PhD Browser

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Urban Planning

Harvard University
Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
Cambridge, Massachusetts
United States
Urban Studies & City Planning

Students may study for a PhD degree in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, or Urban Planning. These three degrees are administered by a standing committee of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in cooperation with the Faculty of Design.


The program is intended for persons who wish to enter teaching and advanced research careers in the History and Theory of Architecture, Architectural Technology, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Form from Antiquity to the Present; or The Analysis and Development of Buildings, Cities, Landscapes, and Regions with an emphasis on social, economic, technological, ecological and infrastructural systems. (The PhD Program does not prepare students for licensing as design practitioners in any of these fields. For information on professional programs, please contact the Graduate School of Design’s Admissions Office.)


Track in Architectural Technology


The PHD Program in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Planning announces an additional track in Architectural Technology. Doctoral research undertaken in this area will have the aim of advancing the state of knowledge in green building, and will typically include issues related to computation and simulation, environmental concerns, and energy performance. A background in architecture and/or engineering-related fields is required. In addition to a highly interdisciplinary curriculum that includes theoretical and empirical approaches, especially the history and philosophy of technology, the student will be associated with the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities, which will provide the intellectual context for this research. The student will also be a member of our PHD cohort and will be expected to fulfill the same requirements (such as the Discourse and Methods seminar). For more information, please contact Professor Ali Malkawi.




Coursework is directed towards advanced scholarly research, usually historical or theoretical in nature. Students are required to take 16 “half-courses” (i.e., semester-length courses). Coursework is divided between the GSD and departments in FAS. Each student’s curriculum is closely tailored to her or his specific interests. Students are eligible for the A.M. degree after successful completion of 8 half courses.


Generally, there is one course each semester specifically designed for and limited to students in the PhD program. Each fall or spring a senior faculty member teaches a proseminar titled “Discourses and Methods,” which is required of all students in their first and second years. These reading-intensive courses introduce students to important methods of scholarship and provide a general knowledge of the field.


Students are assigned two academic advisors upon entering who stay with them until the completion of general examinations. The student’s dissertation committee is formalized during the the prospectus stage. View PhD Guidelines for the General Exams.


Academic training opportunities extend beyond coursework. Senior faculty conduct regular workshops on topics ranging from grant writing to conducting archival research. Most students serve as teaching fellows within the GSD or other departments after the completion of their coursework. Additional resources are offered by the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning and the GSAS Fellowships Office.


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Admission Requirements

While the GRE test is not required for admission, the application must include the following: official transcript(s); three letters of recommendation; a statement of purpose that gives the admissions committee a clear sense of intellectual interests and strengths; a writing sample or samples (no more than 20 pages). This can be a paper written for a course, journal article, and/or thesis excerpt (please respect the page limit of 20 pages). The writing sample should preferably focus on a subject related to architecture, landscape architecture, or urban planning. Please note: Unless a specific justification is provided by the applicant, design portfolios are not typically considered as part of the application.


For more information about the PhD program in Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, please visit the Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.


Apply to the PhD program in Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning:




A complete application consists of:


-Online application form


-Application fee payment* ($105)


-Transcripts uploaded to the application


-Letters of recommendation


-Statement of purpose


-GRE, where required (see individual program of study page for requirements)


-Demonstration of English proficiency, where required


-Writing sample, where required


Complete your apply process


When you are ready to apply, access our online application by clicking the apply button on the right side of this page (please note that there is no paper application). All supporting materials must be submitted electronically through the online application system.


If you are applying to a program that is part of the Harvard Integrated Life Sciences  (HILS) federation, visit the HILS website for additional instructions.


If your program’s admissions committee determines that another department is well-matched to your academic interests, it may forward your application to that department for consideration.


The application for admission, including all supporting materials, becomes the property of GSAS. No materials will be returned to the applicant or forwarded to other schools or agencies.



1.-Upload Your Transcripts


Applicants are required to upload transcript copies from each college/university they attended into our online application system: official hard copy/paper transcripts are not required at the time of application.


Please note that transcripts from international institutions—records of all courses, seminars, and examinations, including grades, scores, grading scales, and confirmation of degree conferral—must be in English. If records are not available in English, original records must be accompanied by certified English translations. All translations must be literal and complete versions of the original records.


For those applicants currently enrolled in a college or university, GSAS does not require submission of fall grades. Should you wish to update your submitted application with fall grades, you may do so using the Fall Grade Report section of the online application. While GSAS will make every effort to ensure consideration of information submitted after the deadline, we cannot ensure that it will be used in the evaluation of your application.


2.- Confirm Letters of Recommendation


Before applying, confirm that three faculty members or others qualified to evaluate your potential for graduate study have agreed to submit letters of recommendation on your behalf. At least one letter should be from a faculty member at the school where you earned your most recent degree, unless you have been out of school for more than five years.


You must provide the e-mail addresses of three recommenders when you apply. GSAS requires your recommenders to submit their letters via an online recommendation system. By law, enrolled students have the right to view their letters of recommendation, unless they indicate otherwise at the time of application. Please note on your application whether you are waiving your right to see these letters. Learn more about your right to inspect letters of recommendation.


We regret that we are unable to accept letters submitted through a recommendation dossier service.


All letters of recommendation are due at the same time as the application. While GSAS will make every effort to ensure consideration of information submitted after the deadline, we cannot ensure that it will be used in the evaluation of your application.


3.- Write Your Statement of Purpose


The statement of purpose is very important to programs when deciding whether to admit a candidate. Your statement should be focused, informative, and convey your research interests and qualifications. You should provide a vivid picture of your intellectual profile: how you formulate research topics, how you pursue them, and how you articulate any interesting findings. As you convey this information, it is important to emphasize how these experiences have influenced both your decision to undertake graduate study and your goals within a graduate program.


4.- Take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)


Many GSAS programs require that prospective students present scores of the General Test of the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE). Scores from either the computer-delivered or the paper-delivered test are acceptable. Many programs also require one of the GRE Subject Tests. Visit the relevant department in the Programs of Study for more information.


It is essential that you arrange to take the GRE in sufficient time for score reports to reach us by the application deadline. GRE scores are valid for five years (i.e. scores must be from no earlier than September 1, 2014, for fall 2020 admission). If you have personal score reports available from tests taken within the last five years, you can upload them to your online application for consideration by the admissions committee. However, you will still need to ensure that Educational Testing Service (ETS) sends an official score report. Be sure to register for the tests well before administration dates and request that your scores be sent to Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences using code 3451.


5.- Demonstrate English Proficiency, Where Required


Adequate command of spoken and written English is essential to success in graduate study at Harvard. Applicants who are non-native English speakers and who received their undergraduate degree from an academic institution where English is not the primary language of instruction must prove their English proficiency by earning either a minimum score of 80 on the Internet based test (iBT) of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or a minimum score of 6.5 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic test. Some programs may require a higher score. Applicants who took tests more than two years ago (i.e. before September 1, 2018, for fall 2020 admission) must retake them. No test other than the iBT TOEFL or the IELTS Academic will be accepted as proof of English proficiency; a master’s degree is not accepted as proof of English proficiency.


For those students planning to submit TOEFL scores, please arrange to have an official score report sent to the Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences using code 3451. If you have a copy of your Score Confirmation Report, you can upload it to your online application for consideration by the admissions committee. However, you will still need to ensure that Educational Testing Service sends an official score report.


For those students planning to submit IELTS scores, please note that we will only accept official IELTS Academic scores submitted electronically by the IELTS test center via the E-Delivery service. Scores from the IELTS General Training module are not accepted. At the time of test-taking, please specify Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences as a score recipient. We do not accept IELTS paper Test Report Forms nor do we verify Test Report Forms (TRFs).


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General information
2 years full time
Erika Naginski / Robert P. Hubbard
Not Confirmed
Email /
+1 617-495-2337
Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center 1350 Massachusetts Avenue. Cambridge, MA
Campus Location
The information of this PhD was extracted from the Official Website of the program.
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