PhD in History and Theory of Architecture or Art

HTC offers two tracks of study within the PhD program: History and Theory of Architecture and the History and Theory of Art. Degree requirements and admissions procedures for both tracks are the same.

The program in History, Theory and Criticism (HTC) draws from the unique range of disciplines and professions within the Department of Architecture. The program emphasizes the study of art, architecture, and urbanism, past and present, produced in a broad range of geographic areas, as well as methodological issues that inform or link the history of ideas and practices. HTC was founded in 1975 as one of the first PhD programs in a school of architecture. Its mission is to promote critical and theoretical reflection within the disciplines of architectural and art history. HTC differs from other architectural programs in that it has art historians on its permanent faculty. Visiting scholars are annually invited to teach, supplementing the core faculty.

Continuous registration is required until completion of the dissertation. Generally all subject/course work is completed by the end of the second year of residency and all other requirements, except for the dissertation, are completed by the end of the third year. The final two years are devoted to dissertation research and writing culminating in a defense at the conclusion of the fifth year.

Islamic Architecture and Urbanism

Within the History and Theory of Architecture PhD track, there is a concentration in Islamic Architecture. The History, Theory and Criticism Section at MIT is one of the foremost Ph.D. programs in architectural history and theory in the US. Its mission is to encourage advanced historical research and to promote critical and theoretical reflection within the disciplines of architectural and art history. The concentration on Islamic architecture and urbanism is an integral part of the HTC section. One student each year is admitted to work on an Islamic subject and funded through the Aga Khan Program endowment.

Research projects vary in scope, method, and range from the classical period to the present. Recent Ph.D. topics can be found on the HTC Dissertation and Theses section of this website.

Faculty Advising

Each student will be assigned an HTC faculty advisor upon admission. Generally it is the same faculty member designated to supervise research, but students are encouraged to work with HTC faculty members as a whole. The advisor will consult on the initial plan of study and on each subsequent term's choice of subjects. He or she will monitor the student's progress throughout each phase of the degree and will assist the student in selecting a dissertation committee. This committee should be in place by the end of the fourth semester of residency.

Doctoral Research Opportunity in History and Theory of Architecture or Art, and Advanced Urbanism
The Norman B. Leventhal Center of Advanced Urbanism and Departments of Architecture and Urban Studies and Planning have established a collaborative doctoral-level concentration in Advanced Urbanism. Urbanism is a rapidly growing field that has many branches. At MIT, we speak of Advanced Urbanism as the field which integrates research on urban design, urbanization and urban culture.

The concentration in Advanced Urbanism seeks doctoral applicants who have: 1) at least one professional design degree (in architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, etc.); 2) research interests in urbanism that would draw upon both ARCH and DUSP faculty advising; and 3) a commitment to engage with the research community at the LCAU and within their home department throughout their time at MIT. Applicants should apply for admission to an existing ARCH or DUSP PhD program and must meet all specific admissions requirements of the respective PhD program. Admissions committees nominate applicants who fit the urbanism program to a joint advanced urbanism admissions committee. The selected applicants are admitted by their home department discipline group (DUSP; AKPIA, BT, Computation, HTC) with financial support and research assistantships from LCAU.

Prospective students with questions pertaining to the doctoral studies in Advanced Urbanism should reach out to their prospective home doctoral program and to LCAU doctoral committee members: Rafi Segal and Brent Ryan. Or to the mailing list See navigation at the top for program-specific information.

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