All Academic Programs

Requirements for the Degree (from GSAS bulletin)

Students may study for a PhD degree in architecture, landscape architecture, or urban planning. These three degrees are administered by a committee of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in cooperation with the Faculty of Design. The program is intended for persons who wish to enter teaching and advanced research careers in the history and theory of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban form from antiquity to the present; or the analysis and development of cities, landscapes and regions with emphasis on social, economic, ecological, transportation and infrastructural systems. (The PhD program does not prepare students for licensing as design practitioners in any of these fields. For information on professional masters' programs, contact the Harvard Design School, Admissions Office, 48 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, 617.495.5453).

Academic Residence

Two years of full-time study while registered in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences are required.

Program of Study

Course information may be found in Courses of Instruction offered by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences as well as in the course catalogues published by Harvard's other professional schools.

  1. Students are expected to prepare in each of the following areas:General Knowledge of the Field: The PhD is an academic degree, but PhD holders in our fields may be interacting with professionals as well as with other scholars. In fact, many may elect to teach in professional schools. Therefore, in addition to academic requirements, it is required that every PhD student be generally knowledgeable of the basic skills of the respective design professions.
  2. Major Subject: The interfaculty structure and purposes of the program require that students cross disciplinary boundaries. All students must master a major area of their respective field, including the historic development and current state of research on the subject. In addition, every student must demonstrate competence in the methods of inquiry used for research in his or her major subject.
  3. All students must also achieve a thorough grounding in the theory and methods of one of the arts or sciences related to their major subject, such as history of art, cultural history, economics, philosophy, government, sociology, or history of science equivalent to at least one year of full-time graduate study.
  4. Languages and Mathematics: Candidates for the degree in architecture must normally have a reading knowledge of at least two languages other than English in which there is broad and important literature related to their field or major subject; those in urban planning must have one other language. Every student must have a level of mathematical skills appropriate for research in the major subject.
  5. There are two required courses, Discourse and Methods I & II (see descriptions below):
     

    9690 Discourse and Methods I
    This is the one of two seminars fulfilling a requirement for successful completion of the PHD curriculum. The seminar is designed as an introduction to the methodologies that have shaped the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, and/or urbanism. We probe critical perspectives on architecture, the landscape, and the city’s relation to society as well as examine the enduring historical and epistemological significance of these perspectives. Topics may include: autonomy and formalism; capitalism, institutions, and space; history and historiography; anthropology; phenomenology; semiotics; gender and psychoanalysis; ecology and environment; the metropolis; the avant-garde; science, technology, and society.

    Prerequisites: This course is normally open only to doctoral students in the PHD Program in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Planning and Design. Doctoral students from other programs or post-professional masters students at the GSD may participate with the instructor's permission.  

     9691 Discourse and Methods II
    This is the one of two seminars fulfilling a requirement for successful completion of the PHD curriculum. The seminar is designed as an introduction to some of the canonical texts in the history and theory of architecture, landscape architecture, and/or urbanism, which have come to define practices and the disciplinary conception of these respective domains. We thereby address the subjects of history, theory, and the human sciences as they have been enlisted in writings about the building, the landscape, and the city for students preparing for or enrolled in PHD degree programs.

    Prerequisites: This course is normally open only to doctoral students in the PHD Program in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Planning and Design. Doctoral students from other programs or post-professional masters students at the GSD may participate with the instructor's permission.

Grades
The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences requires that all students maintain an average of B or better in each year of graduate study. All incomplete grades must be removed before the end of the next regular term.

If students are cross-registered in Schools where the grading system does not use letter grades, they should ask the course instructor to issue letter grades.

Faculty Advisor and Student's Graduate Committee

The chair of the PhD committee will assign a faculty member as the student's advisor at the time of registration in the program. This advisor will assist in planning the student's academic program. In addition, not fewer than three faculty members, appointed by the chair in consultation with the student, will be made available for consultation regarding the general examination and the dissertation.

General Examination

Students are expected to take the general examination in the fifth term of residence, and no later than one year after completion of the required coursework. The examination is given only during the fall and spring terms of the academic year. The examination tests the student's mastery of their general field of scholarship, specific interpretive problems within that field, and their ability to research and write a dissertation.

At least two months prior to the date of the examination, the student should meet regularly with the examination committee (see "Advising") and, with its help, should formulate a proposal describing the general and specific fields to be covered in the examination and possible examination questions.

The examination comprises a general field and a specific field. The general field is ordinarily a broad area of history and theory of architecture, landscape architecture, or urban planning (for example, "modern architecture from 1750 to the present"). The specific field is a narrower area of study chosen by the student and subject to faculty review; in principle it should comprise a coherent and clearly defined area of scholarly inquiry which may be interdisciplinary in nature.

The examination will normally consist of both an oral and written exam.  The expectation will be that the oral will be used for the general field and the written for the specific.  This may be inverted if the student and committee feel it is of more value to do it in that manner. Two or three written essays (total eight hours) will be assigned for the specific field.  Within one week of the written examination, the student and the examination committee will meet to evaluate the entire examination and discuss plans for the dissertation. Students whose performance on the examination is not satisfactory will be given one opportunity to repeat all or part of it.

Dissertation

The dissertation will be directed by a dissertation committee consisting of one primary advisor and at least two secondary advisors or readers. Two readers must be from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences or the Committee on Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Planning; one reader will normally be from the area of the student's disciplinary minor and one reader must be from the Harvard Design School.

No later than five months (within the academic calendar) after the successful completion of the general examination, students will submit to the chair a written dissertation proposal and the names of the faculty persons who will supervise it. The student will confer with the examination committee to discuss and develop the proposal. The committee will conduct an oral examination of the dissertation proposal, whose purpose is to provide for the student a formal occasion to discuss and gain approval of the dissertation topic.

Students are normally expected to complete their program (including approval of the dissertation) within seven years of entering the program. Students who require more than five years to complete the dissertation after passing the General Examination must petition the Committee on the PhD Program in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Planning to extend their time.

After the approval of the dissertation by the faculty members who are its director and reader(s), three copies must be presented to the committee on the PhD not less than six weeks before the degree recommendations of that committee are due at the Registrar's Office. The committee will receive the recommendations of the advisor and reader(s), and must formally vote on the recommendation for the degree. The final copy of the dissertation must conform to the requirements described in The Form of the PhD Dissertation.

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