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School of Urban and Public Affairs

School of Urban and Public Affairs


(minimum 9 hours)

The keynote address for Graduation'09 Celebration Ron Kirk

In the semester beginning the dissertation proposal, students are required to take CIRP 6301 Theoretical Foundations and Ph.D. Workshop, which provides theoretical background and techniques to prepare the student for completing the dissertation proposal. The student identifies a doctoral supervisor and forms a doctoral supervising committee upon successful completion of the Diagnostic Evaluation (see details below).

While enrolled in CIRP 6301, students work closely with their dissertation supervisor and committee to develop their dissertation proposal. A formal oral proposal defense must be held, and the proposal must be formally approved, by the dissertation committee before the student may continue to complete the dissertation.

A student receiving advice and assistance from a faculty member in the preparation of a dissertation must register for the appropriate course (UPPP 6399, 6699, or 6999) commensurate with the student's level of effort that is equivalent to an organized course of the same credit value. Once the student is enrolled in the dissertation course, continuous enrollment is required. Students must be enrolled in 9 hours of dissertation (UPPP 6999) the semester in which the dissertation is defended.

Ph.D. Urban Planning and Public Policy (UPPP)

The Graduate School offers Dissertation Seminars each semester and encourages all dissertation students to attend.

The dissertation represents the culmination of the student's academic efforts and is thus expected to demonstrate original and independent research activity and be a significant contribution to knowledge. The dissertation defense is a public oral examination open to all members (faculty, students and invited guests) of the University community.

Questioning of the candidate is directed by the student's dissertation supervising committee. All members of the student's committee must be present at the defense. Although the defense is concerned primarily with the dissertation research and its interpretation, the examining committee may explore the student's knowledge of areas relevant to the core of the dissertation problem.

The dissertation defense may result in a decision that the candidate has

  1. passed unconditionally;
  2. passed conditionally with remedial work specified by the committee;
  3. failed, with permission to be re-examined after a specified period; or
  4. failed and dismissed from the program.

The dissertation must be approved unanimously by the student's dissertation supervising committee and by the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Diagnostic Evaluation

During their first year of doctoral program work, students must sit for the Diagnostic Evaluation. The purpose of the Diagnostic Evaluation is for the student to demonstrate potential to successfully complete the Ph.D. program. The method of assessing the student's potential is the following:

  • Completion of the first 9 credit hours of UPPP core courses with a 3.3 GPA or better; and
  • Towards the beginning of the second semester of the program, a personal interview with the UPPP Diagnostic committee composed of three SUPA graduate faculty

Results of the diagnostic evaluation may be: 1) approval to continue in the doctoral program; 2) approval to continue with specified remedial work; 3) failure, but with permission for assessment through a second diagnostic evaluation after a specified period; or 4) failure and termination in the program.

Upon successful completion of the Diagnostic Evaluation, the student identifies a doctoral supervisor and, in consultation with this supervisor and/or the program director, forms a doctoral supervising committee consisting of no fewer than three SUPA graduate faculty. The committee is responsible for design and direction of the student's remaining program of work. After the student passes the Comprehensive Examination, the doctoral committee may be altered or expanded to accommodate the dissertation research needs of the student, but the dissertation committee must include at least three SUPA graduate faculty.

Comprehensive Examination

Students are eligible to take the Comprehensive Examination after successfully completing the Diagnostic Evaluation and UPPP core courses. The purpose of the Comprehensive Exam is to test students' knowledge of core knowledge and competencies in the field of planning and policy, which are covered in the 21-hour required core.  The Comprehensive Exam marks the end of core coursework and the beginning of concentrated coursework on dissertation research and preparation. The student must be enrolled in the Graduate School in the semester in which he/she takes the comprehensive exam.

The Comprehensive exam may result in:

  1. unconditional pass and recommendation to proceed to the next phase of the program;
  2. approval to remain in the program but a requirement to meet certain specified additional criteria;
  3. failure, but with permission to retake the examination after a period specified by the examining committee; or
  4. failure with recommendation not to continue in the program.

After the second failure of the Comprehensive exam, the result will always be  "Recommendation not to continue in the Program".

Upon successful completion of the Comprehensive Exam, students complete their remaining coursework in methods and their area of specialization as they develop their dissertation proposal.