USC Price School of Public Policy

Doctor of Philosophy in Policy, Planning, and Development

PhD Program

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Policy, Planning, and Development is a highly selective program that admits a small number of students (usually fewer than 15), who train to become academic leaders and scholars in their respective sub-fields within public policy, planning, public management, and urban development. The program aims to recruit the strongest students nationally and internationally and to mentor, train, and inspire them to contribute to the scholarly foundations of these fields, to conduct research that is nationally and internationally recognized, and to compete for positions in the best research universities or comparable research institutions worldwide.

Coursework stresses both qualitative and quantitative analysis informed by theoretical insights into planned intervention and social change. Within the context of governance, place, and community in a globalizing world – the strategic focus of the school – students receive training in advanced theoretical concepts that characterize the field and develop expertise in an area of specialization.

Faculty and students take advantage of the unique offerings of Los Angeles as a major world city and as a rich urban laboratory within which to interpret the world, theorize about its many modes of planning and governing, make and validate claims, and propose solutions for the most pressing and intriguing problems that confront us.

A distinguishing feature of the program is the tradition of cooperative faculty-doctoral student workshops where participants report and receive feedback on their work as they develop their research agendas or work on collaborative research and publication. Distinguished visitors from other universities and other departments within USC share their work in these workshops.