6: Graduate School of Architecture

General Information | Programs and Degrees Offered | Course Descriptions | Faculty

Ownership of Student Works | Applications | Master of Architecture
Master of Landscape Architecture | Master of Planning | Master of Architectural History
Doctor of Philosophy in the History of Architecture | Interdisciplinary Programs | Programs Abroad

Doctor of Philosophy in the History of Architecture

The Doctor of Philosophy in the History of Architecture prepares students to teach at the university and college level, both in traditional art history and humanities programs, and in professional schools. Holders of the degree may also engage in any number of other fields of activity, for instance; preservation, writing and publishing, curatorial work in museums, and the practice and teaching of architecture.

The degree is offered through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, while the program is located in the Department of Architectural History in the School of Architecture. In addition to the requirements for the School’s Master of Architectural History, the doctorate’s requirements include an additional year of course work, competence in at least one more foreign language, successful completion of field examinations, and the successful defense of a dissertation. Limited financial aid is available, some of which requires teaching.

Admission   Required for admission into the doctorate program is the equivalent of the School of Architecture’s Master of Architectural History. Students lacking that preparation should apply for admission to the Master of Architectural History Program with a clear indication of their interest in the Ph.D. program. Admission to the doctorate program is a separate procedure pursued through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Admission is based on the student’s record in graduate architectural history courses and other graduate-level work as revealed in the official transcript and letters of recommendation (at least two are required), on Graduate Record Examination scores, and on the form and content of the statement of intent submitted as part of the application. An interview is useful but not required.

Curriculum and Course Distribution   In addition to the requirements for the MArchH degree (36 credits), the doctorate program requires a minimum 18 credits of additional graduate course work and 18 credits of non-topical research.

The student must select an area of major concentration and two areas of minor concentration. Field examinations are held in these areas. The areas offered are: American, European since 1750, Renaissance-Baroque, Medieval, Ancient, and non-Western. Upon consultation with an advisor, the student may select a minor area from another department (e.g., art history--American or Renaissance art; anthropology--American archaeology; history--Colonial, etc.). Counting the MArchH courses, the student is required to present for the Ph.D. degree at least five courses in the major area, three courses in each of the two minor areas, and at least one course in all other architectural history areas.

Language Qualification   The doctorate calls for a reading knowledge of at least one more foreign language than the one required for the MArchH, usually selected from among French, German, and Italian (although Latin or some other language may be substituted by permission). This requirement may be satisfied in the same way as the one specified for the MArchH degree.

Examinations   The Ph.D. field examination is normally held in the first semester of a student’s second year, and consists of written and oral segments taken consecutively over a three to five day period. The student must submit a dissertation prospectus prior to taking the field examination. The written portion is two days in length, the first devoted to the major area and taking about six hours to write, the second consisting of two three-hour written segments in the student’s two minor areas. The faculty reads the examination, and the oral examination segment follows on either the third, fourth or fifth day, and consists of one hour on the major area and one-half hour on each of the minor areas. The student is expected to demonstrate familiarity with buildings and other works related to architecture, the methods used for dealing with that knowledge, and the history and bibliography connected to it. Attention is also directed to the economic, intellectual, and social history which surrounds specific architectural history questions.

Dissertation   A dissertation, normally prepared in the third year of doctorate study, is meant to make an important contribution to knowledge. It is to be prepared under the direct supervision of a director with at least two additional people serving on the committee that conducts the oral defense.

Typical Program of Study
Note that a MArchH or equivalent degree is required for admission to the program. Not included here are courses required for that degree and various additional required non-topical research courses.

First Ph.D. Year
First Semester
AR H ___Major area3
AR H ___Minor area3
AR H ___Additional area3
AR H ___Non-Topical research6
Second Semester
AR H ___Major area3
AR H ___Art History (or other) elective3
AR H or ARTH ___
(or other)
Elective3
AR H ___Non-Topical research6
Second Ph.D. Year
Field and written examinations
AR H ___Non-Topical (dissertation) research3
AR H ___Non-Topical (dissertation) research3
Third Ph.D. Year
Dissertation defense

The Graduate Arts and Sciences Admissions Catalog also contains information about the Ph.D. program and its requirements. It may be obtained from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, 437 Cabell Hall, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia 22903. Students seeking admission to the program who have, or are completing, the School of Architecture’s Master of Architectural History degree or its equivalent should apply for admission directly to the GSAS at that same address.


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