The PhD program in the Constructed Environment is a multidisciplinary, school-level doctoral degree that spans the four departmental disciplines within the School of Architecture: architectural history, architecture, landscape architecture, and urban and environmental planning. The constructed environment can be viewed as a “super discipline” that engages the four departmental disciplines. In this context, “constructed environment” refers to the environment created by human society, ranging in scale from building components to global infrastructure; the study of that environment encompasses not only spatial and technical issues, but also social, economic, ethical, historical, and aesthetic ones. Admission is limited to students who hold a Masters Degree or equivalent.
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1. Course Requirements
A minimum of 72 credit hours is required for completion of the program, including 48 credit hours of coursework, to be completed in full-time residence at the University, during the first four semesters of the program. Working closely with their advisor, students will design a curriculum that provides sufficient breadth and depth of knowledge. The curriculum consists of four areas: (1) core courses, (2) methods courses, (3) specialization courses, and (4) dissertation hours. The lowest acceptable grade for a student in the Graduate School of Architecture is a B-. Students must earn a grade of “B-” or higher in all of their courses; students who receive two failing grades will not be permitted to remain in the program. Courses taken at other institutions are normally not accepted. Under exceptional circumstances, a petition along with supporting materials (i.e. syllabus and work samples) may be submitted to receive an exemption from taking a required course. Candidates are required to fulfill the total degree credit requirement regardless of course exemptions granted. Petitions are to be submitted to the department chair or graduate program director for consideration and final decision.
1.1 Core Courses
18 credit hours
Core courses are designed to develop the critical thinking necessary for students to identify and evaluate specific research questions and to provide links between research questions and the methods used to explore them. SARC 8101 Theories of Knowledge in the Constructed Environment: 3 credits, SARC 8120 Ethics, Politics, and Aesthetics: 3 credits, SARC 9911 Research Colloquium I: 3 credits, SARC 9912 Research Colloquium II: 3 credits, SARC 9913 Research Colloquium III: 3 credits and SARC 9914 Research Colloquium IV: 3 credits
1.2 Methods Courses
9 credit hours
The specific methods courses a student takes depend on the nature of their topic and their research model. The disciplines of the School encompass methods based on three fundamental research models: social sciences, humanities, and engineering. Those pursuing a social sciences model using demographic data sets, common in planning-related topics, would take methods courses in statistics and data analysis. Those pursuing a humanities model of critical analysis, common in topics relating to architectural history and architecture, would take seminars on research methods related to their interest. Those pursuing an engineering model of developing improved technologies and processes, common in architecture and landscape architecture, would take technical background courses needed to analyze and develop the technology of interest. Working closely with their advisor, students will select a series of methods courses – appropriately sampled from introductory-, intermediate-, and advanced-graduate coursework – that is best suited to acquiring the knowledge necessary for completing the dissertation. The methods courses included in an individual curriculum are subject to approval by the PhD Committee.
1.3 Specialization Courses
21 credit hours
Working closely with their advisor, students will select a series of specialization courses – appropriately sampled from introductory-, intermediate-, and advanced-graduate coursework – that is best suited to acquiring the knowledge necessary for completing the dissertation. The specialization courses included in an individual curriculum are subject to approval by the PhD Committee.
1.4 Dissertation Hours
24 credit hours
Upon achieving candidacy, students register for dissertation hours. While registered for dissertation hours, students devote their effort towards dissertation-related research. SARC 9999 Non-Topical Research: 1-12 credits
2. Non-Coursework Requirements and Process
Upon completion of coursework, students enroll in SARC 8999 for 12 credits per semester. During that time they complete their comprehensive exams and dissertation proposal. This normally takes 1-2 semesters.
2.1 Literature Review
Upon completion of the second semester, students will submit a literature review in their area of specialization. As this literature review develops, students will present and discuss their findings in the research colloquium.
2.2 Dissertation Committee
Before the end of the third semester, students will submit a list of dissertation committee members to the PhD Committee for review and approval. The Dissertation Committee will serve as both the review committee for the Comprehensive Exams and as the review committee for the dissertation. The dissertation advisor must be a member of the student’s home department and one member of the dissertation committee must be from outside the student’s home department. In addition, faculty from outside of the School of Architecture may serve on dissertation committees.
2.3 Comprehensive Exams
Upon completion of coursework, students are required to sit for Comprehensive Exams. The Comprehensive Exams may be initiated immediately after the completion of coursework requirements and must be initiated no later than 14 days after the beginning of the fifth semester of study. The Comprehensive Exams include a written exam and an oral one.
The process includes the following steps: The Dissertation Committee prepares written questions addressing (1) broad knowledge of disciplines related to the topic of inquiry, and (2) depth of knowledge in the area of specialization. Owing to the interdisciplinary nature of the program, there is no one fixed format for the Comprehensive Exams. Instead, the Comprehensive Exams should fit one of the following two models:
1. Closed Book: 2- 3 exams administered on separate days. Each exam should be approximately 3 hours.
2. Open Book: 2- 3 exams/papers completed over a one-week period with a maximum length of ten pages each.
The Dissertation Committee has approximately one week to review the written response. At the end of that time, an oral exam is held. At the oral exam, the Dissertation Committee poses questions to the student. The majority of these questions will pursue further development and clarification of answers in the written part of the exams and normally will take two to three hours.
After the oral exam, the Dissertation Committee will meet in closed session to evaluate the student’s performance on both the written and oral examinations. There are three possible outcomes: pass, fail, or deferred decision. In the case of a “pass” outcome, the student achieves candidacy. In the case of a “fail” outcome, the student is provided an opportunity to retake the exams the following semester. Unless otherwise approved by the PhD Committee, three months must elapse prior to the second administration of the Comprehensive Exams. A third administration of exams is not permitted. In the case of a “deferred” decision, the student has one week to revise unsatisfactory responses. At the end of the rewrite period, the Dissertation Committee reviews the revised answers and must render a decision of “pass” or “fail.” Failure to pass the second administration of exams marks the end of the student’s doctoral studies in the School.
2.4 Dissertation Proposal
During the first two weeks of the semester following passage of the Comprehensive Exams, the student submits a Dissertation Proposal to the Dissertation Committee at a public oral presentation. After a brief period of review, the Dissertation Committee either approves the proposal or requests the student to resubmit after revisions with a written specification of areas for clarification or expansion. In the case of revisions, the student has four weeks to prepare a revised proposal for resubmission to the Dissertation Committee.
The dissertation is supervised by the dissertation advisor and the Dissertation Committee. A student may request to change advisors only with the approval of the PhD Committee. Upon completion, the student will defend the dissertation at a scheduled public defense before the Dissertation Committee. Immediately following the defense, the Dissertation Committee will meet in closed session to evaluate the student’s performance. There are two possible outcomes: pass or fail. In the case of a “fail” outcome, the student is provided one additional opportunity to defend the following semester. Unless otherwise approved by the PhD Committee, three months must elapse before the second defense. A third defense is not permitted. Failure to pass the second defense marks the end of the student’s doctoral studies in the School.
2.6 Performance Review
To encourage persistence and completion, the PhD Committee – in cooperation with the student’s dissertation advisor – will conduct an annual performance review of each student in the program. This review will address performance in coursework, progress on the literature review, performance on Comprehensive Exams, progress on the dissertation proposal, and progress towards completion of the dissertation. The dissertation advisor will discuss the results of the performance review with the student. Adequate progress toward the degree is required for all students who continue in the program.