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College of Architecture and Planning


The PhD in Design and Planning at the University of Colorado is a research-oriented degree offered by the College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) at the University of Colorado Denver. Initiated in 1997, the program is dedicated to the education of future architects, landscape architects, and urban planners who are intellectual leaders, and who have a critical understanding of the social, political, and global conditions that influence their profession. 

It is the intent of the program to prepare the students to excel in the planning and design of built environments through the incorporation of intellectual, analytical, and integrative aspects of the involved professions. Within this context, students and faculty seek to creatively shape the built environment and understand it in relation to institutional, political, economic, social, and natural environments.

Admission to the program is competitive and based on merit and available funded projects in the program. Excellent academic performance, references, and GRE scores are prerequisites. In the first two years of residence, students take courses to satisfy the requirements of a major and a minor field of study and the core requirement of the program, as well as additional electives. 


The minimum residency requirement is four semesters, not including summer semesters. The first major step in a student's progress through the program is the completion of the course work required by the candidate’s selected major and minor fields of study. The second major step is the completion of the comprehensive examinations in the selected major and minor fields of study.

After satisfying program requirements, students move on to preparing a thesis topic and research proposal which is presented and defended in a public event. With the successful defense of the thesis topic and research proposal, students are admitted to candidacy. Finally, the completed thesis is defended in a public examination involving external examiners in addition to the members of the committee. Upon successful completion of the thesis defense the program recommends the awarding of the PhD degree.


One of the strengths of the College of Architecture and Planning PhD program is that students can take advantage of resources in all departments and fields in the College and elsewhere in the university. The program is a unique, joint program in which students may choose to focus in Architecture, Planning, or Landscape Architecture, or work in any combination of these disciplines. Interdisciplinary study and cross-disciplinary inquiry occur in a congenial work environment, drawing upon a wealth of faculty and resources in a range of campus units. The main mission of the program is to provide a foundation for scholarship in planning and design drawing from scientific, critical, historical, and creative modes of inquiry.

The PhD degree in Planning and Design is appropriate for those seeking careers in research and teaching or in roles in government or professional consultation, all of which require a research specialization. So far, over 40 graduates of the program have gone on to faculty positions at universities in the United States and elsewhere, post-doctoral work, and into private consulting, non-profit organizations, and the federal government.​

Jeremy Németh
Associate Professor, Urban and Regional Planning
Director, PhD in Design and Planning

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