Urban Studies Ph.D. Program Requirements

Graduate School
USP PhD Student Guide

Ph.D Degree Requirements *

The PhD degree is comprised of four stages: coursework, prelim preparation and exam, dissertation proposal and defense, and research, writing, and defending of the dissertation. Minimum degree requirement is 33 credits beyond the Master's degree, at least 27 of which must be earned in residence at UWM. Of the total credits required, 12 credits must be completed in the PhD core courses: 921 Research Methods in Urban Studies, 984 Research Project in Urban Studies, 981 Argument in Urban Studies Scholarship OR 983 Contemporary Urban Social Structure and Change, and the quantitative competency course (history 595, sociology 760, ed psych 624). In addition, students take 6-9 credits in a methodological track they select (see below), and 6-9 credits in a topical specialization they select (see below), and 6 credits in the thesis course (991). Students may enroll for additional thesis credits but no more than 6 credits may be counted toward fulfilling the degree requirements.

Each student is expected to plan a program of study with their major professor in order to gain competence in a field of specialization. Possible areas of specialization are: Community Organizations and Nonprofits, Globalization and International Migration and Development, Housing and Gentrification, Public Policy, Race and Ethnicity, Urban Culture, Movements, and Space, Urban/Metro Economic Development, Urban and Suburban History, Urban Politics and Administration, Urban Poverty and Inequality. Students may develop a research focus in other area concentrations, but must use care as they will need to assemble a committee of five that have similar interests/expertise.

*new curriculum adopted, Fall 2013

Ph.D Curriculum

33 credits required

  1. Ph.D. Core Courses: (12 credits)
    1. See frequency of offering methodological courses document
    2. Urban Studies 291: Research Methods in Urban Studies, 3 cr.
    3. Urban Studies 984: Research Project in Urban Studies, 3 cr.
    4. Urban Studies 981: (Argument in Urban Studies Scholarship, 3 cr.) OR 983: (Contemporary Urban Social Structure and Change, 3 cr.)
    5. Quantitative Competency Course: (History 595; Geography 547; Sociology 760; Ed Psych 624)
    6. See frequency of offering methodological courses document (course-tracking.pdf)

  2. Methodological Track (6-9 credits)
    1. Statistical Analysis/Quantitative Research Design (2 course minimum)
      1. Urban Studies 982 Advanced Quantitative Analysis, 3 cr.
      2. Second Elective:
      3. Third Elective (possible electives below):
        1. Ed Psych 823: Structural Equation Modeling
        2. Ed Psych 825: Multiple Regression and Multivariate Methods.
        3. Ed Psych 826: Analysis of Cross-Classified Categorical Data.
        4. Ed Psych 832: Theory of Hierarchical Linear Modeling. Soc 752 Fundamentals of Survey Methodology.
        5. Soc 754: Questionnaire Design.
        6. Soc Wrk 963: Measurement Methods and Related Multivariate Statistics.
        7. Soc Wrk 964: Advanced Statistical Methods.
    2. Geographical Information Systems (2 course minimum)

      **Students who elect this specialization must take Geog 547 to complete the statistical/quantitative core competency.

      1. Geog 525: Geographic Information Science (4 cr.)
      2. Geog 625: Intermediate Geographic Information Science (4 cr.)
      3. Third Elective (possible electives below):
        1. Geog 934: GIS and Society
        2. Geog 960: Geographic Techniques
    3. Historical Methods (2 course minimum)
      1. One of the following two courses:
        • Urban Studies 971: Seminar on the History of American Urban Problems, 3 cr.
        • Urban Studies 980: Growth of Urban Society, 3 cr.
      2. One of the following three historical methods courses:
        • Hist 712: Historiography and Theory of History, 3 cr.
        • Hist 713: Historical Research Methods, 3 cr.
        • Hist 715: Research Methods in Local History, 3 cr.
      3. Third Elective: One other 700, 800, or 900 level course in the History Department
    4. Qualitative Methods (2 course minimum)
      1. One of the following two courses:
        Geography 727 Qualitative Research, 3 cr.
        Urban Studies 979: Qualitative Research Methods, 3 cr.
      2. Second Elective:
      3. Third Elective: (possible electives below)
        1. Africology 700: Theories and Methods in Qualitative Research in Africology
        2. Curriculum and Instruction 729: Qualitative Research and Field Studies in Educational Settings
        3. Curriculum and Instruction 829: Advanced Qualitative Research Techniques for Education Settings
        4. Soc Wrk 952: Qualitative Research Methods in Social Work
    5. Program/Policy Evaluation (2 course minimum)
      1. Poli Sci/Pub Adm 769 Analyzing and Evaluating Public Policies and Programs
      2. Second Elective:
      3. Third Elective: (possible electives below)
        1. Urban Education 842: Program Planning and Evaluation in Education
        2. Social Work 794: Advanced Research Methods: Evaluating Social Welfare Programs
        3. Social Work 750: Social Welfare Policy Development and Implementation
        4. Poli Sci 751: Seminar in Public Policy Formation
        5. Poli Sci 791: Nonprofit Advocacy and Public Policy
        6. Poli Sci 974: Seminar in Politics and Public Policy
        7. Poli Sci 976: Seminar in Comparative Public Policy: (Subtitled)
        8. Urb Plan 810: Planning Policy Analysis
    6. Mixed Methods (2 course minimum)

      *Graduate students intending to pursue mixed research methods in their dissertation must file with USP a plan of study created in consultation with their major professor and the program Director.

  3. Topical Specialization (6-9 credits): (see Faculty Area Concentrations)
  4. Thesis (6 credits minimum)

Total Credits (33 credits minimum)


For information about course assignments and readings, see course syllabi.

Area Concentration:

Other USP Courses

For a complete listing of all Urban Studies courses, please review the Graduate School Bulletin. Go to Courses to view upcoming USP semester course offerings and course descriptions obtained from the teaching faculty.