Curriculum Overview

Doctor of Policy, Planning, and Development

Curriculum Overview

The DPPD program requires the completion of 60 units of coursework comprising the following elements:

  • foundation courses (20 units)
  • doctoral core courses (12 units)
  • methodology (4 units)
  • field of study (20 units)
  • planning, design and development project (4 units minimum)

» Foundation Courses
» Doctoral Core Courses
» Conspectus Preparation
» Methods Courses
» Field of Study
» Planning, Design and Development Project (PDDP)

Foundation Courses
Students take 20 units of these courses from USC Price’s master’s degree programs or, with prior approval, from other USC graduate degree programs. Students who hold a related master’s degree and/or have previously fulfilled the foundation course requirements may be awarded up to 20 units of advanced standing.

Doctoral Core Courses
Students take the following four-unit courses:

  • Planning and Development Paradigms (PLUS 603)
  • Politics of Planning and the Urban Environment (PLUS 623)
  • Conspectus Preparation (PLUS 692)

Conspectus Preparation
In Conspectus Preparation (PLUS 692), students complete a professional conspectus that defines their field of study, its structure and place within professional practice, and other related questions. The conspectus will be presented to the student’s Professional Advisory Committee for acceptance. Only after it is accepted may the student proceed to the Planning, Design and Development Project.

Students select one of the following four-unit courses:

  • Design Skills for Planners (PPD 627)
  • Planning Analysis and Evaluation (PPD 632)
  • Advanced Research Methods in Planning: Survey Research Methods (PLUS 608)
  • Advanced Research Methods in Planning: Qualitative Methods (PLUS 609)
  • Analysis of Quantitative Data for Planning (PLUS 612)

Field of Study
In consultation with faculty advisors and the Professional Advisory Committee, students pursue an area of study related to the profession. The field may or may not reflect standard academic boundaries. Students are encouraged to take advantage of the expertise of the USC campus. Twenty units of coursework are required for the field of study.

Planning, Design and Development Project (PDDP)
The capstone project of the DPPD is the Planning, Design and Development Project (PDDP). The PDDP is a study of an aspect, site, issue or other element of professional practice. The PDDP should be designed to present an innovative or original contribution to the practice of planning and development. The parameters of the PDDP are intentionally broad, allowing the project to be produced as solely text or text in conjunction with film, computer program, design or other multimedia format.

The PDDP requires a minimum of four units of coursework and is supervised by the student’s Professional Advisory Committee. Students must maintain continuous registration in the Planning, Design and Development Project (PLUS 694) series until completion of the PDDP. Upon completion of an approved draft of the PDDP, students will present their findings in an open session, but the Professional Advisory Committee will be the sole evaluator. The project is also submitted and approved by the USC Thesis Editor for submission to the USC Library.