In addition to studying topics such as urban design and development, public administration, and community development, students of bachelor's and master's degree programs in urban planning might participate in internships, co-op experiences, group projects, and independent research. Professional certifications may be available to those who have master's degrees and the requisite levels of experience.
Students seeking their bachelor's degree must be high school graduates or transfer students with strong grade point averages. Schools encourage prerequisite coursework in government, economics, and social issues. To enroll in a master's degree program, students need to have a bachelor's degree.
Bachelor's Degree in Urban Planning
Bachelor's degree programs in urban planning train future city planners to visualize and design uses of regional spaces for roads and buildings in urban areas. Undergraduate programs provide foundational knowledge and skills in the field and prepare students for entry-level employment or advanced studies at the graduate level.
Students enrolled in a bachelor's degree program in urban planning typically take courses in political studies, urban history, land use, and economics. Focused curricula may be available through selected elective courses, such as housing development, environmental planning, and transportation systems. Core courses often include:
- Urban design and development
- Public policy and administration
- Sustainable architecture and infrastructure
- Community development and housing policies and programs
Master's Degree in Urban and Regional Planning
Master's degree programs in urban planning are designed to help graduates of a related bachelor's degree program further explore the architectural, historical, social, environmental, and political factors that can influence the growth and development of a city. Students conduct independent research in a particular aspect of the field, and some schools encourage participation in extracurricular events, seminars, and publications to further concentrate studies.
Many master's degree programs in urban planning include courses that are divided among classroom lectures, group projects, and individual study. Some specific classes might include the following:
- Theoretical and practical city planning
- Urban, suburban, and rural economics and development
- Legal restrictions and regulations including policy effects on land use
- Community development and housing
- Transportation and the environment
- Social and environmental statistical analysis
Popular Career Options
A master's degree may advance a career into a supervisor or community leadership position. Many states require city planners to obtain a graduate-level education. Some advanced positions in the field include:
- Public sector planner
- Community planning director
- City planning supervisor
- Director of city economic development
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), urban and regional planners held approximately 35,840 jobs in 2015 and worked in industries such as government, architecture, and consulting services. The BLS reported the median salary of urban and regional planners in that year was $68,220. Employment projections provided by the BLS estimated that urban and regional planner positions, including city planner jobs, would increase 6% between 2014 and 2024.
The city planning profession is not typically a regulated field, and most city planners will not require state licensure. Optional membership and certification through professional organizations, such as the American Planning Association, may provide educational, networking, or employment benefits. To gain the certification, individuals must possess a master's degree and some professional experience in the field.
Bachelor's degree programs in urban planning are available to undergraduates who want an introduction to such topics as community planning and urban development. Master's degree programs in this field offer opportunities to further explore an area of interest through independent research and participation in seminars or group projects.