Architecture is inherently an interdisciplinary field of study, integrating knowledge from art, science, and the humanities. As a method of practice, it is a complex, collaborative, professional activity aimed at improving the quality of life for people and the planet. The discipline requires creative, critical, agile, and integrative thinking. Architecture deals with highly complex problems and aims to solve them not only competently, but in a way that ennobles society. The curriculum responds to these considerations by offering a series of overlapping sequences in professional and academic course work.

The Ph.D. in Architecture educates students to become more valuable to society through academic, business, and government organizations that require greater artistic, scientific, and investigative skills. It offers candidates opportunities to develop and deepen their education in 3 important ways:

  • Enhancing research and analytical skills with rigorous methods of inquiry and synthesis;
  • Acquiring advanced knowledge specific to their area(s) of inquiry through comprehensive scholarly investigations and distinguished documentation; and
  • Developing the ability to communicate knowledge in a clear and eloquent manner.

To realize this goal, the faculty has made a commitment to create, along with doctoral students, a climate in which scholarship and creativity can flourish. Underlying the advanced study of architecture at KU is an ethic regarding architectural inquiry and architectural practice; one that sustains the question, “What ought we do as architects and researchers to enhance the quality of life on this planet?” Examples of inquiry at KU that exemplify this underlying question are

  • Progressive models of practice embracing evidence-based design and design-build practices;
  • Affordable housing with a sensitive aesthetic;
  • Material investigations to create more affordable and sustainable building practices;
  • Rigorous evaluations of built artifacts to inform better design practice;
  • Translation of empirical findings of person-place interaction research into design guidelines; and
  • Critical perspectives on human settlement patterns.

Our research is founded on an ethical position. We are not involved in research simply to generate knowledge for its own sake but rather to improve the human condition through more thoughtful built form. The overall focus is on developing understanding that may inform the critical delivery processes by which humane architecture is created.

Note: Contact the Architecture department or program for more information about the Research and Skills and Responsible Scholarship requirement for doctoral students.

Graduate Admission

Regardless of background or career goals, a person whose previous records indicate the ability to succeed with advanced work may be admitted to the Ph.D., Architecture.  Admission requires a bachelor’s degree and a grade-point average of 3.0 from KU or another accredited institution or foreign university with substantially equivalent requirements for the bachelor’s degree.  A complete application for admission consists of the following materials:

  1. Graduate application.
  2. Curriculum Vitae or resume.
  3. A statement of interest outlining reasons for pursuing the Ph.D. (not to exceed 1500 words).
  4. 1 unofficial copy of the transcript where the undergraduate degree was confirmed and 1 copy of the transcript where any graduate degree/credit was earned.
  5. 3 letters of recommendation from persons qualified to comment on the applicant’s intellectual abilities and probable success in graduate study.
  6. Application fee, nonrefundable check or money order payable to the University of Kansas (See Admission in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog for further information).
  7. Evidence of language proficiency if the native tongue is not English, including
    1. A degree from an English-language college or university or
    2. Receipt of official copy of applicant's proficiency scores achieved not more than 2 years before the semester of admission:
      IELTS scores: minimum overall score 6.5 with no part score below 6.0;
      TOEFL scores (iBT): all part scores at least 23;
      TOEFL scores (paper): all part scores at least 57 and essay score of at least 5,
  8. One research-informed writing sample (example:  published article, manuscript, report, thesis) (limited to 10 megabytes).

  9. Exhibit of work illustrating the applicant's interests and abilities in areas related to the design disciplines (limited to 10 megabytes, not zipped, in PDF format). Upload under "other documents."

  10. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test results (not required but preferred).
  11. For international students, a financial statement showing minimum financial support for the first year of study (see the admissions page on the school’s website).

Submit your graduate application and upload all application materials online. Please contact the Admissions Coordinator if you have any questions:

The University of Kansas
Department of Architecture
Marvin Hall
1465 Jayhawk Blvd., Room 206
Lawrence, KS 66045-7626

Be sure to check the school’s website for updates to the admission process or requirements.

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

General Plan of Study

The Ph.D. in Architecture degree program is carefully crafted to allow students to engage in rewarding and potentially revolutionary scholarly investigation steeped in an atmosphere of rigorous academic pursuit. The 49-credit-hour curriculum is divided into three parts: foundation, concentrations, and advanced study. In the foundation, students must take the following courses:

ARCH 930Doctoral Seminar I1
ARCH 931Theories of Architectural Inquiry3
ARCH 951Methods of Inquiry in Architectural Research3
Research Skills3
Advanced Methods 3
ARCH 958Research Practicum Preparation1
ARCH 959Research Practicum4
Major Course3

Concentrations are major (12 credit hours minimum) and minor (9 credit hours minimum) curricula developed by the student in concert with the major professor. The student becomes a candidate upon passing the comprehensive examination. As a candidate, the student enters the advanced studies portion of the curriculum and begins work on the dissertation. The student must be continuously enrolled, including summer sessions, until all requirements for the degree are completed. A minimum of 9 dissertation credit hours is required for the degree. What follows under "Degree Plan" is a sample plan of study.

Year 1
ARCH 9301ARCH 9581
ARCH 9313Advanced methods 3
ARCH 9513Major course3
Research skills3Minor course3
 10 10
Year 2
ARCH 9301Major courses6
ARCH 9594Minor course3
Major course3 
Minor course3 
 11 9
Year 3
ARCH 999 (Dissertation extends beyond the fall semester.)1-9 
Total Hours: 41-49