by applicants

-The publication, report or writing sample should support the applicant’s Statement of Purpose and clearly demonstrate research and writing abilities and/or analytical skills.

-Publication, report or writing sample must be saved as a single file in PDF format, 50 pages maximum (no minimum page requirement), and submitted via the UC Berkeley Graduate Division online application. Filesize must be no larger than 10MB.


– The application fee is not refundable.

If you are a U.S. Citizen or current Permanent Resident, the application fee is $105.

For all others, the fee is $125.

– Eligible applicants (U.S. Citizens or current Permanent Residents) may apply for an application fee waiver.

The form to request a fee waiver is included in the payment section of the online application.

To be considered, applicants need to select the waiver payment option before submitting the online application.

Unfortunately, there are no fee waiver options for international applicants.

– Applications that do not submit a payment or fee waiver application by the application deadline will note be reviewed and thus will not be considered for admission.


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General information
2 years full time
Gail S. Brager
Not Confirmed
+1 (510) 642-4942
230 Wurster Hall #1820 Berkeley, CA 94720–1820
Campus Location
The information of this PhD was extracted from the Official Website of the program.
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