USC Price School of Public Policy

Curriculum Overview


The Ph.D. program in Urban Planning and Development requires the completion of 60 units of coursework comprising the following elements:

    – master core in a substantive field (16-18 units)
    – theoretical core (11 units)
    – methodology (10-12 units)
    – field/specialization courses (16 units)
    – teaching seminar (2 units)
    – research seminar (4 units)
    – dissertation (4 units minimum)

Prerequisites (16-18 units)
While a master’s degree is not required, students entering the doctoral program without a relevant masters degree will be required to complete 15-17 units of prerequisites relevant to their program.

For the Ph.D. in Urban Planning and Development, possible courses include:

  • 500 – Intersectoral Leadership
  • 501ab – Economics for Policy, Planning & Development
  • 524 – Planning Theory
  • 525 – Statistics and Arguing from Data
  • 526 – Comparative International Development
  • 527 – Social Context of Planning
  • 533 – Planning History & Urban Form
  • 634 – Institutional and Policy Issues in Transportation

Theoretical Core Courses (8 units)

  • PPD 713 – Advanced Planning Theory – 4 units
  • PPD 714 – Advanced Urban Development – 4 units

Methodology Courses (10-12 units)

  • PPD 706 – Paradigms of Research and the Design of Inquiry – 4 units
  • Two additional methods courses selected with guidance committee approval (6-8 units)

Specialized Field Courses (16 units)
Students take a minimum of 4 courses to develop their specialized area of study. Courses may be taken in USC Price or other USC units. Students, working with their Guidance Committees, have considerable flexibility in forming specializations.

Research Seminar (4 units)
Students will take PPD 710ab (2 units each, 4 total units), the USC Price research seminar course.

Teaching Seminar (2 units)
Students will take two semesters of the teaching seminar, PPD 700ab (1 unit each, 2 total units).

Doctoral Dissertation
All students will produce a doctoral dissertation based on original research on an issue relevant to public policy, public management, or from an interdisciplinary perspective. The dissertation must adhere to the format prescribed the Graduate School.