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Architecture + Design

Ph.D. in Architecture and Design Research

Degree Tracks within the Ph.D. in Architecture and Design Research program

There are two major tracks within the Ph.D. in Architecture and Design Research degree program, each of which has topical areas. The requirements for the tracks vary slightly, but both provide significant flexibility for each student to develop a plan of study consistent with his or her academic goals. The two tracks are Architecture and Design Research.

Architecture Track

The Architecture track within the Ph.D program in Architecture and Design Research includes research topics in Architectural Representation and Education, Architectural History and Theory, Historic Preservation, and Computing and Representation.

The Architecture track will share resources on the Blacksburg Campus and the Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center in the National Capital Region (NCR). At the latter location, students can make use of the many research libraries available in the Washington, DC area, including the Library of Congress, National Building Museum library, American Institute of Architects Library, CASVA, Smithsonian Institution, the Dumbarton Oaks Library and many privately-owned architectural archives to develop their topics in architectural representation.

More information on doctoral studies in architectural representation at the Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center…

Design Research Track

The Design Research track within the Ph.D. program in Architecture and Design Research primarily operates on the Blacksburg campus. A principal focus area within the Design Research track is Building Science. Candidates for the Ph.D. in Architecture and Design Research may also conduct research on topics related to Landscape Architecture. Over the past fifteen years the number of students and diversity of research activities in the Design Research track has steadily grown resulting in an internationally recognized program. Admission to the program is highly competitive with only a few admissions offered each year.


The faculty are seeking to admit a highly selective group of students who have master’s degrees in closely allied fields, such as Architecture, Environmental Design, Building Science, Landscape Architecture, Architecture History and Theory, Interior Design, and Industrial Design. In addition to the application requirements of the Virginia Tech Graduate School and those pertaining to all graduate programs within the School of Architecture + Design, applicants to the Ph.D. degree in Architecture and Design Research must submit a portfolio and a 2,500-word statement of research focus.

Degree Requirements for the Ph.D. in Architecture and Design Research:

  • The Graduate School requires each Ph.D. student to complete 90 semester hours of graduate study and dissertation.
  • All students, regardless of area of specialization, are required to complete a sequence of specific Architecture and Design Seminars. A two-semester sequence seminar will focus primarily on epistemology and the nature of discipline and practice of architecture, viewed in the context of architecture and the allied fields. Students will also enroll in a continuing seminar course required every semester of residence. In these seminars, Ph.D. students, the School faculty involved with the graduate program, and possible guests present their own research for critical review and feedback. The Ph.D. students in the Architecture track must also pass a test of reading ability in a foreign language related to their selected topics (native languages and English do not fulfill this requirement).
  • In addition, all students must complete a special Research Methods course organized by area of specialization. At the approval of the student’s advisory committee, the course may be also taken in the other area of specialization or outside of the school.