Academics

M.A. & Ph.D. in Architecture

UCLA Architecture and Urban Design offers two academic graduate degrees: the Master of Arts in Architecture (M.A.) and Doctor of Philosophy in Architecture (Ph.D).

The programs produce students whose scholarship aims to provoke and operate within architecture’s public, professional, and scholarly constituencies. Both programs are supported by the Standing Committee, made up of three faculty members: Michael Osman, interim program director, Dana Cuff, and Cristóbal Amunátegui. A number of visiting faculty teach courses to expand the range of offerings.

Colloquium

All M.A. and Ph.D students are required to enroll in a two-year colloquium focused on methods for writing, teaching, and researching in the field of architecture. The six courses that constitute the colloquium train students in the apparatus of academic scholarship. Over the two-year sequence, students produce original research projects and develop skills in long-format writing.

Research Opportunities

The intellectual life of the students in the M.A. and Ph.D programs are reinforced by the increasing number of opportunities afforded to students through specialized faculty-led research projects. These include cityLAB-UCLA and the Urban Humanities Institute.

M.A. in Architecture

This program prepares students to work in a variety of intellectual and programmatic milieus including historical research, cultural studies, and interdisciplinary studies with particular emphasis on connections with geography, design, art history, history of science and literary studies, as well as studio and design based research.

Beyond the core colloquium, M.A. students take a series of approved courses both at UCLA AUD and across campus. The M.A. program is a two-year degree, culminating in a thesis. The thesis is developed from a paper written by the student in their coursework and developed in consultation with the primary advisor and the standing committee. In addition to courses and individual research, students often participate in collective, project-based activities, including publications, symposia and exhibitions.

The program is distinguished by its engagement with contemporary design and historical techniques as well by the unusual balance it offers: fostering great independence and freedom in the students’ courses of study while providing fundamental training in architectural scholarship.

Recent M.A. Theses

  • Jacqueline Meyer, “Crafting Utopia: Paolo Soleri and the Building of Arcosanti.”
  • Joseph Maguid, “The Architecture of the Videogame: Architecture as the Link Between Representational and Participatory Immersion.”
  • Meltem Al, “The Agency of Words and Images in the Transformation of Istanbul: The Case of Ayazma.”
  • Courtney Coffman, “Addressing Architecture and Fashion: On Simulacrum, Time and Poché.”
  • Joseph Ebert, “Prolegomena to a Poiesis of Architectural Phenomenology.”
  • Jamie Aron, “Women Images: From the Bauhaus Weaving Workshop to the Knoll Textile Division.”
  • Gustave Heully, “Moldy Assumptions.”
  • Brigid McManama, “Interventions on Pacoima Wash: Repurposing Linear Infrastructure into Park Spaces.”

M.A. Typical Study Program

FALL
290 Colloquium (-)
000 Elective in Critical Studies (-)
000 General Elective (-)
WINTER
290 Colloquium (-)
000 Elective in Critical Studies (-)
000 General Elective (-)
SPRING
290 Colloquium (-)
000 Elective in Critical Studies (-)
000 General Elective (-)
FALL
290 Colloquium (-)
000 Elective in Critical Studies (-)
000 General Elective (-)
WINTER
290 Colloquium (-)
000 Elective in Critical Studies (-)
000 General Elective (-)
SPRING
290 Colloquium (-)
000 Elective in Critical Studies (-)
000 General Elective (-)

Ph.D. in Architecture

This program prepares students to enter the academic professions, either in architectural history, architectural design, or other allied fields. Ph.D students are trained to teach courses in the history and theory of architecture while also engaging in studio pedagogy and curatorial work. In addition to the colloquium, Ph.D students take a series of approved courses both at UCLA Architecture and Urban Design and across campus. They select these courses in relation to their own research interests and in consultation with their primary advisor. The priorities for selection are breadth of knowledge and interdisciplinary experience that retains a focused area of expertise. To this end, the students identify Major and Minor Fields of study. The Minor Field is generally fulfilled by satisfactorily completing three courses given by another department and the Major Field by five courses offered by UCLA Architecture and Urban Design.

Once coursework is completed, Ph.D students move to the Comprehensive Exam, Qualifying Exam, and the writing of a dissertation, and final defense, if deemed appropriate by the doctoral committee. In the transition from coursework to exams, Ph.D students work on one paper beyond its original submission as coursework. The paper begins in the context of a departmental seminar, but often continues either in the context of an independent study, summer mentorship, or a second seminar with faculty consent. Upon the research paper’s acceptance, students begin preparing for their comprehensive exam. Before their third year, students must also satisfactorily complete three quarters of language study or its equivalent according to University standards. The particular language will be determined in consultation with the Standing Committee. The Comprehensive Exam is administered by at least two members of the Standing Committee and at most one faculty member from another Department at UCLA, also a member of the Academic Senate.

The Comprehensive Exam tests two fields: the first covers a breadth of historical knowledge—300 years at minimum—and the second focuses on in-depth knowledge of a specialization that is historically and thematically circumscribed. Students submit an abstract on each of these fields, provide a substantial bibliography, and prepare additional documentation requested by their primary advisor. These materials are submitted to the committee no less than two weeks before the exam, which occurs as early as the end of the second year. Students are encouraged to complete the Comprehensive Exam no later than the end of their third year of study.

The Comprehensive Exam itself consists of two parts: an oral component that takes place first, and then a written component. The oral component is comprised of questions posed by the committee based on the student’s submitted materials. The goal of the exam is for students to demonstrate their comprehensive knowledge of their chosen field. The written component of the exam (which may or may not be waived by the committee) consists of a written response to a choice of questions posed by the committee. The goal of this portion of the exam is for students to demonstrate their research skills, their ability to develop and substantiate an argument, and to show promise of original contribution to the field. Students have two weeks to write the exam. After the committee has read the exam, the advisor notifies the student of the committee’s decision. Upon the student’s successful completion of the Comprehensive Exam, they continue to the Qualifying Exam.

Students are expected to take the Qualifying Exam before the beginning of the fourth year. The exam focuses on a dissertation prospectus that a student develops with their primary advisor and in consultation with their Ph.D committee. Each student’s Ph.D committee consists of at least two members of the Standing Committee and one outside member from another department at the University (and a member of the Faculty Senate). Committees can also include faculty from another institution. All committees are comprised of at least three members of UCLA Academic Senate. The prospectus includes an argument with broad implications, demonstrates that the dissertation will make a contribution of knowledge and ideas to the field, demonstrates mastery of existing literature and discourses, and includes a plan and schedule for completion.

The Ph.D dissertation is written after the student passes the qualifying exam, at which point the student has entered Ph.D candidacy. The dissertation is defended around the sixth year of study. Students graduating from the program have taken posts in a wide range of universities, both in the United States and internationally.

Recent Ph.D Dissertations

  • Anas Alomaim, "Nation Building in Kuwait, 1961-1991."
  • Tulay Atak, “Byzantine Modern: Displacements of Modernism in Istanbul.”
  • Ewan Branda, “Virtual Machines: Culture, telematique, and the architecture of information at Centre Beaubourg, 1968–1977.”
  • Aaron Cayer, "Design and Profit: Architectural Practice in the Age of Accumulation"
  • Per-Johan Dahl, “Code Manipulation, Architecture In-Between Universal and Specific Urban Spaces.”
  • Penelope Dean, “Delivery without Discipline: Architecture in the Age of Design.”
  • Miriam Engler, “Gordon Cullen and the ‘Cut-and-Paste’ Urban Landscape.”
  • Dora Epstein-Jones, “Architecture on the Move: Modernism and Mobility in the Postwar.”
  • Sergio Figueiredo, “The Nai Effect: Museological Institutions and the Construction of Architectural Discourse.”
  • Jose Gamez, “Contested Terrains: Space, Place, and Identity in Postcolonial Los Angeles.”
  • Todd Gannon, “Dissipations, Accumulations, and Intermediations: Architecture, Media and the Archigrams, 1961–1974.”
  • Whitney Moon, "The Architectural Happening: Diller and Scofidio, 1979-89"
  • Eran Neuman, “Oblique Discourses: Claude Parent and Paul Virilio’s Oblique Function Theory and Postwar Architectural Modernity.”
  • Alexander Ortenberg, “Drawing Practices: The Art and Craft of Architectural Representation.”
  • Brian Sahotsky, "The Roman Construction Process: Building the Basilica of Maxentius"
  • Marie Saldana, “A Procedural Reconstruction of the Urban Topography of Magnesia on The Maeander.”
  • David Salomon, “One Thing or Another: The World Trade Center and the Implosion of Modernism.”
  • Ari Seligmann, “Architectural Publicity in the Age of Globalization.”
  • Zheng Tan, “Conditions of The Hong Kong Section: Spatial History and Regulatory Environment of Vertically Integrated Developments.”
  • Jon Yoder, “Sight Design: The Immersive Visuality of John Lautner.”

Ph.D. Typical Study Program

FALL
290 Colloquium (-)
000 Elective in Critical Studies (-)
000 General Elective (-)
WINTER
290 Colloquium (-)
000 Elective in Critical Studies (-)
000 General Elective (-)
SPRING
290 Colloquium (-)
000 Elective in Critical Studies (-)
000 General Elective (-)
FALL
290 Colloquium (-)
000 Elective in Critical Studies (-)
000 General Elective/Language* (-)
WINTER
290 Colloquium (-)
000 Elective in Critical Studies (-)
000 General Elective/Language* (-)
SPRING
290 Colloquium (-)
000 Elective in Critical Studies (-)
000 Thesis/Language* (-)

*The choice of language to fulfill this requirement must be discussed with the Ph.D. Standing Committee

FALL
597 Preparation for Comprehensive Exam (-)
WINTER
597 Preparation for Comprehensive Exam (-)
SPRING
597 Preparation for Comprehensive Exam (-)

Admissions

The M.A. and Ph.D programs welcome and accept applications from students with a diverse range of backgrounds. These programs are designed to help those interested in academic work in architecture develop those skills, so we strongly encourage that you become familiar with fundamental, celebrated works in the history and theory of architecture before entering the program.

Applicants to the academic graduate programs must hold a Bachelor’s degree, or the foreign equivalent. All new students must enter in the fall quarter. The program is full-time and does not accept part-time students.

The deadline to submit an application to the M.A. and Ph.D programs for the 2020-21 academic year is December 15, 2019.

Applicants will be notified of admission and financial aid packages, if applicable, in March 2020. If interested, applicants must file an online Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) by April 15, 2020.

How to Apply

Applying to the M.A. and Ph.D programs is an online process via the UCLA Application for Graduate Admission (AGA).

Completing the requirements will take some time, so we strongly recommend logging in to the AGA in advance to familiarize yourself with the site and downloading the documents and forms you will need to complete your application.

You can also download this checklist to make sure you have prepared and submitted all the relevant documents to complete your application.

Your Statement of Purpose is a critical part of your application to the M.A. and Ph.D programs. It is your opportunity to introduce yourself and tell us about your specific academic background, interests, achievements, and goals. Our selection committee use it to evaluate your aptitude for study, as well as consideration for merit-based financial support.

Your statement can be up to 500 words in length. Below are some questions you might want to consider. You don’t need to answer every question; just focus on the elements that are most relevant to you.

  • What is your purpose in applying to the M.A. or Ph.D program? Describe your area(s) of research interest, including any areas of concentration and specialization.
  • What experiences have prepared you for this program? What relevant skills have you gained from these experiences? Have your experiences led to specific or tangible outcomes that would support your potential to contribute to this field (e.g. performances, publications, presentations, awards or recognitions)?
  • What other information about your past experience might help the selection committee in evaluating your suitability for this program? E.g. research, employment, teaching, service, artistic or international experiences through which you have developed skills in leadership, communication, project management, teamwork, or other areas.
  • Why is UCLA Architecture and Urban Design the best place for you to pursue your academic goals?
  • What are your plans for your career after earning this degree?

Your Personal Statement is your opportunity to provide additional information to help the selection committee evaluate your aptitude for study. It will also be used to consider candidates for UCLA Graduate Division fellowships related to diversity. You can read more about the University of California Diversity Statement here.

Your statement can be up to 500 words in length. Below are some questions you might want to consider. You don’t need to answer every question; just focus on the elements that are most relevant to you.

  • Are there educational, personal, cultural, economic, or social experiences, not described in your Statement of Purpose, that have shaped your academic journey? If so, how? Have any of these experiences provided unique perspective(s) that you would contribute to your program, field or profession?
  • Describe challenge(s) or barriers that you have faced in your pursuit of higher education. What motivated you to persist, and how did you overcome them? What is the evidence of your persistence, progress or success?
  • How have your life experiences and educational background informed your understanding of the barriers facing groups that are underrepresented in higher education?
  • How have you been actively engaged (e.g., through participation, employment, service, teaching or other activities) in programs or activities focused on increasing participation by groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education?
  • How do you intend to engage in scholarly discourse, research, teaching, creative efforts, and/or community engagement during your graduate program that have the potential to advance diversity and equal opportunity in higher education?
  • How do you see yourself contributing to diversity in your profession after you complete your academic degree at UCLA Architecture and Urban Design?

A Curriculum Vitae (résumé of your academic and professional experience) is recommended but not required.

Applicants must upload a scanned copy of the official transcripts from each college or university you have attended both in the U.S. and abroad. If you are accepted into the program you will be required to submit hard copies. These can either be sent directly from each institution or hand-delivered as long as they remain in the official, signed, sealed envelopes from your college or university. As a general rule, UCLA Graduate Division sets a minimum required overall grade-point average of 3.0 (B), or the foreign equivalent.

All applicants are required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). More information on this standardized exam can be found at www.ets.org/gre. In addition to uploading your GRE scores, please direct ETS to send us your official score sheets. Our ETS codes for the GRE are below:

UCLA Architecture and Urban Design
Institution Code: 4837
Department Code: 4401

We recommend you take the exam at least three weeks before the application deadline as it usually takes 2-3 weeks for ETS to send us the test scores.

If you have received a Bachelor’s degree in a country where the official language of instruction and primary spoken language of daily life is not English, you must submit either a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or an International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Exempt countries include Australia, Barbados, Canada, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. This is a requirement that is regardless of your visa or citizenship status in the United States.

To be considered for admission to the M.Arch. program, international students must score at least a 92 on the TOEFL or a 7 on the IELTS exam. Because processing, sending, and receiving TOEFL and IELTS scores can take several weeks, international students must schedule their exam no later than October 31 in order to meet UCLA deadlines. TOEFL scores must be sent to us directly and uploaded as part of the online submission. Our ETS codes for the TOEFL are below:

UCLA Architecture and Urban Design
Institution Code: 4837
Department Code: 12

If your score is less than 100 on the TOEFL or 7.5 on the IELTS, you are also required to take the English as a Second Language Placement Examination (ESLPE) on arrival at UCLA. The results of this test will determine any English as a Second Language (ESL) courses you need to take in your first term of residence. These courses cannot be applied towards your minimum course requirements. As such, you should expect to have a higher course load than students not required to take ESL courses.

If you have earned a degree or completed two years of full-time college-level coursework in the following countries, your TOEFL / IELTS and ESLPE requirements will be waived: U.S., U.K., Canada (other than Quebec), Australia, and New Zealand. Please provide official transcripts to demonstrate course completion. Unfortunately, we cannot accept any other documentation to demonstrate language proficiency.

Three (3) letters of recommendation are required. These letters should be from individuals who are familiar with your academic and professional experiences and can evaluate your capacity to
successfully undertake graduate studies at UCLA. If you do not have an architecture background please note that we are looking for letters that evaluate your potential as a graduate student, not necessarily your architecture experience.

Letters of recommendation must be sent electronically directly to UCLA by the recommender. When logged in, you can enter the name and email address of each of your recommenders. They will be contacted by email with a request to submit a letter on your behalf. You can track which letters have and have not been received. You can also send reminders to your recommenders to send their letters.

Writing samples should illustrate an applicant’s capacities for research, analytical writing and scholarly citation. Texts may include seminar papers, theses, and/or professional writing.

Please complete and submit the Department Supplement Form to confirm your intention to apply to the M.A. or Ph.D program.