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The University of Texas at ArlingtonThe University of Texas at Arlington

PhD in Urban Planning and Public Policy

How to Apply | Admission Requirements |UPPP Handbook| Prospective Students Contact: James Brown | Current Students Contact: Barbara Saenz

Program Overview

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. 

Wondering where our graduates go? See a few profiles here.

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

  • Urban Policy and Planning
  • Physical Planning, Development and Urban Design
  • Land Use/Transportation Analysis, Planning and Policy
  • Environmental Planning Policy/Sustainability

PhD students posing in front of self driving car

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

Curriculum and Degree 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:

Leveling Courses (6 Hours) 6
PLAN 6303 PLANNING HISTORY, THEORY AND ETHICS 3
PLAN 6310 PLANNING, URBAN DEVELOPMENT AND STRUCTURE 3
Theory Courses (9 Hours) 9
PLAN 6300 ADVANCED URBAN THEORY 3
PLAN 6311 SPATIAL THEORY AND POLICY: URBAN FORM AND STRUCTURE 3
PAPP 5306 THE URBAN ECONOMY 3
Research Courses (12 Hours) 12
PLAN 6317 INTERMEDIATE DATA ANALYSIS 3
PLAN 5346 QUALITATIVE METHODS 3
PLAN 6301 RESEARCH FOUNDATIONS AND PH.D. WORKSHOP 3
PLAN 6346 ADVANCED DATA ANALYSIS 3
Field Area Courses (12 Hours) 12
Dissertation (Minimum 9 Hours) 9
TOTAL 48

For more information on courses, please visit the University Catalog.

For more information about our graduate program, please complete the information request form.

UPPP Diagnostic

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.”

For more information on the Diagnostic Evaluation, Diagnostic Supervisory Committee and the UPPP Field Area Exam, please consult the University Catalog.

Waivers or Substitutions

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

Research and Teaching

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.