PhD in History + Theory of Architecture and Art

HTC currently offers two tracks of study within the PhD program: History and Theory of Architecture and History and Theory of Art. Degree requirements and admissions procedures for both tracks are the same.

The program in History, Theory and Criticism (HTC) draws upon the unique range of disciplines and professions within the Department of Architecture. The program emphasizes the study of Western (nineteenth and twentieth centuries) and Islamic art, architecture and urbanism, and methodological issues that inform or link historical and practical work. HTC was founded in 1975 as one of the first PhD programs in a school of architecture. Its mission is to promote critical and theoretical reflection within the disciplines of architectural and art history. HTC differs from other programs in that it has art historians on its permanent faculty. Visiting scholars are annually invited to teach, supplementing the core faculty.

Continuous registration is required until completion of the dissertation. Generally all subject work is completed by the end of the second year of residency and all other requirements, except for the dissertation, are completed by the end of the third year. The final two years are devoted to dissertation research and writing culminating in a defense at the conclusion of the fifth year.

Islamic Architecture and Urbanism

Within the History + Theory of Architecture PhD track, there is a concentration in Islamic Architecture. The History, Theory and Criticism Section at MIT is one of the foremost Ph.D. programs in architectural history and theory in the US. Its mission is to encourage advanced historical research and to promote critical and theoretical reflection within the disciplines of architectural and art history. The concentration on Islamic architecture and urbanism is an integral part of the HTC section. Usually, one student a year is admitted to work on an Islamic subject and is funded through the Aga Khan Program endowment. Students are expected to fulfill all HTC requirements before embarking on their thesis project.

Research projects vary in scope, method, and range from the classical period to the present. Recent Ph.D. topics include: architectural sensibility in eighteenth century Istanbul; planning colonial Beirut; Hasan Fathy's environmental concerns; the evolution of the Shrine of Shaykh Safi al-Din Ishaq in Ardabil, Iran; architecture and nationalism under Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi in Iran; Umayyad settlements in the Levant; and the villas of 10th century Cordoba.

Faculty Advising

Each student will be assigned an HTC faculty advisor upon admission. Generally it is the same faculty member designated to supervise research work. The advisor will consult on the initial plan of study and on each subsequent term's choice of subjects. He or she will monitor the student's progress through each phase of the degree and will assist the student in selecting a dissertation committee. This committee should be in place by the end of the fourth semester of residency.