Interdisciplinary PhD Program in Urban Design & Planning


Phase I Courses

The Core Curriculum

The core curriculum defines the intellectual foundation of the program. While the program retains considerable flexibility in defining a research agenda within the broad umbrella of urban and environmental planning and policy, it provides a common foundation for all students to build upon. The following are the core curriculum requirements. Students enter the program with a Masters degree, in fields ranging from planning and public affairs to natural and social sciences. Depending on the academic preparation of the student prior to matriculation, the core requirements can be met within one to two years. Previous coursework could be used as a basis to waive specific course requirements. A course waiver can be obtained, if both the primary advisor of the student and the Program Director approve it. Courses listed below that are aimed principally at masters students will need to be supplemented to address more advanced requirements for doctoral students, until such time as more advanced courses can be offered.

Required Courses
Phase I requirements involve 5 courses, and should be completed during the first year, unless schedule conflicts make this infeasible. Courses from Phase II requirements may also be taken in the first year, to accelerate completion of the curriculum requirements.

Core Sequence
During Phase I of full-time course work in the program, all URBDP Ph.D. students must complete the required seminar sequence in Advanced Research Design (URBDP 591; 4 credits; Fall of first year), Planning Theory (URBDP 592; 4 credits; Winter of first year), and Interdisciplinary Urban Research (URBDP 593; 5 credits; fall of second year). The purpose of this requirement is to provide a common foundation for students to develop and refine their interdisciplinary research agenda under the broad umbrella of urban and environmental planning and policy.

Advanced Research Design
Advanced Planning Theory
Interdisciplinary Urban Research Seminar

Phase I Research Methods
Phase I requirements also include two courses that introduce students to the applicability of quantitative and qualitative methods to doctoral-level research. Students at this level should view these courses as helping them determine what aspects of their likely research topic may be pursued quantitatively, and what aspects may be pursued qualitatively. The courses should introduce to the student what basic or broad range of research methods exists in each of these categories.

Qualitative Research Methods
Phase I requirements also includes the completion of an advanced graduate qualitative research methods class offered either through URBDP or another related social science field.

Choose one of the following, with potential for substitution of alternative courses at an equivalent or more advanced level (see below for possible substitute courses):

Qualitative Research Methods
GEOG 525
Advanced Qualitative Methods in Geography
Methods of Historical Research
Advanced Qualitative Research Methods in Anthropology and Public Health
POL S 502
Qualitative Research Methods
SOC WL 581
Qualitative Research Methods and Design
SEFS 504
Research Processes in Forest Resources

Qualitative Research Methods Substitutions

Qualitative Research Planning
Qualitative Field Methods and Analysis
SMEA 512
Interviewing Methods & Environmental Topics

Quantitative Research Methods
As part of Phase I requirements, students must pass one course in statistical methods at an advanced graduate level. The appropriate course will depend on student’s prior mathematical experience, software knowledge and overall program goals. Students with limited statistical background may need to complete a pre-requisite course beforehand. In these cases, careful planning of course sequences is necessary.
Students should carefully evaluate their mathematical background, statistics software knowledge, and program goals to select the appropriate quantitative coursework.

Choose one of the following, with potential for substitution of alternative courses at an equivalent or more advanced level (see below for possible substitute courses):

Course Description Quarter
BIOST 518 Applied Biostatistics II: Introduction to Regression Analysis.
Course provides an introduction to the basic theory and application of regression methods for the statistical analysis of data. The course is designed for graduate students in public health who are already familiar with basic statistical concepts. Course uses STATA statistical software. Pre-requisite is BIOST 517, Applied Biostatistics I.
CS&SS 503 Advanced Quantitative Political Methodology.
Course focuses on fitting, interpreting, and refining the linear regression model. Agenda includes developing clear and informative graphical representations of regression results, and understanding regression models in matrix form. Course introduces R statistical software. Pre-requisite is CS&SS 501, Advanced Research Design & Analysis, or any prior course on basic social statistics and linear regression.
CS&SS 504 Applied Regression.
Course is suitable for students with a b quantitative background, a previous year of statistics, including regression. Most technically rigorous regression course, requires matrix algebra and the ability to do calculus proofs of regression equations. Course uses R statistical software.  Pre-requisite is STAT 502, Design and Analysis of Experiments.
Note: for students needing a refresher in mathematics, the following options are recommended:
Math Camp Week long workshop, taught in September before fall quarter begins. Register through the Center for Statistical and Social Sciences. No credit.
CS&SS 505 Review of Mathematics for Social Scientists.
This 1 credit course reviews the basic mathematical skills that are a prerequisite for a meaningful understanding of elementary statistics, data analysis, and social science methodology.
For students with no previous exposure to R statistical software, the following course is recommended:
CS&SS 508 Introduction to R
This 1 credit course familarizes students with the R environment for statistical computing ( R is a freely available, multi-platform, and powerful program for analysis and graphics similar to S-PLUS. Covers the basics of organizing, managing, and manipulating social science data; basic applications; introduction to programming; links to other major statistical packages.

Quantitative Research Methods Substitutions

CEE 584
Analytical Methods in Transportation I
CSSS 526
Structural Equation Models for the Social Sciences
CSSS 503 / Pol S 503
Advanced Quantitative Political Methodology
CSSS 536
Analysis of Categorical and Count Data
CSSS 589
Multivariate Data Analysis for the Social Sciences
Quantitative Analysis 2
SOC 505
Applied Social Statistics
STAT 512
Statistical Inference
SEFS 502
Analytical Techniques for Community Ecology

NOT Approved
Quantitative Analysis 1
Quantitative Methods in Urban Design and Planning

"The Phase I Paper"


The Phase 1 Paper is a mechanism for early evaluation of students' progress in acquiring skills to conduct research, and their ability to make progress towards their Ph.D. after one year. It will be developed through the sequence of the first year course requirements and supervised by the student's first year advisory committee. It will provide students an opportunity to demonstrate the student's ability to formulate a research question, frame it within the theory, review the literature, develop a research design, and address critical issues of conceptualization and measurement through a review of the literature and/or pilot application.

Paper structure

The paper can take the form of a critical review of literature or a pilot research project on a selected topic. The first option emphasizes the ability of students to position their research question and methods. The latter can be based on either existing or newly acquired data to fit within the time constraints. In both cases the paper needs to consider aspects of both urban planning theory and research methods in urban design and planning. Phase one of the program will culminate with the acceptance of a paper. The paper is to help students in narrowing down their research area and preparing students for their general exam and to help them focus on the literature of interest. The paper is an opportunity for students to review in a critical fashion the key literature on specific subjects or domains that are likely to form the basis of their future research.

Students will identify a research question, synthesize the existing literature, and specify the objectives of the paper. In the first option (literature review papers), students will develop a systematic literature review and summarize the state of knowledge and current gaps in addressing the research question. In the second option (pilot data analysis), students will identify the data and methods that will be used to address the question and discuss the analytical results of the pilot application.


The length of the paper is about 6000 words, excluding references, tables, and figures.

Time line and approval process

Students will submit an abstract for their phase 1 paper to their first year advisor at the end of the first year winter quarter. Students will work with their advisor to develop a plan for completing the paper through the first two weeks of Spring quarter. A first draft of the paper will be presented to the advisor by the end of the spring quarter. Students will revise their paper based on the advisor's comments and submit the final paper by the end of summer.

Evaluation of Phase I

The procedure for evaluation of Phase I work and the decision to advance a student to Phase II will be based on a portfolio of the work completed in required courses in Phase I that includes:

  1. Phase 1 Paper
  2. Completion of the first two courses in the Core sequence and methods requirements
  3. A Prospectus and Plan of Study for Phase II prepared by the student and approved by the student's Advisory Committee that describes the general research area and fields of study the student wishes to pursue and thecourses the student intends to take in Phase II, and
  4. A designation of a Supervisory Committee to mentor the student during Phase II.