Ph.D in Urban Planning and Public Policy

The program prepares doctoral students for academic careers and for leadership in research positions in the public, private or nonprofit sectors.

Contact Info

Prospective Students Contact:
James Brown at

Current Students Contact:
Barbara Saenz at

Graduate Admissions Requirements


The Ph.D. in Urban Planning and Public Policy (UPPP) integrates the academic disciplines of urban planning and public policy by training Ph.D. students to conduct independent research that makes a substantive contribution to their chosen planning and policy subfields. The program prepares doctoral students for academic careers and for leadership in research positions in the public, private or nonprofit sectors. UPPP graduates have secured academic and research positions at research universities and institutes, think tanks, and public planning agencies nationally and internationally.

The UPPP Ph.D. stresses interdisciplinary in four field areas:

  1. Urban Policy and Planning
  2. Physical Planning, Development and Urban Design
  3. Land Use/Transportation Analysis, Planning and Policy
  4. Environmental Planning Policy/Sustainability



The program builds the theoretical and methodological foundations that prepare students to make an independent contribution to their planning and policy subfield and consists of:

  • Two years of coursework
  • Qualifying field exam in the student’s chosen field area and related proposed dissertation topic
  • Defense of the dissertation proposal followed by the dissertation research, and the writing and defense of the dissertation. Planning faculty contribute expertise to the program’s field areas and chair the student’s Dissertation Supervisory Committee that guides the development of the student’s dissertation. The dissertation can take the traditional monograph or a three-article form.



Through faculty mentoring and the Ph.D. Student Consortium, the program fosters an intellectual community that encourages advanced doctoral research presentations at state, national and international conferences such as:

  • Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning
  • World Planning Schools Congress
  • Transportation Research Board
  • Urban Affairs Association
  • Association of American Geographers
  • State and national conferences of the American Planning Association

Degree and Course Requirements

The UPPP Ph.D. program requires a minimum of 48 credit hours beyond the master’s degree, including 39 credit hours of coursework and a minimum of 9 dissertation credit hours
Course Code Course Name Hours
PLAN 6303  Planning History, Theory, and Ethics 3
PLAN 6310 Planning, Urban Development, and Structure 3

Total Hours: 6

Course Code Course Name Hours
PLAN 6300 Advanced Urban Theory 3
PLAN 6311 Spatial Theory and Policy: Urban Form and Structure 3
PAPP 5306 The Urban Economy 3

Total Hours: 12

Course Code Course Name Hours
PLAN 6317 Intermediate Data Analysis 3
PLAN 5346 Qualitative Methods 3
PLAN 6301 Research Foundations and Ph.D Workshops
PLAN 6346 Advanced Data Analysis 3

Total Hours: 12


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

2021-2022 Edition

A guide to doctoral studies at the College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs (CAPPA), The University of Texas - Arlington. The UPPP Ph.D. handbook attempts to provide guidance and useful information to new and current UPPP students. We trust that your experience will be academically, professionally, and personally rewarding.

UPPP Handbook 22-23


CAPPA Ph.D. Orientation

Learn more about two doctoral degree opportunities that provide very distinct programs guided by different objectives. 

PAPP Handbook 22-23


Courses may be waived for students with relevant previous coursework under the following conditions:

  • Based on UTA regulations, no course that has been applied to any degree, at any graduate or undergraduate institution, may be applied to any other degree, either directly or by substitution.
    Graduate-level coursework completed in the student’s major area of doctoral study at institutions of recognized standing that grant doctoral degrees in those subject areas may serve to establish the student’s competency in equivalent UTA courses.
  • Competency demonstrated by successful completion of equivalent courses may provide a basis for waiving some UPPP course requirements and the credit hours associated with those courses.
    Waivers must be recommended by the student’s graduate advisor and current supervising professor and their recommendation must be approved by both the Committee on Graduate Studies of the student’s major area.
  • Only courses in which the student has earned a B (3.0) or better will be considered for purposes of a waiver. Waived courses must be shown on the student’s academic plan. For more information of waivers please consult the University Catalog



The application of theory and research is facilitated by research activities and centers, including the Institute of Urban Studies (IUS), where several UPPP Ph.D. students hold GRA positions. UPPP Ph.D. students holding Enhanced Graduate Teaching Assistantships contribute to undergraduate instruction in CAPPA’s Urban Affairs and Environmental and Sustainability Studies Minors.


Explore Funding

A number of scholarship opportunities are available for CAPPA students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships offers a wide variety of aid options to assist with funding the college education of students and families of all income levels. More than 75% of UTA students receive some type of financial assistance.
Explore Scholarships


2020 Dean's Distinguished Assistantship Program

The Department of Public Affairs and Planning at UTA’s College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs (CAPPA) is pleased to announce the new Dean’s Distinguished Assistantship (DDA) program for Fall 2020. The program is nationally competitive and aims to support the most promising students applying for admission to department's doctoral programs in Urban Planning and Public Policy (UPPP)and Public Administration and Public Policy (PAPP).

Learn more about the DDA Program.

UPPP Diagnostic Supervisory Committee

Students form a three-member Diagnostic Supervisory Committee toward the end of their first semester or early in their second semester and complete a diagnostic evaluation, which the Committee uses to guide them in their selection of courses, including any extra courses needed. As a part of this process, the university requires that “a student and his/her advisor should complete the Milestone form during the student’s first term of study and it must be completed before the end of the second semester of enrollment.”