PhD Programs

The Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies & Planning offers two doctoral degree programs: the Ph.D. in Urban Studies and the Ph.D. in Urban Studies: Regional Science. Our doctoral students join a select group of leaders passionate about solving the major issues of today’s communities. 

Both interdisciplinary programs require the same core courses centered around understanding the evolution of metropolitan communities and urban lifestyles, and ground students in research and analysis.

Ph.D. in Urban Studies

Students in the Ph.D. Urban Studies program apply a variety of social science perspectives to the analysis of the growth and development of metropolitan areas, states, and regions. To augment the core Ph.D. course requirements, these doctoral students pursue two field areas.

The Ph.D. Urban Studies program explores these issues from multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary points of view. Through participation in classes and seminars, and supervised research and teaching activities, Ph.D. students are prepared for careers in institutions of higher education and in research organizations.

Ph.D. in Urban Studies: Regional Science

Regional Science brings a variety of social science perspectives to bear in analyzing the growth and development of metropolitan areas, states and regions. The regional science program shares the same core requirements as the Urban Studies Ph.D. Beyond these, students in regional science design a program around two field areas. 

The first field should be Transportation or Economic Development unless an alternate field is approved by the student's comittee. The second field should emphasize methodology and coursework specific to Regional Science. This field will be developed by the student and advisory committee.

Core Curriculum

  • USP 613 Urban Economic and Spatial Structure (3)
  • USP 614 History and Theory of Urban Studies (3)
  • USP 617 Sociology and Politics of Urban Life (3)
  • USP 630 Research Design (4)
  • USP 634 Data Analysis (4)
  • USP 683 Qualitative Analysis (4)
  • USP 697 Urban Studies Seminar (4)

The first three courses listed introduce the student to the basic ideas, concepts, and theories about urban development and urban life. This helps students position their own interests within the larger field of urban studies. The following three courses introduce the student to the range of methods appropriate to the field and serve as a starting point from which the student is expected to take advanced courses in quantitative and qualitative methods. The Urban Studies Seminar, taken in the second year, engages the student in hands-on social science research, producing a research design proposal appropriate for the student's interests and degree.

Field Areas

Specializations are available in the following areas of advanced interdisciplinary study:

  • Planning
  • Community Development
  • Economic Development
  • Environment
  • Gerontology
  • Social Demography
  • Transportation

Each doctoral student selects two fields of specialization, at least one of which must be chosen from among those listed above. A student-nominated field, developed in conjunction with School faculty, may be offered as a second specialization. Faculty groups work closely with students to develop coherent specializations that prepare each individual to do research in that field. Doctoral students must successfully complete a comprehensive examination over their two fields. See the PhD handbook for field area course lists.