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Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning

A Ph.D. is also offered to students with a master’s degree in planning or a related field. The Ph.D. offers advanced students the opportunity to specialize in one of the sub-fields of planning. Ph.D. students are expected to take a minimum of 21 credit hours beyond the master’s degree, pass a comprehensive exam, and prepare and defend a dissertation. Students without a master’s degree in planning may be required to take additional courses from the MURP curriculum.

The doctoral program provides training in advanced research in urban and regional planning. Graduates are expected to pursue academic appointments at institutions of higher education and to achieve higher levels of professional practice in the public and private sectors.

Program Requirements

Each Ph.D. degree student is required to complete at least 21 credits in advanced courses (in addition to any remedial courses designated at the time of admission):

PLAN 602: Advanced Planning Theory
PLAN 655: Advanced Planning Methods and Models
PLAN 650: Research Design Seminar

In addition to these two courses, Ph.D. candidates are required to take nine credits in an allied field (to be selected in consultation with the student’s advisor). Students are also required to take one additional three-credit methods course.

Program Steps:

First year — Completing basic requirements

  1. Take PLAN 602.
  2. Take courses in allied fields.
  3. Prepare Study Plan with your advisor outlining proposed courses and schedule.
  4. Prepare draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

Second year — MOU, Preparing for comprehensive examination

  1. Identify three DURP committee members.
  2. Finalize MOU consisting of (a) a brief statement on the proposed dissertation topic, (b) names and descriptions of major and minor fields and proposed bibliography for the comprehensive exam, and (c) calendar of study, research and writing to completion of the dissertation. Signed agreement on the MOU by all committee members is required by the end of the second year.
  3. Prepare major field paper.

Second-third year – Completing courses and comprehensive exam

  1. Take research design/proposal course
  2. Complete all course requirements
  3. Prepare exam reading list for major and minor fields of study and successfully take comprehensive examination in consultation with Ph.D. committee members. The practice at DURP is that only three committee members will be responsible for setting and assessing the comprehensive exam. Students are free to have more than three committee members on the comprehensive examination.
  4. Identify five dissertation committee members, with at least one member from another department or program at UH (or, if approved, off campus)
  5. Draft complete dissertation research proposal in consultation with committee members.

Third year and after — Advancing to candidacy, field research and completing the Ph.D.

  1. Present dissertation proposal at a department colloquium. Having already completed all course requirements and successfully passing the comprehensive exam, upon acceptance of the proposal by the committee the student is advanced to candidacy for a Ph.D., also known as ABD (all but dissertation).
  2. Field research, writing of Ph.D. dissertation, and final defense.

Students are subject to all relevant requirements of the department and the graduate division. Students must demonstrate sufficient progress in order to advance to candidacy.

Student Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of the Ph.D., students will be able to:

1. Evaluate, synthesize, and conduct independent research relevant to building knowledge in the field of urban and regional planning;

2. Demonstrate mastery of rigorous research design and an application of research method within the field of planning; and

3. Present, discuss, and defend research findings through effective oral and written communication.

For additional Ph.D. details, please reference the Ph.D. Guidelines here.

To apply, check out admissions.