City Planning, PhD

The University of Pennsylvania is an intellectually stimulating environment in which to study the serious problems that face our metropolitan areas today and the broad spectrum of responses to meet those challenges. Students enrolled in the City and Regional Planning Ph.D. program have easy access to a broad, multi-disciplinary faculty and all the resources of a first-rate urban research university.

The Ph.D. program in City and Regional Planning (CPLN), governed by the Graduate Group in City and Regional Planning, is one of the oldest in the country, dating back to the 1950s. Penn’s faculty has guided more than 300 students though their graduate studies to the completion of the degree and aided them in assuming positions of leadership in both academia and the profession throughout the United States and across the world.

Penn's Ph.D. program in city and regional planning has a straightforward objective: to train thought-leaders and exceptional scholars. To this end, the Graduate Group aims to ensure acquisition of strong research and communication skills. It is also committed to cultivating enduring faculty/student mentoring relationships and collegial networking among a students' peers, including other Ph.D. students in urban-focused disciplines.

View the University’s Academic Rules for PhD Programs.



A total of 20 course units are required.

The Graduate Group in City and Regional Planning does not designate a formal list of required courses other than the Doctoral Seminar and research methods, but allows students to work with the Graduate Group Chair and their principal advisor to develop a study plan consistent with their research and future teaching interests.

Required Courses
Doctoral Seminar
Four consecutive semesters are required:
CPLN 8000Doctoral Seminar1
CPLN 8000Doctoral Seminar1
CPLN 8000Doctoral Seminar1
CPLN 8000Doctoral Seminar1
Research Methods
Select two graduate-level methods courses 12

The Graduate Group maintains a list of courses in quantitative and qualitative methods and spatial analytics offered in various schools of the University.

Additional Requirements

Additional elements of the program include:

  • Preparatory Requirements (Writing and Presentation and Scholarly Preparation)
  • Qualifying/Candidacy Examinations
  • Dissertation

The degree and major requirements displayed are intended as a guide for students entering in the Fall of 2023 and later. Students should consult with their academic program regarding final certifications and requirements for graduation.