Jul 19, 2024  
Rensselaer Catalog 2019-2020 
Rensselaer Catalog 2019-2020 [Archived Catalog]

Architectural Sciences (Concentration in Architectural Acoustics) Ph.D.

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Advanced study in Architectural Acoustics represents a unique opportunity for students to combine existing coursework with research in an educational experience that integrates scientific, computational, cognitive, and psychological research with experimental applications. The work is both multidisciplinary in scope and application-oriented, relating closely to design and to the needs of practitioners and industry.

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

Outcomes of the Graduate Curriculum

Students who successfully complete this program will be able to:

  • carry out research, and practical design or consulting project independently. 
  • demonstrate knowledge of basic concepts of acoustics science (such as fundamental engineering acoustics, architectural acoustics, and psychoacoustics concepts). 
  • write a scientific document in the field of acoustics, including archival peer-reviewed journal publications.
  • validate findings based on adequate research design and discuss the findings in-depth. 
  • orally present research work at scientific conferences, project meetings.


Exams and Dissertation: There are three stages to degree completion: the Field Exam; the Candidacy Exam (Dissertation Proposal Defense); and the Dissertation Defense, which is the defense of the dissertation text and the public presentation of the dissertation on acoustics research. 

The Field Exam is an exam tailored to the student’s areas of research and is intended to formally determine their ability to pursue research leading to a doctoral degree, which is developed and administered by the student’s doctoral committee and must be passed within two years of entry into the degree program. 

Completion of the Dissertation Proposal and the Defense of the Proposal to the student’s doctoral committee is the Candidacy Exam. After completing this stage, the student is considered “all but dissertation” (ABD).

The Dissertation is composed of a public presentation of the dissertation on acoustics research and the dissertation text.

The Dissertation Defense: The candidate must defend the Dissertation in a public examination, the Dissertation Defense, conducted by the student’s doctoral committee.

In the normal four-year progress towards the degree, the Field Exam is completed in the second year, advancement to candidacy is attained by the end of the second year or beginning of the third year and the Dissertation and Defense are completed in the fourth year.


Number of credits past the bachelor’s degree: 72

Maximum number of dissertation credits: 42

The courses listed here are suggested. Actual courses taken for the degree will be determined by the student’s adviser.

Ph.D. Suggested Courses


A minimum of 48 credit hours beyond the Master’s degree, which is at least 72 credit hours beyond a Bachelor’s degree. At least two-thirds of the total credit hours, excluding dissertation credits, must contain the suffix numbers 6000-7990, with the further limitation that no more than 15 credit hours of 4000-4999 courses are taken.

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