Why study Architecture?

University of Cincinnati’s Ph.D. Program in Architecture is a post-professional degree program of advanced theoretical studies in architecture with a focus on the acquisition of critical skills related to architectural production, both built and theoretical. It is intended primarily for students already in possession of a graduate degree in architecture or a related field such as interior design, planning, or landscape architecture. The Ph.D. program is an outgrowth of the university’s longstanding MS Program in Architecture, whose focus has traditionally been on architectural history, theories, and criticism as they relate to architectural practice. The program exposes students to a range of concepts in the field and fosters the ability to question and assess the built environment and the documents that relate to it.

In addition to a common core consisting of coursework in architectural theories and research methods, students complete courses in a minor field, demonstrate mastery of a major with the qualifying exam, and successfully defend a dissertation proposal in the third year, qualifying for candidacy and achieving ABD (“all but dissertation”) status. Students research, write and defend the dissertation in the final years of the program. With faculty members with technical expertise in human and environmental factors, computation, parametric design, and robotics in addition to the program’s traditional strengths in history, theory, and criticism,  the program can accommodate a range of student interests. The major exam is a multi-day written examination based on a reading list agreed upon among the committee members.

To fulfill the minor requirement, students may propose an individual course of study, supervised by a professor other than the dissertation chair, or they may choose from among a number of approved graduate certificates offered by the university. Popular options include Historic Preservation; Urban Design; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; and Data Analytics. 

Admission Requirements

Students applying to the Ph.D. Program in Architecture should have completed a Master's degree in architecture or a related field prior to matriculation. Students with an undergraduate degree or with an unrelated graduate degree must instead apply for the MS Program in Architecture. Some students enter the Ph.D. program directly from the MS program. These students retain their credits from their MS studies and enter the Ph.D. program at an advanced phase commensurate with their completed studies.

Unofficial transcript(s) from all colleges/universities attended are required. Official transcripts are not required during the admissions process, and only unofficial transcripts are required for the application. Applicants should not send official transcripts until they are offered admission and confirm enrollment to the university. For complete transcript requirements, please view the Transcript Submission Policy webpage.

A portfolio of design, art, or other graphic work is optional. The portfolio is an opportunity to demonstrate your design abilities, artistic talents, or other information you deem pertinent to your application. The content does not have to be architectural if your background is in another discipline. Written project statements to accompany visual work are helpful. Portfolios are submitted online. We do not accept hard copies of portfolios.

Three letters of recommendation from persons who are in a position to evaluate your abilities and your potential for success as a graduate student are required. There is no standard form to fill out; instead, based on the information you provide in your application, recommenders will be emailed instructions on the process for submitting letters of recommendation. 

A summary of your academic and professional experiences is required.

A two-page statement of your interest in graduate study in architecture is required. This should be a concise, articulate presentation of your academic and career goals, and any specific interests you have in architectural topics for graduate research and design. It should reflect your prior intellectual and professional engagement with these issues, and may also provide some additional perspective on the work illustrated in the portfolio.

Students applying to the Ph.D. program must submit one or two writing samples demonstrating the ability to conduct scholarly research and examine theoretical concepts. The essays can expand on the areas of research interest or on any topic.


Applicants to the Ph.D. Program in Architecture must demonstrate a commitment to the critical study of architecture and related design fields, including interior design, urban design, and landscape architecture. Prior education or working experience in architecture or a related field is desirable. Excellent writing skills and an interest in theoretical research are essential. Students whose English writing or speaking skills are not adequate for the demands of the curriculum must enroll in advanced, graduate-level English as a Second Language coursework prior to, and sometimes in tandem, with program coursework.

The Ph.D. Program in Architecture prepares researchers, educators, and practitioners for advanced scholarly, pedagogic, and professional work in architecture and related fields. Most graduates of the program become full-time professors or practitioners of architecture. Other career opportunities include historic preservation, public policy, curating, journalism, and institutional administration.

Because UC’s Ph.D. Program in Architecture has a small number of students, we are able to facilitate one-on-one student and faculty advising and collaboration. Students work with their faculty to develop their research and writing skills and they publish and present their work in national and international venues. While the program does not have separate tracks for students pursuing technical research, program faculty members assist students in identifying coursework and campus resources to develop the necessary competencies. All entering students have the opportunity to consult with multiple members of the Ph.D. Program faculty and with the program coordinator to determine appropriate elective coursework and dissertation committee composition.

  • The city of Cincinnati, once called the "Queen City of the West" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, provides an excellent array of cultural resources for students who intend to pursue a degree in the visual arts. It offers the energy and assets of a larger city, along with quiet neighborhoods steeped in rich traditions. Cincinnati offers live music venues that range from top-notch symphony and opera companies to a growing pop and rock community. Home to the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Taft Museum and the Contemporary Arts Center, the city also enjoys the presence of numerous art galleries and a strong support system among practicing artists. Cincinnati is situated within driving distance of Chicago, Pittsburgh, Atlanta and New York City, allowing DAAP students to take advantage of the rich cultural resources of these cities as well.
  • UC's College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) is one of the most comprehensive colleges of its type in the country. A collection of nationally respected design and art programs is housed in a unique and educationally stimulating architectural setting. Architecture students have opportunities to enroll in courses in a range of related disciplines and to participate in interdisciplinary studios or special projects.
  • UC’s emphasis on interdisciplinary studies facilitates interaction with counterparts in other schools of the College of Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning as well as other colleges such as the Engineering, Arts and Sciences, Medicine, and the College Conservatory of Music. Such interdisciplinary studies should be planned in consultation with PhD Program faculty members and approved by the Ph.D. Program coordinator.
  • Eligible students accepted to the Ph.D. Program in Architecture may compete for a limited number of scholarships and assistantships. All students are required to participate in a teaching practicum as part of the program, and many are chosen for paid teaching assistantships in the latter years of the program. Students are also eligible to work in campus jobs for up to 20 hours per week when classes are in session and 40 hours during vacations.
  • The DAAP college library has an outstanding collection of books, periodicals and visual resources supporting architecture, planning, design, art history and related subjects. Access to library holdings is provided by an automated online catalog, UCLID, which provides access to the University of Cincinnati Library information database, and through OhioLINK, the holdings of other academic libraries throughout Ohio.
  • The Computer Graphics Center is a state-of-the-art university facility with hardware that includes PCs, Macs, and peripherals such as scanners, plotters and digital video-editing suites. Students have access to sophisticated graphics equipment and receive hands-on instruction to augment the use of laptops in the classroom.
  • The college supports a Rapid Prototyping Center, which is the home of state-of-the-art equipment that allows students to create communication aids for their work. Using CAD (computer-aided design) models, students are able to create physical models using three basic methods: 3-D printing, large format laser-cutting and CNC (computer numeric control) devices.

For applicants whose native language is not English, a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score of at least 100 iBT (600 paper) or an IELTS score of at least 7.0 is common and is typically our minimum. The university requires minimum scores of 80 on the TOEFL and 6.5 on the IELTS. Applicants with scores below the campus minimums will not reach the Ph.D. in Architecture admissions committee for review. Students whose scores are above the campus minimum but below the Ph.D. in Architecture Program standards, or students whose English writing or speaking ability does not meet program expectations, will be considered on a case-by-case basis, however, they must agree to take graduate-level ELS coursework and possibly other courses as a condition of acceptance.

Application Deadlines

ALL applicants must apply by January 10th

The application process begins with an online UC Graduate Application. Supplemental materials are to be submitted online through the application process.

New students are admitted for the fall semester. We will notify successful candidates by April 15. An offer of admission may be withdrawn if a candidate does not accept within six weeks of our offer.

In general, the program offers neither deferrals nor admission in semesters other than fall, however individual requests for admission deferrals and for spring semester admission may be considered on a case-by-case basis depending on the specific nature of the request and the ability of the program administration to accommodate it.

The University of Cincinnati and all regional campuses are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

The architecture program of the University of Cincinnati has been accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) continuously since 1948, and its courses satisfy requirements maintained by various state architectural registration boards.

In the United States, most state registration boards require a degree from an accredited professional degree program as a prerequisite for licensure. The NAAB, which is the sole agency authorized to accredit U.S. professional degree programs in architecture, recognizes three types of degrees: the bachelor of architecture, the master of architecture, and the doctor of architecture. A program may be granted a 8-year, 3-year, or 2-year term of accreditation, depending on the extent of its conformance with established educational standards.University of Cincinnati’s Ph.D. program in Architecture is not an accredited professional degree.

Contact Information

Dr. Rebecca Williamson, Ph.D., Associate Professor
School of Architecture & Interior Design
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0016
(513) 556-0770

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Program Code: 23DOC-ARCH-PHD