All faculty members in the School are available to supervise PhD students. Applicants should identify and contact potential supervisors before the admission deadline in order to discuss the suitability of your research interests.
A student who has obtained a master's degree at McGill University or an equivalent degree at an approved institution in a relevant subject will be admitted to PhD 2; in this case, the residency requirement for the program is three years (six full-time terms: fall and winter each year).
Candidates for doctoral degrees must complete the degree by the end of PhD 7 (that is, within six years of entering the program).
There is no specific second language requirement. However, students are expected to acquire knowledge of additional languages appropriate to their field of research.
Each PhD student works with a supervisory committee normally composed of three members: the supervisor, an internal member (from within the School of Architecture), and an external member (from outside the School, but not necessarily from outside the University) who is a specialist in the area of research. The committee is formed to evaluate the student’s comprehensive exam (ARCH 701), and subsequently meets periodically to review the student's progress in the dissertation. Current students, please login to the Student Portal in order to access the Doctoral Supervisory Committee Form.
When forming the doctoral supervisory committee, supervisors submit a list of committee members for approval by the Graduate Program Director (GPD) with full contact information and a brief description of the reasons for selecting individuals for this committee- their particular areas of expertise or research interests. This is especially important for external committee members.
After the doctoral supervisory committee is formed, before any changes to the composition of the doctoral supervisory committee are made, a written request explaining the reasons for these changes must be submitted to the GPD for approval. If there are changes in areas of expertise occasioned by changing committee members, or changes in the PhD candidate’s research focus that formed the basis of the final dissertation proposal and Literature Review, a written rationale must be provided.
Annual Progress Tracking Reports
Annual progress tracking forms (found here) must be signed by all doctoral supervisory committee members to discuss the student’s progress. This provides a formal written confirmation that the evaluation shown on the progress tracking form has been reviewed and agreed to by all concerned. If there are any dissenting opinions, or if there is not enough room on the form, there is the opportunity to provide a supplementary document for the PhD Program's files. Note that in McGill University's Graduate Studies regulations, an annual meeting of all concerned is required for the completion of the progress tracking form.
For new PhD students, the student and supervisor will meet early in the student’s first term of study to review topics listed on the form Student-Supervisor Expectations Summary. A copy of this form, signed and dated by the student, will be retained in the PhD Program's files.
ARCH 700 Thesis Proposal
ARCH 700 consists of the preparation of a research proposal and a comprehensive framework for the doctoral thesis.
Timing: Students should enroll in ARCH 700 in the winter semester of PhD 2. The research proposal is evaluated by the supervisor and normally submitted in April of PhD 2.
Length of Document: The proposal is a document of approximately 10-15 pages (plus bibliography) that states the theme, argument, methods, and sources for the thesis project, and includes an outline of proposed chapters and a timeline. Proposals should include a bibliography of 10-20 pages.
The proposal should present the focused argument that will be the subject of the dissertation. It should outline both a topic and an approach, suggest some possible conclusions, and demonstrate a familiarity with previous work in the field.
Method of Evaluation: A PDF copy of the proposal should be sent by the supervisor to the GPC along with the grade to be kept in the School’s records.
ARCH 701 Comprehensive Examination
The PhD program in Architecture follows McGill University’s Comprehensive Policy (available here).
Arch 701 consists of the presentation of a comprehensive literature review, covering material that is central to the student's doctoral research, with an oral defense before the Doctoral Supervisory Committee.
Timing: ARCH 701 is the final step before beginning thesis research and writing. All coursework should be completed before undertaking the Comprehensive Examination. Students normally register for ARCH 701 in the winter term of PhD 3.
Length of Document: approx. 40–50 pages.
The paper, typically 40-50 pages in total, comprises a literature review of approximately 25-35 pages, which sets the project in a critical synthesis of relevant scholarship. It also includes a revised ARCH 700 proposal of approximately 10 pages that re-states the theme, argument, methods, and sources for the project, and includes an outline of proposed chapters and a timeline.
Proposals should also include a bibliography of an additional 10-20 pages.
At the exam, the student presents a critical summary of the project (20 mins) and answers questions from the committee about the written document and the oral presentation. The student is expected to demonstrate a knowledge of the broader field related to the argument and indicated by the preliminary bibliography.
Method of Evaluation: ARCH 701 is graded (pass/fail) on written paper and oral presentation by supervisor and two committee members. The paper is sent to the supervisory committee and to the Graduate Program Coordinator at least two weeks before the oral examination. The Grading Form can be found on the student portal.
The committee evaluates the document and the oral defence. It grades by consensus. A passing grade is required for students to continue in the program.
The School follows the PhD Comprehensives Policy with regards to feedback: “The assessment and reasons for the decision, including identifying specific strengths and weaknesses, must be documented and provided to the student in sufficient detail to allow the student to understand the decision.”
Failures: The School follows the PhD Comprehensives Policy with regard to failures: “In the event that the student is judged to have failed the comprehensive, units must allow, without prejudice, one repeat of the comprehensive (in whole or in part) within a minimum of four (4) months and a maximum of six (6) months.”
Requirements to complete our PhD courses:
The PhD program in Architecture is governed by the University Regulations and Resources (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies).
The requirements include:
- A minimum of three years in residence.
- Completion of the program requirements in PhD 2 and PhD 3 available here:
- Successful submission and defence of a dissertation thesis.
- You can find information on McGill University’s policy for comprehensive examinations HERE.
Thesis and Thesis Defense
An internal examiner and an external examiner must both accept the dissertation before the student may defend his or her work at a formal oral examination. Every doctoral dissertation at McGill must represent an original contribution to the field of research.
The PhD in Architecture Program follows the University Regulations Concerning Theses with regards to thesis examination and defense.
Doctoral Oral Defense
Once the dissertation is accepted, the student must submit to an oral defense before a committee. The committee is usually composed of two faculty members of the School of Architecture including the research director, an external expert other than the external examiner, the director of the School, and others who may be appointed by the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research.