Regional Development Planning


Why study Regional Development Planning?

The Ph.D. program in Regional Development Planning at University of Cincinnati provides rigorous academic training in planning theory, urban and regional theories, advanced research, and planning practice. The purpose of the doctoral program is to educate and train the next generation of high-level practitioners, policymakers, and scholars, who will bring new research ideas and knowledge to the teaching and practice of urban and regional planning. The Ph.D. program is served by the School of Planning’s faculty members with expertise in urban design and physical planning, community and economic development, transportation planning, international development, environmental planning, and sustainable development. The University of Cincinnati School of Planning program stresses the interdisciplinary analysis and solution to the regional development problems from cities to rural areas. The spatial emphasis of the program, from rural and urban neighborhoods to national levels, recognizes that planning problems increasingly transcend geographic boundaries and require spatially-based systems thinking.

All of our current Ph.D. students have completed a Master’s degree in planning or a related discipline. As part of the application process, potential students need to identify a research topic of interest (part of the essay). Full-time students take approximately four courses per semester during their first two years in the program. The School of Planning requires all doctoral students to take nine required courses, including courses in planning and spatial theory, quantitative and qualitative research methods, research design, and dissertation-research-related courses. After passing their comprehensive exam, students typically spend two to four more years completing their individual doctoral research. The School of Planning provides all admitted students with a financial package consisting of tuition scholarships during their two years of coursework. The School of Planning also provides a four-year paid graduate assistantship at the school or assistantships at academic or external research centers. As part of their training, Ph.D. students are also required to teach a course under the supervision of a School of Planning faculty member.

Admission Requirements

  • UC Graduate Admissions Application and $65 application fee for domestic applicants // $70 USD application fee for international applicants
  • Unofficial transcript(s) from all colleges/universities attended showing cumulative GPA that also includes diploma and translation showing completion of a U.S. four-year bachelor's degree (or what is the equivalent to a U.S. four-year bachelor’s degree) and diploma and translation of master’s degree if applicable. Note: Official transcripts are not required during the application process; only unofficial transcripts are required for the application. Applicants should not send official transcripts unless they are admitted and confirm enrollment. For complete requirements please visit UC's Official Transcript Submission Policy page
  • Official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, taken in the past five years. Note: The school normally expects successful applicants to exceed the median test scores on the GRE.
  • Official TOEFL, IELTS, Duolingo, or PTE scores (international students only)
  • Three reference letters (to be submitted online).
    • At least two should be academic recommendations
  • Sample of written work (e.g., master's thesis or published article).
    • Select a piece relevant to admission to the program
  • Statement of purpose; should include the following:
    • Summary of your career goals and reasons for pursuing doctoral education
    • Discussion of how your undergraduate/graduate studies have prepared you for doctoral study in regional development
    • Proposed area of concentration (e.g., transportation planning, urban design, economic development, environmental planning, community development, etc.). What might be the subject of your doctoral research?
    • Potential advisor for doctoral studies. To which School of Planning faculty member's work is your research interest related?

Most graduates of the School of Planning (SOP) Regional Development Planning (RDP) Ph.D. program find work in academia as an assistant professor in either research or teaching colleges and universities. Recent graduates of the SOP RDP Ph.D. program are teaching in China, the United States, Sweden, and South Africa. Outside of academia, our graduates work in Think Tanks, nongovernmental organizations, and government institutions.

Full admissions requirements can be found on the Graduate Admissions webpage

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required of all applicants whose native language is not English—including those with F-1 visas or J-1 visas already in the US unless you qualify for an approved English waiver. The minimum acceptable TOEFL score for School of Planning applicants is 550 (paper-based), 213 (computer-based), or 80 (internet-based). Please note that the TOEFL is not a pass-fail test. While a score of 80 is the minimum score to be accepted into the School of Planning Ph.D. program, a score of 90 or above is preferred.


The Oral English Proficiency Test (OEPT) tests the language skills of non-native speakers of English who are awarded teaching assistantships at University of Cincinnati. The required score is 3.0. Students who pass are certified for oral English proficiency and may assume the full range of duties associated with their teaching assistantship. Those who do not pass are recommended for an English as a Second Language (ESL) class appropriate to their needs. Students whose oral English proficiency has not been officially certified may not assume instructional responsibilities. Typically, students are required to take the test at the beginning of their first semester of study. Students who score 26 or above on the speaking section of TOEFL IBT or students with a score of 50 or above on the Test of Spoken English are exempt from OEPT. Each student is permitted to take the OEPT twice without charge during an academic year.

Application Deadlines

Deadline is February 1 for those who wish to be considered for financial support.

The University of Cincinnati and all regional campuses are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Contact Information

Rainer vom Hofe
PO Box 210016
Cincinnati, OH 45221
(513) 556-3835

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Program Code: 23DOC-RDP-PHD