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Grad Program: Architectural History

Basic Information

Architectural History focuses on the evolution of buildings, monuments, pediments and settlements in relation to art, history and philosophy. Architectural historians understand settlement patterns and regional growth. Just as important as understanding the history behind the earth’s greatest temples, cathedrals, palaces and gardens is the knowledge of how to preserve these treasures.

Along with a desire to preserve architectural masterpieces is an appreciation for understanding and conserving the cultural heritage that comes along with architecture. There is a deep appreciation for history and culture in architecture that historians try to preserve for future generations.

In addition to studying Architectural History, students learn about preservation, construction methods, and the importance of architecture in urban development and economic revitalization. Architectural history allows the student to develop a broad framework in economics, design, philosophy, urban development and art.

Since Architectural History is considered a specialized field, only a select number of schools offer the program. More often, architectural history is used as a supplement for architecture and urban planning programs.

Degree Information

A master’s degree in Architectural History will typically take between one and a half and two years to complete and will involve a thesis in addition (usually) to oral and written exams. Additionally, the M.A. may require familiarity with at least one foreign language.

A Ph.D. in Architectural History can take as few as three years or as many as seven, and will involve mastery of one or more foreign language, as well as a dissertation and oral defense.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Degree Program
  • Where is the program located, and will it give me access to architecture which interests me? How much of a role does location play in the program?
  • Who are the faculty members and what are their areas of expertise?
  • What sort of access do you have to faculty members, especially any big names? What about the students? Where are they from? What are they doing?
  • What about the alumni? Have they stayed local? Do they support the school once they've left?
  • What sort of assistantships, grants, and other financial aid opportunities are available?

Ask an Educational Advisor