Ph.D. RS Curriculum and Requirements

The formal degree requirements for the doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in regional science are minimal to give a student maximum flexibility in designing the most effective program. Since progress in graduate study depends so much on an individual student's situation, there are no formal class requirements specified by the Graduate School. However, since work for the Ph.D. degree is considered preparatory to making creative scholarly contributions to the discipline, substantial competence in and knowledge of the theoretical foundations and the major analytical and research methods of regional science are required before students can devote their full time to dissertation research. Successful completion of formal, advanced-level class work and appropriate examinations usually demonstrate that competence.

Jump to:


A typical course of study for the Ph.D. program in regional science would include the classes listed for the master's degree (excluding master's thesis research electives), plus the following advanced classes or their equivalents. For class descriptions, visit the Courses of Study website.

  • AEM 6120 Applied Econometrics
  • AEM 7021 General Equilibrium Analysis
  • AEM 7100 or ECON 6190 Econometrics I
  • AEM 7120 Quantitative Methods I
  • AEM 7130 Dynamic Optimization
  • AEM 7500 Resource Economics
  • AEM 7510 Environmental Economics
  • BTRY 6010 Statistics Methods
  • BTRY 6020 Statistics Methods II
  • CEE 5930 Engineering Management Methods
  • CEE 5980 Intro to Decision Analysis
  • CEE 6100 Remote Sensing Fundamentals
  • CEE 6200 Water-Resources Systems Engineering
  • CEE 6620 Urban Transportation Network Design and Analysis
  • CEE 6650 Transportation, Energy, and Environmental Systems for Sustainable Development
  • CRP 8010 Advanced Urban and Regional Theory: Location Theory
  • CRP 9920 Doctoral Dissertation (up to 12 credits per semester)
  • ECON 6090 Microeconomic Theory I
  • ECON 6100 Microeconomic Theory II
  • ECON 6200 Econometrics II
  • ECON 6170 Intermediate Mathematical Economics I
  • ECON 7580 Behavioral Economics
  • NTRES 6200 Spatial Modeling and Analysis
  • Elective classes in major area of interest
  • Elective classes in two minor areas of interest

A student's program is developed with the assistance and direction of a special committee, whose members are chosen by the student after consultation with appropriate faculty members in regional science. The special committee of each doctoral student is composed of a chairperson, representing the major subject in regional science, and two other members representing minor subject areas of interest. The members of the special committee direct the student's program and decide whether he or she is making satisfactory progress toward the degree. They conduct and report on oral examinations, and they approve the dissertation that is usually prepared under the direction of the chairperson. Students may be uncertain of their subjects of interest at the beginning of their residency. Consequently, they are encouraged to change the membership of their special committee as their academic goals become more definite.

Major in Regional Science

The student's major and the chairperson of the special committee are usually selected before the end of the first semester in the field. Approved major subjects in the field of regional science include:

  • Environmental and energy systems
  • International spatial problems
  • Location theory
  • Multiregional economic analysis
  • Peace science
  • Planning methods
  • Transportation
  • Urban and regional economics

The chairperson, in turn, advises the student about minor fields of study and faculty members who might represent those fields on the special committee.

Minor Fields

There are many opportunities for minor fields that complement a major in regional science. Examples of minor fields that focus on methodology include:

  • Statistics
  • Operations research
  • Applied mathematics
  • Computer science

Minor fields that focus on related social science theories include:

  • Economics
  • Sociology
  • Government
  • Other social science disciplines

Minor fields that focus on related natural science theories include:

  • Earth and atmospheric science
  • Natural resources

Finally, minors in fields in which a knowledge of the theories and methods of regional science could be applied include:

  • City and regional planning
  • Rural sociology
  • Civil and environmental engineering
  • Urban studies
  • Public policy
  • Various area study programs such as the Southeast Asia Program or Latin American Studies

This list is illustrative, and other combinations of minor fields are possible with a major in regional science.

Selected Courses

The following is a selection of courses that are typically of interest to regional science students. The list is illustrative only and is not complete. Please refer to Cornell's Courses of Study and relevant departments for a more complete list.

Applied Economics and Management

  • AEM 6510 Environmental and Resource Economics
  • AEM 6600 Agroecosystems, Economic Development
  • AEM 7100 Econometrics I
  • AEM 7120 Quantitative Methods I
  • AEM 7350 Public Finance: Resource Allocation and Fiscal Policy
  • AEM 7500 Resource Economics

City and Regional Planning

  • CRP 5040 Urban Economics
  • CRP 5080 Introduction to GIS for Planners
  • CRP 5250 Introductory Methods of Planning Analysis
  • CRP 6090 Special Topics: Planning and Planning Analysis
  • CRP 6210 Introduction of Quantitative Methods for the Analysis of Public Policy
  • CRP 6330 Methods of Regional Science and Planning II
  • CRP 8000 Advanced Seminar in Urban and Regional Theory I
  • CRP 8010 Advanced Urban and Regional Theory: Location Theory
  • CRP 8300 Seminar in Regional Science, Planning and Policy Analysis


  • ECON 6090/6100 Microeconomic Theory I and II
  • ECON 6110 Macroeconomics III (Game Theory)
  • ECON 6170 Intermediate Mathematical Economics I
  • ECON 6190/6200 Econometrics I and II
  • ECON 7350 Public Finance: Resource Allocation and Fiscal Policy
  • ECON 7360 Public Finance
  • ECON 7580 Behavioral Economics
  • ECON 7720 Economics of Development

Civil and Environmental Engineering

  • CEE 6200 Water-Resources Systems Engineering
  • CEE 6620 Analysis and Control of Transportation Systems and Networks

Operations Research and Industrial Engineering

  • ORIE 5300/5310 Optimization I and II
  • ORIE 5510 Introduction to Stochastic Processes I
  • ORIE 6350 Foundations of Game Theory and Mechanism Design
  • ORIE 6330 Graph Theory and Network Flows

Development Sociology

  • DSOC 6080 Demographic Techniques
  • DSOC 6150 Qualitative Research Methods


  • SOC 5180 Social Inequality: Contemporary Theories, Debates, and Models
Close overlay