You are reading the 2024/25 Academic Calendar. The 2023/24 version remains in effect until August 31, 2024 and is available here.

Doctor of Philosophy

The School offers a Doctor of Philosophy program for advanced study and research in the areas of its competence. The Ph.D. is primarily a research degree, so students should enter with a good background in their field of study. After two years of coursework and examinations, candidates devote their efforts toward thesis research.

Applicants for admission must have a Master's Degree in Planning, or its equivalent, with high academic standing. To ascertain the School's ability to fulfill potential candidates' objectives, a statement of about 1000 words is required describing their research interests and objectives which should be submitted at least one month before the application deadline.

For more information, go to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies section of the Calendar

Advisory Committees

Committees consist of a prospective research supervisor and at least two other faculty members to advise students and approve their programs of study. Usually, at least one member of each committee is from a discipline other than planning. Membership in the committee may change as the student's program evolves, but it is formalized on final approval of the thesis proposal.


Each doctoral candidate's program is designed by the candidate's advisory committee in consultation with the student to reflect individual requirements. The program of studies will normally include:

  1. coursework,
  2. qualifying examination in the form of two research essays,
  3. language requirement, at the discretion of the faculty, appropriate to the student's objectives,
  4. approval of thesis prospectus,
  5. research and preparation of thesis, and
  6. oral presentation of thesis and final examination of the candidate.

The first year of the Ph.D. program usually involves coursework in preparation for the qualifying examination and development of the research prospectus. Additional courses may be necessary in the second year, in support of the proposed thesis research. Specific requirements are left to the discretion of the candidate's committee in consultation with the candidate.

Ph.D. candidates normally write their qualifying essays in the second year. These essays focus on planning theory, and issues and methods in the student's area of specialization. Course requirements should be completed by this time.

Students who successfully complete their qualifying essays will then finalize their thesis research prospectus in consultation with their advisory committee. After the prospectus has been approved the candidate's efforts are devoted to research and preparation of the thesis.

Dissertation Requirements

The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies requires the thesis to be submitted to an external examiner or examiners approved by the Dean and at the completion of the research the candidate must take an oral examination in defence of the dissertation.

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