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Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning Doctoral Degree Requirements

Program | Faculty | Master's | Doctoral | Courses

Regional Planning Program (Ph.D. Degree)

The Ph.D. degree program in Regional Planning is a research degree program for students interested in careers in the academic world or in research in public agencies or private corporations. It provides students with the advanced knowledge and skills required to understand and address issues of land use and population change, economic development, environmental protection, resource management, and the more elusive “quality of life” issues and trends in both urban and rural areas of this nation and the world.

Students admitted to this program normally have a Master’s degree in planning or a related field. Those with a Master’s degree in another field but with appropriate professional experience are given serious consideration. The typical student will require four to five years to complete the degree (the exact time generally depends on the dissertation topic). The Ph.D. requires a minimum of one year in full-time residence.

Degree Requirements

Master of Landscape Architecture
Master of Regional Planning

Both Master’s degree programs are so structured that persons with a variety of backgrounds can qualify for admission. The length of the program will vary with the student’s background. For instance, a person with no background in landscape architecture would spend a minimum of six semesters while a person who graduated from a five-year accredited B.L.A. program might spend as little as three semesters in the M.L.A. program. Most candidates for the M.R.P. degree can expect to complete the requirements in two years. Both programs have a required core, but all students must meet with their academic advisers prior to the start of classes to design a feasible and suitable program.

The degree is conferred upon those graduate students who have satisfactorily met the following basic requirements:
1. Work covering four semesters in residence, unless otherwise arranged.
2. The earning of not fewer than 48 credits, 30 of which must consist of graduate level courses given within the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning, unless otherwise approved.
3. The preparation of a satisfactory thesis or Master’s project and satisfactory completion of an oral examination on the same. (Basically, a Master’s project is comparable to a thesis in terms of scope of work required. However, the mode of presentation for the Master’s project is much more flexible; for example, large fold-out maps are not permitted in the presentation of a thesis but are permitted in a Master’s project.)
4. Fulfillment of the requirements indicated in the appropriate curriculum guidelines which were in effect at the time of the student’s first semester in the graduate program.
5. See additional requirements under the General Information Section of the Bulletin.

Ph.D. in Regional Planning

The degree requires satisfactory completion of 60 credits, including 15 dissertation credits (Regional Planning 899) and the required core courses. Students with a master’s degree from a Planning Accreditation Board-accredited planning program may petition to receive a maximum of 17 credits of advance standing, while students with other related degrees may receive a maximum of 12 credits of advance standing, as determined by the Program Director.

A Comprehensive Examination is required after completing most or all of the course requirements. It consists of written and oral examinations on planning history and theory, the student’s substantive area, and research methods. The oral examination may include a defense of the student’s dissertation proposal.

The dissertation must be a major contribution to new knowledge and relevant to the field of planning research.

Dual Degree Option in Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning

A growing number of students have recognized the overlap between policy and design and have seen the importance of a strong link between the process and product of land development. The dual degree option combines the design and analysis of urban and rural landscapes with a concern for the social, political, regulatory, and economic factors that shape those landscapes. This option, which usually requires one year less study than taking the degrees one after the other, confers two separate degrees upon completion. The versatility which results from the blending of these two related fields can be a valuable asset for the student. Many public agencies and private consulting firms have preferred employing those students who have the dual skills this option offers.

Students who choose the dual degree option are expected to complete 78 credit hours and must file for both degrees at the same time. The courses taken must include the required courses of both programs.

Combined Degree in Law (J.D.) and Planning (M.R.P.)

Students may simultaneously complete a Juris Doctor degree from Western New England College School of Law in Springfield and a Master of Regional Planning degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in four academic years, rather than the five years it would take if the programs were pursued separately.

Students often spend their first year at the School of Law and the second year in the Regional Planning program. Thereafter, the student finishes degree requirements by spending entire semesters at either institution to complete remaining credits. Students are required to complete the core courses and mandatory academic requirements at each institution. In meeting these requirements, the combined program requires that each institution grant credit for one semester’s work (12 credits) at the other institution. For the Regional Planning 48-credit program, 36 credits will be taken in the planning program, with law courses constituting the remaining 12 cross-credits for the M.R.P. degree. At the School of Law, the student must earn 88 credits to obtain a J.D. degree, with 12 of those credits earned from the Regional Planning program.

Those interested in this program must apply and gain admission to each school separately, a process which is facilitated through cooperation in the admissions process by both the Regional Planning program and the School of Law.