Urban Design & Planning Interdisciplinary PhD


Supervision, Requirements & Funding

Faculty Monitoring & Supervision

Student performance is monitored and evaluated for each of the three phases of the doctoral program. Each student in Phase I is supervised by an individual Ph.D. Advisory Committee appointed by the Interdisciplinary Group Steering Committee. Upon satisfactory completion of Phase One, each student forms a Supervisory Committee to guide her or him through the remainder of the program.

To ensure quality mentoring, the Steering Committee asks students and advisors to adhere to the following meeting reporting system:

  • Current students meet with their main advisor to go over courses taken, a plan of study for the upcoming academic year, and a general overall timeline.
  • New students meet with their first year advisor to devise a first year plan and a first year Advisory Committee (see below).
  • The advisor reports the content of the meeting to the steering committee by November 1, which can be done via email, Program Office and Qing Shen.

Credit & Degree Requirements

Prior to the General Examination which concludes Phase II of the program, six quarters of full-time (minimum of 10 credits per quarter) study must be completed. Three out of four consecutive quarters must be full-time. For the other three quarters, part-time (fewer than 10 credits) quarters may be added together to equal full-time quarters. None of the credits counted toward this requirement may be in UDP 800 (Doctoral Dissertation) credits. At least 18 of the credits earned during the course of the program must be at the 500-level or above, and at least 18 credits must be numerically graded 400- or 500-level courses.

Prior to establishing the Supervisory Committee and taking the General Examination, the student must complete coursework in a required set of core seminars and courses, and be evaluated and passed to Phase II of the program (explained on the Phase 1 Courses page).

There are two major examinations in the program: the written and oral General Examination, and the oral defense of the dissertation, called the Final Examination. The General and Final Examinations are administered by the student’s Supervisory Committee. Successful completion of the General Examination results in admission to Ph.D. candidacy (Ph.C. status). The equivalent of three full-time quarters of study is required between admission to candidacy and the Final Examination. All students must take a minimum of 27 credits of UDP 800, which represent directed study for the dissertation.

Student Funding & Mentoring

The Interdisciplinary PhD Program in Urban Design and Planning attempts to provide funding for doctoral program applicants in a way that makes the program attractive to the strongest potential applicants, ensures their effective mentoring while in the program, and actively engages and energizes faculty to improve the program and to bring research funding to support students.

The Program attempts to provide three-year funding packages for each newly admitted student. The first year of funding is a 9-month Research Assistantship, the second year, a 9-month Teaching Assistantship, and the final 9 months of funding is a Research Assistantship from faculty research grants.

Students are systematically mentored through the three-year process by gaining competence in teaching and research. In the first year, students focus on preparing for the qualifying examination. They are also mentored as an apprentice in teaching and in research, but in both cases mostly as an observer, with little operational responsibility. The second year, students are expected to teach 2 sections of a course in Community and Environmental Planning Program (CEP), the Department of Urban Design and Planning (DUDP), or the Program on the Environment (POE). Students also begin taking a more active and productive role in a faculty research project, and jointly authored papers are highly encouraged. The third year involves a transition to a focus on the dissertation, with an expectation that the program will lead to completion of the dissertation by the end of the third year for a considerable portion of students. In the third year, students are given the opportunity to design and offer a course organized around their dissertation research topic, and are mentored to develop a second or third joint or sole authored publication.