The Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley, provides training in urban and planning theory, advanced research, and the practice of planning. Established in 1968, the program has granted more than 160 doctorates. Alumni of the program have established national and international reputations as planning educators, social science researchers and theorists, policy makers, and practitioners. Today, the program is served by nearly 20 city and regional planning faculty with expertise in community and economic development, transportation planning, urban design, international development, environmental planning, and global urbanism. With close ties to numerous research centers and initiatives, the program encourages its students to develop specializations within the field of urban studies and planning and to expand their intellectual horizons through training in the related fields of architecture, landscape architecture and environmental planning, civil engineering, anthropology, geography, sociology, public policy, public health, and political science.
Completing a Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley usually takes five years. The University requires all doctoral students to fulfill a minimum residency requirement of two years and 48 units of coursework. Full-time students are expected to take four courses, or 12 units, per semester. For the Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning, students must complete various program requirements, including courses in planning and urban theory; research methods courses; and preparation and completion of two fields of specialization. They must also successfully complete an oral qualifying examination, which allows them to advance to candidacy and undertake dissertation research. A Ph.D. is awarded upon completion of a written dissertation approved by the faculty supervisors of the dissertation.
The Ph.D. program encourages its students to build intellectual community and to participate in national and international venues of scholarship. Doctoral candidates regularly present their research at the annual conferences of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, Association of American Geographers, Association of European Schools of Planning, World Planning Schools Congress, Urban Affairs Association, and American Anthropological Association. They organize and participate in a weekly research colloquium and manage the Berkeley Planning Journal, a peer-reviewed academic publication. Such activities utilize the incredible intellectual resources available to doctoral students at UC Berkeley, both within their departments and programs and across the campus.
Financial Aid + Admissions
Admission to the Ph.D. program is highly competitive. Applicants are required to have completed a master's degree in planning or a related field. They are expected to demonstrate capacity for advanced research and to present a compelling research topic as part of their application. Once admitted to the program, students are eligible to compete for various university fellowships, including the Berkeley Fellowship, Cota-Robles Fellowship, and the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship. Students of the program have also been successful in securing funding for dissertation research from the National Science Foundation, Social Science Research Council, and the Fulbright scholarships.
DCRP and UC Berkeley offer multiple types of financial support to its graduate students.
Please note that admission decisions are not made by individual faculty, but rather an admissions committee. DCRP's PhD admissions process begins with three initial reviews of your application: the two faculty members you list as preferred advisors and one member of the Ph.D. admission committee. The admission committee then meets to review all applications as a cohort and make admission/denial decisions. More information can be found on the department admissions page.
The principal admission requirements to the Doctoral Program in City and Regional Planning are overall excellence in past academic work and research, demonstrated creativity and intellectual leadership in professional activity, and the strong promise of sustained intellectual achievement, originality, and scholarship. The emphasis in the doctoral program is upon scholarship and research. At the same time, because the doctorate is offered in the context of a professional school, doctoral students are challenged to undertake applied research relevant to city and regional planning and policy problems. If you do not want to teach in planning or a related field, or to do advanced research, please reconsider applying to this program. Most doctoral students enter the program with a master’s degree in planning or a related field. The Master of City Planning is regarded as a terminal professional degree, and is not comparable to mid-study Master of Arts or Master of Science degrees offered in anticipation of the doctorate.
Admission to the doctoral program is very competitive. Only six to eight students are admitted each year, sometimes from a pool of as many as 80 applicants. For all applicants to the doctoral program (even those required to take an English-language competency exam (TOEFL, TOEFL CBT, iBT TOEFL, or IELTS) the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is optional; although prospective students who choose to take the GRE should do so before December to ensure timely receipt of scores. Applicants must also secure at least three letters of recommendation that can explicitly evaluate their intellectual capability and past research and academic work.
Please note that admission decisions are not made by individual faculty, but rather an admissions committee. DCRP’s PhD admissions process begins with three initial reviews of your application: the two faculty members you list as preferred advisors and one member of the PhD admission committee. The admission committee then meets to review all applications as a cohort and make admission/denial decisions.
Many Ph.D. students choose to pursue one or more of the designated emphases (DEs) offered through programs across campus. These DEs are unrelated to the outside field required by the DCRP Ph.D., and can be thought of instead as elective “minors” which provide opportunities for focused interdisciplinary work, mentorship, conference funding, research fellowships and an extra credential along with the doctoral degree. Common DEs pursued by DCRP Ph.D. students include:
For more information on the Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning program, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.