Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
LIVING IN MANHATTAN KANSAS
You will find a diverse group of progressive people (students, faculty, and staff) in a college who care deeply about design, planning, and social, economic, and environmental justice.
The PhD faculty are experts in their fields, with graduate degrees from many institutions including: Columbia University, Florida State, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, Seoul National University, Texas A&M University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Michigan, and the University of Tennessee.
Our PhD students come from many countries. Current PhD students come from Bangladesh, India, Iran, South Korea, and the U.S.
The program is located in our newly renovated and expanded Regnier/Seaton Complex, with office space for all PhD students, and close to Weigel Library, Student and Academic Services, many informal gathering spaces, and the new 20,000 square foot fabrication lab.
How does a PhD program differ from a master’s degree program?
The K-State Graduate School Handbook states: “A Ph.D. is a research-based degree and is awarded to candidates who have demonstrated unique ability as scholars and researchers as well as proficiency in communication. The degree also certifies that the candidate has displayed familiarity and understanding of the subject matter in the discipline and possesses the ability to make original contributions to knowledge.” [Source: https://www.k-state.edu/grad/graduate-handbook/chapter3.html]
A PhD program is very different than a master’s degree where students mostly take the same classes and have the same curriculum. A PhD program is highly individualized, specialized, and research-focused. You will work very closely with a specific PhD major professor (see list of eligible faculty) on a research topic in which they have expertise. All classes you take, and the research you do, will be all be done in consultation with your major professor.
One member of the core Ph.D. faculty must accept mentorship responsibility for any student prior to their admittance to the doctoral program. Applicants are strongly encouraged to be in contact with Ph.D. faculty members with whom they share interests, and if possible, obtain a commitment from a faculty member to support the application. Having a clear and focused topic and research agenda for your PhD program will help the faculty decide if your interests overlap.
Like most PhD programs, ours at APDesign is rigorous. Students are expected to work independently, be self-directed, and excel academically.
Yes. Funded PhD students are hired as graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) or graduate research assistants (GRAs) each semester and are expected to work 15- 20 hours per week. For more information see Graduate Assistantship Opportunities.
How many years of funding will I receive?
You will be funded for four (4) academic years or 8 semesters (fall and spring). Four years is sufficient to complete the program. If more time is required, it must be self-funded.
Note: There is no funding over the summer. You will be required to support yourself during this period.
Who decides what GTA/GRA position I will have?
The decision of which class you are assigned to assist with is made by the department head of your major professor, in consultation with the major professor. It is made annually and reflects the needs of the department. They will inform the PhD director and the offer letter is sent from the Dean’s office.
I don’t have a background in design or planning. Is that an obstacle?
Yes, it is.
We discourage applicants with no background in one of our fields for several important reasons:
1) A PhD program builds on past experience and knowledge. If your background does not include design or planning, you may not have the appropriate foundation on which to build a PhD program in our College. It would be comparable to a person applying for a PhD in chemistry who had never taken a chemistry class before. A PhD program is not the place to start in a brand-new field.
2) It would be difficult to convince the admissions committee that you will be successful if you have no experience, background, or evidence of success in our areas.
3) While in the program you will be a graduate teaching assistant for undergraduate or master’s level classes. It would be difficult to be an effective teaching assistant in a class if you have no knowledge of the subject matter.
4) Most PhD graduates intend to teach at the university level. Design and planning are professions and the education required is intensive. A professional or terminal degree is required to become a licensed architect, interior architect, landscape architect, or urban planner. Almost every job opening in a design or planning school requires the applicant to have a terminal degree in one of the allied professions (in addition to your PhD). Not having one could be a major disadvantage when you are on the job market.
Applicants without a background in any of the fields within the College should consider applying to one of the professional master’s degrees offered in our college.
I don’t have a master’s degree. Is that an obstacle?
Yes, it is.
Please see the question above.
However, occasionally under special circumstances this is a possibility. A longer program would be necessary, but funding would not be extended, which means you would need to self-fund the additional years.
What degree would I receive?
After successful completion of the program you will receive a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Environmental Design and Planning.
With a PhD from the College of Architecture, Planning, and Design can I become a licensed architect, landscape architect, interior architect, or planner or practice as one?
No. A professional or terminal degree is required to become a licensed architect, interior architect, landscape architect, or urban planner. A PhD is a research-based degree, not a practice-based degree.
If that is the direction you’d like to go, you would need a professional degree from one of the following programs:
Kansas State University, with its enrollment of approximately 22,000 students, serves the region through innovation and commitment to its land grant mission of teaching, research, and community outreach.
It has been recognized by Princeton Review as No. 3 for great town-gown relations; No. 4 for best quality of life; No. 6 for best athletic facilities; No. 7 for best health services; and No. 8 for happiest students.
For the second year in a row, Campus Pride lists Kansas State University among its 30 Best of the Best LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities with the highest ranking, five stars. The university is the only school in Kansas and the only Big 12 Conference school to be included in the 2018 and 2017 listings. . For more details, click here.
For more information about the university, see Kansas State University.
Is the PhD program available online?
No, the PhD program is on-campus only.
What classes will I take in the program?
There are two required classes in the program. In the College you will take:
• ENVD900 Conceptual Approaches to Design and Planning/Doctoral Seminar; and
• ENVD901 Research Methods in Design and Planning (taken with LAR725 or PLAN803)
Other required and elective classes may be taken within and outside the college in consultation with the major professor. See the PhD Handbook for more information.
The minimum number of credit hours is 6 per semester and the maximum is 10. Most required and elective classes are 3 credits each. This means a PhD student will take 2-3 classes per semester in addition to their 15-20 hours of teaching or research assistant responsibilities.
Is the PhD degree program considered a STEM discipline by the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Education?
The PhD in Environmental Design and Planning is 03.0104 (Environmental Science).
For international students this designation means they may apply for the STEM OPT (Optional Practical Training) program, which is a 24-month extension of the F-1 visa status to remain and work in the U.S.
Can I schedule a visit?
Yes! We’d be happy to have you visit. We will arrange conversations with PhD faculty and students; you can sit in on classes; and we’d love to show you our new building. Visiting during the semester is best, but if that is not possible, we can make other arrangements.
Please contact the PhD Director, Dr. Anne Beamish, firstname.lastname@example.org, to schedule a visit.
When is the deadline for applications?
January 8, 2020
Please see Admission Procedures
How can I convince a faculty member to accept me as their PhD student?
Please think about what research topics are of most interest to you before you contact faculty.
It does not help your case to contact all or even many of the PhD faculty to say that you are interested in working with them. It only convinces them that you are not focused in your research topic.
Find out what faculty are able to accept new students. Look at their bios closely. Consider their areas of expertise. Read their published work. That will help you decide if your research interests overlap and you want to work closely with that individual.
Think of it from the faculty’s point of view. In our college, taking on a PhD student is essentially “overload” on top of a very heavy teaching and research load. It is time-intensive. We would only consider taking on a student who is sincerely interested in our research topic(s) and provides evidence that they will excel in this area.
If a PhD certifiedfaculty says they are willing to work with me, does it mean I am accepted?
No. Your application must be reviewed and approved by the PhD committee before we can make an offer. Any offer of acceptance will come from the PhD director.
How many students do you accept?
It is a small program. We accept four (4) PhD funded students every other year (2020, 2022, 2024, etc.)
What if I want to apply in an odd-numbered year?
We only accept applications in even-numbered years. This ensures that the individual student has a cohort and funding.
What if I do not need funding from the College — will that increase my chances of acceptance?
You are welcome to apply in even-numbered years if you do not need funding. However, we would use the same criteria to evaluate applicants, irrespective of funding status.
What are my chances of being accepted? What do you look for in an applicant?
It is impossible to say whether you would be accepted. It depends on many things, but essentially we look for individuals who:
• are mature, talented, self-directed, and focused on their future research;
• will excel in their academic work;
• have the skills to be an effective and productive teaching and/or research assistant in the College;
• will be a respectful and congenial colleague to students and faculty; and
• have the agreement and support of a certified PhD faculty member willing to act as your major professor for your time in the program.
In short, we look for applicants who will succeed and thrive in this environment.
Note: We will not consider accepting a student, no matter how exceptional they may be, unless there is a certified PhD faculty with significant expertise in the student’s area who is willing and able to take on a student, and the offer is approved by the PhD committee. Given the size of our program and our limited ability to accept students, regretfully we must often turn away even the most highly qualified applicants.
Can you guarantee me a place in the program before applying?
No. The PhD committee needs to consider the complete application package before making a decision.
Discussing your research with a PhD faculty, and even getting their tentative agreement to work with you is important, but it is not a guarantee of acceptance.
Can I begin in the spring semester?
No. Our academic year begins in the fall semester.
If I have a degree from an English-speaking university outside of the U.S., can I have the TOEFL requirement waived?
If your first language is English, the requirement is waived. You do not have to take the TOEFL exam.
If your first language is not English, the requirement cannot be waived, irrespective of the university you attend. You are required to take the TOEFL, IELTS or PTE exam. This is university policy.
My TOEFL score is below 100. Is that a problem?
Yes, it is.
A minimum TOEFL score of 100 is required for good reason. Our classes are taught in English, all your work (reading, writing, conversing) will be in English, and you will probably be a graduate teaching assistant. English fluency is necessary to be an effective and successful student, researcher, and teaching assistant.
However, if your scores are slightly below 100 (e.g. 95-99 range), the admissions committee will sometimes make an exception if the application is particularly strong.
Is a portfolio required?
We are happy to see your design work, but we are more interested seeing evidence of previous research, published scholarly work, and writing ability. Include research projects, samples of written work, articles, or other examples of creative and/or research efforts.
Why do you ask for a research proposal? What if I don’t know what I want to do?
We ask for a “mini” research proposal because the PhD program is a research-based degree. The proposal will give us insight into what you would like to do, your writing ability, and how familiar you are with the topic you are intending to investigate. After completing your course work and lengthy discussions with your major professor, we expect that your final research will be different than what you propose in the application. This is not a contract or even firm commitment. It simply helps us understand your interests, experience, and intention.
What do I say in the Statement of Intent?
The statement should tell us about you, your background, your interests, and why you want to apply to the program. It should tell us about your motivation to earn a PhD degree. And it should convince us that this program and Kansas State is the place where you want to be and where you will succeed.
LIVING IN MANHATTAN KANSAS
Where is Manhattan and how do I get there?
The city of Manhattan (pop. 55,000 and home of Kansas State University) is located in the Flint Hills of northeastern Kansas. It is 1 hour from Topeka (pop. 127,000 and state capital), 1.5 hours from Lawrence (pop. 95,000 and home of Kansas University), 2 hours from Kansas City (metro pop. 2,200,000) and 2 hours from Witchita. (pop. 380,000).
The Manhattan (MHK) airport is just 10 minutes west of the city, with direct jet service to Chicago and Dallas. Kansas City International Airport (MCI) is a 2-hour drive from Manhattan with over 200 flights a day.
Nestled in the Flint Hills of northeastern Kansas, the City of Manhattan is a growing college town of 55,000 residents. The Flint Hills Physiographic Region contains at least two-thirds of the remaining tallgrass prairie on earth and this ecosystem is one of the most endangered on the planet. This beautiful and dramatic region provides ample opportunity for students and faculty to study a rare and preserved native landscape.
Manhattan offers affordable housing, outstanding schools, excellent parks and recreational facilities, an engaging cultural environment, and short commute times.
How can I get around Manhattan? Do I need a car to live in Manhattan?
Though many students do have cars, it is not a necessity.
Walk. There is a wide range of housing options on campus and within walking distance of the campus.
Bicycle. Bicycling is an option for much of the year. Manhattan is considered a bronze-level bicycle-friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists, and in 2015 Kansas State University was recognized as the first bicycle-friendly university in Kansas. Bike Month is celebrated annually in May with a variety of public events. See https://cityofmhk.com/1070/Bicycle-and-Pedestrian
The city has a free bike share program called “Green Apple Bikes.”
Bus. The ATA Bus (Flint Hills Area Transportation Agency) provides bus service in the city Monday to Saturday with five fixed routes. It is free with a K-State ID. See the ATA Bus site for more information.
Uber, Lyft, and Taxis. If you need car transportation, Uber, Lyft, and taxis are all options.
Grocery Stores. You can order food online from the two large grocery stores in the city and they will deliver groceries to your home for a nominal fee.
Carpool. Many students do have cars. It is always possible to carpool with classmates and friends.
What is the weather like?
Winters are usually not severe. We get snow, but not a great deal.
Summers are hot.
Spring and fall are mild. Many consider the mild fall the best season of the year.
What are the cultural opportunities in Manhattan?
Beach Museum. The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, located on the K-State campus, is home to the university’s collection of Kansas and regional artists, and hosts several traveling exhibitions each year. Admission is free. See http://www.k-state.edu/bma/ for more information.
McCain Performance Series. Every year a wide range of acts come to Manhattan ranging from ballet to symphony orchestras, to comedians.
K-State students may purchase tickets to McCain Performance Series events at 50 percent off general public prices. See http://www.k-state.edu/mccain/
The MAC. Throughout the year, the Manhattan Art Center offers live theater and music, classes for children, teens, and adults, as well as art exhibits in the gallery. See: https://www.manhattanarts.org
What is Manhattan like for graduate students with families?
Manhattan is a safe very family-friendly city, with high-quality public schools, excellent parks, a public library, a zoo, the Discovery Center, and many activities throughout the year.