PhD in Urban Systems

The jointly offered PhD Program in Urban Systems is built upon the unique strengths of New Jersey's two senior public research institutions: New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers University-Newark. The program is designed to prepare students to develop research-based knowledge in urban systems and to participate in the development, implementation, and evaluation of policy and services for urban populations. Students in the program have full access to library, computing, and other student services at both campuses.

The program core is designed as a 21-credit course sequence with three major specializations:

  • Global Urban Studies
  • Urban Environment

Degree Requirements

The curriculum consists of an 9-credit core curriculum, a 9-credit research core, a 18-credit specialization component, and a 12-credit dissertation sequence. Following completion of the Core Curriculum and Research Core, students must take and pass Qualifying Examinations in both areas in order to advance to Doctoral Candidacy and Dissertation. Admission to the Urban Systems PhD Program is not a guarantee of success on the Qualifying Examinations, or a guarantee of advancement to Doctoral Candidacy.

Core Curriculum (9 credits)

​​Choice of:
History of the Global Metropolis 
USYS 711 The Good City: Environmental Design
and the Quality of Urban Life
3 credits NJIT
Choice of:
RU 26.977.617:Cities in World Perspective 
​Urban Governance in Global Perspective
3 credits RU
URBU 6004: Determinants & Consequences of Urban Health​ 3 credits RBHS

Research Core (12 credits)

RU 26. 977.620 Qualitative Methods 3 credits RU
URBU 6103: Quantitative Methods 3 credits RBHS
Additional research methods course 3 credits  
Additional research methods course 3 credits  

Electives and Specialization Courses (18 credits)

Varies by track; chosen in consultation with advisor
and eventually dissertation committee
18 credits

Dissertation Research (12 credits)

Continuing dissertation preparation 12 credits
Total  51 credits


Specialization in Urban Environment

Students in the Urban Environment specialization complete 18 credits in this area which are electives chosen in consultation with their dissertation advisors. The Urban Environment specialization provides students with the unique opportunity to examine the physical and spatial complexities of the built domain and the forces that gave rise to specific urban manifestations such as rapid social change, frequent demographic shifts, technological innovations, and shifting public policies. Reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the environmental field, the curriculum comprises a set of courses drawn from the related disciplines of architecture, architectural history, urbanism, and city planning. The course work exposes students not only to extensive scholarship and rigorous analysis of architectural and planning theory and practice, but it also creates linkages to other urban systems. Within the Urban Environment specialization, students may choose instead to pursue a concentration in urban and architectural history.  

Ph.D. Faculty -- Urban Environment

  • Zeynep Celik, Professor of Architecture,  Istanbul Technical University, BArch, 1975;  Rice University, MArch, 1978;  University of California--Berkeley, PhD, 1984.
  • Maurie Cohen, Associate Professor of Environmental Policy, NYU, B.S., 1984; Columbia University, M.S., 1987, University of Pennsylvania, Ph.D. 1993.
  • Gabrielle Esperdy, Associate Professor of Architecture, Smith College, BA; City University of New York,  MA, PhD. 
  • Karen Franck, Professor of Architecture, Bennington College, BA 1970; City University of New York,  PhD 1981.
  • Neil M. Maher, Associate Professor of History, Dartmouth College, B., 1986; New York University, Ph.D,  2001.
  • Stephen Pemberton, Associate Professor of History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,  M.A.;  University of Memphis, M.A.; University of North Carolina; Chapel Hill, PhD, 2001
  • Anthony Schuman, Professor of Architecture, Wesleyan University, B.A., 1965; Columbia University, M.A., 1966;  Columbia University, M.Arch., 1970.
  • Darius T. Sollohub, Associate Professor of Architecture, Columbia University, B.A., 1983; Columbia University, M.Arch, 1983.
  • Georgeen Theodore,  Associate Professor of Architecture, Rice University, B.A., 1994; Harvard University, M.Arch, 2002.

For General Information or Admissions-related Questions, contact:

Fred Little
Lead Advisor, College of Architecture and Design
Phone: (973) 642-7576