Planning, Design and the Built Environment


Degrees Offered


The Ph.D Program in Planning, Design and the Built Environment focuses on preparing the next generation of academics and professions for diverse and complex challenges of an interdisciplinary nature. The program’s core disciplines are the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, city and regional planning, construction science and real estate development. The program’s theoretical and methodological underpinnings explore emerging issues in the built environment, connecting students with real world case study applications. Graduates of this program are well prepared to address increasingly daunting issues relating to human settlement patterns and the built environment in industry, government and the private sector.; The program has strong links with the development and conservation communities within the state and region.

Areas of concentration in the doctorial program draw upon faculty expertise within the college and across the Clemson campus.  These areas include:

  • Built Environment + Health
  • Restoration, Sustainability + Land Ecology
  • Regional/Community Design + Development
  • Technology, Materials + Construction Processes

Explore the Ph.D program website to find out more about these specializations and the overall degree program.


More information can be found in this graduate handbook.


Program of Study

The curriculum is divided into five content areas:

  • core courses
  • specialization courses
  • elective courses
  • comprehensive examination
  • Dissertation research.

Students will select from the traditional fields of architecture, landscape architecture, planning, construction science or real estate development to build disciplinary as well as a transdisciplinary concentration. Concentrations are to be drawn from faculty emphasis areas consisting of the Built Environment and Health; Regional and Community Design and Development; Restoration, Sustainability and Land Ecology; and Technology, Materials and Construction Processes.

Core courses

The core consists of 31 hours of coursework, including advanced theory/history, advanced research methods, courses generally taken outside the college, readings courses within a disciplinary field area, a contemporary issues seminar, courses in research design and teaching technique, and a research colloquium. The core provides a foundation with some flexibility to tailor curriculum to individual needs within disciplinary fields of study as well as a forum to address issues of the built environment in a transdisciplinary setting.

Concentration courses

Concentration courses may be taken within or outside the college. These courses add both breadth and depth in the student’s area of concentration. Students develop an individualized course of study to reflect their individual focus and career objectives. Coursework must be approved by the student’s faculty advisor and committee members.


These courses add additional breadth and depth to the program. Students may add to their specialization coursework, select diverse offerings to complement that specialization or develop a minor with nine hours in a second specialization.

Concentration Areas

Regional and Community Development and Design

  • History and theory of urbanization, architecture and the built environment
  • Transportation, land use and development
  • Housing and community development
  • Urban design

Built Environment and Health

  • Intelligent healthcare environments (e.g., those embedded with information technologies)
  • History and theory of the built environment
  •  Health communities
  • Health and architecture

Restoration, Sustainability and Land Ecology

  • Sustainable building materials, systems and processes
  •  Design and planning of sustainable communities
  • Historic buildings and landscapes (e.g., preservation, restoration, reconstruction, rehabilitation, cultural landscapes)
  • Landscape ecology and environmental design

Technology, Materials and Construction Processes

  • Advanced building materials, systems and processes (including those sustainable, “intelligent” and/or biologically inspired)
  • Intelligent environment (at all scales)
  • History and theory of technology and building science


Lee Hall

Lee III, completed in 2012

Lee III, completed in 2012

The PDBE Program is located in Lee Hall where studio space is available. The building contains classrooms, seminar rooms, and computer labs, as well as the Emery Gunnin Library. Student study space, computer workstations, two studios and a lounge space area are available for the use of planning students.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Facilities at Clemson

A Geographic Information System (GIS) is software for overlaying, integrating, and analyzing geographically referenced data, often assembled from different sources. While the concept is not new, its merger with today’s capabilities of digital computers has revolutionized approaches to land use planning, natural resource management, as well as housing and demographic analyses. In the last 40 years, GIS technology has expanded rapidly and found a home in a number of additional applications – cartography, environmental assessment, real estate management, ecological research, transportation analysis, business applications, market analysis, and more.

GIS technology provides powerful tools for understanding and analyzing important problems we face today such as rapid urbanization, neighborhood dynamics, sprawl, habitat changes, and the impacts of land use change on the global environment. Recognizing the centrality of GIS problem-solving capabilities, Clemson University has significant capacity for GIS research and training with a multimillion-dollar facilities expansion. Five student-computing labs with 72 dedicated GIS workstations are located in Lee, Barre, and Lehotsky Halls.

These GIS labs accommodate classwork and research projects in the design, development, and analysis of spatial databases, remote sensing images, as well as the latest in modeling techniques. They provide a "hands-on" learning environment. Students enjoy low faculty-to-student ratios and access to a GIS workstation without having to share with another student.

All the GIS computers on campus are connected. Clemson’s GIS facilities provide essential information tools so that faculty and students can:

  • Model real-world problems by graphically analyzing data
  • Conduct "what-if" scenarios
  • Share crucial information across the University’s network
  • Coordinate and communicate key concepts between teams and campus organizations
  • Communicate research and project results by creating maps, tables and charts for use in journal articles, term papers and theses
  • Use state-of-the-art tools from the leading GIS and Remote sensing software
  • Access a rich collection of databases that provide both geospatial boundary and statistical information (e.g. census, environmental, terrain, geological, political, etc.)
  • Access available online GIS Training

Clemson is committed to offering our students the finest in higher educational GIS facilities. Labs at 2-212 Lee Hall and B108 Barre Hall are Planning’s primary GIS facilities. These labs have 24-hour access. They contain a "smart classroom" equipped with a video and data projector. The Lee lab has 15 Dell quad processing workstations with 23-inch monitors and 8 GB of memory. The Barre planning lab has 14 Dell workstations with the same features as the Lee lab. Each lab has a HP 4600 color laser printer and network access to Barre’s HP DesignJet 36" plotter. All labs can access multi-terabyte GIS databases for research on regional, state, national, and international issues.

The workstations run Windows 7 Professional and use the most current ESRI ArcGIS and ERDAS Imagine software. With this arrangement, students have access to the world’s most popular GIS and remote sensing software and latest computer hardware. While connected to the University network, the labs have their own sub network and server where students can access their data from anywhere on campus. In Fall 2012, the labs will be connected with VM software allowing student to have virtual computers. They can use any computer as well as their own PC and use Clemson’s GIS software and data.

Clemson has a premier site license for all Esri developed products. They are maintained by CCIT. Through this site license, faculty and students have free access to most Esri Virtual Campus online courses. In addition, student can have free copies of ArcGIS and its extension on their own personal computers.

Gunnin Library

Lee Hall, original wing, built in 1950’s

Lee Hall, original wing, built in 1950’s

The Gunnin Library in Lee Hall has more than 40,000 books, 85,000 slides, professional journals and periodicals, and a planning document collection. The main University library holds more than a million books, periodicals and government publications. The library also provides excellent research sources through over 75 research databases. The Rudolph Lee Gallery adds to the creative atmosphere of the college including fine arts exhibits. Student, faculty, and well-known professionals representing all disciplines of the college have exhibitions throughout the year.



Recent dissertation research topics:

Comparison of the Design-Bid-Build and Construction Manager at Risk Project Delivery Methods Utilized for the Construction of Public Schools

Hybrid Spaces: Users’ Perceptions of Digitally Mediated Public Space

Towards the Development of Performance Based Guidelines for Using Phase Change Materials in Lightweight Buildings

Designing Complex, Interactive, Architectural Systems with CIAS-DM: A Model-Based, Human-Centered, Design and Analysis Methodology

Charleston Contradictions: A Case Study Of Historic Preservation Theories AND Policies

Public Participation in Brownfield Redevelopment: The Role of Public Participation in State Administered Voluntary Cleanup Programs

Design and Evaluation of a Nonverbal Communication Platform Between Assistive Robots and Their Users

Attaining Sustainable Behavior among Non-Environmentally-Motivated Individuals: A Formative Experiment

Key Strategies of Sustainable Real Estate Decision-Making in the United States: A Delphi Study of the Stakeholders

Building Social Infrastructure Through Public-Private Partnerships: The Case of Student Housing in Public Higher Education

Removing Gourna: A study of participation in the relocation of El Gourna, Egypt

The Changing Face of the Game and Golf’s Built Environment

Marketing Fuel Economy Standards in an Automobile Dependent Society: An Analysis of Consumer-Oriented, Industry Produced Advertising Material

Turkish Informal Housing Settlements as a Typology for Modern Generative Processes in Urban Design

Monumental-IT: A “Robotic-Wiki” Monument for Embodied Interaction in the Information World

Disaster Preparedness For University/Community Transit Systems

An Exogenous Approach to Circumventing Demolition by Neglect: The Impact of Agricultural Preservation on the Historic Fabric of Rural Colonial Towns

Development Of A Spatial Explicit Habitat Patch Model (C-PAN) & A Comparative Analysis Of Habitat Patch Modeling Techniques: The Quest for Capturing Conservation Targets

The Reintroduction of Heritage Streetcars and the Related Effects of Community Identity and Social Interaction with the Residents in Streetcar-Oriented Developments

The Animated Work Environment: A Vision for Working Life in a Digital Society

Exploring How Residential Communities in the Rural Southern Appalachian Mountains are Branded as Green: A Qualitative Analysis

The Therapeutic Benefits of Nature Images on Health

Attachment to the Physical Age of Urban Residential Neighborhoods: A Comparative Case Study of Historic Charleston and I’On

Our Students

There are 17 currently enrolled students, eight of whom are women and 9 of which are international students.

In most cases students will enter the program with a master’s degree in one of the design disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, planning, construction science, geography, historic preservation or real estate development. Students with advanced preparation may take slightly less than three years. Students from other disciplines including engineering, business or the social sciences may be required to take prerequisite coursework as the core courses require some previous coursework experience.


Application Information

The first, and most important, step in applying to the Ph.D. in Planning, Design and the Built Environment program is to identify and contact a faculty member with whom you have similar research interests and discuss potential opportunities in his or her research agenda. Students are not admitted to the program without a faculty member having indicated willingness to serve as Major Advisor. Information concerning opportunities in specific fields of study and faculty research interests, including email contact information, can be found here

The PDBE Admissions Committee begins reviewing graduate student applications for admission to the program and for a graduate assistantship after January 1st of each year, but students are encouraged to apply in early November and December as graduate assistantships are competitive. Students who will be supported through graduate assistantships are, in general, admitted only in the fall semester of each academic year. Individual faculty members must indicate their intention of supporting prospective applicants on graduate assistantships to the PDBE Admissions Committee prior to a student’s acceptance into the graduate program.

Online applications for graduate degree programs are found on the Graduate School website. There is a $65 nonrefundable application fee for domestic applicants and a $75 nonrefundable fee for international applicants; the fee can be paid by credit card. The Program also requests each applicant include a written Statement of Purpose (no more than 2 typewritten pages), outlining your general interests in graduate research and your future career goals and a Portfolio (that could include but is not limited to a research statement, writing samples, and samples of completed projects).

The following materials are required before an application is considered complete and will be forwarded to the program (remember to receive consideration for a graduate assistantship all materials except the statement of purpose and portfolio should be sent directly to the Graduate School and should reach Graduate Admissions no later than January 1st of each year):

  1. Online Application form found on the Graduate School website.
  2. Non-refundable application fee.
  3. Two (2) official, un-opened (with seal) copy of your transcript from each college or university attended.
  4. GRE scores (no more than 5 years old; Clemson’s institution code is R51111).
  5. Letters of recommendation - 3 required for Ph.D. applicants – 2 of which must be from academics.
  6. TOEFL scores * (no more than 2 years old).
  7. Statement of Purpose and Portfolio

*TOEFL is required of all internationa students even if they have an English language degree.

The entire process takes from 4-6 weeks, thus applicants are usually notified of theiracceptance or decline by mid-March of each year. If you have not received a decision letter by April 1st, you may email the program Director (Dr. Mickey Lauria, to inquire about the status of your application. Your application status can be checked at

The following guidelines are used by the PDBE Admissions Committee to determine each applicant’s acceptability for the program. These benchmarks are guidelines, thus applicants may be considered acceptable by the PDBE Admissions Committee even if one or more benchmarks are not absolutely met.

GRE score: A combined score of 1200 (308 on new test) on the Verbal and Quantitative sections of the GRE and an Analytical Writing score of = 5.0.

GPA: A cumulative grade point average of 3.0 from undergraduate degree institution and 3.5 from Master’s degree institution.

TOEFL (international students): > 100 (internet score), 250 (computer score), 600 (paper score) or 7.0 on IELTS.

Strong letters from recommenders that speak to an applicant’s academic skills and research potential: 3 required of which two must be from academics.

A promising Portfolio of prior work relevant to the doctoral program

Required Documents


To be considered for financial assistance beginning in the fall semester, you should submit your application no later than February 1. However, applications received afterthose dates may still be considered for financial assistance depending on the availability of funds.

Assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis to qualified students, both domestic and international. All qualified students are considered for assistantships when applications are processed. Award decisions are based on academic record, test scores, statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation.

Financial support is awarded based on availability of funds in the area of desired studyand academic merit. If you change your subject area after support has been extended, support eligibility is reviewed and funding may or may not be provided. Graduate students are eligible for financial support if they are (1) enrolled in full-time graduate studies, (2) in good academic standing (i.e., not on probation), and (3) making satisfactory progress toward their degree. Tuition and fees for students receiving support are a reduced flat fee. To receive the reduced tuition and fees for a particular semester, a qualified student must be on the program payroll by end of the second week of that semester.


Program Contact(s)

Program Coordinator(s)