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Ph.D. in Urban & Regional Sciences

The Ph.D. in Urban & Regional Sciences program at Texas A&M forms knowledge about some of the most pressing issues our society faces. In this program, you will become a social scientist rooted in the theoretical bases of urban, city, and community planning. 

The Ph.D. program provides expertise in the research process and its application to planning, design, and/or land development issues. Using rigorous quantitative and qualitative methodologies, you’ll examine the interactions among social-ecological systems and the built environment.

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Texas A&M given Best Value PhD in Urban Planning

About the Program

Our Ph.D. program is one of the largest in the country, with the most diverse range of research topics available. Because of our size, you’ll work with a cohort of students working on similar projects. At the same time, you’ll get to mentor undergraduate students by teaching courses or supervising research projects.

You’ll be mentored by a faculty member from the start of your program. Paired based on similar research interests, you’ll work closely with your mentor throughout your program. Our faculty undertake research funded by federal agencies as well as activist research, where they engage directly with the communities they are studying.

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Areas of Emphasis


Meet Our Students

The Ph.D. program admits 8–12 students per year, with about 40–45 doctoral students in residence, making our program one of the largest in the country. Our program attracts students from all over the world, and we strive to attract and retain a student body that is diverse in terms of gender identity, race/ethnicity, cultural background, and sexual orientation.

Jiaxin Du
Clare Losey
Youjoung Kim
Amaryllis Park

Careers

Graduates of our program go on to become tenure-track professors in research-intensive universities; analysts in high-level think tanks or government agencies; or leaders in private sector organizations that serve cities, communities, or the development industry. Some of our graduates include the following:

Marccus Hendricks

Associate Professor

University of Maryland

Special Assignment in the White House Office of Environmental Quality

Fayola Jacobs

Assistant Professor

University of Minnesota

Haotian Zhong

Assistant Professor

Renmin University, China

Bo Yang

Professor

University of Arizona

Sungmin Lee

Assistant Professor

Texas A&M University

Donghwan Gu

Post-doctoral Researcher

National Institute of Standards & Technology

Nicolas Norboge

Principal Transportation Finance Analyst

NC Office of State Budget & Management

Sinan Zhong

Assistant Professor

Texas A&M University

Jennifer Evans Crawley

President

University of Texas at Arlington


Curriculum

The Ph.D. takes a minimum of 3.5 years to complete and requires 64 credit hours, including:

Students generally complete their degree in 5-6 years, but can finish in just 4 years. Students taking longer than 5 years are no longer eligible for departmental funding. Credit hours beyond 99 are charged out-of-state rates.

FAQ about the Ph.D. process

Which faculty can I work with?

Doctoral students may work with any member of the department’s graduate faculty, which include all tenure-track and tenured faculty, as well as a few academic professional track faculty who have petitioned and been added to the graduate faculty. However, each faculty member only takes on a small number of doctoral students at any one time. Faculty availability may also depend on the grant support available to fund students.

Who can chair doctoral committees?

Any faculty member who is a member of the graduate faculty can serve on a doctoral committee. All “core” and “affiliate” faculty can serve on doctoral committees (see the faculty section in the URSC program handbook (PDF) for a complete list of “core” and “affiliate” faculty members).

Who can serve on doctoral committees?

Any faculty member who is a member of the graduate faculty can serve on a doctoral committee. All “core” and “affiliate” faculty can serve on doctoral committees (see the faculty section in the URSC program handbook (PDF) for a complete list of “core” and “affiliate” faculty members).

How long does it take to complete the Ph.D. program?

We hope that students will complete the Ph.D. program in four years. The average timeline is 5 years. For detailed information on procedural guidelines, refer to the Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Sciences handbook (PDF).

Preparing for the Ph.D. Program

Students must have a master’s degree before beginning the Ph.D. program. Master’s students already in our department may be able to count some courses toward the Ph.D. if accepted.

FAQ about preparing for the program

What do we look for in an applicant?
  • Research interests that align with those of our faculty.
  • Strong Statement of Purpose that clearly articulates the applicant’s interest, motivation, and qualification.
  • Wring sample that shows the ability and potential to produce high-quality scholarly writings independently.
  • CV/Resume that is well-organized to show relevant trainings, experience, skills, etc. (including publications/presentations and relevant professional experiences).
  • Competitive undergraduate and masters GPA from high quality universities.
  • TOEFL scores that are competitive.
  • Reference letters from those in the relevant fields with sufficient knowledge about the applicant to provide specific and informative evaluations of the applicant and to help contextualize the applicant’s qualifications/preparedness.
  • GRE scores are not required but are accepted as additional evidence of scholarly excellence.
How does the admissions process work?

Ph.D. applicants go through a two-tiered acceptance process.

In the first tier, prospective students demonstrate that they have the relevant credentials. To do this, you should submit your application and all supporting documents by the application deadline. The admissions committee made up of faculty within the department will make the initial admission recommendations based on the evaluation of the entire application package.

In the second tier, the admissions committee will identify a faculty mentor for each recommended applicant. Preference is given to applicants whose interests align with current faculty research. Only those applicants with a committed faculty mentor or co-mentors will be offered an admission.

Typically, eight to twelve applicants are admitted into the program each year depending on funding available, and the applicants are notified by the end of March.

Learn more about the Ph.D. of Urban and Regional Sciences application requirements.

Do I need to contact individual faculty members in advance prior to submitting the application?

You do not need to, but we encourage you to contact individual faculty members who can potentially serve as your mentor(s) in advance via emails or meeting at conferences. These faculty may request an interview with you before you apply to the program.

What do I need to include in my application?

Submit your application at Texas A&M GradCas along with a non-refundable application fee.

Your application should include the following:

  1. Transcripts from all colleges or universities you have attended
  2. Required test scores (TOEFL) (New for fall 2024! The GRE will not be required for Fall 2024 admissions but will be re-evaluated on a yearly basis for reinstatement)
  3. Three letters of recommendation that include specific information on applicant skills and performance (academic references are preferred)
  4. Statement of purpose that describes applicant’s educational goals specifically related to our program, their research interests and potential faculty mentors, and their career goals after finishing the Ph.D.
  5. Résumé or Curriculum Vitae
  6. Writing sample that is sole authored and is produced without the use of Generative AI tools.

Read more about the Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Sciences application requirements

What are the admissions deadlines?

All applications received by December will be reviewed for Fall admission, and considered for scholarships offered by the School of Architecture and for departmental funding.

Applications received after December may be considered for admission, but considerations for financial aid may be limited.

Applicants can expect a response letter from the department regarding a decision on their application sometime between late February and the end of March. A separate offer letter will follow if financial aid is being offered. April 15, 2023 is our deadline for applicants to return offer letters to the department to indicate their intention to join the URSC program at Texas A&M University.

What kinds of financial aid does the program offer?

Doctoral students are typically funded as research assistants through externally funded grants by their faculty mentors (from National Science Foundation, National Institutes for Health, etc.) or through departmental assistantships as teaching or research assistants. University fellowships are also available for exceptional candidates.

Assistantships provide tuition for 9 credit hours, health insurance, and a monthly stipend. Monthly stipends range from about $1,400 a month to $2,000 a month depending on funding source and student skills. Some assistantships also cover fees. LAUP typically provides four years of support if the student is in good standing, which is equivalent to about $85,000 over four years. Work assignments include both research and teaching opportunities. International and domestic students receiving financial assistance are eligible for in-state tuition.

For a better understanding of your total cost of attendance, please visit the Texas A&M University cost and tuition rates webpage. This webpage will provide you with an opportunity to review estimated cost of attendance information for undergraduate, graduate and professional students, as well as other resources such as the tuition calculator and billing and fee explanations.

Learn more about potential grants and other financial resources.

Who can I go to for questions?

For more information about the Ph.D. in Urban & Regional Sciences program, please contact Michelle Meyer, Ph.D. Program Coordinator, at michelle.meyer@tamu.edu.

Questions about application requirements and process can be directed to Thena Morris at t-morris@tamu.edu.


Centered on research

At Texas A&M, you’ll have access to active research communities housed in centers and institutes across the university. These research hubs unite students and faculty, introducing the next generation of researchers to researchers around the world.

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