Doctor of Philosophy in Regional Planning

Leadership in Planning Education

Planning education began in 1913 at the University of Illinois, and arguably in the United States, with the appointment of Charles Mulford Robinson as professor of civic design.* A principal promoter of the World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893, Professor Robinson wrote several influential books, including the first guide to city planning, The Improvement of Towns and Cities, in 1901. He also contributed to City Planning, an authoritative handbook of planning methods and practice for students and practitioners published in 1916. Ever since, the University of Illinois has remained an intellectual center of planning education and research.

The University of Illinois offers accredited professional bachelor’s and master’s degrees as well as a Ph.D. in planning. This rare three-in-one arrangement creates a critical mass of interest in planning: 25 to 30 doctoral students in residence, 60 master’s students, and over 100 undergraduate majors. It enables doctoral students to build teaching skills by taking master’s courses that will become the foundation for their own teaching careers and occasionally by teaching or co-teaching an undergraduate course.

Our Ph.D. program is designed primarily to educate scholars and teachers for university positions, but its emphasis on advanced research skills also serves well those seeking other research careers. It features close collegial research interaction with faculty members combined with coursework in social science and planning theory, research methods and design, and the student’s cross-disciplinary planning and policy field. This combination of studying and doing has proven extremely effective.

Our graduates are received well on the job market. Some obtain faculty positions at universities in the U.S. or internationally; others obtain research positions at international or national think tanks or prestigious policy analysis institutions. For a list of our graduates in Ph.D. in Regional Planning since 2007 and their job placements upon graduation, please click here.

Faculty members and doctoral students come here from the east coast, the west coast, the heartland, and many countries to take advantage of the resources of this unusually comprehensive university, the opportunity to work with each other in a collegial, stimulating department, and the surprisingly comfortable, culturally rich, and affordable living in Champaign-Urbana.

Click the links to read more about admission requirements and criteria, when and how to apply, financial support, admission FAQs, the curriculum, recent dissertations, and the faculty. If you like what you see and might want to join us, please e-mail me with any questions about the Ph.D. program or admissions.

Professor Rob Olshansky
Ph.D. Program Director
Department of Urban and Regional Planning
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

*The other claimant, Harvard University, offered a planning course in 1909. The same year, the University of Liverpool founded the School of Civic Design, England’s first planning school. Thus, with your interest in planning, you are exploring a relatively young field, but one with century-old international roots.