The Department of Urban Planning at UCLA is famous for producing outstanding planning scholars and teachers through its distinct mix of three program elements: top faculty in critical fields, a flexible curriculum, and superb opportunities for important and progressive research. Applicants to the Ph.D. program must have a Master's degree in planning or a closely related field.
Our faculty is composed of nationally and internationally well-known scholars and teachers. Their expertise spans community development, critical studies, gender studies, labor studies, economic development, housing, international planning, transportation planning, political economy, the natural environment, culture and ethnicity, and urban design. (See "research areas" section).
UCLA is one of the leading research institutions in the world. The size and quality of the university's research network is exceptionally strong and offers considerable additional faculty resources to our graduate student body. The Department's resources go well beyond its faculty to include many other units on campus. Members of the faculty share appointments with the College of Letters and Science, the Institute of the Environment, the School of Public Health, the School of Arts and Architecture, the Center for Latin American Studies, the Center for Asian American Studies, the Center for Urban Poverty, and the Institute of Labor Relations, as well as -- within the School of Public Policy & Social Research -- the Policy Studies and Social Welfare Departments, the Institute for Transportation Studies, the Institute of Labor and Employment, and the Lewis Center for Regional Studies.
Our doctoral program is distinctively intimate and flexible. The course and research requirements build skills and provide research experience through close faculty-student interaction. Each entering Ph.D. class is small, and each student is sponsored and supervised by two faculty members. Flexibility is the cornerstone. While faculty contact and advising is important, we also believe that strong students benefit from designing the research path that best suits their interests.
The doctoral program thus requires few specific courses, choosing instead to mainly mark progress in terms of individually-designed study programs and research accomplishments (See Program Requirements).
Participation and collaboration among faculty and students in advanced research projects is encouraged and fostered. Most Ph.D. students become research assistants on sponsored projects and/or become involved in cutting edge research as part of their coursework early in their studies. Our students also can take advantage of the many interdepartmental opportunities that UCLA offers.
Toward that end, we aim to train scholars of substance as well as influence. Our Ph.D. graduates have made important marks in the field of Urban Planning as academics and scholars. Many have followed the academic path, and now teach at UCLA, Berkeley, M.I.T., Harvard, and other leading universities worldwide. Others hold applied research positions in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors, such as the World Bank (See Alumni Profiles).
Along side our emphasis on research excellence, our doctoral program shares with the Master's program a profound commitment to positive social change. The program is designed not only to fully develop the students' research abilities, but also their research leadership.