Program Overview

SCARP's PhD Program provides students with a collegial and convivial environment in which to pursue interdisciplinary research at the intersections of planning theory and practice. We aim to foster planning scholars and practitioners who can think critically, research inventively, and communicate their ideas effectively.

Each year we seek to admit 4 or 5 students, and there may be up to 20 students in residence each year.

We have developed a lively PhD culture at SCARP which includes:

  • A forum, held every month
  • A lecture series, organized by students
  • A SCARP Student Symposium, organized by students and held every February on a topic of contemporary interest.

The SCARP PhD is primarily a research degree, with a flexible component of course work as well as certain specific Required Courses.  Doctoral students work under the guidance of a Supervisory Committee consisting of at least three faculty members, including the Research Supervisor.

Overall, Ph.D. candidates should expect to spend at least 3 years in the completion of their degree requirements. Typical programs run 4-5 years.To successfully complete the degree, students must satisfactorily complete the following:

  • Course work
  • two comprehensive examinations (theory and substantive)
  • A research prospectus
  • A two-year residency
  • Writing and defending a PhD thesis

The SCARP PhD Program is governed by the general policies and procedures of the UBC Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (G+PS) and their more specific elaboration by SCARP.

Basic Qualifications

Applicants to our PhD Program must hold a Master’s Degree (or its equivalent) from a recognized graduate program in planning or a closely related field, and should preferably have work experience. 

SCARP emphasizes the importance of diverse language skills - this reflects Canada's official bilingual status and recognizes that as planning issues become increasingly global, it is critical for planners to command more than one language. Accordingly, students with skills in languages other than English will receive special consideration, though language competence beyond English is not a formal prerequisite. If a student's research will involve communication in other language(s), we will require evidence of appropriate skills.

While graduates of SCARP's Masters programs can apply without prejudice to the PhD program, experience suggests that it is preferable for such students to broaden their academic experience and intellectual horizons by seeking admission to a suitable program elsewhere.

International students should visit the UBC Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website for application and admission for international students for additional information about admittance of students from their home country. Unless an International student holds a Master’s Degree in Planning or Social Science from an English language University, the student must achieve minimum scores or higher in the TOEFL or IELTS.

If you are interested in applying please follow the steps outlined in our PhD Application Steps page.

Further Inquiries: