The University of Utah
College of Architecture + Planning

PhD in Metropolitan Planning, Policy, and Design

The doctoral degree in Metropolitan Planning, Policy and Design helps meet society’s need for researchers, scholars, teachers, and leaders to make our metropolitan areas sustainable and resilient. The role of the degree in the future of the region and the nation is reflected in its title: The planning challenge is to anticipate change and learn how best to manage it; the policy challenge is how to craft and implement policies needed to facilitate desired change; and the design challenge is how to shape the built environment to achieve desired outcomes. The degree is managed by the Department of City & Metropolitan Planning and is designed to facilitate the interdisciplinary culture of the University of Utah.

Depending on the nature of prior graduate work, the doctoral degree will require between 61 and 83 credit hours, or more, and extend a minimum of six full time semesters of course work. The degree includes core, dissertation field, qualifying examination, and dissertation benchmarks. The core is composed of a sequence of semester-long doctoral seminars in metropolitan planning, metropolitan policy, metropolitan design, research design, technical writing, and teaching methods for a total of 21 credits. (Students without an accredited planning master degree will need to take up to 22 credits in core planning courses.) Doctoral students will complete a minimum of 18 credits in a “dissertation” field including courses outside the Department. The qualifying examination will demonstrate the ability of the candidate to undertake independent research through the preparation of a paper sufficient for submission to a scholarly journal; the paper itself will include literature review, theory, research design, research execution, findings, and conclusions. The dissertation will then be proposed, prepared, and defended.

Applicants are normally expected to have a masters degree in planning, policy, design, or related field, though exceptional candidates with bachelors degrees and substantial related professional experience may be admitted to pursue the masters and Ph.D. Programs in planning concurrently. In addition to Graduate School application forms and transcripts, all applicants must submit GRE scores, resume, two letters of reference, writing and/or other portfolio samples, statement of interest, presentation of a dissertation topic, and where feasible campus visits.

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MPPD Core Courses

Quantitative Methods in Planning

Lab based course in planning research and quantitative methods including the application of various methodologies to different topic areas including factor analysis. logistic regression, hierarchical modeling, and structural equation modeling.

Offered: Fall 2017 & Fall 2019

Please note core courses are offered every other semester.

MPPD Core Courses

Article Writing & Publishing

The purpose of the Metropolitan Policy Seminar is to give students the opportunity to convert their current work and/or interests into a small scholarly paper suitable for presentation to a scholarly conference and/or submission to a scholarly journal. This course combines elements of preparing students for professional oral presentation in scholarly forums, providing instruction on writing and preparing journal articles, and a simulation of the journal submission and review process.

Offered: Fall 2018 & Fall 2020

Please note core courses are offered every other semester.

MPPD Core Courses

Qualitative Methods for Planners & Designers

This course is designed to provide students with a hands-on introduction to qualitative research methods. It is centered around a fieldwork project, through which you will explore the basics of qualitative research, including entering the field, participant/observation, writing ethnographic field notes, the art of interviewing, and data analysis. Readings for the course will cover both the practical aspects of conducting fieldwork as well as current debates concerning the positionality of the researcher; writing, voice, and reflexivity; “critical” methods of inquiry; locating culture; and methods for analyzing and interpreting data.

Offered: Spring 2018 & Spring 2020

Please note core courses are offered every other semester.

MPPD Core Courses

Research Design & Proposal

Designing research strategies for application to metropolitan scale issues including such topics as identifying the available and nature of data, primary and second data assembly, design of quantitative and qualitative methods, execution through proposals and research, preparing and presentation research results, and related topics. Credits are based on the number and/or in-depth treatment of policy areas addressed. Variable credit. Students may take this seminar multiple times for up to 6 total credits.

Offered: Spring 2019 & Spring 2021

Please note core courses are offered every other semester.

MPPD Core Courses

Topics in City & Metropolitan Planning Pedagogy 

Instructive theory; theories of learning; pedagogical strategies for teaching in city and metropolitan planning; course syllabus preparation; methods of course delivery and learning modes; student assessment; course evaluation; and related topics. Variable credit. Students may take this course multiple times for up to 6 total credits.

Offered: Spring 2018, Spring 2019 & Spring 2021

Please note core courses are offered every other semester.

MPPD Core Courses

Urban Theory & Form 

Introductory survey course about theories of urbanism, urban formation, spatial structure, comparative urbanism, the dynamics of urban areas, contemporary urban challenges, economic restructuring and globalism, and strategic responses for evolving human settlements. The course also covers the history of urban form and city-making from a design and planning standpoint.

This course is taught every fall semester concurrently with CMP 6100.

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Download Handbook

Download the MPPD 2017-2018 Handbook.