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Ph.D. in Urban Planning


The Ph.D. in Urban Planning is focused on training individuals for future careers as teachers, researchers, policy-makers, and business entrepreneurs in and near the field of urban planning—in academia, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and think tanks. The program equips students with the theoretical and methodological expertise to address important contemporary issues, such as climate change and adaptation, built environment transformation, immigration and migration, housing and community development, and poverty and inequality. It is a highly competitive doctoral program, accepting only three candidates each year.

We welcome prospective students from a wide range of backgrounds, and value strong abilities for critical thinking and independent research. In reviewing applications, the Ph.D. faculty make decisions collectively, based on students’ academic preparation, topical areas of interest, and experience with analytical. We encourage students to explore various directions of intellectual growth after enrollment.

The Ph.D. in Urban Planning is a program within the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) while the actual degree is granted by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS).

Admission for 2024

  • The application deadline for 2024 admissions was December 14, 2023, and is now closed.
  • For additional information on the application process and requirements, please see the GSAS website.
Core Urban Planning Doctoral Faculty
Organization of the Program
In consultation with faculty, students develop individual study programs anchored in advanced knowledge concerning the socioeconomic, political, and environmental processes that shape cities and regions, and the quality of life within them. Underlying these inquiries are questions related to the effectiveness of urban processes, and their justice, democracy, and ethics. Students are required to spend four semesters in residence during which time they are expected to take 48 credit points. In addition to the seven required doctoral seminars and colloquia, students can take courses across Columbia. It is assumed that the coursework will be spread out evenly over the first four semesters of study.

Upon entering the program, each student consults with the program director for the duration of their coursework. The program director’s role is to provide independent guidance and mentorship on all aspects of student life. Students meet at least once each semester with the program director to discuss their academic progress and future plans.

By the date of the comprehensive examination and prior to submitting their dissertation prospectus, each student selects a dissertation advisor (also known as sponsor), to act as a guide during the course of dissertation research and for the dissertation defense. During this or any other time, students are still able to draw on the mentorship of other Ph.D. faculty.

PhD Urban Planning Information Session
Fall 2021