City and Regional Planning Ph.D. (Ithaca)

Field of Study

City and Regional Planning

Program Description

City and regional planning (M.R.P., Ph.D.). Students learn to design, evaluate, and implement policies and programs that affect the social, economic, and physical development of urban and regional areas, including those in the Developing World.

The educational program fosters theoretical and conceptual knowledge relevant to urban and regional studies, and the acquisition of professional skills, including those in critical thinking, oral presentation, writing, statistical analysis and Geographical Information Systems.

The M.R.P. program normally requires four residence units, sixty credits, a set of core courses, and the completion of a satisfactory thesis, professional report, or research paper. At the discretion of the faculty, up to one residence unit and 15 credits may be granted, by petition after matriculation, for graduate work done elsewhere, including Cornell-supervised professional field experience. Doctoral degree candidates often begin in Cornell's Master of Regional Planning program; applications are also welcomed from outside the university.

Contact Information

Phone: 607 255-4376

235 Sibley Dome
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY  14853

Concentrations by Subject

  • city and regional planning
  • economic development planning: communities and regions
  • international studies in planning
  • land use and environmental planning



Application Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadlines:

Fall, Jan. 10; no spring admission

Requirements Summary:

All applicants to the PhD program must have a masters degree. Applicants admitted to the Ph.D. program who do not hold an M.R.P. degree from a recognized program will be expected to exhibit (or gain) basic competence in the Masters’s core areas (history, theory, methods) as needed to serve ably as a teaching assistant.

  • all Graduate School Requirements, including the TOEFL Exam or IELTS Academic Exam for non-native English applicants
  • two recommendations
  • GRE general test
  • TOEFL or IELTS English proficiency test


Learning Outcomes


Critical thinking

  • Makes judicious use of evidence to present a balanced argument
  • Presents multiple perspectives of an argument
  • Understands knowledge as produced in context
  • Proposes solutions to problems on the basis of reasoned argument

Employable professional

  • Obtains technical knowledge
  • Acquires knowledge of profession
  • Is aware of emerging trends in field
  • Is capable of working in groups and with other people

Professional Ethics and Responsibility

  • Recognizes and respects obligations to diverse stakeholders
  • Understands how to navigate politics in organizations in different institutional settings and contexts
  • Is cognizant of professional ethical standards, such as the APA or AICP Code of Ethics

Sustainability and Environmental Quality

  • Critically assesses the impact development has on environmental quality, such as air, water, and public health
  • Engages issues related to agriculture, food, health

Social Justice

  • Recognizes the diversity of stakeholders in the planning process
  • Understands forms of inequality and the ways in which they are generated

Growth and Development

  • Obtains an understanding of microeconomics, theories of political economy, and the economics of urban growth and development Survey responses (DGS-s)
  • Understands the economic principles underlying the distribution of resources within a society
  • Understands institutions and landscapes of governance

Governance and Participation

  • Understands the conditions that enable community participation

Purpose and Meaning of Planning

  • Knows competing arguments for and against planning
  • Understands justifications for planning
  • Distinguishes between competing normative goals of planning
  • Is familiar with competing theories with regard to planning

Planning Law

  • Understands the underlying legal framework (case law, precedents, legislative process) of issues in planning
  • Demonstrates ability to read, understand, and interpret legal material
  • Is familiar with significant precedents in planning and urban development (successes and failures)

Human Settlements and History of Planning

  • Recognizes different planning practices
  • Is aware of the historical development of cities

The Future

  • Recognizes the implications of new trends and ideas, both theoretical and applied, within the planning profession
  • Recognizes the changing conditions of the planning profession and the emergence of new practical challenges in the field


  • Makes use of research evidence in arguments

Quantitative and Qualitative Methods

  • Understands and is capable of employing quantitative and qualitative methods for conducting research
  • Is able to present an argument orally, in writing, and visually
  • Is capable of producing a range of written documents (memos, reports etc.)

Written, Oral and Graphic Communication

  • Is capable of employing visual means in presenting an argument or idea

Plan Creation and Implementation

  • Understands plans and plan components in a range of contexts and at different scales
  • Appreciates the diversity of plan types
  • Is capable of creating plans
  • Works with others as a team

Planning Process Methods

  • Is able to negotiate terms of a contract, deal, or between disputing parties
  • making between parties in dispute or contention
  • Is capable of working with others in a team


  • Is able to manage/organize groups of people in pursuit of a goal