Dr. Lau, a Los Angeles County Planner in the Park and Recreation Dept. begins by explaining, "I hold a doctorate in planning. No, I do not have a Ph.D. or doctor of philosophy which enables graduates to pursue teaching and/or research careers in academia. Instead, I graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) with a professional doctorate officially called the Doctor of Policy, Planning, and Development (DPPD). It is a unique program that prepares professionals for leadership in planning and development positions in public agencies, private firms, and nonprofit organizations. Specifically, the DPPD offers an opportunity for working individuals like me to expand and deepen our professional abilities and achievements without leaving our jobs."
Dr. Lau goes on to explain how the program uniquely fills a niche for planners and what the program has meant to him personally. However, he explains that unless the University receives encouragement from the planning community to keep the program, it may soon come to an end.
"A few months ago, I found out from a fellow DPPD graduate that the program is at risk and may be eliminated. As a proud alumnus, I was immediately alarmed and went on to sign a petition supporting the program. Officially, the program is being 'reviewed' or 'assessed,' according to both the program website and school sources. Because of this review, the school did not accept a new cohort of DPPD students to the fall 2013 class."
Editor's Note: If you're interested in a comprehensive list of higher education planning and related programs, see Planetizen's newly launched Directory of Planning Schools, the free online companion to the Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs.