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.


Admission to the MA/PhD program is based upon the capability of the applicant to complete advanced doctoral studies through a demonstrated ability to think critically; to understand and apply analytical concepts; and to conduct substantive, innovative, and original inquiry that contributes to the theoretical and/or methodological foundations of the discipline of architecture.

To ensure the highest level of faculty support and proper level of faculty guidance, the program seeks to accept those students whose research interests are best matched with faculty specializations and expertise.  It is essential that the applicant, in their written Statement of Purpose, establish a clear connection between the applicant’s interests and those of the faculty.

Required Components of the Application Package

  1. Completion of the appropriate Graduate Student Application Form and associated application fee.
  2. One official transcript from all colleges and universities from which credit has been received.
  3. TOEFL or IELTS scores for international applicants (contact Architecture Admissions Coordinator for minimum scores).
  4. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test results (not required, but preferred). Applications will still be reviewed without GRE scores. Applicants may be asked to submit GRE scores later, if needed.
  5. Vita or resume. 
  6. Statement of purpose outlining your reasons for pursing the MA/PhD in Architecture (not to exceed 1500 words).
  7. Three letters of recommendation from educational and/or professional references that can speak on the applicant’s behalf regarding his/her research and academic potential, and ability to succeed in a doctoral program.
  8. Portfolio of work illustrating the applicant's interests and abilities in architecture-related inquiry. This portfolio should be representative of the applicant’s most significant work and may include design projects, research papers, academic papers, scholarly and/or professional presentations, or other work relevant to the applicant's area of interest (limited to 10 MB (not zipped) in PDF format).Upload under “other documents.”  The portfolio should be no longer than 15 pages.

A limited number of teaching or research assistantships are available.  Interested candidates should include a separate statement requesting an assistantship in their application package (Maximum 150 words).

Application Deadline

All materials must be postmarked no later than January 15 and uploaded here. The application will be reviewed as they become available for review. Admission decisions will generally be taken by the end of January to take advantage of different graduate funding opportunities available in the University.

Application Contact Information

Graduate Admissions

1450 Jayhawk Blvd., Room 313 Strong Hall

Lawrence, KS 66045-7535


Admissions Coordinator for Architecture

School of Architecture and Design 

1465 Jayhawk Blvd., Room 205 Marvin Hall

Lawrence, KS 66045-7614


Vita or Resume

The vita or resume is to be a maximum of 5 pages. The format is determined by the applicant and should include background information about the applicant’s education, professional/work experience, professional certification or licensure, professional affiliations, and evidence of significant accomplishments such as grants received, publications, presentations, awards, competitions and/or other activities deemed significant by the applicant. 

Statement of Purpose

The Statement of Purpose is one of the most important components in the application package. As a personal expression of interest, this statement distinguishes applicants from each other and clarifies the relationship between each applicant’s interests and the scholarship occurring among KU faculty.  The Statement of Purpose should elaborate upon information provided in the transcripts and vita/resume and deliver a concise description of the applicant’s objectives, including research interests.  This information is critical and, for that reason, the Statement of Purpose should reflect a clear rationale for pursuing the MA/PhD in Architecture.

The statement should:

  • Describe the research that you anticipate pursuing if admitted to the program. The ideas should be clear, well stated, and specific.
  • Describe your qualifications to undertake this research and reference your own or other related work if appropriate.
  • Describe how your interests are compatible with our faculty interests. 
  • Describe the applicant’s career goals and how attainment of the MA/PhD will contribute to those goals. 

The admissions committee needs a clear understanding of each applicant’s objectives and interests in order to ensure compatibility with the faculty interests.  

The statement of purpose is a maximum of 1500 words (Times Roman, 10-point font, single spaced, double space between paragraphs).

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 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