D. Campbell (home page)
Associate Professor of Urban Planning
[former Director of Doctoral Studies: 2004 - 2012; 2017 - 2019]
of Architecture + Urban Planning
2000 Bonisteel Blvd., Ann Arbor MI 48109-2069
2352 A&AB • (734) 763-2077
Saturday, November 20, 2021
a wordcloud graphic of recent Michigan planning dissertations (click for larger image)
|NOTE: as of 2021, Prof. Lesli Hoey is the new Director of Doctoral Studies. Please direct your queries to her. Thank you.
An Informal Letter to Potential Applicants to the Ph.D. in Urban & Regional Planning at the University
Thank you for your interest in the doctoral planning
program at the University of Michigan! For over 50 years, students have come to Ann Arbor to engage in the
intellectually demanding and richly interdisciplinary environment of doctoral
planning studies. (Over 200 students have received their PhD in planning from our program. A list of recent graduates and their dissertation titles is at the bottom of this page.) We have a large and diverse planning faculty who welcome the opportunity to collaborate with doctoral students. Students take
courses both in planning and in a wide range of disciplines across campus. Graduates
work in universities, government, non-profits and the private sector, both in
the U.S. and around the world. (Graduates have gone on to teach and do research at such institutions as Wisconsin, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Brown, Rutgers, Oregon, Northeastern, University of Baltimore, Iowa, Iowa State, UC Berkeley, Cardiff, University of Illinois-Chicago, Wayne State, Washington University in St. Louis, Arizona State, Ohio State, Florida State, Waterloo, University at Buffalo, University at Albany, Virginia Tech, University of Maryland, University of Georgia, University of Texas, and many universities around the world.) The curriculum integrates analytical methods,
research design, a rigorous understanding of urbanization dynamics, and an
examination of broader social processes and policies. Students address complex
systems that typically encompass an array of spatial, environmental, social,
political, technical, and economic factors. The emphasis is on theory, analysis
and action. Here are links to the research interests of our current doctoral students and recent graduates.
Should I apply for the Ph.D. or the MURP?
- The Urban and Regional Planning Program offer two degrees: the two-year professional MURP (Master of Urban Planning) degree, and the four-year Ph.D. Almost all students who apply to the Ph.D. already have their masters (or are currently completing their masters) in urban planning or a related field (such as public policy, environmental studies, geography, architecture, social work, economics, civil engineering, etc.). Applicants with other master’s degrees will be considered as well.
- For most applicants without a masters, applying to the MUP program is usually the appropriate choice. However, some exceptionally well-prepared applicants (with just a bachelors degree) may already be interested in pursuing the Ph.D. and choose to apply directly to the Ph.D. program. Such applicants have two choices: (a) apply only to the Ph.D. program (since the masters degree, though typical, is NOT a prerequisite for the Ph.D.); (b) simultaneously pursue the MUP and Ph.D. degrees (and thus apply to the integrated MUP/Ph.D. program).
- If the Masters of Urban & Regional Planning (MURP) is a better fit with your interests and academic background, please see this link to the MURP program.
- The deadline for applications is
- Can I still apply if I miss the January 15 deadline? Do contact the admissions staff if you miss the January 15 deadline to make sure they are still accepting applications. We are sometimes able to also review applications received in late January and early February. The doctoral admissions committee typically reviews application materials starting in late January, with most decisions about admissions and financial aid
made by late February/early March. The main admissions season concludes by mid April.
- Can I apply during other times during the year? Though unusual, if space is available, we sometimes can also consider applications during other times of the year. (Please contact the program if you are considering applying to the program outside of the usual January deadline framework. Most doctoral students begin their studies in September -- the start of the academic year. In exceptional situations, starting during the winter semester in January has sometimes been an option.)
Advice for your application:
- Admission is highly competitive. We are able to offer all of our
incoming doctoral students four years of funding (tuition, stipend, health
insurance) through a combination of teaching assistantships, research
assistantships and fellowships. (Of course, incoming students also may seek
additional aid through outside fellowships.) The goal is to complete the doctoral program in four years (though additional funding opportunities exist for studies extending beyond four years).
- The application
process is done on-line, and all our printed materials are also available
on the web.
- IMPORTANT: Please note that you do NOT need to arrange a faculty sponsorship of your dissertation research project ahead of time NOR do you need to identify a specific
faculty member here as a potential advisor as part of your application process.
(You are applying to the program as a whole, not to work specifically
with a single faculty member. You may later work closely with one or more
faculty members on funded research projects, but you do NOT need to arrange
that ahead of time.) We offer four years of financial aid to all our incoming doctoral students regardless of their areas of specialization.
- For the doctoral application process, we place
particular importance on past academic performance (especially in master's
level programs), your letters of recommendation (especially from faculty, including from your most recent degree program), and
the statement of purpose. The statement of purpose is a vital component of
your application. Explain how you arrived at the decision to pursue a Ph.D. in
urban and regional planning, what you plan to do during the course of your
studies, and how you hope to use your doctoral education in planning. In
particular, discuss the intellectual and policy challenges that you hope to
address in your doctoral studies, outline the methodological skills you plan to
pursue, and briefly note any tentative dissertation research topics. (There are
no requirements for length. The typical length is 2+ single-spaced pages.)
- We do NOT require the GRE. (We dropped the GRE requirement both due to problems with the test and because of the cost and logistical burdens, especially for international students.)
- Regarding English language tests: Yes, we require the TOEFL, Test of English as a Foreign Language (taken within the past two years). (Exception:
"Applicants who have earned or will earn a Bachelor or Master degree
from an institution where the language of instruction is English, exclusively,
are exempt from submitting an Official English Proficiency Score. Verification
from the school may be required.")
- We do not require an interview as part of the admissions process. Of course, we would be happy to informally meet with you at any time throughout the year and have you speak with both faculty and other doctoral students if you will be in the Ann Arbor area. Please contact Lisa Hauser (contact info below) to help schedule a visit.
- For a more detailed discussion of the application process, please see the "How to Apply" web page.
- The Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning is one of two doctoral degree programs in the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. The other doctoral program is the Ph.D. in Architecture.
A list of recent graduates (since 2014) and their dissertation titles
Vanka, Salila: Public Space and Life in an Indian City: The Politics of Space in Bangalore
Rajkovich, Nick: Assessing and Reducing Exposure to Heat Waves in Cuyahoga County, Ohio
Lee, Wonhyung: Critical Perspectives on Local Governance: The Formation of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) in Low-Income Immigrant Neighborhoods of Los Angeles
Nakamura, Shohei: Land tenure, politics, and perception: a study of tenure security and housing improvement in Indian slums
Owens, Kate: Negotiating the City: Urban Development in Three Tanzanian Cities
Mills, Sarah: Preserving Agriculture through Wind Energy Development: A Study of the Social, Economic, and Land Use Effects of Windfarms on Rural Landowners and Their Communities
Epstein, David: Fostering Participation and Capacity Building with Neighborhood Information Systems
Skuzinski, Tom: Risk, Rationality, and Regional Governance
Shake, Josh: Privatizing Urban Planning and the Struggle for Inclusive Urban Development: New Redevelopment Forms and Participatory Planning in São Paulo
Meyer, Justin: Art museums and their connection to neighborhood change: A case study of the Portland Art Museum in Oregon
Williams, Jennifer: Understanding Low-Income Residents’ Sense of Community in Post-Aparthead Housing Developments in South Africa
Weinreich, David: Transportation Planning & Finance Through Multi-Jurisdictional Collaboration: Regional Transportation Planning in an Era of Decentralized Government
Stults, Missy: Planning to be Prepared: Assessing Local Level Planning for Climate Change in the United States
Seymour, Eric: Federal Financial Institutions, Foreclosure, and the Fortunes of Detroit’s Middle- and Working-Class Neighborhoods
Rugkhapan, Napong: Technopolitics of Historic Preservation in Southeast Asian Chinatowns:Penang, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City
Rivera, Danielle: Questioning as We Walk: Case Analysis of Community Organizing in Rio Grande Valley Colonias
Trivers, Ian: Mobilizing the High Line
Mcaslan, Devon: Walking, Transit Use, and Urban Morphology in Walkable Urban Neighborhoods: An Examination of Behaviors and Attitudes in Seattle Neighborhoods
Fishelson, James: Planning for a Shared Automated Transportation Future
Cooper-McCann, Patrick: The Promise of Parkland: Planning Detroit’s Public Spaces, 1805-2018
Kayanan, Carla Maria: Building Cities Like Startups: Innovation Districts, Rent Extraction, and the Remaking of Public Space
Yan, Xiang "Jacob": Redefining the Value of Accessibility: Toward a better understanding of How Accessibility Shapes Household Residential-location and Travel Choices
Singer, Matan: How Affordable are Accessible Locations? Housing and Transportation Costs and Affordability in U.S. Metropolitan Areas with Intra-Urban Rail Service
Koscielniak , Michael Roman-John: Ground Forces:Dirt, Demolition, and the Geography of Decline in Detroit, Michigan
Gauger, Bri: Urban Planning and its Feminist Histories
Batterman, Joel: A Metropolitan Dilemma, Regional Planning and Governance in Detroit, 1945-1995
Pfaff, Rob: Regions, Race, Rail and Rubber: An Analysis of How Transportation Planning Decisions Contributed to Regional Segregation, 1922 – 1973
Borsellino, Michael: Discursive Approaches to Gentrification Studies: Excavating the Market-Led Paradigm