Ph.D. in CRP Curriculum and Requirements

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) students design their course of study in conjunction with an advisory committee. The committee chair is selected from the CRP faculty and represents the student's major subject concentration.

Minor concentration committee members come from CRP or other departments across the university. Recent graduates have worked with faculty from anthropology, transportation engineering, development sociology, political science, regional science, and economics. Students ask a faculty member to sit on their committee as a minor member after taking classes from potential committee members and after deciding on a dissertation topic.

The first milestone of the Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning is the A-examination, wherein the student advances to Ph.D. candidacy by demonstrating proficiency in the subject areas represented by his/her committee members. Students should complete the A-examination in the second year of residence. The format of the A-examination varies depending on the student and the committee; it always includes an oral component and it typically includes responses to written questions as well as a research proposal.

Following the A-examination, Ph.D. students conduct research and write a dissertation draft. The dissertation defense occurs in the B-examination, after which the student revises the dissertation to the committee's satisfaction.

CRP offers seminars taught by senior faculty with considerable experience in research and publication to help Ph.D. students develop a dissertation topic and complete the degree. Seminar topics include advanced planning theory, urban and regional theory, and research methods. The seminars provide students with a thorough knowledge of the field and help identify critical questions. Students are also encouraged to pursue course work and specialization in allied fields (such as applied economics, development sociology, government, and anthropology).

Three-Paper Option

Many fields in the social sciences (psychology, economics, and geography, for example) provide Ph.D. students with a three-paper option in lieu of a dissertation. Fields in which this option is offered usually place greater emphasis on refereed journal articles than monographs in promotion and tenure decisions.

Standards for the three-paper option in CRP include the following:

  1. The three papers should be thematically linked and reflect a trajectory of work with depth of inquiry in a common area.
  2. Each paper must contribute significantly to new knowledge and be deemed publishable in a reputable refereed journal.
  3. The material covered in the papers should not significantly overlap.

Ph.D. Program Classes

Class Topic
Theory
CRP 6011 Ethics, Development, and GlobalizationThis seminar surveys some of the most important recent contributions to the literatures of development ethics and global ethics and examines their power to illuminate such issues as the nature of development, poverty and human rights, globalization and local autonomy, environmentalism and consumerism, and humanitarian intervention and just wars. Development theory
CRP 8000 Advanced Seminar in Urban and Regional Theory IIntroduction to key conceptual and empirical literature in urban theory. Focuses on the relationship between political and economic processes and their joint influence on urban spatial form. Regional theory
CRP 8010 Advanced Seminar in Urban and Regional Theory IIThis course surveys traditional and more recent explanations of the location, aggregation, and fragmentation of economic activities in space under different assumptions about the mobility of factors, transportation (or more generally, transaction) costs, economies of scale, and the competitiveness of markets. The relationship between theories of trade and location will be considered, as will the effects on spatial economies of policy interventions. Urban theory/urbanism
CRP 8100 Advanced Planning TheoryA major objective of the seminar is to promote thinking about what work planning theory  should do, what its scope should be, and how theorizing should proceed.  The qualifier 'advanced' in the seminar's title partly reflects the fact that topics considered go beyond material covered in a typical introductory Master's level planning theory course.  The focus of the seminar is more on planning theory and theoretical work it presumes (e.g. on rationality, the nature of explanation and justification, argumentation, validation of value judgments, the history of deep-seated social norms, public interests and collective action, and utopian thought), and less on substantive matters that planning theories seek to explain or justify. Regional theory
CRP 8300 Seminar in Regional Science Planning & Policy AnalysisCRP 8300 is a weekly seminar at which faculty, students, and visitors present their research on topics of current interest. Presentations usually involve formal or quantitative analyses of developments in regional economies and policy or planning implications. Regional theory
Methods
CRP 7201 Research DesignThis course will help Ph.D. students select appropriate research design and field methods for dissertation research.  The course provides a comprehensive review of the research design process and will result in each student developing his/her dissertation proposal.  The course focuses on articulating research objectives, managing the research process, ethics, funding and professional development as a scholar. The course also explores how to select the appropriate data collection strategy, case studies, interviews, focus groups, surveys and archival data as well as a review of major approaches to quantitative or qualitative analysis. Research design
CRP 8900 Ph.D. Professional SeminarIntended for doctoral candidates in city and regional planning; other students welcome. Presentation and discussion of current problem areas and research by advanced doctoral students, faculty members, and visitors. Research design and methods
CRP 6330 Methods of Regional Science and PlanningIs the world flat and "distance is dead"? Despite recent claims, geographic proximity in social interactions has never been more important. How do we introduce space into our models for planning analysis? Why are things as they are? How do we evaluate plans/policies when spatial interactions matter? The course addresses these questions drawing on recent advances in spatial modeling. The methods to be discussed include the framework of inter-regional input-output (IRIO), structural path analysis (SPA), computable general equilibrium (CGE), and agent-based modeling (ABM). We will begin with the top-down IMPLAN analyses, which are appropriate for static, short-term planning challenges, but less so for regions and cities that change continuously. Regions and cities are adaptive, self-organizing systems of individuals whose interdependent actions create urban forms and produce spatial patterns. To explore how macro-patterns emerge from micro-behavior, we will discuss the bottom-up framework of agent-based modeling. The models to be discussed are analytically intractable: results can only be derived using numerical simulations. The analysis therefore requires computer packages, including IMPLAN, Excel, GAMS, and NetLogo.  Methods of regional science and planning
CRP 6201 Qualitative Research and Design MethodsQualitative research has developed as a field of inquiry and a method that cuts across disciplines and subjects. It contains many methodological tensions and privileges no single set of practices over another. Designed for students of the built and natural environments, this class will explore methods that help us understand space and place, its use and meaning for people over time, and in the current context. This course is designed around field work in selected sites on the Cornell campus or in surrounding areas. Students learn to use a range of methods appropriately. These include archival research, observation, behavior mapping, ethnography, interviewing, surveying, and visual methods in the context of researcher-driven and participatory research modes.  Qualitative methods
Writing
CRP 9920 Doctoral Dissertation (up to 12 credits/semester) Dissertation