PhD Browser

PhD track in History and Theory of Architecture

Princeton University
School of Architecture
Princeton, New Jersey
United States
History, Theory & Critic

The interdisciplinary nature of the doctoral (Ph.D.) program stresses the relationship of architecture, urbanism, landscape, and building technologies to their cultural, social, and political milieus. Supported by strong affiliations with other departments in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences, the program offers a comprehensive approach to the study of the field. Students interact with their peers to sustain individual projects in a context of collective research.




The Ph.D. Committee sets the course requirements for each student according to his or her previous experience, specialized interests, and progress through the program. For the first two years, each student engages in coursework and independent study and is required to complete a minimum of four classes each semester, including required language, audited courses, and independent reading courses, for a total of sixteen courses, at least nine of which must be taken for a grade and result in a paper. After their first year of doctoral study, students are encouraged also to apply for assistantships in instruction, which are considered an intrinsic part of a scholar’s training. If the student is hired as an Assistant-in-Instruction (AI), the minimum number of courses the student must complete that semester will be reduced to three. This will not reduce the number of required papers, so the AI assignment replaces only an audited course.


Language Requirement


Students are required to have a reading knowledge of two foreign languages other than English before the end of the second summer in residence. These languages should be relevant to the general history of the discipline (French, German, Spanish, or Italian) or specifically relevant to the student’s area of research. A student’s native language will not count if it is not relevant to the proposed area of research. In order to receive credit for each language, students must pass a reading comprehension exam in the appropriate language department at Princeton. A grade of “high-pass” in a summer language course at Princeton may also be used to fulfill the language requirement. Students who are native speakers of the language may waive the exam requirement.



General Examination


The General Examination, which is normally taken upon completion of two years of coursework, is designed to ascertain the student’s general knowledge of the subject, acquaintance with scholarly methods of research, and ability to organize and present material. The General Exam is an oral examination based on a dossier of six rewritten seminar papers, selected in consultation with the Ph.D. Committee. The components of the general examination are assembled sequentially during the student’s period in residence.




Following the successful completion of the General Examination, students work with a dissertation committee to develop a proposal that clearly defines the field of research, comments on the state of existing research in the selected field, and explains the contributions to the field the dissertation will make. The proposal must outline the basic hypothesis to be explored and must make a coherent statement about archival sources or theoretical objects to be examined and the methodological approach to be taken. The student then presents a public defense of the dissertation proposal for approval by the Ph.D. Committee. Successfully completing the defense of the proposal marks the transition into independent scholarly work on the dissertation. The culmination of the program is the defense of the finished dissertation at the final public oral examination.


Recently Completed Dissertations: The wide range of possible research topics is illustrated by the following dissertations.


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Admission Requirements



Admission to the School of Architecture is granted through Princeton University’s Graduate School. A bachelor’s degree from a college or university of recognized standing is normally required. Admission information can be found online at The deadline for applications for the Ph.D. program is January 2nd.


Applicants to the Ph.D. program should be aware that a professional degree in architecture is highly desirable, but applications are also accepted from those with academic degrees in appropriate disciplines in the humanities, applied sciences, and social sciences. If a candidate does not have prior professional training, he or she may be required to take a special program of study in the processes and working methods of the profession.


Although a personal interview is not required, candidates for the Ph.D. program are encouraged to learn more about the School by visiting and talking to students and faculty members. The best opportunity is the Fall Open House, which is held each November. Details and an online RSVP can be found here. Students who are unable to attend the Open House may contact the School to determine if an individual visit can be arranged. Please allow at least two weeks when scheduling individual visits.




Princeton University’s Graduate School Announcement is the official and complete source of information about Princeton’s graduate programs and their requirements. The electronic application is available September through December for admission the following fall. The electronic application and specific information regarding application requirements are available at Address all inquiries to the Office of Graduate Admission, Princeton University, One Clio Hall, Princeton, New Jersey 08544-0270.


Applicants should submit substantial evidence of their academic qualifications and scholarly interests, including examples of written work, unpublished or published. Candidates should submit a quantity of written material sufficient to demonstrate a broad familiarity with the field of architecture, well developed writing and research skills, and the candidate’s command of potential research or study areas. In the statement of intent, each candidate must write a short essay, carefully describing his or her previous professional and academic experience, and its relevance to future plans for research and teaching. While it is understood that fields of concentration may change during the first two years of pre-generals study, the candidate should attempt to outline a potential area of research in the context of Princeton’s program.


Ph.D. writing samples should be uploaded directly to the online application. You will be able to check the status of any materials online. The checklist is only viewable after an application has been submitted:


We do not notify applicants individually of materials received.




January 2nd – $90 Application Fee


Deadline applies to all applicants for the receipt of application and all supporting material. Earlier applications are encouraged.




Each candidate’s application and academic record is reviewed by the faculty committee to determine the candidate’s accomplishments and academic achievements and assess other qualifications for graduate study in architecture. Serious consideration is given to letters of recommendation from persons who are in a position to evaluate a candidate’s abilities and estimate the applicant’s promise. Admission to the Graduate School is highly selective. All applicants are considered on a comparative basis, and admission is determined after analyzing the relative merits of all of the candidates applying in the same field. For the Graduate School to operate according to its objectives and methods, enrollment must be limited. Every effort is made to select the most outstanding candidates from among those submitting applications.


Consideration is given to all complete applications received on or before the regular Graduate School application deadline date. Applications are examined in one group during February; applicants are notified of the results in March. All fellowships and scholarship awards to entering students are made from applicants in this group. Only under unusual circumstances may students enter the Graduate School at any time other than the beginning of the academic year.


Application for financial aid does not affect an applicant’s chances for admission. Generous financial assistance is made available to all accepted students on the basis of income and need.





To be eligible for admission to the Graduate School applicants must, before they are enrolled, hold a bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent from an accredited college or university. (Foreign equivalents may in some cases have a normal program length that is shorter or longer than four years. No degree that has a normal program length shorter than three years will be considered equivalent to a bachelor’s degree.)


The applicant may submit one application per year only. This one application can be to one department, program, or combined program.


The Graduate School will not offer admission to an applicant seeking a second Ph.D. in the same or similar field of study.


Princeton University does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, national or ethnic origin, disability, or veteran status in any phase of its admission or financial aid programs, or other aspects of its educational programs or activities.




The Graduate School at Princeton University encourages interested individuals to explore our fields of study to find the field that best fits the applicant’s academic and professional goals. More detailed information, including faculty listings, can typically be found on individual department and program websites accessible through our webpage.




Graduate admission decisions at Princeton University are made by faculty in the applicant’s proposed field of study. The Graduate School coordinates the admission process and establishes minimum requirements for admission, application deadlines and additional requirements vary by department and degree program.


Here are some helpful tips applicants should consider:


– Before submitting the application, please be sure to read carefully the description of the degree program and requirements of the department. Applicants are also encouraged to review the file upload requirements to ensure successful application submission.


– Review appropriate deadlines and fees as departments and programs have varied application deadline dates. Please note that no late applications will be accepted and there are no refunds for submitted application fees.


– Be sure the statement of academic purpose outlines goals for graduate study.


– Finalize resume/curriculum vitae.


– Gather email addresses and full names of three recommenders prior to submitting the application online. Letters of recommendation will be submitted using our electronic recommendation service.


– Request transcripts.


– Arrange to have prerequisite test scores sent to Princeton. All applicants whose native language is not English and who have not received their undergraduate education in a country where the native language is English must submit scores from one of two internationally recognized assessments of English language proficiency, the Test of English as a Foreign Language(link is external) (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System(link is external) (IELTS).


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General information
5 years full time
Beatriz Colomina
Not Confirmed
Email /
+1 609-258-3741
S-110 Architecture Building Princeton, NJ 08544
Campus Location
The information of this PhD was extracted from the Official Website of the program.
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