Academic Catalog 2022-2023

Urban Planning and Environmental Policy, Doctor of Philosophy

For individuals wishing to pursue careers in university teaching, research, or highly specialized practice, the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Urban Planning and Environmental Policy provides advanced knowledge, skills, and extensive experience working closely with faculty in teaching and research. The program is designed to foster competencies necessary for the critical examination of the nature of urban planning and environmental policy. Offered by an interdisciplinary faculty, the program emphasizes preparation in research methods, spatial and regional analysis, development theory, historical processes, analytic and policy formulation skills, and the critical appraisal of alternative causes of change.

Requirements for Admission

Admission to the Urban Planning and Environmental Policy Doctoral Program will be granted to a small group each year, selected from those who will be judged most likely to achieve eminence in the field. To be considered:

  1. Applicants for admission to the PhD degree program in Urban Planning and Environmental Policy must meet the requirements for admission to the Graduate School. The prospective student must have a bachelor’s degree in an appropriate field or an equivalent field acceptable to the admissions committee.
  2. Master’s degree must have an acceptable cumulative grade point average of 3.3.
  3. Applicants must present Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test scores. Only scores for tests taken within 5 years prior to initial application are considered valid.
  4. For international applicants, the following additional documentation is required:
    1. Official TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Langue) score is required for applicants whose native language is not English, unless the applicant has received an undergraduate degree from a U.S. college or university. A TOEFL score of at least 550 on the paper-based test or 213 on the computer-based test or 79 on the Internet-based test is required. An official IELTS score can be submitted in lieu of TOEFL in which case a minimum overall band score of 6.0 is required.
    2. Applicants with a bachelor's degree or other educational credentials from a non-U.S. institution must submit an official course-by-course transcript evaluation of that degree by one of the TSU approved transcript evaluation agencies.
    3. An affidavit of financial support as required by the Office of International Admissions.
  5. An interview with members of the Urban Planning and Environmental Policy Program’s Admission Committee will be required of applicants. Committee will coordinate scheduling after receiving a complete application.

All applicants admitted to the PhD degree program must have a minimum of 12 master’s level credit hours in urban planning and environmental policy or related areas. Otherwise, they must satisfy this requirement before achieving full admission into the PhD Program.

A complete application includes the following:

  1. On-line TSU Graduate School Application.
  2. Statement of interest (minimum of 500 words).
  3. A non-refundable application fee.
  4. At least three (3) recommendations from persons qualified to give an evaluation of the applicant’s past scholastic performance, research abilities, and personal motivation.
  5. An official transcript of credits earned at all colleges and/or universities attended by the applicant.
  6. Graduate Record Examination scores from the GRE General Test must be submitted by all applicants. Only scores for tests taken within 5 years prior to the entrance term are considered valid.
  7. For international applicants, the following additional documentation is required:
    1. Official TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Langue) score is required for applicants whose native language is not English, unless the applicant has received an undergraduate degree from a U.S. college or university. A TOEFL score of at least 550 on the paper-based test or 213 on the computer-based test or 79 on the Internet-based test is required. An official IELTS score can be submitted in lieu of TOEFL in which case a minimum overall band score of 6.0 is required.
    2. Applicants with educational credentials from a non-U.S. institution must submit an official course-by-course transcript evaluation of that degree by one of the TSU approved transcript evaluation agencies.
    3. An affidavit of financial support as required by the Office of International Admissions.

Degree Requirements

The overall requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Planning and Environmental Policy are summarized as follows:

  1. Completion of a total of fifty-four (54) credit hours. Of the 54 credit hours, twenty-one (21) credit hours are required core courses. In addition to the core requirements, students are required to take twelve (12) hours of their specialization and nine (9) hours of elective.  The remaining credit hours are dissertation credits.
  2. Of the total 54 credit hours, not more than six (6) non-dissertation credit hours can be transferred into the program from another university. Such transferred credits must have been earned in a doctoral program and must be of grade “B” (3.0) or better.
  3. Passing of the comprehensive examination.
  4. Completion of residency requirement.
  5. Presentation and acceptance of dissertation proposal.
  6. Successful completion and oral defense of the dissertation.
  7. Presentation of at least one paper at a national conference or publication in a refereed journal.

Comprehensive Examination

The purpose of the comprehensive examination is to test the student’s level of understanding in the areas of urban and regional theory, planning theory, quantitative methods, and environmental planning and policy. This examination is designed to evaluate the student’s technical, diagnostic, and evaluative abilities within selected areas related to planning. Students are assigned to take the examination after the completion of all PhD course work. Any student who fails the comprehensive examination will have only one (1) chance for a retake.

Number of Times Comprehensive Can be Taken

A candidate will be given two attempts to take and pass the Comprehensive Examination. A doctoral student who fails the comprehensive examination the first time may petition for a second examination. The petition must show a plan of action in which the petitioner will engage to enhance his/her chances for satisfactorily completing the examination that was not passed. The exam committee and Department Chair must approve the petition. A student who fails to pass the doctoral comprehensive exam or any part of it after the second attempt will be automatically dismissed as a student in the doctoral degree program.

Doctoral Candidacy

The doctoral student must satisfy the following requirements before he/she can be admitted to candidacy for the degree:

  1. Be admitted unconditionally to the Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Planning and Environmental Policy (UPEP) degree program.
  2. Satisfy the residency requirement of two consecutive semesters of full-time (9 credit hours) residence or an approved equivalence.
  3. Satisfy the course requirements for the degree program in which he/she enrolled, including the forty-two (42) non-dissertation semester hours of approved graduate-level course work.
  4. Pass the doctoral comprehensive examination.

Dissertation and Oral Defense

The dissertation serves a number of purposes, among them, satisfying the academic community, the university, and the supervisory committee that the student is capable of undertaking and successfully completing independent, scholarly research on a problem of significance to urban planning and environmental policy. Hence, concerted work on the dissertation will not begin until the student has passed the comprehensive examination. A successful dissertation will require original research and will be expected to produce significant advances in knowledge of the field.

After achieving candidacy, the candidate in consultation with the advisor will select and submit for approval the names of members for a dissertation committee to the Dean of the Graduate School. The committee will consist of at least three graduate faculty members, inclusive of the dissertation Chair. The Chair must be a faculty member from the UPEP Department.

In addition, the Dean of the School of Public Affairs will appoint a graduate school representative to the committee. When the dissertation proposal has been defended and approved the dissertation committee, the candidate will prepare a dissertation and upon its completion, give an oral defense before the committee. If the defense fails, the candidate must petition the Dean through his department for permission to make a second defense. A second defense will not be permitted within a period of one semester after a failure is recorded on the first attempt.

Dissertation

The dissertation serves a number of purposes, among them, satisfying the academic community, the university, and the supervisory committee that the student is capable of undertaking and successfully completing independent, scholarly research on a problem of significance to urban planning and environmental policy. Hence, concerted work on the dissertation will not normally begin until the student has passed the comprehensive examination. A successful dissertation will require original research and will be expected to produce significant advances in knowledge of the subject.

Time Limit for the Completion of the Doctor of Philosophy Degree

After being admitted to a program leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree, a student will be allowed seven calendar years in which to complete all the program requirements.

A student’s Doctoral Degree Advisory Committee and the Dean of the Graduate School can approve, under extenuating circumstances, continuation in the doctoral degree program beyond the seven-year limit. The maximum time allowed to complete the doctoral program, including an approved extension, is nine (9) calendar years. This time limit does not include work performed as part of the requirements for the master’s degree. Credits earned more than seven (7) years prior to the date of completion of doctoral degree requirements cannot count toward satisfying the doctoral degree requirements, unless a student has been given special permission by the Dean of the Graduate School.

Standards of Performance

To continue in the program, a student must make reasonable and timely progress toward the degree in terms of course work completed and examinations. A determination that a student is not making satisfactory progress and should be terminated from the program may be made at several points in his or her program, including failure to achieve and maintain a doctoral GPA of at least 3.00, failure to pass twelve (12) credit hours within a twelve-month period, failure of the qualifying or comprehensive examinations, or failure to defend successfully a dissertation proposal or dissertation. In all such cases, a recommendation of dismissal must be made to the Admission Committee and Program Coordinator, both of whom will review the case and issue a final decision regarding termination from the program.

All doctoral students in urban planning and environmental policy will be required to take twenty-one (21) semester credit hours of core courses in three (3) areas (Sustainable Environmental and Land Use Planning, Community Development and Housing, Spatial Analysis and Mobility Planning) and participate in the doctoral research curriculum. The core curriculum is designed to provide all students with a general introduction to planning through analytical methods, planning techniques and environmental issues and policies. The core curriculum consists of twenty-one (21) hours as shown below:

Core courses21
Specialization/Electives21
Dissertation12
Total Hours54

Core Curriculum Requirements

All doctoral students in urban planning and environmental policy will be required to take twenty-one (21) semester credit hours of core courses in three (3) areas (planning theory, methods and planning, and environmental policy) and participate in the doctoral research curriculum. The core curriculum is designed to provide all students with a general introduction to planning through analytical methods, planning techniques and environmental issues and policies. The core curriculum will consists of twenty-one (21) hours as shown below:

Planning Theory Requirements
UPEP 900Adv Pln Theory & Prac3
UPEP 901Adv Urb Theory3
Methods and Planning Requirements
UPEP 902Adv Pln Analysis3
UPEP 903Adv Pln Analysis II: Stats3
Environmental Policy Requirements
UPEP 904Env Pln & Pol3
UPEP 905Env Pln & Natural Res Mgmt3
UPEP 906Env Monitor & Anal3
Total Hours21