About the PhD in Urban Affairs

The Ph.D. in Urban Affairs program at the University of Memphis is an interdisciplinary doctoral program focusing on urban problem-solving with an interdisciplinary framework and a community-engaged approach. The program draws from various social science disciplines, including city planning, social work, public and nonprofit administration, criminology, political science, anthropology, and sociology. It is designed to prepare graduates with the necessary research, evaluation, and policy design skills to address the socioeconomic challenges facing Memphis and other cities like it. The program's combination of theory development, statistical analysis, and qualitative training will prepare graduates for various careers in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors.

Careers in Urban Affairs

Students with advanced degrees in urban affairs are prepared for local, regional, state, and national government careers as policy analysts, program managers, and program administrators. They may also work for nonprofit organizations, where they can assemble and analyze data for decision-making. Graduates of our program may also work in housing, health and social services, economic and community development, transportation and urban planning, and environmental protection organizations post-graduation. Students may also seek tenure-track faculty positions in their field of specialty or work for private organizations in policy development, advocacy, or analysis decisions related to the urban form.

Curriculum Overview

The Ph.D. program curriculum is divided into three parts. First, all students take core courses that introduce them to urban theory, research methods, and collaborative urban problem-solving. Second, students are expected to take three courses in quantitative methods, qualitative methods, and geographic information systems. Third, all students beginning in fall 2024 must choose from one of four specialization tracks.

A list of our updated curriculum, including specializations, can be found on the Student Resources page. For a closer look at graduate courses in each department, please visit the current Academic Catalog page to explore course offerings. Below are the affiliated departments within the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy. 

Affiliated Departments