PhD in Building Technology

The program is open to qualified students with a suitable background in technology and a degree in engineering, science or architecture. It provides a focus for those interested in the development and application of advanced technology for buildings. Students in this program take subjects in engineering disciplines along with subjects that deal with the application of these topics to buildings.

The minimum residency requirement for the PhD degree is two years; at least two to three years in residence beyond the SM degree are likely to be necessary. Those entering the program with only a bachelor's degree, should plan on completing the program in five years. Candidates are expected to be registered at MIT until the PhD dissertation is completed. Only under very special circumstances will students be allowed to carry out any of their research while not in residence at MIT.

Each admitted applicant immediately begins research under the supervision of a faculty member while also taking course work. Most PhD research projects will be a portion of a sponsored research project.

Faculty Advising

Each student is assigned a Building Technology faculty advisor upon admission. Generally the same faculty member also supervises the student's research. The advisor weighs in on the initial plan of study, including the selection of a major and minor field, and on each term's choice of subjects. The advisor monitors the student's progress and assists the student in selecting a dissertation committee.


Admissions for PhD in Building Technology

Candidates compete for the few places available each year in the Department of Architecture's PhD program in Building Technology. Admission is based on a careful examination of the applicant's previous academic record including relevant samples of completed academic and research work, a statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation. The applicant should demonstrate superior intellectual achievement, and the ability to initiate and complete independent academic work in the Building Technology area. Successful candidates will have previous degrees in engineering or a closely related discipline.

Deadline and Submissions

Online Application

Application Fee



Statement of Objectives

English Proficiency Requirement

The minimum IELTS score required for applicants to the PhD in Building Technology is 7 and the minimum TOEFL score is 600 for the paper-based test; 250 for computer-based test; and 100 for the Internet-based test. While either test score is accepted, the IELTS score is preferred.

Graduate Record Examination


Research papers or a portfolio of the applicant's work (maximum of 30 pages) may be uploaded to the Architecture Graduate Application to aid the admissions committee but are not required.


Interviews with faculty are recommended but not required. It is advantageous for an applicant to meet with the Building Technology faculty member whose research is most closely aligned with the applicant's interests. Faculty schedules vary, so students should contact faculty members directly at least two weeks prior to an intended visit.

Decisions and Notifications



Degree requirements for PhD in Building Technology

It is the student's responsibility to fill out the appropriate section of the Report of Completed BT/PhD Requirements upon completion of the requirements listed below. This document is submitted to the degree administrator and kept in the student's official departmental file. The degree administrator informs the MIT registrar that the degree requirements have been fulfilled.

Qualifying Paper

The qualifying paper, which often emerges from the Building Technology Seminar (4.481), should demonstrate the student's potential for work at a high standard of scholarship. The paper must be completed and accepted by the dissertation committee before a student can continue to the general examination. Insufficiencies in the qualifying paper may require remedial subject work on the part of the student.

Dissertation Proposal

The PhD dissertation is a major work that makes an original scholarly contribution to the field of investigation. Most BT/PhD dissertation research will be a portion of a sponsored research project. The dissertation is the main focus of the doctoral program and the primary indicator of a PhD student's ability to carry out significant independent research. The Building Technology dissertation must result in advances in the state of the art that are worthy of publication in a respected technical journal in the field.

Approval of the dissertation topic is gained through a proposal submitted to the dissertation committee no later than the end of the second term of registration. Once the proposal has been approved, the student may register for Graduate Thesis (4.THG).

Coursework: Major and Minor Fields

Coursework is selected in consultation with the faculty advisor. A normal registration load is 36 units, which would be a combination of specific subjects and research. Though the core group of subjects will be within the department, students are encouraged to take outside subjects. Building Technology Seminar (4.481) is the only specific subject required for the degree and is taken during the student's first term. Typically a student's program will include at least five graduate subjects in the major field and three in the minor field. Preparation for Building Technology PhD Thesis (4.489) is used as registration for research until the dissertation proposal has been approved. After that point, Graduate Thesis (4.THG) is used as registration for research.

General Examination

The general examination is given after required subject work is completed and the qualifying paper has been accepted (no later than the end of the third regular term of registration). It is meant to show broad and detailed competence in the student's major field of concentration and supporting areas of study. The exam requires four questions covering a range of building technology topics determined by the advisory committee and consists of two parts: a one-hour written section followed by a 20-minute oral section in each of four subjects selected from a provided list; and a 25-minute presentation followed by 20 minutes of questioning.

Building Technology faculty as a whole decide if a student's performance is acceptable. In the event that the general examination is not passed, the advisory committee may allow the student to repeat the examination once, or may recommend that the student withdraw from the PhD program.

Dissertation Defense

A dissertation committee of three or more people, generally assembled in the first semester of registration, supervises research and writing of the dissertation. The student's advisor is always a member of the dissertation committee and typically serves as its chair. The chair must be a member of the Building Technology faculty. In special circumstances, one of the three members of the dissertation committee may be selected from outside the Department of Architecture. The student is responsible for arranging meetings with the committee at least once each term.

The completed dissertation must be presented orally in an open meeting of the faculty of the department; at least three faculty members must be present. After the presentation, the dissertation is either accepted or rejected.

The PhD is awarded after two copies of the defended, approved, archival-ready dissertation have been submitted to the Department of Architecture at its headquarters. The copies must be submitted by the Institute deadline for doctoral theses as published in the MIT Academic Calendar. Students must adhere to the Specifications for Thesis Preparation published by the Institute Archives. Download Thesis Committee Guidelines here.

Nonresident Research Status

Students are expected to carry out thesis research while in residence at the Institute. It is rare that a PhD candidate in BT will need to apply for nonresident status. However, should a student who has completed all requirements except for the dissertation need to continue thesis research in years beyond the awarded funding, he or she may opt to apply for nonresident research status with the permission of the dissertation advisor.

English Proficiency Requirement

All students whose first language is not English are required to take the English Evaluation Test (EET) prior to registration at MIT. Even students who satisfy the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or Test of English as a Foreign Language requirement for admission may be required to take specialized subjects in English as a Second Language (ESL), depending on their EET results. These subjects do not count toward the required degree credits but will prove valuable in helping students develop the skills necessary to comfortably write a dissertation.