Doctor of Philosophy in City and Regional Planning

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in City and Regional Planning trains students to undertake interdisciplinary, independent, applied research on urban and regional problems and planning processes. Students go on to careers in academia or research organizations. The program flows in three stages:

1.  Coursework to master theory, analytic tools in planning, and specializations, culminating in the Candidacy Examination. Students develop two areas of specialization, one from program-designated topics and the other developed with their advisor, depending upon their interests.
2.  Formulation of a topic for dissertation research which must be approved by the dissertation committee.
3.  Dissertation research, writing, and defense (presentation) in the Final Oral Examination.

Students in the PhD program come from a variety of backgrounds, so the time required to complete the program will vary. Typically, a student will complete three years of course work and one year for their dissertation research, or two years for their coursework and two years for their dissertation. For more information about the program requirements, please read the program handbook.


To learn more about our faculty, including their research and teaching interests, please visit the individual faculty pages.


Each PhD candidate produces a dissertation, which is a scholarly contribution to knowledge in the student's area of specialization. By researching and writing a dissertation, the student is expected to demonstrate a high level of knowledge and the capability to function as an independent scholar. For a list of recent dissertations produced by graduates of the PhD program, visit the Dissertations page.

PhD Lecture Series

As part of the Knowlton School’s commitment to bringing high level and current research to its PhD students and the faculty, the PhD Lecture Series invites prominent researchers in city and regional planning and related fields to present their work. These lectures offer diverse research methods alongside theoretical and applied understandings of the contemporary research of concern to city and regional planning scholars. Along with City and Regional Planning faculty and student research, the speakers represent a wide variety of topics and disciplines such as economic development, environmental psychology, housing, transportation, public policy, urban history, urban geography and urban design. 

Future students

To learn more about the Knowlton School, its award-winning facilities, faculty, financial aid and educational opportunities including travel, career services, and student organizations, please visit the future students section of the website.


Admission to any of our graduate programs requires an online application and supporting materials, which will allow our faculty to assess your potential for and your compatibility with our programs. Visit the graduate admissions page to learn more. Interested in this program, but not ready to start your application? Complete an Inquiry Card for more information. 

The application deadline for each autumn admission is the preceding December 1