PhD Browser

PhD in Architecture

University of Michigan
Taubman College of Architecture
Ann Arbor, Michigan
United States
Architecture & Design

The Ph.D. in Architecture was one of only four such programs in the United States when it was established in 1969, the first to offer the Doctorate of Architecture degree.




The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) invites applicants who wish to investigate architecture and the built environment in focused projects that unfold over a span of years. Students embarking on a doctorate conduct original research that yields new insights into past, current, and future developments of architecture and building practices. Doctoral Studies promotes independent critical thinkers and research specialists across a range of fields within the increasingly broad fields of architecture and the built environment.


The University of Michigan’s Ph.D. in Architecture was one of only four such programs in the United States when it was established in 1968. Since that date, the program has continued to evolve in response to changes in the discipline and the profession. Studies currently underway at Michigan testify to rapidly shifting disciplinary boundaries and increasingly global outlooks in the field overall but particularly in areas in which our faculty are strong, such as global modernism, media practices in architecture, space syntax, structural modeling, envelope design, and urban history. Michigan’s remarkable research facilities allow our students to develop interdisciplinary research projects with partners across campus. The Horace H. Rackham Graduate School awards the Ph.D., generally after five or six years of study.


The architecture school environment continues to provide Doctoral Studies with a rich supporting context, ranging from robust lecture and seminar series, to remarkable technical facilities that support spatial and numeric data and global information systems as well as fabrication and testing facilities. A broad array of resources beyond our home on North Campus includes extensive research libraries and computing facilities that are among the best in the country. Students are encouraged to seek out resources that are necessary to develop and carry out topics of research, particularly for the dissertation, if any are unavailable on campus.




Because many of our entering students come from professional degree programs, we emphasize the importance of the subtle but substantive shift from design-based studio work to research in major subfields of architectural practice and study. This shift often requires significant re-training in basic skills such as reading, writing, and research methods. We require a relatively high number of course credits (40 in total), and a significant time commitment to completion of degree. Four years are normally spent in residence and are fully funded with tuition, stipend, and benefits. Two additional years of tuition benefit allow students to complete the degree with fellowship support from other university units or external sources, support that is typically raised in their fourth and fifth years.


The first two years of the degree are devoted to intensive coursework intended to train students in the principal methods and materials used in our subfields (organized here by faculty specialization as BT, DS, and HT). The third year is spent preparing for and passing doctoral examinations and identifying a dissertation project. Students advance to candidacy after taking their preliminary examinations, by January of the third year at the latest. HT students must satisfy the language requirement (minimally, competence in one research language) by this time as well. At the end of the third year, students defend their dissertation proposal in a public defense with their dissertation committee. Years four and five and, if necessary, six, are spent in researching, writing, and defending the dissertation. During the initial phase of dissertation research, students may spend substantial time off campus, supported by internal and external fellowships. They often return to Ann Arbor to write up the results of research. The dissertation is defended in a formal dissertation defense. Time to degree varies among the specializations of our program, but students typically take at least five or six years to complete the degree. [Please see chart on the last page of this handbook]


Training in teaching and research is an integral part of the degree. Faculty members work closely with students to provide them with necessary teaching and research skills. Students have opportunities to develop their professional capacities as Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) and through research assistantships with faculty members.





Each doctoral student identifies a major and a minor area of specialization and works with faculty advisors associated with those areas. These advisors should be identified and contacted by the middle of the second year of coursework at the latest, although many students have identified a primary advisor before arriving in Ann Arbor. The major can be defined in dialogue with the student’s advisor; several possible major areas are listed below. The minor is a distinct subject area that complements the major. The minor may lie in Architecture, in Urban and Regional Planning, or in another University of Michigan department, program, or center. Coursework in the minor must be approved for Rackham graduate credit, deemed appropriate by the Doctoral Advisory Committee, and approved by the major advisor.


Possible major areas:


-Building Technology


-Critical Urban Studies


-Design Studies


-Digital Fabrication


-History and Theory


-Media Studies


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Admission Requirements



– A professional degree in architecture, or a Master’s degree in any field, accompanied by a Bachelor’s degree in architecture or a related field, or other evidence of the applicant’s commitment to the discipline of architecture such as a reasonable amount of work experience in architecture


– Undergraduate grade point average of 3.3 (B+) or better


– Graduate grade point average of 3.5 or better




The fee for United States Citizens and those with permanent resident visa status is $75 (U.S. funds). The fee for non-U.S. citizens is $90 (U.S. funds). The application fee is paid online, via credit card, before the application is submitted. The application is submitted electronically to the program of study and the Rackham Graduate School. Applications received without fees will not be processed. For more information please see Application Fee and Application Fee Waivers.







Two page statement of purpose should describe the research that you anticipate pursuing if admitted to the program including which area of specialization you plan to engage. The ideas should be clearly, well stated, and specific. Describe your qualifications to undertake this research and reference your own or others related work if appropriate.




A good curriculum vitae or resume will give us another view of who you are and elaborate your strengths and skills outside of the classroom, showcasing your accomplishments. In addition to your educational experience, student resume should contain professional experiences, other jobs you have held, a list of groups or organizations that you are involved in, programming languages or other computer skills you have, community involvement or volunteer work that you do. Think of your resume as another opportunity to tell us about yourself.




The personal statement should be a concise, well-written statement about how your personal background and life experiences, including social, cultural, familial, educational, or other opportunities or challenges, have motivated your decision to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Michigan. This is not an academic statement of purpose, but a brief (500 word limit) discussion of the personal journey that has led to your decision to seek a graduate degree.




Submissions of examples of work should support your statement of purpose and clearly demonstrate research and writing abilities. These may consist of published articles, papers, portfolio or other writing samples. Examples should be uploaded as PDF files with the online application.




Submitting your transcripts is a two-step process:


– Applicants will scan and upload an official transcript/academic record, that provides the institutional seal and signature of the Registrar or Recorder of Records, into the online application.


– Applicants are also required to submit an official transcript/academic record by mail or as an e-transcript, to Rackham, before the graduate program application deadline. The official transcript/academic record must be received in an envelope sealed by the issuing institution. For more information please see Transcripts.




Three letters of recommendation are required and should testify mainly to your academic and professional capacity and promise. Letters should be substantive statements from academics and professionals familiar with your abilities and accomplishments. For more information please see Letters of Recommendation Submission Options.




The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required. Have an official score report sent to the University of Michigan (Institution code: 1839, department code 4401) at least 4-5 weeks prior to the deadline. GRE scores are valid for five years. There is no minimum score requirement.


If you have taken the GMAT or LSAT, we can use those scores in place of the GRE. LSAT scores should be listed on the additional information page of the online application. For more information please see Required Tests.




English Proficiency Requirements


Applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate English proficiency, unless they meet one of the criteria for an exemption listed below. Please contact one of the testing agencies shown in the following chart and have an official score report sent to the University of Michigan at least 6-8 weeks prior to the application deadline. The scores must be received from the testing agency no later than the application deadline. Language test scores are valid two years from the test date. Photocopies and/or faxes of English proficiency scores will not be accepted.


Taubman College does not admit students who have not met minimum score requirements. If you are close to the minimum scores outlined above we encourage you to retake the exam to meet the minimum requirement. Students who have submitted all required materials (including English proficiency exams) by the application deadline are given first consideration for admission. It may make you a less competitive applicant to not have your scores sent in by the deadline.


More info at:




Detailed information about Undocumented and DACAmented Students for this degree program can be found on the related Rackham webpage.






Applications will not be evaluated until all credentials have been received and the application fee has been paid. Applications missing credentials cannot be guaranteed a review by the admissions committee. Eligible applicants are considered for admission on the basis of the following criteria:


– Quality and content of all previous academic education


– Evidence of professional commitment and direction, including statement of purpose, resume, and letters of recommendation


– GRE test scores / TOEFL test scores (if applicable)


– The number of openings available


– The suitability of the program to the applicant’s area of interest


More info at:


(read more)
General information
4 years full time
Robert Fishman
Not Confirmed
Email /
+1 734-763-1275
2000 Bonisteel Boulevard Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2069
Campus Location
The information of this PhD was extracted from the Official Website of the program.
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Cambridge, Massachusetts
The Bartlett School of Architecture
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London, England
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