PhD Browser

PhD in Urban and Regional Planning

University of Michigan
Taubman College of Architecture
Ann Arbor, Michigan
United States
Urban Studies & City Planning

The doctorate in planning began in 1968 as the Ph.D. Program in Urban and Regional Planning under the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs.


The doctorate in planning began in 1968 as the Ph.D. Program in Urban and Regional Planning under the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs. It was initially a university-wide Ph.D. program with faculty participation from many colleges throughout the university. In the late 1970s, the degree moved into the Rackham Graduate School. The name changed to the Ph.D. in Urban, Technological, and Environmental Planning (U.T.E.P.) in 1982. The degree moved into the College of Architecture and Urban Planning in 1989 and administratively merged with the professional program in planning to form the Urban and Regional Planning Program. The degree is now known as the «Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning,» a name change made in 2004. Over its 40 years of existence, the program has granted over 170 Ph.D. degrees. Graduates hold faculty positions in a range of departments in universities, government, research organizations, and consulting firms.


The Ph.D. in urban and regional planning trains scholars for careers in higher education, research and high-level policy positions. It is a doctoral degree with a flexible, interdisciplinary focus. Graduates work in universities, government, non-profits, and the private sector, in the U.S. and around the world.


The doctoral curriculum integrates analytical methods, research design, a rigorous understanding of urbanization dynamics, and an examination of broader social theories, processes and policies. Students address complex systems that typically encompass an array of spatial, environmental, social, political, technical, and economic factors. The emphasis is on theory, analysis, and action. Each student is also expected to demonstrate an understanding of the literature, theory, and research in a specialization area within the larger discipline of urban and regional planning.



Doctoral students specialize in a wide range of possible topics. Recent students have engaged in subjects as diverse as the political economy of public transit, inner-city revitalization, global city urbanization, information technology and cyberspace, the crisis of modernist urbanism, suburbanization in developing countries, regional planning institutions, the effects of environmental contamination on patterns of urban and regional development, the culture of suburban commuting, the impact of tourism on historical Mediterranean cities, and the application of complex systems analysis to sustainable development.


The highly individualized course of study operates under the premise that concepts and methods from a wide range of professions and academic disciplines are applicable to urban and regional systems. Accordingly, students rely on faculty resources not only from Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning but also from other schools, colleges, and institutes of the University of Michigan. Students commonly take courses in the social sciences (such as sociology, anthropology, history, and political science) and in the professional schools (such as architecture, business administration, engineering, natural resources and the environment, public policy, public health, and social work). This emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration, and on the links between theory and action, are defining characteristics of the doctoral planning degree at the University of Michigan.


Visit How To Apply for information on the application process and online forms.


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Admission Requirements



Applicants will normally possess a Master’s degree in Planning or a related field (such as Public Policy, Environmental Studies, Geography, Social Work, Architecture, etc.). Applicants with other Master’s degrees will be considered, as will exceptionally well-prepared applicants with a Bachelor’s degree. There is no foreign language requirement for Doctoral students in Planning. However, work in some areas of specialization and on certain research/dissertation topics may require knowledge of one or more foreign languages (obtained either before or during Doctoral studies).




The fee for United States Citizens and those with permanent resident visa status is $75 (U.S. funds). The fee for non-U.S. citizens is $90 (U.S. funds). The application fee is paid online, via credit card, before the application is submitted. The application is submitted electronically to the program of study and the Rackham Graduate School. Applications received without fees will not be processed. For more information please see Application Fee and Application Fee Waivers.







This is a vital component of your application. Explain how you arrived at the decision to pursue doctoral studies in urban and regional planning, what you plan to do during the course of your studies, and how you hope to use your doctoral education in planning. In particular, discuss the intellectual and policy challenges that you hope to address in your doctoral studies, outline the methodological skills you plan to pursue, and briefly note any tentative dissertation research topics. (The typical length is 2–4 pages.)




A good curriculum vitae or resume will give us another view of who you are and elaborate your strengths and skills outside of the classroom, showcasing your accomplishments. In addition to your educational experience, student resume should contain professional experiences, other jobs you have held, a list of groups or organizations that you are involved in, programming languages or other computer skills you have, community involvement or volunteer work that you do. Think of your resume as another opportunity to tell us about yourself.




The personal statement should be a concise, well-written statement about how your personal background and life experiences, including social, cultural, familial, educational, or other opportunities or challenges, have motivated your decision to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Michigan. This is not an academic statement of purpose, but a brief (500 word limit) discussion of the personal journey that has led to your decision to seek a graduate degree.




Submissions of examples of work should support your statement of purpose and clearly demonstrate research and writing abilities. These may consist of published articles, papers, portfolio or other writing samples. Examples should be uploaded as PDF files with the online application.




Submitting your transcripts is a two-step process:


– Applicants will scan and upload an official transcript/academic record, that provides the institutional seal and signature of the Registrar or Recorder of Records, into the online application.


– Applicants are also required to submit an official transcript/academic record by mail or as an e-transcript, to Rackham, before the graduate program application deadline. The official transcript/academic record must be received in an envelope sealed by the issuing institution. For more information please see Transcripts.




Three letters of recommendation are required and should testify mainly to your academic and professional capacity and promise. Letters should be substantive statements from academics and professionals familiar with your abilities and accomplishments. For more information please see Letters of Recommendation Submission Options.




The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required. Have an official score report sent to the University of Michigan (Institution code: 1839, department code 4401) at least 4-5 weeks prior to the deadline. GRE scores are valid for five years. There is no minimum score requirement.


If you have taken the GMAT or LSAT, we can use those scores in place of the GRE. LSAT scores should be listed on the additional information page of the online application. For more information please see Required Tests.




English Proficiency Requirements


Applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate English proficiency, unless they meet one of the criteria for an exemption listed below. Please contact one of the testing agencies shown in the following chart and have an official score report sent to the University of Michigan at least 6-8 weeks prior to the application deadline. The scores must be received from the testing agency no later than the application deadline. Language test scores are valid two years from the test date. Photocopies and/or faxes of English proficiency scores will not be accepted.


Taubman College does not admit students who have not met minimum score requirements. If you are close to the minimum scores outlined above we encourage you to retake the exam to meet the minimum requirement. Students who have submitted all required materials (including English proficiency exams) by the application deadline are given first consideration for admission. It may make you a less competitive applicant to not have your scores sent in by the deadline.


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Please do not submit financial information at the time of application.


If you are recommended for admission and the Rackham Graduate School approves the admission, you will be notified by Rackham to submit the Affidavit of Financial Support for International Students along with the required financial documentation (i.e., bank statements).




Detailed information about Undocumented and DACAmented Students for this degree program can be found on the related Rackham webpage.






Applications will not be evaluated until all credentials have been received and the application fee has been paid. Applications missing credentials cannot be guaranteed a review by the admissions committee. Eligible applicants are considered for admission on the basis of the following criteria:


– Quality and content of all previous academic education


– Evidence of professional commitment and direction, including statement of purpose, resume, and letters of recommendation


– GRE test scores / TOEFL test scores (if applicable)


– The number of openings available


– The suitability of the program to the applicant’s area of interest


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General information
4 years full time
Larissa Larsen / Scott Campbell
Not Confirmed
Email /
+1 734-763-1275
2000 Bonisteel Boulevard Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2069
Campus Location
The information of this PhD was extracted from the Official Website of the program.
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