History and Theory Track

Admission Requirements

Applicants must have a master’s degree or equivalent in architecture, urban planning, environmental design, or, exceptionally, a related field. Two years of professional work in an architecture office are recommended. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test taken no more than five years prior to application is required. All applicants whose native language is not English are also required to take the Internet-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL iBT), which includes a section on spoken English. The TOEFL requirement may be waived only for applicants who, prior to matriculation at Yale, will have received a baccalaureate degree or its international equivalent from a college or university where English is the primary language of instruction. Applicants must have studied in residence at the baccalaureate institution for at least three years to receive the waiver. A waiver will not be granted on the basis of an advanced degree (such as M.A., M.S., or Ph.D.) from another institution.

In addition to meeting the qualifying criteria, candidates are required as part of the  application to submit a portfolio of their own architectural work, a writing sample in the form of a substantial research paper or publication, and an explanation of their motivation for engaging in their chosen course of study. Qualified applicants may be invited to interview with a member of the doctoral faculty.

The portfolio should be a well-edited representation of the applicant’s creative work. Portfolios may not contain videos. Anything submitted that is not entirely the applicant’s own work must be clearly identified as such. The portfolio is submitted digitally as a single PDF document optimized not to exceed 20Mb and will need to be uploaded as part of the online application. Pages of the pdf portfolio should be uploaded as spreads. The digital portfolio will be viewed on computer screens, so resolution above 150 dpi is not necessary.

Admission to the Ph.D. program in Architecture is administered by the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. For general questions regarding admissions, please contact graduate.admissions@yale.edu.

The Application Process

The online application can be accessed at http://gsas.yale.edu/admission when it is available. Applications for the program beginning in the 2024–2025 academic year must be submitted no later than January 2, 2024. Applicants will not be allowed to submit applications after the deadline has passed.

Track Requirements

Students are required to be full-time and in residence in the New Haven area during their first three academic years. Students may be asked to attend summer orientation courses before their first term. (See Degree Requirements under Policies and Regulations in the Bulletin of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.) 

During the first two years, students engage in a concerted course of study that leads directly to work on the dissertation. In all, they are required to take twelve graduate-level seminars for credit. These include a Ph.D. seminar taught in each of the first two terms by a standing or visiting faculty member of the School of Architecture. The Ph.D. seminars, ARCH 551 and ARCH 552, constitute the program’s methodological foundation and introduce students to an array of historiographic approaches and areas of study. While the content of the two seminars varies from year to year, they tend to involve primary research on a specific topic, a survey of critical approaches, or the reading of a body of texts.

For purposes of fulfilling their remaining course requirements, students are encouraged to take one or more courses outside the School of Architecture that are related to their specific area of interest. For example, a student working on architecture in Brazil would likely take courses in Latin American history and culture. Students may also opt to do independent readings with individual faculty in their area. 

Not later than the end of the second year, students are expected to demonstrate competence in at least one foreign language relevant to their field of study. Language competence is more than a formality and requires some acquaintance with literature in the chosen language; competency may be demonstrated by a grade of B or better in a full-year intermediate-level language course or through examination. By the end of the second year, all course and language requirements are normally completed, and the student’s field of interest is defined. At this point the director of doctoral studies (DDS) works with the student to identify a thesis adviser, who may or may not be from the School of Architecture. 

In the fall term of the third year, students are required to take oral examinations on three topics relevant to their field of doctoral research. The three field exams are administered by the thesis adviser and two additional examiners selected by the student. Following their successful completion, the DDS, in consultation with the student’s principal adviser, appoints the student’s dissertation committee, which consists of the student’s principal adviser plus two additional faculty members. It is typical for one of the dissertation committee members to come from outside the School of Architecture, with selection based on the student’s area of interest.

At the end of the third year or, at latest, the beginning of the fourth, students are expected to defend their dissertation prospectus, a preliminary proposal of their dissertation topic. The prospectus comprises description of the topic, an outline of a detailed program of research, and an annotated bibliography. Upon passing all pre-dissertation requirements including the field exams and prospectus defense, students are admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. and are “ABD” (all but dissertation). At this point, they embark on their dissertation research and writing, submitting drafts of the dissertation chapters as they are completed. The dissertation committee guides and monitors the student’s progress through the course of writing and evaluates the dissertation upon completion.

The Ph.D. program is designed to be completed in five years. However, if the dissertation has not been completed by the end of the fifth year and if, at that time, the program certifies that the candidate will complete the dissertation by August of the following academic year, the candidate may be eligible to take a teaching position in the School of Architecture or elsewhere in the University and extend funding for up to an additional nine months.

Graduate Research Assistant and Teaching Fellow Experience

Teaching is an important part of the doctoral program in History and Theory of Architecture. Students in the program are expected to teach or serve as research assistants for four terms, normally in their third and fourth years. During these four terms, it is anticipated that a student in the History and Theory track will teach in two survey courses in the student’s area of study at the School of Architecture or elsewhere in the University and teach in two design studios at the School of Architecture. All teaching assignments are carried out under the direct supervision of senior faculty.