Doctor of Philosophy in Architecture

IIT’s College of Architecture offers the only Ph.D. program in architecture in Chicago, a cosmopolitan metropolis characterized by a dynamic architectural culture, supportive research institutions, and leading firms that drive the profession.

Founded in the late 1990s as a laboratory for applied research and scholarship, the college’s Ph.D. program attracts graduate students from around the world who converge on our landmarked Ludwig Mies van der Rohe-designed campus to address a broad range of topics within a multidisciplinary environment.

The Doctor of Philosophy in Architecture program is for enterprising individuals who desire to pursue careers in academia or research-based professional practice. As the most advanced academic degree, the Ph.D. recognizes both the highest level of expertise and the production of significant novel work.

The program is offered in two specialized tracks: Technologies of the Built Environment and History and Theory of Architecture. Both demand a deep understanding of the related theories in contemporary intellectual terrain, a command of advanced research methodologies, and a commitment to critical inquiry that extends the frontiers of knowledge. Current areas of study include urban energy modeling, high-rise and long-span buildings, technology applications, energy conscious design, emerging urbanisms, housing, history/theory of modern architecture and urbanism, preservation of modern architecture and landscape, and advanced computer applications.

Graduation conditions include:

  • 52 credit hours beyond a master’s degree
  • Qualifying examination
  • Comprehensive examination
  • Dissertation and oral defense

Take your first step toward your future by applying through IIT's site.

Admission Requirements

An applicant to the doctoral program should have a professional Master of Architecture (M.Arch.) or a Master of Science in Architecture (M.S.Arch.) degree from a NAAB-accredited United States university or equivalent, or Master of Landscape Architecture (M.L.A.) degree from an LAAB-accredited U.S. university or equivalent. Students with graduate degrees in allied fields, such as engineering and art history, are also eligible. Students holding a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.) can apply through the Master of Science program at the IIT College of Architecture.

The applicant should meet all entrance requirements of the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Graduate College, as well as a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale; a TOEFL score of at least 80/550; and at least three letters of recommendation from immediate supervising professors. The applicant should also submit a statement of purpose indicating a subject of study or research work and should provide a portfolio demonstrating the qualities of their accomplishments and expertise.

Read more about requirements here.

Degree Requirements

The program requires a minimum of 52 credit hours, usually completed in three-and-a-half to four years beyond the M.Arch. degree. The majority of the coursework will be selected from the curriculum within the College of Architecture, though students are encouraged to have their research find connections to other doctoral programs at the university’s six other colleges.

To be admitted for Ph.D. candidacy, a student is required to pass a Qualifying Examination in both written and oral formats after one year of study. A Comprehensive Examination must be passed after the second year. At the end of the program, a candidate will take a final examination, which will consist of an oral presentation and defense of the dissertation. Work for the Ph.D. must be completed within six years after admission to doctoral candidacy.

Our Ph.D. program is officially approved as a STEM designated field of study in Architectural and Building Sciences/Technology within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s STEM designated fields list.

International students who have earned degrees in STEM fields in the U.S. may apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion optional practical training (OPT) for a total of 36 months, a significant benefit for international students who wish to stay and work in the US post-graduation.

Direct admission into the Ph.D. program is preferred, but admission via the master’s program is also an option. Funding opportunities are available in the form of teaching assistantships, and students can benefit from our relationships with worldwide architecture and engineering firms based in Chicago. International exchange program opportunities are available for advanced Ph.D. students.

Prometheus Journal and Annual Symposium

Prometheus is a peer-reviewed Ph.D. student journal that showcases research-in-progress presented during our annual symposium hosted by IIT College of Architecture’s Ph.D. program. In addition to presenting new, interdisciplinary research, we seek to remind undergraduate and graduate students and design faculty of the college and beyond of the power of in-depth research to inform and transform contemporary design. In addition to presenting student research, each issue of Prometheus includes a yearly “Ph.D. Program Overview” to showcase the achievements and activities of our community of students and affiliated faculty; this section presents academic programming highlights such as our weekly Architecture Research Forum lecture series and news about the ongoing research and accomplishments of our students and recent graduates.

Each year, Ph.D. students who organize the symposium also serve as guest editors for the journal. Our hope is that the experience gained from these curatorial, organizational, and editorial activities associated with hosting a symposium and editing Prometheus will serve our students well when they enter academia and/or professional practice. We hope our Prometheus will continue to serve as a platform for emerging researchers who, like its symbol and masthead, defy the status quo by taking risks that lead to game-changing innovation in service to humankind, especially in times of crisis like the one we are experiencing now.

In 2020, Prometheus received the Douglas Haskell Award for Student Journals from AIA New York | Center for Architecture. In his letter informing us of the award, Benjamin Prosky, then the Center for Architecture’s executive director, wrote that “the jury was particularly impressed with the fresh and relevant content, beautiful design, and diverse viewpoints in the journal.” Even as digital publications currently play an important role in disseminating research, we continue to believe in the value of offering a digital format along with a beautifully designed printed issue.


For further information, please contact the PhD program director, Michelangelo Sabatino, professor of Architectural History and Historic Preservation and Inaugural John Vinci Distinguished Research Fellow