Ph.D. Program in Planning, Policy, and Design

Today's complex urban, social and environmental issues can best be understood by researchers who can work across disciplinary boundaries, and who understand the relationship of research to action. The doctoral program in the department of Urban Planning and Public Policy at UCI trains scholars for national and international prominence in the analysis of social problems related to the built, natural and institutional environments. Our faculty members and students combine perspectives from urban planning, public policy, and design behavior. The Ph.D. program is based on the department's internationally prominent research and teaching strengths, including design-behavior research, environmental policy, health promotion and policy, and urban and community development. (A point of clarification: our department's name changed in 2017, from "Planning, Policy, and Design" to "Urban Planning and Public Policy." However, the name of the department's doctoral degree is still Ph.D. in Planning, Policy, and Design.)

Students in the Ph.D. in Planning, Policy, and Design program take a common core of classes, then specialize in study related to their research interests. Students may design their own specialization or may follow the guidelines provided to specialize in either policy or urban and regional planning. In either case, the elective courses need to be approved by the student’s faculty advisory committee.

A typical pattern for completion of requirements is the following:

In addition to completing these requirements, students may specialize in one (or more) of the following areas. The courses required in these specializations may be used as electives in fulfilling the course requirement:


The Department of Urban Planning and Public Policy offers diverse opportunities to add an international educational component to your graduate studies. The two most popular options are participation in the Education Abroad Program (EAP) or the Network for European and U.S. Regional Urban Studies program (NEURUS). Read more about these options and how they may integrate into your course of study. 


Visit the School of Social Ecology's Admissions pages for prospective student information, including application requirements, deadlines, tuition, and funding. View the UPPP PhD Program FAQ page for answers to some questions commonly asked by our applicants.