Jan 16, 2021  
Graduate Record 2006-2007 
Graduate Record 2006-2007 [ARCHIVED RECORD]

Doctor of Philosophy in the History of Art and Architecture

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To enter the doctoral program, the student must obtain the permission of the faculty. For students who wish to continue, application is made as work for the M.A. is completed, usually in the second semester of the second year. In exceptional cases, the faculty will review a student’s work after the first year of graduate study and give that student permission to enter the Ph.D. program after completing M.A. course work. Such students do not complete the comprehensive examination and the master’s essay and do not receive a master’s degree. Doctoral candidates are required to complete successfully a minimum of 24 credits of courses at the 500 level or above, beyond those required for the master’s degree. They must also pass a written examination in the major field, write a dissertation, and, after the dissertation has been accepted, defend it in an oral examination.

Each student’s program is to be approved by the Departmental Director of Graduate Studies. A member of the graduate faculty in the student’s field of specialization must approve a dissertation proposal outlining the subject and scope of the dissertation and a research plan. When the proposal has been approved by the advisor and members of a dissertation committee chosen by the student in consultation with the advisor, it will be circulated among the faculty, who may offer comments or suggestions. In addition to the languages required for the M.A. degree, students may be required to have a reading knowledge of other languages necessary for work in their major field.

The degree is offered through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, while the program is located in the Department of Architectural History in the School of Architecture. 


Required for admission into the doctorate program is the equivalent of the School of Architecture’s Master of Architectural History. Students lacking that preparation should apply for admission to the Master of Architectural History Program with a clear indication of their interest in the Ph.D. program. Admission to the doctorate program is a separate procedure pursued through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Admission is based on the student’s record in graduate architectural history courses and other graduate-level work as revealed in the official transcript and letters of recommendation (at least two are required), on Graduate Record Examination scores, and on the form and content of the statement of intent submitted as part of the application. An interview is useful but not required.

Language Qualification

The doctorate calls for a reading knowledge of at least one more foreign language than the one required for the M.Arch.H., usually French, German, or Italian (although Latin or some other language may be substituted with permission). This requirement may be satisfied by earning the grade of B+ or better in an intermediate-level university course in the language within two years of admission, or by a score of at least 550 on an ETS Graduate School Foreign Language Test, or by a language departmental reading test.


The Ph.D. field examination is normally held in the first semester of a student’s second year and consists of written and oral segments taken consecutively over a three to five day period. The student must submit a dissertation prospectus prior to taking the field examination and completes the language requirement. The written portion of the exam is two days in length. The first day is devoted to the major field area and takes about six hours to write; the second day consists of two three-hour written segments in the student’s two minor field areas. The faculty reads the examination, and the oral examination segment follows on either the third, fourth, or fifth day, and consists of one hour on the major field area and one-half hour on each of the minor field areas. The student is expected to demonstrate familiarity with buildings and other works related to architecture, the methods used for dealing with that knowledge, and the history and bibliography connected to it. Attention is also directed to the economic, intellectual, and social history that surrounds specific architectural history questions.


A dissertation, normally prepared in the third year of doctorate study, is meant to make an important contribution to knowledge. The formation of the committee should follow the guidelines of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The dissertation committee will consist of at least four including: two full-time department faculty members, one of whom will serve as chair, a member from another department in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and a fourth member who can be from the department or from outside. The time and place of the dissertation defense must be posted at least two weeks before its scheduled date.

Typical Program of Study

Note that an M.Arch.H. or equivalent degree is required for admission to the program. Not included here are courses required for that degree, and various additional required non-topical research courses.

The Graduate Arts and Sciences Admissions Catalog contains information about the Ph.D. program and its requirements. It may be obtained from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, P.O. Box 400773, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4773. Students seeking admission to the program who have, or are completing, the School of Architecture’s Master of Architectural History degree or its equivalent should apply directly to the GSAS at that same address.

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