Travelling Scholarship Travelling Studio
Image by William Smith 2022 Rotch Scholar

Image by William Smith
2022 Rotch Scholar

How does this work?

The Rotch Travelling Scholarship is an annual two-stage design competition that results in one person, deemed the Rotch Scholar, traveling the world for six months studying architecture — and we pick up the tab. In the first stage of the selection process, a 72-hour, weekend-long preliminary design competition is held (running from Friday Noon until Monday Noon). Finalists from this competition go on to compete in the second stage, a 10-day competition culminating in a design presentation to a distinguished jury.

2023 Theme

In 2021, the preliminary and final briefs explored connected themes related to writer, bell hooks, through different programs. The Rotch Committee is pleased to offer a glimpse of the preliminary and final program briefs for 2022-2023 (subject to change):

Memory and Continuance
This year’s competition will ask participants to explore how design creates a dialogue between the history of a place and the new imaginaries that shape its future. Place is a shared territory that persists in collective memory and identity, and yet it is also a contested territory where the sense of a shared history is polemicized or rewritten. In responding to present challenges and envisioning future possibilities, proposals will need to examine the processes of preserving, erasing and even replacing artifacts and ideas in the process of making place.

For more information, contact Patricia Olshan at

What are you looking for?

Juries seek “evidence of imaginative capacity.” Specifically, we look for:

  • Strong organizing conceptual principle or thesis
  • Quality of poetic and philosophical rationale
  • Inventiveness
  • Effective development of structure, circulation and materials
  • Thoughtful consideration of site and context
  • Representation of a complete architectural project, both physically and conceptually
  • Quality, completion, clarity and effectiveness of presentation

Who is this for?

  • Emerging professionals who want to learn and advance their architecture work through a funded scholarship, while documenting global travels
  • Candidates must be U.S. citizens who have obtained a professional degree (BArch/MArch) from an accredited school in the last 10 years.
  • One year of full-time professional experience in a Massachusetts architecture firm as of January 1 of the competition year — or — an accredited degree from an accredited Massachusetts school of architecture as of January 1 of the competition year

How much do I receive to travel?

The Rotch Scholar receives $40,000 or more to travel and study abroad for a minimum of six months. This sum, distributed in four payments, covers expenses incurred by the Rotch Scholar for the stated period of travel abroad. See below for payment distribution details.

What is my obligation if I win?

The Rotch Scholar must travel for a minimum of six months, beginning within the calendar year of award receipt. The Rotch Committee and the Rotch Board of Trustees will allow for some flexibility for personal/professional commitments and will assess health and safety concerns related to travel at the time.

The study topic and itinerary are at the winner’s discretion (subject to Rotch Committee approval).

The winner is required to maintain and regularly update a digital record of travels (in images, drawings and text), that will be linked on the Rotch Travelling Scholarship website, This digital record could take any of the following formats: an Instagram handle, a Twitter feed, or a website/blog. Please provide information with your selected handle or website link.

A final report should include both images and brief text and be formatted in both hard copy and digital formats to be archived in the MIT Rotch Library with the other Rotch Travelling Scholarship reports. This record is also used by the Scholar Mentor on the Rotch Committee and the Rotch secretary to approve payment distribution.

Four payments are made to the winner of roughly half, two-quarters and a small final payment, which is withheld until the Rotch Scholar delivers a compilation of his or her travel research to the Rotch Trustees. The compilation must be a bound report and available to be printed on-demand ( is a suggested publisher). All reports are kept on permanent file.

Competition calendar

Jan 20, 2023: Applications due
Jan 23, 2023: Qualified applicants notified
Feb 24, 2023: Start of preliminary competition 12:00 PM EST
Feb 27, 2023: End of preliminary competition 12:00 PM EST
Early Mar 2023: Finalists notified
Mar 17, 2023: Start of final competition
Mar 27, 2023: End of final competition
Mar 31, 2023: Jury for final competition