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Doctor of Philosophy Program

Alan Plattus, Director of Doctoral Studies

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Fields of Study

The 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 the critical issues it faces.

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). 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 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 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 any institution.

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 substantial 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 questions regarding admissions, please contact graduate.admissions@yale.edu.

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The Application Process

The online application can be accessed at http://gsas.yale.edu/admission-graduate-school, when it is available. Applications for the program beginning in the 2018–2019 academic year must be submitted no later than January 2, 2018. Applicants will not be allowed to submit applications after the deadline has passed.

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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.

Students are required to be full-time and in residence in the New Haven area during the first three academic years (see the Bulletin of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Programs and Policies). Students take twelve 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 School of Architecture faculty that introduces the student to various methodologies and areas of study. Some seminars encourage primary research on a narrow topic or focus on producing a collective body of work. 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 eight 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.

The student’s field of interest is defined by the end of the second year, at which time the director of doctoral studies assigns the student an adviser, who may or may not be from the School of Architecture. At the end of the second year and after the student has taken the three oral examinations, the director of doctoral studies, in consultation with the student’s adviser, appoints a dissertation committee for the student. The dissertation committee consists of the student’s adviser plus two additional faculty members. One of the dissertation committee members should be from outside the School of Architecture, with selection based on the student’s area of interest. The dissertation committee guides and monitors the student’s progress in writing the dissertation and evaluates the dissertation upon completion.

By the end of their second year, doctoral students normally complete all course and language requirements. Oral examinations are taken on topics relevant to the student’s doctoral research. Examiners question the candidate in the presence of the director of doctoral studies and the thesis adviser.

During the third year, candidates present and defend a preliminary proposal for a dissertation topic, consisting of a topic statement, detailed program of research, and an annotated bibliography. By the end of the third year, students begin dissertation research and writing, submitting drafts of the dissertation chapters as they are completed.

While this is a five-year program, if the dissertation has not been completed by the end of year five and, 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 in year six for a teaching position and funding for up to an additional nine months.

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 degree is awarded en route to the Ph.D. The minimum requirements for this degree are that a student has completed all requirements for the Ph.D., except the teaching fellow experience 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 worldwide impact. Faculty

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 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. Faculty

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

554b, Ph.D. Dissertation Preparation 1 credit. (Required in, and limited to, Ph.D. second year, spring term.) Ph.D. tutoring in preparation for oral examinations and formulation of a thesis topic. Faculty

Summer Preparation Courses for Incoming Ph.D. Students

In the week before the beginning of the School of Architecture fall term, the School of Architecture offers two preparation courses that are required of 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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