Architectural Sciences

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Foreign:$ 68.8 k / Year(s) Deadline: Jan 2, 2024
501–600 place StudyQA ranking:930 Duration:

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The School of Architecture offers the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Architectural Sciences to candidates who are prepared to undertake innovative and substantive research that adds to the body of knowledge drawn on by the design disciplines. The Sciences in this context refer to those disciplines that support and shape our understanding and production of the built environment including its physical, biological, social, cognitive and cultural contexts. The PhD is an inherently interdisciplinary degree in which concentrations can be elected in:

  • Architectural Acoustics
  • Built Ecologies
  • Lighting.

A distinguished faculty within the school and across the institute provides support for research projects that are informed by both disciplinary depth and trans-disciplinary integration.

The degree is intended for those who desire a career in teaching, research, specialized professional practices or consulting. The program is intended to build knowledge, skills, insight and experiences that will enable these individuals to make an original and lasting contribution to their chosen field beginning with their dissertation and continuing into their professional lives. The program is structured to foster a community of students and scholars, a collaborative environment in which lateral flows of ideas and influences enrich the research agenda of each member of the community.

Architectural Sciences (Concentration in Architectural Acoustics)

Architectural Acoustics is an interdisciplinary field of science tied intimately to the design and optimization of buildings and interior spaces, wherein the physical sound and noise field of a space and its corresponding aural quality are primarily determined by architectural parameters such as shape, volume, surface, and structure properties. The acoustical quality of spaces and products is relevant not only for cultural venues but also for any environment that values human health, performance, and productivity. Architectural Acoustics is necessary for the accurate and realistic simulation of virtual spaces for prototyping, education, training, and design, as well as for noise and vibration control engineering. In addition, advanced acoustic modeling leads to new developments of “aural architecture” and noise control and evaluation.

Architectural Acoustics thus encompasses and links many traditionally disparate disciplines to the discipline of design: physics, hearing perception, mathematics, computer modeling, engineering, music, psychological and physiological acoustics, noise and vibration, cognitive science, and electro-acoustics. Thus the Ph.D. in Architectural Acoustics can also involve communication acoustics in its widest sense.

Examples of current research topics include:

  • architectural acoustics, acoustics in performing arts spaces
  • modeling and numerical predictions of both room and environmental acoustics properties
  • noise and vibration, sound quality and design
  • acoustical measurement techniques
  • signal processing in acoustics
  • physical acoustics
  • communication acoustics

Architectural Sciences (Concentration in Built Ecologies) 

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Architectural Sciences with a concentration in Built Ecologies is an interdisciplinary educational and research degree designed to develop knowledge and expertise in the development of radically new building systems, structures and environments that are informed by the behavior of natural systems and/or performance characteristics of emergent technologies. Performance-driven design techniques seek new solutions to building system design based on the understanding that the built world should operate as an ecology and operate synergistically with larger ecologies. It seeks to address the global need for accelerated innovation and implementation of vastly-improved, energy-efficient, sustainable built environments.

Current research focuses on next generation building systems that make substantial advances in urgently needed areas such as clean, on-site energy generation, and fresh indoor air and water reclamation though ecological system integration, sustainable development and emerging bioclimatic design strategies.   

Current Research Areas:

  • Active Building Envelope (ABE)
  • Dynamic Shading Window Systems (DSWS)
  • Building Integrated Passive Dehumidification Strategies
  • Phytoremediation of Indoor and Outdoor Air Quality
  • Building Integrated Phase Change Material strategies
  • Development of biomaterials for building construction and performance
  • Passive Designing, developing and testing integrated building systems using emerging materials and technologies to achieve increased levels of building performance
  • Developing tools for the design and evaluation of high performance building systems
  • Performing in-situ or laboratory tests on innovative building systems
  • Determining the ecological benefits or liabilities of building systems and technologies

Architectural Sciences (Concentration in Lighting) 

The Ph.D. in Architectural Sciences with a Concentration in Lighting is a multidisciplinary degree encompassing the many disciplines that make up the field of lighting including physics, optics, psychology, physiology, photobiology, engineering, architecture, and design. These fields are brought together within the context of scientific inquiry, research, and discovery. Students’ research in the program is supported by all the assets of the Lighting Research Center (LRC), the nation’s preeminent center for research and education in lighting. 

Students wishing to concentrate their doctoral studies in lighting will complete at least 30 credit hours of formal coursework covering the physics of light, human factors in lighting, lighting technology, design, and leadership. Following the completion of formal courses, students will concentrate their studies and research in a particular area of scientific inquiry under the guidance of an LRC faculty dissertation adviser. In consultation with an adviser, each student will formulate an individual Plan of Study and select areas of research concentration from areas including:

  • Transportation lighting
  • Human factors in lighting
  • Solid-state lighting
  • Light and health
  • Energy-efficiency and energy policy

Graduates with a Ph.D. in Architectural Sciences with a Concentration in Lighting can pursue careers as faculty at colleges and universities, in research laboratories, or in other capacities within the lighting industry.


  1. Nonrefundable application processing fee of $75.
  2. Statement of Background and Goals
  3. Resume or curriculum vitae.
  4. Two letters of recommendation.
  5. Writing samples, if required by department.
  6. IT Background Evaluation form (IT only).
  7. Copies of official test scores (GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, IELTS, and PTE)
  8. Copies of official transcripts and evidence of degrees earned, in English and in the native language, of all post-secondary education (including transcript keys)
  9. Copy of your passport (international students only)
  10. TOEFL score of 230 CBT/88 iBT/570 PBT (IELTS 6.5 or PTE 60)
  11. Statement of Background and Goals should include research interests
  12. Portfolio of research work and interests


Teaching Assistants

Students assist Rensselaer faculty in their classroom and laboratory activities, gaining valuable experience as researchers, scholars, and teachers. Departments provide stipends and full-tuition waivers. Master’s students may spend a maximum of one year with internal support; doctoral students may spend a maximum of two years with internal support. Continued support can then be provided by means of research assistantships.

Research Assistants

Students work with the faculty in research-related tasks that further the student’s own graduate career and development as a researcher, scholar, and professional. Research assistants are paid a stipend and are given a full waiver of tuition.

Graduate Fellowships

Outstanding students may be awarded a university-supported Rensselaer Graduate Fellowship Award, which carries a full-tuition and fees scholarship and a minimum stipend of $21,500 per academic year. Students are nominated by their departments for Rensselaer Graduate Fellowship consideration.

Graduate Education Program (Russia)

Selected GEP Scholarship students are eligible for a renewable scholarship in the amount of 1,38 mln. rubles per year. Students in science and engineering fields are eligible for GEP funding. For application details and deadlines, please visit Applicants must be admitted to Rensselaer prior to finalizing the application for the GEP program.

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