The University of Utah
College of Architecture + Planning

Ph.D. 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 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 program is managed by the Department of City & Metropolitan Planning and is designed to facilitate the interdisciplinary culture of the University of Utah.

Contact Us

Ph.D. Program Coordinator:
Dr. Divya Chandrasekhar
chandrasekhar@arch.utah.edu

CMP Main Office:
801-581-8255
ARCH 220
Forms

Curriculum 

The doctoral degree includes core, electives, qualifying examination, proposal, and dissertation benchmarks. The following outlines the degree requirements for students entering the program in fall semester 2019 or later. The total number of credits needed to graduate is 55 with a master’s degree in planning, 58 with a master’s degree in another field, and 76 without a master’s degree. The entire program takes between 5 to 7 years, depending on prior graduate work. The following outlines the degree requirements for students entering the program fall semester of 2019 or later. We recommend you meet with your advisor every semester to plan out coursework.

Required Courses Master’s Degree in Planning Master’s Degree in another field No Master’s Degree
Planning Foundation 0 3 24
Doctoral Foundation 16 16 16
Electives 12 12 12
Qualifying Examination 6 6 6
Dissertation Research Proposal 3 3 3
Dissertation 18 18 18
Total 55 58 79


Planning Foundation (0-24)

For students with an accredited planning master’s degree from Utah or elsewhere, the graduate planning core is waived.

For students with a master’s degree in another area from Utah or elsewhere, the graduate planning core is waived except for CMP7100 – Urban & Planning Theory (3).

For those without a graduate degree, the MCMP core is required (see list below). For most students, completing the core planning courses will require the equivalent of about one full academic year of study.

CMP 6010 Community & Regional Analysis (3)
CMP 6160 Plan Making (3)
CMP 6260 Land Use Law (3)
CMP 6322 City & Metropolitan Economics (3)
CMP 6430 Community Engagement in Planning (3)
CMP 6450 Geographic Information Systems in Planning (3)
CMP 6610 Urban Ecology (3)
CMP 7100 Urban & Planning Theory (3)

Doctoral Foundation (16)

The doctoral foundation is composed of 4 semester-long doctoral seminars in research design, quantitative methods, qualitative methods, and theory. Students also take 4 semesters of the research seminar in the first two years of the program; however, the department expects students to participate in the seminar beyond the first two years of study.

CMP 7840 Advanced Planning Theory (3)
CMP 7401 Research Design for Metropolitan Planning, Policy and Design (3)
CMP 7302 Qualitative Methods for Planners and Designers (3)
CMP 7022 Quantitative Methods in Planning (3)
CMP 7501 Metropolitan Planning, Policy and Design Research Seminar (1) x 4 semesters.

Electives (12)

Elective courses are selected in consultation with the Supervisory Committee and should be selected to deepen knowledge in substantive areas related to the dissertation project. While a minimum number of credits are expected, this may vary depending on the level of preparation by the student as determined by the Supervisory Committee. The courses can be taken inside or outside of the department and must be numbered 6000 and above.

Qualifying Examination (minimum 6 credit hours required)

The qualifying (or preliminary) examination requires the student to produce a scholarly piece of work that is of publishable quality. The paper typically includes a review of relevant literature, methods/data collection, findings, conclusion, and implications for planning, policy, and/or design. Students enroll in this course while working on the qualifying exam paper. This course may be repeated.

CMP 7930 Qualifying Exam (1 to 9)

Dissertation Research Proposal (minium 3 credit hours required)

Candidates will prepare and defend their proposal for a dissertation based on the plan and format negotiated with the Supervisory Committee. Students enroll in this course while writing the proposal. This course may be repeated.

CMP 7940 Dissertation Research Proposal (3)

Dissertation (minimum 18 credit hours required)

Students are required to write and defend their dissertation in order to graduate from the program. Typically, a dissertation is a written work on a singular topic, but a three discrete paper dissertation is also an option. An approved dissertation proposal is required before taking dissertation credits. This course may be repeated.

CMP 7970 Dissertation (1 – 18)

RECOMMENDED PROGRESSION OF YOUR DEGREE AND GRADUATE SCHOOL RULES 

We recommend you use this timeline to plan your degree: 

Year 1 – Take Planning Foundation, Doctoral Foundation, Electives 

Year 2 – Finish most of the coursework, Form Supervisory Committee 

Year 3 – Pass Qualifying Exam and Defend Dissertation Proposal 

Year 4 – Dissertation (Data Collection, Analysis, and Writing) 

Year 5 – Defend Dissertation and Submit Dissertation to Thesis Office 

Per Graduate School rules, Ph.D. students must meet these deadlines: 

• Ph.D. students should have their supervisory committee in place by the end of the second year which is the time it takes to complete the required foundational core and elective course work. 

• Ph.D. students must advance to candidacy by the end of the fourth year. Typically, this is completed by the end of the third year. Advancing to candidacy means the student has completed all required course work (except for CMP 7940 and 7970) and completed the qualifying exam. 

• Ph.D. students must be “ABD” by the end of year 5. Typically, this is completed by the end of the third year. “ABD” or all but dissertation means that the student has completed the required course work (except for CMP 7970), qualifying exam, and successfully defended the dissertation proposal. 

• A Ph.D. student with or without a master’s degree has 7 calendar years from the date of first registration to complete the doctoral degree with an approved dissertation. This timeline applies to both full- and part-time students. If a student takes an approved leave of absence (maximum of two semesters) the approved leave will not count towards the student’s time to program completion. 

• Students must be registered in the semester that they defend their thesis, including the summer semester. 

Forming a Supervisory Committee

Ph.D. students should have their Supervisory Committee in place by the end of the second year which is the time it takes to complete the required foundational core and elective course work.

Each Supervisory Committee consists of five faculty members. The committee chair and the majority of the committee must be tenure-line faculty in the student’s department. One member of the committee must be appointed from outside the student’s major department. The outside member is normally from another University of Utah department. However, the dean of The Graduate School may approve requests to appoint a committee member from another university where appropriate justification and supporting documentation is provided.

The Supervisory Committee is responsible for approving the student’s academic program, preparing and judging the qualifying examinations (unless delegated to a departmental examination committee), approving the dissertation subject and final dissertation, and administering and judging the final oral examination (dissertation defense).

To officially confirm your supervisory committee, fill the Supervisory Committee Form. Your supervisory committee is NOT formalized until you submit this form to the department (Send to the administrative officer with cc- to Chair).

Supervisory Committee Form

 

The qualifying (or preliminary) examination requires the student to produce a scholarly piece of work that is of publishable quality. The paper typically includes a review of relevant literature, methods/data collection, findings, conclusion, and implications for planning, policy, and/or design. 

Students are required to take at least 6 credit hours of CMP7930 to prepare for the qualifying exam. Students must have an approved supervisory committee before registering for CMP7930. A permission code is required for registration.

The paper is the written portion of the exam. In the oral exam, the student presents the paper and responds to questions posed by the Supervisory Committee. After the student passes both the written and oral exam it is anticipated that the student will refine and submit the paper to an appropriate peer-reviewed journal for its consideration. 

Students must send their QE paper to the committee 4 weeks in advance of the defense date and work with their advisor to send out a public announcement of the defense date 2 weeks in advance. The advisor should send out the announcement, but students should initiate the process.

Students must complete the qualifying exam by the end of the 4th year to remain in good academic standing, however, most students finish this exam by the 3rd year. After the student completes the qualifying exam, the student has advanced to candidacy. 

To officially defend your QE, fill the relevant form obtainable from this link and get all the relevant signatures, then submit to the administrative officer with cc- to Chair. Your pass grade is not formalized until you submit this form to the department. 

Qualifying Exam Form

Dissertation Proposal

Ph.D. candidates will prepare and defend their proposal for a dissertation based on the plan and format negotiated with the Supervisory Committee. The design for the proposal may begin at any time.

Students are required to take at least 3 credit hours of CMP7940-Dissertation Research Proposal while they are writing the dissertation proposal. A permission code is required for registration.

Ph.D. candidates will prepare and defend their proposal for a dissertation based on the plan and format negotiated with the Supervisory Committee. The design for the proposal may begin at any time. Students are required to take at least 3 credit hours of CMP7940-Dissertation Research Proposal while they are writing the dissertation proposal.

After the proposal is defended, the student is considered to be “ABD” or All But Dissertation. Students must send their proposal document to the committee 4 weeks in advance of the defense date and work with their advisor to send out a public announcement of the defense date 2 weeks in advance. The advisor should send out the announcement, but students should initiate the process.

To officially defend your proposal, get all the relevant signatures on the Dissertation Proposal Defense Form, then submit to the administrative officer with cc- to Chair. Your pass grade is not formalized until you submit this form to the department.

Dissertation Proposal Defense Form

Dissertation 

Students may enroll in CMP 7970 once they defend the dissertation proposal. A minimum of 18 credit hours is required. A permission code is required for registration.

Students (including international students) who have defended their proposals (are in ABD status) and have completed the minimum 18 credits need only register for 3 credit hours CMP 7970 each successive semester to maintain full-time status and 1 credit hour for part-time status. Note: Some assistantships, fellowships, and/or grants may require up to 9 credit hours. 

Students are required to write and defend their dissertation in order to graduate from the program. Typically, dissertations are a written work on a singular topic including multiple chapters, such as an introduction, literature review, research methods, results, discussion, and conclusion.

The Supervisory Committee will also consider a three discrete paper dissertation (with an introduction and conclusion). The three papers must be deemed publishable in peer-reviewed journals by a majority of the committee. Co-authorship of the papers in the dissertation is permitted, provided that the student is the first author on all papers and is responsible for the full writing of all of the papers. If it is found that any significant portion of a paper was not written by the student, the committee may prohibit that paper from being included in the dissertation. 

The qualifying exam and dissertation defense must occur at least one semester apart.

To officially pass your dissertation defense, get all the relevant signatures on the Dissertation Defense Form, then submit to the administrative officer with cc- to Chair. Your pass grade for CMP7970 is not formalized until you submit this form to the department.

Dissertation Defense Form

 

Thesis Office Requirements:

All dissertations must conform to the formatting requirements outlined by the Graduate School Handbook for Theses and Dissertations. After passing the dissertation defense, the dissertation must clear the manuscript review. We recommend asking the Thesis Office to do a preliminary review of the dissertation format early in the writing process.

According to the policies of the University of Utah Graduate School, students must submit the defended dissertation to the Thesis Office. The Thesis Office website contains information on deadlines, style guidelines, submission procedures, thesis tracking, and more.

Excerpts from the Graduate School Rules & Regulations

Transfer Credit 
A student may petition to transfer up to six semester credit hours of graduate course work from an accredited college or university provided that: 1) The course work was not used to satisfy requirement for a baccalaureate degree or another master’s degree, 2) The course grade was at least a “B” (or equivalent), 3) The course work is not more than four years old when the transfer is approved, and 4) The student fulfills the residency requirements of the University of Utah. Students seeking transfer credit will need to demonstrate the appropriateness of the proposed transfer credits to the program. At a minimum, this will require providing copies of course syllabi, catalog descriptions, and grade transcripts. In some cases, copies of course work products may also be required. Students should discuss their specific circumstances with their academic advisor.

Non-Matriculated Credit
Non-matriculated graduate credits are those graduate credits that students might accumulate prior to being formally admitted (matriculated) into a graduate degree program. According to Graduate School regulations, up to nine non-matriculated graduate credit hours, taken no more than three years prior to approval, may be counted toward meeting the degree requirements. Students should discuss their specific circumstances with their academic advisor.

Course Substitutions 
Occasionally, students have completed course work in other graduate degree programs that closely resembles the content of a core course. In such circumstances, students may petition to substitute a core requirement with some other graduate-level course. Students seeking to make such substitutions should consult with Program Coordinator.

Time Limit
Program time extensions must be approved by the Dean of the Graduate School.

Minimum Registration, Continuous Registration, and Leave of Absence
All graduate students at the University of Utah must maintain minimum registration of at least 3 credit hours of graduate level course work from the time of formal admission through completion of all requirements for the degree they are seeking unless granted on official leave of absence (see below). Students not on campus and not using University facilities during summer are not expected to register for summer term. Students receiving scholarship or assistantship aid must maintain a schedule of at least nine credit hours per term to be eligible for Graduate Student Tuition Benefits.

Students unable to maintain continuous registration as outlined above must file a Leave of Absence form for the semester(s) during which they will not be enrolled. Leave of Absence forms are available from the Graduate School’s website, and must be submitted prior to the beginning of the semester of leave. The Program Coordinator and the CMP Department Chair must approve each request. After signatures have been obtained, the CMP office will forward the request to the Graduate School. At the end of the leave of absence, the student must register for at least three credit hours in the CMP program, or make another request for a leave of absence. Students who do not meet the minimum registration requirements and who fail to obtain an approved leave of absence are discontinued as students of the University of Utah and can return only upon reapplication of admission and approved by the CMP department.

Grades
Students must achieve a minimum letter grade of B– to count a course toward the degree requirements. Courses with lower grades or with a credit/no-credit grading option will not be counted.

Minimum Grade Point Regulations
Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0. Students whose GPA’s fall below a 3.0 or who accumulate more than 3 incompletes will be placed on probation. Probation may carry specific requirements that the student must meet in order for probation to be removed. Students on probation for two consecutive terms will be asked to withdraw from the program. Students may retake courses in an attempt to raise their grades. At the point of entry of the first grade, a student’s transcript will note that the course has been repeated. The new grade is shown in the semester in which the course is retaken. The student’s GPA is recalculated to eliminate the effect of the first grade and to recognize only the new grade.

Incompletes and Work-In Progress Grades
Occasionally, a student needs to discontinue work in a particular course before the semester is finished. An “I” (incomplete) can be given in such cases and needs to be cleared within one calendar year or the “I” will be converted to an “E” (failure) automatically. If the course is successfully completed the “I” will remain on a student’s transcript and a letter grade will be inserted next to the “I”. Sometimes a “T” grade is used instead of an “I” courses where students are engaged in independent research extending beyond the semester. Students can check the status of their grades by visiting the Campus Information System.

Maximum Hours
Graduate students are not permitted to register for more than 16 credit hours in any single semester. Students must achieve a minimum letter grade of B– to count a course toward the degree requirements. Courses with lower grades or with a credit/no-credit grading option will not be counted.