Skip to main content

Doctorate in Architecture

Students enrolled in the PhD in Architecture Program at the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning in the School of Architecture and Interior Design will study global perspectives on architectural history, theory, and criticism (HTC) as these relate to practice. The program provides an in-depth analysis of the key theoretical concepts that underlie architectural practice, all the while encouraging students to put these conceptual frameworks to work to analyze and critically evaluate the built environment from a transnational perspective. The program is dedicated to situating the study of building design in a global context; it incorporates non-western perspectives and multi-cultural approaches to the analysis of the built environment, all the while examining how the process of globalization influences the practice of architecture and technological development. The program proudly draws on SAID’s world-renowned reputation as a leader in cooperative education and the outstanding scholarship of its faculty who are prolific scholars in the field of architecture history, theory, and criticism.

Career Opportunities

Career opportunities for graduates of the PhD in architecture lie in architectural education, architectural consultation, policy, journalism, museum curatorship, historic preservation, cultural advocacy and administration.


There are two tracks of study in the HTC program at the University of Cincinnati. They are HTC in Architecture, and HTC in Interior Design.

History/Theory/Criticism of Architecture

This track offers students the opportunity to explore history, theory, and criticism in architecture as a multi-centered field that draws from different disciplines. It envisions architectural studies as the investigation of diverse projects that arose in different localities, regions, countries, and continents from different temporal periods due to unique economic, socio-political circumstances, and evolving technologies. The diversity of faculty research interests in the School of Architecture and Interior Design (SAID) provides students the opportunity to select from a wide range of topics including the syncretic relationships between traditional cultures and modernity, architecture and human behavior studies, historic preservation, sustainable design, sustainable landscape architecture, community design, design in the public interest, humanitarian design, colonial and postcolonial architectural studies, architecture and eco-tourism, international architecture, new building technologies and socio-cultural transformations, architecture, gender and sexuality studies, as well as architectural practice and diverse global experiences in urban and rural areas. Students who are interested in researching the relationships between the visual arts and architecture, as well as the physical and the social meanings of public space are encouraged to apply. As one of the most established cooperative-educational program in the US in which the curriculum requires students to rotate between practice and studying during the duration of the program, opportunities exist for researching how current trends in thinking and technological innovation are influencing the practice of architects and artists. There are also collaborations between the School of Architecture and Interior Design (SAID), the School of Art (SOA), the School of Design (SOD), and the School of Planning (SOP), in the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning at the University of Cincinnati. The collaborations form opportunities for students to work with faculty in the four schools to study aspects of architecture and art, architecture and product design that are in everyday usage in our homes and buildings; community development, urban design and urban planning. Doctoral students in architecture can take advantage of UC’s emphases on interdisciplinary studies to collaborate with faculty members in the College of Engineering Research to research aspects of sustainable design strategies. Such interdisciplinary studies should be planned with the primary supervisor of the student who must be an SAID faculty member.

History/Theory/Criticism of Interior Design

This track offers students opportunities to explore HTC in interior design, particularly to investigate the theoretical and practical similarities and differences between architecture and interiors and how the practice of each may either converge or diverge. From an architectural perspective, the best interiors may be those that, in a "gesamtkunstwerk" fashion, echo and reinforce the forms and theories of the buildings in which they reside. However, many important interiors may differ from and even subvert the principles of the buildings in which they are. Interior design is a naturally interdisciplinary subject that overlaps, connects with, and draws upon multiple fields, including architecture, art, and industrial furniture, and graphic design; it is also a highly human-focused field that productively draws upon humanities disciplines such as psychology, sociology, anthropology and human geography.  Due to the historically feminine nature of the discipline, studies of gender and space are also a natural component of this track. The program aims to initiate a more rigorous regimen of criticism of interiors, both historical and contemporary, with the intent of making interiors practice a more thoughtful and theoretically-oriented endeavor. The historical focus of the track is upon 18th-century through contemporary interiors, a time frame corresponding with the autonomous emergence of the discipline itself. The track also offers the possibility of investigating both historical and contemporary pedagogical models for the teaching of interior design and can use as a laboratory the University of Cincinnati's nationally-ranked interior design undergraduate program and its associated co-op component, which forms a large field for research into current design offices and practices. Explorations of the sites of interior design education and practice also form potential avenues for research as, within the academy, interiors programs are housed in diverse settings, including departments and schools of art, architecture, human ecology, etc.; while interior design practice occurs in equally diverse settings including independent interior design offices, architectural firms, "branding studios," and other locations. The geographical scope of investigations into interior design may range from a large, global perspective to a regional and local context.

Faculty Advising

Contact Nnamdi Elleh, PhD, coordinator of the Master of Science and PhD Programs, at Following admission to the PhD Program, each student is assigned a faculty advisor. This faculty mentor advises the student on courses as well as the development of a dissertation topic and in the selection of committee members.