Urban Planning, PhD

The PhD in urban planning will educate scholars for positions in leading universities, research institutions, nongovernmental organizations, international multilateral institutions, national, state and local governments, and high-level consulting firms. The program will provide a strong foundation for undertaking research in planning, urbanism, urban design and urban sustainability.

While topics and methods will be wide-ranging and will include spatial, theoretical and urban design inquiry, the focus of the doctorate will be on the built environment, its problems and potential solutions that improve the quality of life of urban residents.

Research Opportunities

All graduate students benefit from a wide variety of course work and research opportunities in four broad interdisciplinary themes that span the expertise of the faculty within the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning:

  • City Building and Urban Structure
  • Environmental and Resiliency Planning
  • Spatial Analytics and Smart Cities
  • Housing, Neighborhoods, and Community Development
  • Transportation Planning and Policy

Outstanding Faculty

The faculty currently includes two members of the National Academy of Sciences, a National Science Foundation CAREER award winner, a past executive officer of the Association of American Geographers and a Guggenheim scholar, as well as ASU Regent's Professors, a Gilbert White Chair, President's Professor and Foundation Professor, and members of national and international committees and panels such as the National Research Council Geographical Sciences Committee and Intergovernmental Panel on Climatic Change (IPCC).

Partnerships and Resources

The planning program works closely with the School of Sustainability, and many of our faculty have joint appointments in that school.  We also have close relationships with many of the communities in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Resources include state of the art geographic information science laboratories and computational facilities. See the associated information regarding faculty for more detailed information regarding the depth and breadth of the program.

 

Application Process:

The Urban Planning PhD program admits in the fall only.

To apply to the PhD in Urban Planning program next fall, complete the Graduate Admissions online application beginning September 1. As part of this application, you must submit:

In addition, you be asked to submit your Official Transcripts, email addresses for Letters of Recommendation, GRE and English proficiency (non-native English speakers)

  • Official transcript(s) documenting successful completion of a Bachelors' Degree and a Master's Degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 (4.0 scale). ASU accepts both electronic and physical transcripts.  Electronic transcripts are only accepted from E-Scrip, Parchment, and National Student Clearinghouse and must be sent to gradtranscripts@asu.edu. Hard copy transcripts should be sent send transcripts to the address below.
  • Letters of Recommendation. You will be asked to provide email addresses for three letters of recommendation. The recommenders should be from academic professionals or professional colleagues capable of evaluating your abilities, accomplishments, and professional potential. We will contact your recommenders at the email address provided. See FAQs for more details.
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Scores should be submitted to the ASU Graduate Admissions Office by using the University Number #4007. This scores are not needed at the time of application, but are needed to evaluate you for admission.
  • If English is not your native language, provide scores for one of the following:
    • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) - minimum score of 550 (PBT) or 80 (iBT). TOEFL scores need to be reported electronically by the ETS. 4007 is the institution code for Arizona State University (dept code 99). For more information, visit the TOEFL website, http://www.toefl.org.
    • IELTS (International English Language Testing System)- minimum overall band score of 6.5 with no individual band below a 6.0.
    • If you have additional questions related to English proficiency, please see the Graduate College English Proficiency page for more detailed information.

Deadlines:

December 15, 2017- Priority deadline for admission and funding consideration.

Those who apply by December 15, 2017 will be considered to receive funding to attend our annual Visit Day which will be hosted late February or early March.

January 15, 2018 - Final application deadline. Applications received after January 15 may be reviewed only if space in the program is available.

Only complete applications will be reviewed. A complete application consists of:

  • Graduate Admissions online application
  • Statement of Intent(See guidelines)
  • Resume or CV
  • Official transcripts
  • GRE score report
  • English Proficiency for non-native English speakers
  • Three letters of recommendation

All application materials must be received on or before this date to be considered for fall admission. Please allow sufficient time for submission and processing of relevant test scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation.

For additional questions about admission, please see our urban planning FAQ page.

Send any documents that may not be uploaded to either of the addresses below:

If sending by FedEx, DHL or UPS: Graduate Admission Services
Arizona State University
1151 S. Forest Avenue, #SSV112
Tempe, AZ 85287-0112
If sending by U.S. mail: Arizona State University
Graduate Admission Services
PO Box 870112
Tempe, AZ 85287-0112

 

Coursework

Total credit hours required for the degree program: 84

  • Total credit hours for required core courses: 6
    • PUP 710 Current Planning Theory and Practice (3 hrs)
    • PUP 724 Planning Methods (3 hrs)
  • Master’s degree credit allowance:  Up to 30 hrs (requires approval of the Graduate College and the PhD program director)
  • Total credit hours program electives or research: 34 hrs
  • Additional course requirements:
    • Two semesters of PUP 701 Urban Planning Colloquium (1 hr per semester)
    • PUP 501 Planning History and Theory (3 hrs)
    • PUP 799 Dissertation (12 hrs minimum)

The PhD in Urban Planning is expected to be completed in 4 years.

Students are required to maintain full-time enrollment status to qualify for a Teaching Assistantship. 

 

Doctoral Committee

Students should select a doctoral committee, including a committee chair, during their first semester in the PhD program. Any member of the graduate faculty can serve on the committee, although the committee chair must have a PhD and must be on the graduate faculty of the School of Geographical Sciences & Urban Planning.

The committee is composed of a minimum of three faculty members. One member can be from outside the school, including outside the university, if approved by the committee chair. Additional committee members can also be included, upon approval by the chair. All members of the committee, including any outside faculty, must have a PhD. The only exception for non-PhD members is if the committee member is on the ASU graduate faculty.

 

Qualifying exams

Note: Additional information will be provided to current students through the Curriculum Summary in the Graduate Student HUB.

A. Written comprehensive exam

The written portion of the comprehensive exam consists of three papers.  The papers are intended to demonstrate advanced knowledge of the planning field.  The written exam is not focused on the student’s dissertation topic, but is intended to test general knowledge in the student’s general areas of interest. All papers shall be approved by the doctoral committee. The papers shall cover the following three topics:

 

Doctoral Committee

Students should select a doctoral committee, including a committee chair, during their first semester in the PhD program. Any member of the graduate faculty can serve on the committee, although the committee chair must have a PhD and must be on the graduate faculty of the School of Geographical Sciences & Urban Planning.

The committee is composed of a minimum of three faculty members. One member can be from outside the school, including outside the university, if approved by the committee chair. Additional committee members can also be included, upon approval by the chair. All members of the committee, including any outside faculty, must have a PhD. The only exception for non-PhD members is if the committee member is on the ASU graduate faculty.

 

Qualifying exams

Note: Additional information will be provided to current students through the Curriculum Summary in the Graduate Student HUB.

A. Written comprehensive exam

The written portion of the comprehensive exam consists of three papers.  The papers are intended to demonstrate advanced knowledge of the planning field.  The written exam is not focused on the student’s dissertation topic, but is intended to test general knowledge in the student’s general areas of interest. All papers shall be approved by the doctoral committee. The papers shall cover the following three topics:

  1. Planning theory:  The purpose of this paper is to situate oneself within one of the sub-disciplines of planning and discuss in some detail two special topics within this sub-discipline. To accomplish this, students should: demonstrate a deep understanding of the two chosen areas of the literature, highlight key research problems in these areas, link his or her own research interests and plans to existing work in these areas, as well as to broader planning problems. This paper should be completed by the end of the 2nd year.
  2. Planning methods: The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate understanding of the research methods used in the student’s special topics indicated in the theory paper submitted in the fourth semester. This paper should be completed by the end of the fifth semester (1st semester of year 3).
  3. Substantive topic:The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the ability to conceive and execute a research project in the student’s chosen special topic. To accomplish this, student should: construct a research question, summarize prior work pertaining to that research question, choose an appropriate dataset for the research question, use appropriate methods to answer the question, [resent results, discuss conclusions and tie them to existing work in the field. This paper should be completed by the end of the fifth semester (1st semester of year 3).

 

B. Oral Exam

After approval by the doctoral committee of the comprehensive exam papers,students may have an oral exam intended to test a student’s mastery of planning theory, research methods, and area of specialization. The oral exam requirement is at the supervisory chair’s discretion. The oral exam (if required) will be based on the written portion of the exam, and students will be expected to be able to articulate and clarify the content of all three papers. The oral exam is an assessment of whether a student is ready to participate in scholarly discussions, to proceed towards candidacy, and to submit a dissertation proposal.

The oral exam should be completed by the end of the fifth semester (1st semester of year 3).  Students that fail to pass the oral exam will be given a second and last opportunity for an additional oral exam by the end of the 6th semester (2nd semester of the 3rd year).  A student that fails to pass the second oral exam is disqualified from the PhD program.

 

Dissertation

Dissertation Format:  The dissertation for a PhD in Urban Planning may take the form of a single monograph or three article-length papers. This is to be decided in consultation with the dissertation committee faculty members.

Dissertation Proposal: After passing the qualifying oral exam, the student is required to submit a written dissertation proposal to the doctoral committee.  As part of the dissertation proposal, the student is required to submit a publication plan indicating the strategy for completing publishable papers from the dissertation.  Upon approval of the dissertation proposal, the student will schedule an oral defense of the proposal.

Students must complete all non-thesis coursework and examination requirements and remove all excused and deferred grades (other than PhD research credit hours) before the oral examination.

The dissertation proposal defense should be completed by the end of 3rd year.

Dissertation Defense:  Upon approval of the dissertation manuscript by the doctoral committee, the student will schedule an oral defense of the completed dissertation. The student should adhere to all Graduate College deadlines for scheduling the defense and submitting the completed dissertation.

 

More information

For more details about program requirements, as well as school policies and resources available to graduate students, see the SGSUP Graduate Programs Handbook.  

 


Batty is a distinguished visiting professor with the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. He is director for the Centre of Advanced Spatial Analysis and professor of planning at University College London.


Asst Professor

Ehlenz, a certified planner with AICP, focuses research on urban revitalization and community development, with specializations in the role of anchor institutions in urban places and mechanisms for building community wealth.


Professor

Fotheringham is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and Academia Europaea whose work focuses on the analysis of spatial data in relation to a variety of areas including health data, crime patterns, and migration.


Research Professor

Gober is the founding co-Director of the National Science Foundation's Decision Center for a Desert City and previously served on the National Research Council's Committee on Geographical Sciences.


Asst Research Professor

Hagen's research contributes to improving climate change communication efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to increase the adaptive capacity and resiliency of urban environments.


Lecturer

Kelley researches transportation planning, sustainable design, as well as impact of pricing strategies on low-income and transportation-disadvantaged groups.


Assoc Professor

An expert in community and economic development planning and housing, Kim has a long history of community involvement with government organizations throughout his career.


Asst Professor

King, an assistant professor in urban planning, focuses his research on the codependence of transportation and land use planning. King is also a member of the Transportation Research Board’s Paratransit Committee.


Professor

Dr. Michael Kuby specializes in transportation, energy, optimal facility location and network design models, and alternative fuels, stations, and vehicles. His research has been funded by NSF, US Dept of Energy, and NASA.


Assoc Professor

Francisco Lara-Valencia's major areas of inquiry include socio-environmental vulnerability, urban health, regional development, binational planning, and the role of community networks on sustainable development.


Assoc Professor

Kelli Larson, a professor of geography and sustainability, focuses her work on human-environment interactions and the implications for water governance and urban sustainability.


Assoc Professor

Kevin McHugh is a cultural geographer with research interests in geographical thought & theory, geohumanities, post-phenomenology, and more-than-human geographies in the Anthropocene.


Asst Professor

Meerow combines the disciplines of geography and urban planning as she researches how to make cities more resilient in the face of climate change as well as other social and environmental hazards.


School Dir & Professor

Nelson's work currently focuses on using spatial and spatial-temporal analyses to track wildlife movement and active transportation. She is also the founder of BikeMaps.org, a crowdsourcing app for bike safety and ridership.


Assoc Professor

Pfeiffer's work focuses on housing and health, the outcomes of the foreclosure crisis and its lasting impact, and issues of equity in relation to housing.


Professor

Pijawka's research focuses on sustainable planning and design, disaster management and recovery, environmental justice, and Native American community planning.


Asst Professor

Salon researches travel behavior and the built environment, climate policy for transport, and government and transit agency institutions with the goal to inform policies that reduce global automobile dependence.


Assoc Professor

Tong's research primarily focuses on the use of spatial analytics including spatial optimization, geographic information system, and spatial statistics to support urban and regional studies concerning location.


Professor

Webster's current interests are in comparative city building and urban dynamics, urban competitiveness and resilience, and peri-urbanization with a primary geographic focus on East Asia.


Dean & Professor

Her research interests include: shape and pattern analysis, geographic information science, applications of GIS to urban environment, urban remote sensing and water resource management.

Degree Offered

Urban Planning, PhD
Liberal Arts & Sciences, College of

Location
Tempe

Plan of Study

The Plan of Study is the required curriculum to complete the program.

View Plan of Study

Application Deadline

The application deadline is January 15, 2018. All application materials must be received on or before this date to be considered for fall admission. Please allow sufficient time for submission and processing of relevant test scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation.

Complete applications received by December 15, 2017 will be considered to receive funding to attend our annual Visit Day which will be hosted late February or early March. 

 

 

Financing Your Education

The School of Geographical Scienes & Urban Planning will consider all PhD applicants for multi-year guaranteed funding packages. This funding is competitive. Most offers are made in March. Funding typically consists of four or five year packages in the form of 20 hr/week research or teaching assistantships that include full tuition remission and health insurance.

For information about additional options for financing your education, please see How to pay for your graduate college.

Interested in learning more?

For questions about the PhD in Urban Planning, send a note to geoplan.gradprograms@asu.edu, or complete the form below.

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