PhD in Human Environmental Sciences with Emphasis in Architectural Studies

The Program

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree is designed for individuals who are interested in acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to conduct substantive, innovative, and original research that contributes to the theoretical and methodological foundation of architecture and interior design, and the dissemination of this research through teaching, publication, and practice. To this end, the curriculum is structured so students move gradually from overview of architectural research to the identification and pursuit of major and minor areas of specialization and, finally, to highly specialized original dissertation research. This framework promotes stimulating intellectual discourse among individuals with varying research philosophies and interests.

Both faculty and students interact within this framework to develop an enhanced understanding of how specialized research contributes to the definition and evolution of an improved theoretical and methodological basis for architectural studies.

Doctoral study in Architectural Studies, College of Human Environmental Sciences, is research-based and expands knowledge in the “major” areas of either environment and behavior or design with digital media. The major area is defined as that area of specialization in the doctoral program within which the student is expected to write his/her dissertation.

Students will choose a “supportive cognate area” which is intended to reinforce the development of an understanding of the discipline. Supporting cognate area courses are selected from a broad spectrum of disciplines providing students with the opportunity to design an individualized program of study that capitalizes on their unique interests and talents.

A Design Research concentration is offered for:

  • Designers engaged in interior design, architecture, graphic or interaction design who require applied research skills from companies/organizations.
  • Researchers with a background in social sciences, anthropology etc. who conduct research for creative product development in industry -- Healthcare IT companies, Engineering etc.
  • Business and market professionals to advance understanding of design research for marketing.

The course work for the concentration is applied to the program of study. For specifics, see Design Research Concentration on Department website.

Also see the Department website for additional information: Master Programs, Environment and Behavior, Design with Digital Media, Online Study, Architectural Studies Graduate Handbook and Spotlight on Alumni.

Degree Requirements

The University of Missouri requires a minimum of 72 semester hours beyond the baccalaureate degree for the PhD. Coursework from the Design Research concentration can be applied to the program of study.  The doctoral program committee provides departmental approval of the student’s plan of study (Form D-2), a list of the courses and the credit to be earned in each of them, which will, when completed:

  • Prepare the student for research or scholarly investigation in the chosen field of study.
  • Satisfy the credit-hour and residency requirement of the department.
  • Satisfy any special requirements (collateral field, other special research skills) imposed by the department.
  • Satisfy the Graduate School’s requirement for a minimum of 15 hours of course work at the 8000/9000 level (exclusive of research, problems and independent study experiences).

The committee also recommends to the vice provost/dean, as part of the plan of study, any request for transfer of graduate credit. The student must substantially complete the course work outlined in the plan of study to the satisfaction of the doctoral program committee and the Graduate School before being declared ready for the comprehensive examination.

The research-based plan of study leads to the written doctoral dissertation. The dissertation is distinctive because it demonstrates the ability to conceive of and execute scholarly research, and it makes a contribution of new knowledge to the discipline. Research is conducted in one of the two interest areas — Environment and Behavioral studies or Design with Digital Media. Specific course work is chosen based on subject matter and the type of research method selected— quantitative, qualitative or a combination of both.

PhD students must complete a final oral examination by an approved faculty committee.

In order to pass the examination, and thus qualify as the basis for the award of the PhD degree, the dissertation should have the following attributes:

  • It demonstrates authority in the candidate’s field and shows evidence of command of knowledge in relevant fields;
  • It shows that the candidate has a thorough grasp of the appropriate methodological techniques and an awareness of limitations;
  • It makes a distinct contribution to knowledge because of the originality of the approach and/or interpretation of the findings and, in some cases, the discovery of new facts;
  • It demonstrates an ability to communicate research findings effectively in the professional arena and in an international context;
  • It is a careful, rigorous and sustained piece of work demonstrating that a research “apprenticeship” is complete and the holder should be admitted to the community of scholars in the discipline.

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Admission Contact

Dr. Ruth Tofle (
142C Stanley Hall; Columbia, MO 65211

Admission Criteria

Fall deadline: January 15
Minimum GPA: 3.0

Minimum TOEFL scores:

Internet-based test (iBT) Paper-based test (PBT)
Effective July 1, 2015 must have score of 80 Effective July 1, 2015 must have score of 550

Required Application Materials

See Application and Admission for Department's graduate admissions criteria. Apply online at the Office of Graduate Studies.

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