Doctoral studies at the Department of Architecture

It is possible to receive a PhD in engineering (Dr.-Ing.) and a PhD in philosophy (Dr. phil.) in the Department of Architecture at TU Darmstadt.

Our department has a very interdisciplinary structure. Professors in various different disciplines – such as architecture, urban planning, art and digital design, engineering sciences, archaeology, the history of architecture and architectural theory – teach and carry out research here. You can receive your doctorate from us in all of these fields of research.

Students can complete engineering doctorates that primarily focus on building construction themes, carry out research into more sociological, historical or theoretical issues related to architecture and art in the areas of archaeology, building research, art history and the history of architecture, as well as architectural theory and architectural science, or also focus on design subjects. They can also produce experimental dissertations that deal with aspects of digital or artistic design or carry out research that focuses more strongly on the actual construction of buildings, i.e. the design and planning processes, construction economics, sustainable construction and other building or urban and landscape planning themes. This huge variety of subjects – and their different theoretical, practical, artistic or academic orientations – is what characterises research in a department of architecture.

The doctoral process is governed by the current Doctoral Regulations (opens in new tab) of the Technical University of Darmstadt. Students with a university degree in a subject other than architecture or urban planning can also complete their doctorate in our department as long as the research topic is related to the field of architecture and the doctoral studies are supervised by a university lecturer from our faculty. Graduates from technical collages are also welcome as doctoral candidates.

An equivalence check is required for students with a university degree from a foreign university.

Doctoral studies at the Department of Architecture are subject to the General Doctoral Regulations of the Technical University of Darmstadt. You will find further information on doctoral studies at TU Darmstadt on the central home page.

Information on the formal procedure for doctoral studies in the Department of Architecture at TU Darmstadt:

When you have found a topic for your doctorate, you need to find a supervisor for your doctoral studies. The Department of Architecture (FB 15) has six subject groups, each subject group covers multiple subject areas. It is highly probable that you will find somebody involved with the object of your research in one of these subject areas. If you are still looking for the right topic, you can of course seek out informal conversations with (various) professors and discuss your research ideas with them. After you have selected a specific research topic, contact the professor of your choice and discuss the next steps with him or her. In preparation for the first meeting with the professor, it is useful to prepare a CV and a brief summary (1-3 pages) of your research project (topic, research question, state of research, material basis, method, possible insights) in German or English and submit it in advance where appropriate. If the professor has already agreed to supervise your doctoral studies, you will receive a written statement on your topic from the professor that should be submitted together with the other documents for your application for acceptance as a doctoral candidate.

You must submit the following documents with your application for acceptance as a doctoral candidate:

  • Informal application (applicant, topic, supervisor)
  • Summary of the topic (5-10 sides)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Master/Diploma certificate
  • Statement from the first supervisor

See the relevant guide for more detailed information on the structure and content of the summary.

The Doctoral Committee in the Department of Architecture at TU Darmstadt decides whether to approve your application for acceptance as a doctoral candidate. Please submit the application for acceptance as a doctoral candidate in PDF format to the Dean’s Office at the Department of Architecture. (, )

The Doctoral Committee meets two to three times per semester. Please remember that your application must be submitted 14 days before the next meeting! You can ask for information on the precise dates of the meetings at the Dean’s Office at the Department of Architecture. The relevant contacts are Dr.-Ing. Mieke Pfarr-Harfst or Dipl.-Ing. Valentina Višnjić. They can also assist you with any other questions you may have about your doctoral studies.

When your application for acceptance as a doctoral candidate has been approved by the Doctoral Committee at the Department of Architecture, please register with the university. You will find information on the registration process on the central home page for doctoral students at TU Darmstadt. This is required for the university statistics. Online registration is obligatory for doctoral studies at TU Darmstadt. If you want, you can also enrol at TU Darmstadt as a doctoral student after your application for acceptance as a doctoral candidate has been approved (although this is not obligatory).

A maximum period of five years is generally allowed for writing the doctoral dissertation. For more details, please see the Guide to doctoral studies in the Department of Architecture (opens in new tab). You can apply for an extension by submitting a written application including the reason for the extension to the Doctoral Committee.

The doctoral dissertation is usually a monograph about a specific topic. The dissertation can also be accepted in a special form as part of a cumulative doctorate (information on cumulative doctorates can be found in the “Guide to doctoral studies in the Department of Architecture” and the Specific regulations for the Department of Architecture (opens in new tab), § 9, (4)).

The “Ingenium. Young Researchers at TU Darmstadt” programme supports all young researchers with a comprehensive qualification programme. It offers e.g. specific workshops on writing the dissertation, on time and self-management and on managing references, as well as lots of other services for young researchers.

If you require financial support, you can find out about doctoral scholarships from the Stipendienlotse (the scholarship database from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research). Please also speak to your first supervisor who can assist you with the search for scholarship providers.

Numerous colloquia are held in department 15 and young scientists from all subject areas are welcome to attend. Please also speak to your supervisor to find out whether your own subject area also holds its own colloquia.

There is an interdisciplinary colloquium which is currently supervised by Prof. Dr. Christiane Salge. Prospective students, doctoral students and postdocs from all subject areas are welcome to attend. If you are interested in these colloquia, please contact: In addition, doctoral students from the Department of Archaeology organise their own interregional colloquium called the Darmstadt Discussion. The subject areas of architectural theory, architectural science, art history and the history of architecture jointly organise a colloquium at the Center for Critical Studies in Architecture (CCSA) in cooperation with the Art History Institute at the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main.

The finished dissertation should be submitted in analogue and digital form to the Dean’s Office. Observe the following formalities when submitting the dissertation:

  • Submit: A CV and overview of your education
  • Digital submission: digital version of the dissertation in PDF format
  • Analogue submission: 6 copies of the dissertation (5 for the members of the Examination Board + 1 for the Dean)
  • Pay the doctoral fee of €100 to the following account: TU Darmstadt, IBAN: DE 36 5085 0150 0000 7043 00, BIC: HELADEF1DAS, Reason for payment: Doctoral fee, KST 300299, Project 401 00 191, Your name (please add receipt)
  • Declaration that the dissertation was produced independently
  • Declaration that the electronic version is identical to the printed version.
  • Name the members of the Doctoral Examination Committee (usually jointly selected by the doctoral candidate and the first assessor)

The Dean’s Office will instruct the first and second assessors to evaluate the work. They have 8 weeks to produce a report.

At least 2 weeks before the dissertation defence, every member of the Doctoral Examination Committee receives a copy of the dissertation and the reports. In addition, the work and the reports can be viewed 2 weeks before the dissertation defence in the Dean’s Office. All professors in the lead department for the doctorate, all members of the department council and, in justified cases, professors from other departments have a right to view these documents. The doctoral candidate is not officially permitted to view the reports but has a right to receive information about the reports from the assessors if it is required for the examination.

The Doctoral Examination Committee comprises 5 members:

  • First supervisor
  • Second supervisor
  • 3 other professors

The majority of the Doctoral Examination Committee must work in the Department of Architecture (at least 3).

The Dean’s Office invites all members of the department and the Executive Board, as well as the Deans of all departments at TU Darmstadt, to the dissertation defence (via e-mail).

The doctoral candidate can also invite guests. The doctoral candidate holds a presentation on the topic of the dissertation lasting a maximum of 30 minutes. This should include all important aspects (initial situation, state of research, procedure, methodology, findings). The Doctoral Examination Committee with then ask the doctoral candidate questions (max. 30 minutes). Afterwards, the committee will retire to deliberate and decide on the grade.

After the dissertation defence has been successfully concluded, the dissertation must usually be published within one year. Please refer to the Doctoral Regulations of TU Darmstadt for the form of publication. Before the one year deadline expires, an application for an extension can be submitted in writing to the Doctoral Committee stating the reasons for the extension.

If you have any further questions, please read the following

because they will answer many of your questions.