Requirements and Curriculum

The PhD program in Urban and Regional Planning, comprising 72 academic credits, is based on a strong core curriculum. Students complete coursework in theory, methods, and a content area relevant to the student’s area of research before beginning work on their dissertation. 

To develop intellectual breadth, students are required to complete a minor sequence of graduate courses in a field other than planning, in an approved area of inquiry. A minor sequence will comprise of a minimum of two courses.

Basic courses (24 credits)

Core and elective courses include those that would typically count toward a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning program (18 core and 6 electives). Students with a prior urban planning degree may be permitted to transfer basic credits from another program or another university toward the basic course credits in the doctoral program.

Theory stream (6 credits)

Students are required to take a minimum of two theory courses:

  • PD 616 Advanced Planning Theory
  • One additional theory course (not including PD 510, PD 538, or any courses taken as part of the basic courses.)

Methods stream (9 credits)

Students will take three courses as part of the methods stream:

  • URP 617 Design and Structure of Research
  • URP 675 Advanced Qualitative Methods
  • URP 676 Advanced Quantitative Methods

Content stream (15 credits)

Students will take at least five courses in the student’s selected content area (not including course work completed as part of basic courses.)

Minor stream (6 credits)

Students will take at least two courses in a related minor field of study.

Doctoral seminar (3 credits)

Students will participate in a doctoral seminar to present their own research as well as learn about latest research from faculty and scholars from within and outside of UB.

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Total credits = 72

Additional requirements

Learn and study across departments

Doctoral students may take courses across UB departments including but are not limited to Anthropology, Architecture, Biostatistics, Education, Economics, Geography, Public Health and Sociology. A list of potential courses available for each stream within the department and university is available from and approved by the Doctoral Program Director.

Directed research and qualifying exams

In addition, students complete nine credits of directed research related to their dissertation. Prior to beginning work on their dissertation, students are expected to complete three qualifying exams – in theory, methods, and a content area - and defend their dissertation proposal. Students must complete the theory and methods qualifying exams within two years of enrollment in the program.

At all stages of the program, students will work closely with a faculty advisor to tailor their course of study to their particular research interests. Students will be advised and encouraged to prepare manuscripts for publication while in the program as well as present their work in the doctoral research seminar and at national and international conferences. An endowment in the School of Architecture and Planning provides doctoral candidates a chance to network with and receive mentoring from the Clarkson Chair, a distinguished visiting planning scholar in the school.

Teaching assistantship

Doctoral students must satisfy a teaching requirement which entails completion of a teaching internship such as a course teaching assistantship. Under certain circumstances, students may show equivalent pedagogical work such as prior teaching experience, completed prior training or a degree in education.