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Doctor of Philosophy Program

Kurt W. Forster, Director of Doctoral Studies

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Fields of Study

The five-year doctoral program prepares candidates for careers in university teaching, cultural advocacy and administration, museum curatorship, and publishing. It aims chiefly, however, to educate teachers capable of effectively instructing future architects in the history of their own field and its manifold connections with the culture at large. The program forges a unique combination of professional knowledge with a historical and analytical grasp of key phases in the history of architecture, especially those that have a demonstrable share in the field’s current state and its critical issues.

The program secures sound training in historical study and historiography, imparting technical knowledge and awareness of intellectual trends that inform the reception and role of architecture around the world. The history of science and technology (as well as its reception in popular culture and the arts), the history of media, and an understanding of architectural practice are as important as the fine arts and literature.

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Admission Requirements

Applicants must have appropriate academic credentials (a master’s degree or equivalent in Architecture, Engineering, Environmental Design or, exceptionally, in a related field) and at least two years of work experience in an appropriate professional setting. 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 required to take the Internet-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL iBT), a test that includes a section on spoken English. The TOEFL requirement is waived only for applicants who will have received a baccalaureate degree, or its international equivalent, prior to matriculation at Yale, from a college or university where English is the primary language of instruction. In addition to meeting 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 research paper or publication, and an explanation of their motivation for engaging in this 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; it will need to be uploaded to 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.

The Ph.D. program is administered by the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. For more information about the program, or to receive admissions information, please contact the Office of Admissions at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at 203.432.2771 or at graduate.admissions@yale.edu.

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Special Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree

Entering students with sound professional preparation engage in a concerted course of study that leads directly to dissertation research and a doctoral degree.

All students must spend their first four terms in residence at Yale enrolled as full-time students in the School of Architecture. Students typically take ten graduate and Ph.D. seminars for credit, including a Ph.D. seminar taught in each of the first four terms by a member of the Ph.D. committee that introduces the student to various methodologies and areas of study. Some seminars will encourage primary research on a narrow topic or focus on producing a collective body of work, such as an exhibition. Others offer a broader survey of historiographies or focus on a close reading of a body of texts. These four required seminars form the methodological core of the program.

Students are encouraged to take courses related to their specific areas of interest outside the School of Architecture. For example, a student working on Italian modernism would be encouraged to take a course in Italian history or literature. Typically, at least two of the six elective seminars would be in related fields. Students can also opt to do independent readings with individual faculty members on their specific areas of interest.

Not later than the end of their second year, students are also 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 the literature in the chosen language. Competency may be determined by a grade of B or better in a yearlong intermediate-level language course or through examination.

Typically, the student’s field of interest is defined in the course of the second year, at which time the student is assigned an adviser by the director of doctoral studies. At the end of the second year, the student is assigned an additional two to three faculty members, who along with the adviser, constitute his or her dissertation committee. One of these additional faculty members should be from outside the School of Architecture, with selection based on the student’s area of interest, and in consultation with the Ph.D. adviser and the director of doctoral studies.

By the end of their second year, doctoral students normally complete all course requirements, the language requirement, and a research paper, after which doctoral students take three separate qualifying examinations on topics relevant to their Ph.D. research interests. Examiners question the candidate in the presence of the director of doctoral studies and one additional dissertation committee member.

During the third year, candidates present and defend a preliminary proposal for a dissertation topic, consisting of a topic statement, program of research and study, and annotated bibliography. By the end of the third year, students will begin a period of dissertation research and writing. A student is asked to submit a draft of the dissertation six months before the final defense. After successful completion of the defense, students are given three months to complete the final submission.

Graduate Research Assistant and Teaching Fellow Experience

The program in Architecture considers teaching to be an important part of graduate training. Students in the Ph.D. program in Architecture, therefore, are expected to teach for four terms, normally in their third and fourth years. During these four terms, it is anticipated that a Ph.D. student teach in two history and theory 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. Each teaching assignment shall be under the direct supervision of senior faculty.

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Master’s Degree

M.Phil. The Master of Philosophy is awarded en route to the Ph.D. The minimum requirements for this degree are that a student shall have completed all requirements for the Ph.D. except the teaching fellow experience, the prospectus, and the dissertation.

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Required Courses

551a, Ph.D. Seminar I 1 credit. (Required in, and limited to, Ph.D. first year, fall term.) This seminar centers on a thorough examination of fundamental ideas of historiography, centering on Rome and exploring aspects of geology, culture, mapping, site development, the establishment of institutions, and the construction of buildings across several millennia, as well as a study of literature on the urbs and its world impact. Kurt W. Forster

552b, Ph.D. Seminar II 1 credit. (Required in, and limited to, Ph.D. first year, spring term.) This seminar centers on concepts of history and their application to architecture as a dimension of culture from Jacob Burckhardt to the present and a close reading of historiographic theories, including ethnography, modernity, and the emergence of the profession of architecture in the light of present-day critique. Kurt W. Forster

553a, Ph.D. Seminar III 1 credit. (Required in, and limited to, Ph.D. second year, fall term.) Seminar content to be announced. Mario Carpo

554b, Ph.D. Seminar IV 1 credit. (Required in, and limited to, Ph.D. second year, spring term.) Seminar content to be announced. Stanislaus von Moos

Summer Preparation Courses for Incoming Ph.D. Students

In the week before the beginning of the fall term, the School offers two preparation courses that are required for incoming Ph.D. students.

  • 1. Summer Digital Media Orientation Course. This half-day orientation covers accessing the School’s servers, use of the School’s equipment, and the School’s digital media policies and procedures.
  • 2. Arts Library Research Methodology Course. This course covers research methodologies and tools specific to the Ph.D. curriculum.

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