Department of New Jersey School of Architecture

PhD in Urban Systems

The Program

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, The State University of New Jersey at 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 all three campuses.

The program core is designed as a 48-credit course sequence with three major specializations:

  1. Global Urban Studies
  2. Urban Environment
  3. Urban Health

Admission to the Program

The criteria for admission to the PhD Program in Urban Systems include academic achievement, scholarship, professional character, scientific inquisitiveness, accountability, dependability, and interpersonal skills. A completed master's degree is required of all applicants, with the sole exception of students applying directly from a Bachelor's degree program who have a cumulative undergraduate gpa of 3.75 or higher.

Application Submission

  • Completed Application to the PhD Program in Urban Systems. 
  • Scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). 
  • International students, and all students whose first language is not English, must provide competitive scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). 
  • Official transcripts of all prior academic work. 
  • Three letters of recommendation (faculty preferred). 
  • Written Statement of Purpose, including statement of proposed research concentration.
  • Interview (Optional, at the discretion of the relevant Track Director). 

Applications for admission to the program may be obtained from the Office of University Admissions, New Jersey Institute of Technology, University Heights, Newark, New Jersey 07102, from the NJIT Office of Graduate Admissions  web pages, or by calling 973-596-3300. 

For General Information or Admissions-related Questions, Click here or contact:

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

For Questions regarding specific Program Tracks, contact:

Urban Environment:
Karen Franck, PhD
Program Director
Phone: (973) 596-3092

Urban Health:
Sabrina Chase, PhD

Phone: (973) 972-0731

Global Urban Studies:
Mara Sidney, PhD
Phone: (973) 353-5787
Jamie Lew, PhD
Phone: (973) 353-5331

Degree Requirements

The curriculum consists of an 18-credit core curriculum, a 12-credit research core, a 18-credit specialization component, and a 24-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

Urban Systems I: History and Future of the Metropolis 3 credits
Urban Systems II: Urban Populations: Demography and Trends 3 credits
Urban Systems III: Cities in World Perspective 3 credits
Determinants & Consequences of Urban Health 3 credits
The Good City: Environmental Design & the Quality of Urban Life 3 credits
Urban Education Systems 3 credits

Research Core

Research Seminar II: Qualitative Methods 3 credits
Research Seminar I: Quantitative Methods 3 credits
An Advanced research methods course or GIS 3 credits
Elective by advisement 3 credits


Urban Environment1
Architecture Perspectives in Urban Research 3 credits
Aspects of Urban Form 3 credits
Elements of Infrastructure Planning 3 credits
Electives -- selected in consultation with Dissertation Advisor 9 credits

Dissertation Sequence

Continuing dissertation preparation 24 credits

1 Specialization in Urban Environment

Students in the Urban Environment specialization complete 18 credits in this area, nine credits of which are required and 9 credits of 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.

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