Aga Khan Program in Islamic Architecture

Established in 1979 through an endowment from His Highness the Aga Khan, the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture (AKPIA) at MIT is a unique international graduate program designed to promote, sustain, and increase the teaching of architecture of the Islamic world. It prepares students for careers in research, design, and teaching. With strong links with the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the Aga Khan Programs at Harvard, AKPIA concentrates on the critical study of the history and historiography of Islamic architecture; the interaction between architecture, society, and culture; strategies of urban and architectural preservation; design interventions in disaster areas and environmental and water-conserving landscape research. The siting of AKPIA in MITís Department of Architecture is intended to negate the polarizing dichotomy between the discipline of architecture (derived from Western architectural history and praxis) and Islamic Architecture, which has developed independently and in dialogue with other world architectural traditions.

AKPIA offers students a concentration in Islamic architecture and urbanism as part of the two-year SMArchS degree and the PhD program in HTC. Undergraduates may concentrate in Middle Eastern Studies using subjects offered by AKPIA. The program also has links with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) and the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).

Academic Programs in AKPIA


The Aga Khan Program provides financial and logistic assistance for graduate students who are working on Islamic subjects, but it is not a degree program. The courses of study funded at MIT by the Aga Khan Program are listed below. Program funds are available to graduate students in Islamic art, architecture, urban history, and the history of landscape architecture. At MIT, only students who have been admitted to, or are already enrolled in, the PhD program in History, Theory, and Criticism in the Department of Architecture or the SMArchS program, with a concentration in Architectural Studies of the Islamic World, are eligible for AKPIA funding. However, since funds are very limited, no student should expect full support.

PhD in History Theory and Criticism, with a concentration on Islamic Architecture and Urbanism

The History Theory and Criticism discipline group admits students to conduct doctoral studies in the history and theory of architecture and urbanism in the Islamic world. Usually, one student a year is admitted and funded through AKPIA's endowment. Students are expected to fulfill all HTC requirements before embarking on their thesis project.

Master of Science in Architectural Studies (SMArchS)

The program offers a concentration in Architecture and Culture in the Islamic World as an area of study in the two-year degree programs. AKPIA scholarships are made available for concentration in Islamic architecture and urban studies to students formally admitted to the SMArchS Program.

Post-Doctoral Fellowships for Research in Islamic Architecture

AKPIA sponsors a postdoctoral fellowships program at MIT. The program is intended for young scholars who are engaged in research on Islamic architecture and urbanism. One or two fellowships are granted every year.



José Luis Argüello

Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT