Ph.D Program in Urban Planning Program Requirements


Each student is expected to acquire advanced knowledge in the following areas:

1. History and Theory of Planning
2. Sector Specialization
3. Research Methods
4. Related Discipline or Field

At the center of the Ph.D. curriculum are two advanced seminars on planning theory and planning history (Planning A8931 and Planning A8930). Advanced Planning Theory provides students with advanced knowledge of theories that inform planning practice and theory. There are three broad areas from which planning theory draws and upon which the seminar must rest: (1) theories of urban form, (2) theories of the state and of collective decision making, and (3) theories of planning action. The Advanced Planning History seminar focuses on major works in planning history and major themes and issues in the history of planning. These two courses are augmented by four colloquia in quantitative and qualitative methods, research design, and knowledge and theory.

Research Methods in Planning

Each doctoral student is expected to demonstrate competence in statistical research methods as well as in research methods relevant to the topic of his or her dissertation. This requirement is intended to develop the social science, planning, and evaluation skills expected of a planning scholar. At least two courses in advanced methods are needed to fulfill this requirement. 

Sector Specialization

Students are expected to take advanced seminars in specialized planning fields both wqith GSAPP and in other departments of the University. Sector specializations provide students with the substantive backgrounds for their individual scholarly interests. The following list of typical fields is intended to be suggestive, not exclusive:

Planning History
Regional Economic Development
International Development

Related Discipline or Outside Field

This requirement helps students relate their urban planning interests to a broader field of intellectual inquiry. It is normally met by the completion of a minimum of three courses in the area chosen or by previous work. In either case, a letter from a University faculty member expert in that area attesting to the completion of the requirement is required. The following are examples of related disciplines and outside fields: anthropology, art history, economics, geography, history, law, political science, public health, social work, sociology, historic preservation, urban design, and international affairs.

M.Phil. Examination Requirement

Any student who has satisfactorily passed the comprehensive examinations and has had a Ph.D. dissertation proposal accepted can apply for the M.Phil. degree.

Comprehensive Studio Review

There are comprehensive examinations in (1) history and theory of planning and (2) the student’s sector specialization. These are written exams read by a committee of the Doctoral Program Subcommittee in Urban Planning. Students must pass these exams satisfactorily before they can present and defend their dissertation proposal. The exams are normally taken after the completion of coursework. They will be graded (Pass with Distinction/Pass/Fail) by the Ph.D. Examination Committee. No examination can be taken while Incompletes in that area are outstanding.

The Examination Committee will comment in writing to the student on his or her written responses after each examination, and those comments will be included in the student's file. If the committee determines that the student has not satisfactorily passed, the student will be eligible for reexamination, but not more than once for each examination.

Dissertation proposals must be approved by the main adviser (sponsor) and are presented and defended in front of at least three members of the Ph.D. Program Steering Committee, including or in addition to the adviser. Completed dissertations must be approved by the main adviser before they can be defended in front of a dissertation committee.

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