2008 - 2009 Site Archive



Graduate Bulletin

Urban Studies, Ph.D.


Admission Requirements and Deadlines
Application Deadline:

Fall: January 15

Applications may be evaluated before the deadline if submitted early.

Letters of Reference:

Number Required: 3

From Whom: Letters of recommendation should be obtained from college/university faculty members familiar with the applicant's academic competence.

Coursework Required for Admission Consideration:

No specific coursework is required as applicants are drawn from a variety of disciplines.

Master's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline:

A master's degree is not required.

Bachelor's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline:

A baccalaureate degree is required.  It should have been earned in Criminal Justice, Economics, Geography, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, or Urban Studies, among other disciplines.

Statement of Goals:

The Statement of Goals should be approximately 500-1,000 words and should include the following elements: why you are interested in Temple's Geography and Urban Studies program; your research and academic goals; your future career goals; your academic and research achievements; and any other information that you believe will be helpful to the Admissions Committee in evaluating your application. The Graduate Admissions Committee is particularly interested in students' interests and goals and whether they fit with our program offerings and faculty interests.

Standardized Test Scores:

The GRE is required. A combined score of at least 1,000 is required for the quantitative and verbal sections of the exam.

Minimum TOEFL score needed to be accepted: 575 paper-based, 230 computer-based, or 88 internet-based.

Writing Sample:

The Graduate Admissions Committee may request a writing sample at its discretion.

Advanced Standing Credit:

Graduate coursework taken at an accredited institution as part of a master's degree program prior to matriculation at Temple may be accepted for Advanced Standing Credit. An applicant must supply an official transcript from their prior graduate institution to the Graduate Chair. The Graduate Committee will review the request. Only grades of "B" or better will be accepted. If the request is granted, the student receives advanced standing and is awarded a maximum of 24 credits.  Normally, these credits should have been earned no more than five years prior to the student's matriculation at Temple.

Program Requirements
General Program Requirements:

Number of Didactic Credits Required Beyond the Baccalaureate: 61

Required Courses:

History and Theory of Urban Studies

Geographic Inquiry

Critical Issues in Globalization, Sustainability, and Social Justice

Public Policy for Urban Regions

Introduction to Statistics

Research Design

Four methodology courses selected from a departmental list

Seven elective courses

Qualifying exams

Dissertation Proposal and departmental colloquium

Dissertation Research

Internship: No internship is required.

Language Examination: No language examination is required.

Culminating Events:

Qualifying Examination:

The qualifying exam is taken after all coursework is complete.  The exam has written and oral components.  Students choose two of three areas: theory, policy, and methods.  They develop the parameters of the exams with their committee, which approves reading lists prepared by the student before the exam.  All parts of the written exam must be passed before the student proceeds to the oral exam.  The oral exam, based on the written portion, assesses the candidate’s readiness to commence dissertation research.

In conjunction with her/his Graduate Advisor, each student identifies at least two other faculty members for the exam committee.  At least two committee members must be GUS faculty, while the third must be a GUS faculty member or affiliated faculty member.  The Graduate Advisor/Chair and all but one of the remaining members of the examination committee must approve in order for the student to pass.

Students are expected to demonstrate breadth of knowledge and intellectual sophistication across more than one social science field.  Students should be able to employ various theoretical approaches to interpret urban and regional patterns and to use data to illuminate concepts. Once the student has passed the exam (1 credit), s/he will achieve candidacy. If the student fails the exam, s/he will be given the opportunity to re-take the exam, usually within a semester.  If the student fails the second time, s/he will be recommended for academic dismissal.

Ordinarily the exam should be administered no later than six months after coursework is completed.  Several different written formats are possible, at the discretion of the committee, including a single extended paper, individual papers prepared for separate examiners, and closed or open book exams administered within a time limit.  The oral portion of the exam may expand on the questions asked on the written exam.  It may include additional but related questions.


The proposal defines the research problem, scholarly significance, pertinent literature, and methodology.  It should contain an outline of the projected document and timeline for completing various tasks involved in the dissertation.  Within one semester after finishing the qualifying exam, a candidate is expected to submit a 5-6 page preliminary dissertation proposal to the Doctoral Advisory Committee.  Within one year of passing the qualifying exam, a candidate is expected to submit a more substantial proposal to the committee members.  When the proposal is ready, the committee chair schedules a meeting of the committee.  The student gives an oral presentation of the proposal; the committee members ask questions and give suggestions.  The committee must approve the proposal and give specific instructions on how the student can improve it.  After the meeting, the committee chair sends a letter to the department’s Graduate Director indicating whether it has been accepted (3 credits) or rejected, and summarizing comments from the overall committee.  At that time, the student is scheduled to present her/his proposal at a departmental colloquium.


The Ph.D. dissertation should make an original contribution to the field of Urban Studies.  The dissertation must demonstrate formulation, design, and independent execution of a significant research project.  The student must complete a minimum of 6 credits of dissertation research.  While no no ceiling on the number of dissertation credits exists, students should note that seven years from matriculation is the time limit for completion of the degree.

The Graduate Advisor will help the student identify two additional faculty members for the Doctoral Advisory Committee. 

The Dissertation Examining Committee evaluates the student's dissertation and oral defense. This committee is comprised of the Doctoral Advisory Committee and at least one additional graduate faculty member from outside the Department of Geography and Urban Studies.  Affiliated faculty may serve as external members of the Dissertation Examining Committee.

Changes in the membership of a committee must be approved by the department’s Graduate Director. If approved, the Graduate School must be notified.

The student presents a formal lecture at the defense.  The oral defense should demonstrate that the student’s work satisfies the standards for original research in Urban Studies; that the candidate has mastered the appropriate methodology or methodologies; and that the candidate has an understanding of the relationship of the dissertation to the broader field.  Following the public lecture and discussion, the Dissertation Examining Committee convenes in a closed session with the candidate for the defense.  Directly after this session, the committee votes whether to accept or reject a completed dissertation.

When the student and the committee chair judge the dissertation complete and ready to be defended, the committee chair schedules the defense. The Graduate Secretary arranges the time, date, and room, and forwards to the student the appropriate forms. The entire dissertation committee must attend the defense. 

With approval of the committee chair, the Graduate Secretary sends a completed "Announcement of Dissertation Defense" form to the Graduate School at least 10 working days before the defense.  The Graduate Secretary sends individual written announcements to all members of the Dissertation Examining Committee, all faculty members in the department and affiliated faculty, as well as the Dean of the Graduate School.  The Department posts flyers announcing the defense. 

Program Contact Information:


Department Information:

Dept. of Geography and Urban Studies
309 Gladfelter Hall (025-27)

1115 West Berks Street

Philadelphia, PA 19122


Department Contacts:


Oloma Tillman


Graduate Chairperson:

Dr. Carolyn Adams



Dr. Sanjoy Chakravorty


About the Program

The Ph.D. program trains students in interdisciplinary and spatially integrative frameworks and equips them with specialized skills to apply to real-world conditions.  The program prepares students for careers in institutions of higher education in the fields of urban planning; policy studies; geography; and interdisciplinary international, environmental, and development programs, as well as in research-oriented organizations such as think tanks, policy institutes, and non-governmental organizations. 

The program draws on our Philadelphia location to provide students with opportunities to engage in public policy and applied urban research.  Students can utilize our faculty’s linkages with public agencies, educational institutions, community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations, and social movements in the local region, many other regions in the United States, and several significant international locations.

Time Limit for Degree Completion: 7 years

Campus Location:


A number of relevant courses are taught by Community and Regional Planning faculty at the Ambler campus.

Full-Time/Part-Time Status:

Students are able to complete the degree program through classes offered after 4:30 p.m. Students are also able to complete the degree program on a part-time basis (8 credit hours or less per semester).

Department Information:

Dept. of Geography and Urban Studies
309 Gladfelter Hall (025-27)

1115 West Berks Street

Philadelphia, PA 19122


Interdisciplinary Study:

The faculty members of the Department of Geography and Urban Studies hold doctoral degrees in a half dozen different social sciences.  Even beyond the interdisciplinary expertise of the departmental faculty, the program draws on the expertise of graduate faculty conducting research and teaching courses in related departments across the university.


The program is affiliated with the Urban Affairs Association and the Association of American Geographers.

Study Abroad:



Not applicable.


Not applicable.

Areas of Specialization:

The graduate program in Geography and Urban Studies focuses on the themes of globalization, sustainability, and social justice as lenses through which to examine the development of urban regions.  As an integrative graduate program, the curriculum connects these processes, giving students a strong analytical foundation that stresses spatial relations, scale transitions, place and context, and nature and societal relations. 

Our emphasis on globalization focuses on capital and labor flows, welfare state restructuring, identity, culture, and concepts of citizenship.  Our work on sustainability encompasses sprawled development patterns, land use/land cover analysis, urban ecology, environmental justice, and comparative dimensions of environmental sustainability on the national and global scales.  In the realm of social justice, we are interested in how globalization exacerbates uneven development and contributes to increasing inequalities both between and within places, including gender, race/ethnicity, and economic inequalities.

Job Placement:

Graduates are typically employed as either in academic settings as teaching-research scholars or in private and public agencies as applied researchers and administrators.


Not applicable.

Non-Degree Student Policy:

Non-matriculated students may take up to 9 semester hours of credit prior to matriculation. If accepted to the program, the credits may be applied toward the degree.

Funding Opportunities

Financial support is available to graduate students through a variety of university and departmental teaching and research assistantships, fellowships, and awards. Most assistantships and fellowships carry a stipend plus a tuition waiver. Only full-time students are eligible for these awards.

Assistantships normally require 20 hours of work per week devoted to assisting faculty with either teaching or research. Teaching Assistants grade papers, lead discussion sections, and occasionally lecture in large undergraduate classes. Advanced graduate students are sometimes assigned their own undergraduate class to teach.

Depending on available resources, assistantships may be awarded either to incoming or continuing students. If an assistantship is awarded to an incoming student during the first year, the department usually funds master's students for two years and Ph.D. students for three years, provided the student remains in good academic standing.

In recent years, a number of graduate students have been supported by externally funded faculty research projects. Positions on funded research projects may include full or partial tuition coverage in addition to the stipend for up to 20 hours of work. The timing and availability of such opportunities depend on the status of faculty research projects and external grants.

Created 9.8.08