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Online Urban Planning Certificate and Diploma Programs

Learn about online certificate programs with urban planning courses. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

Essential Information

Online certificate programs in urban planning are generally unavailable. Though some certificate programs that offer a few classes over the Internet can be found, even these programs are chiefly based on on-campus coursework. In order to successfully participate in the online courses, you will need a computer with Flash installed and equipped with speakers. These programs are generally intended for professionals already in the field.

For those who seek a fully online program, there are master's level programs in public administration. These programs train students to tackle critical social problems and demonstrate human, project and financial management skills.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), urban and regional planners are typically required to have a master's degree from an accredited program. Two states, Michigan and New Jersey, have licensing requirements for urban planners. Certification through the American Institute of Certified Planners is voluntary, but does have specific educational requirements.

Certificate in Urban Planning

A few schools offer professional certificates in urban planning with some online classes. These programs instruct students on important issues and trends in urban development such as smart growth planning and environmental regulation. Region-specific or project-oriented online options exist for non-certificate programs.

Program Information and Requirements

Urban planning certificate programs are generally intended for professionals already in the field or adults looking to explore a new field, so classes are usually offered nights and weekends. Most programs require around 10 classes, or 30 credits, taken over 2-5 years.

Although all classes are taught on campus, some online alternatives are offered for general classes. Online classes are compatible with both Windows and Macintosh systems and usually have some minimum software requirements in programs such as Flash. A high-speed Internet connection and good speakers are suggested as well.

Common Urban Planning Courses

Common courses in urban planning certificate programs cover urban planning specifics, with a few chosen electives in related fields. Although most programs don't have specific prerequisites, classes within programs are often sequential and must be taken in order. Classes offered online, such as the ones listed below, tend to be lecture-oriented.

Urban Planning Processes

Urban planners must stay current with changing local and national guidelines. This course covers these guidelines, as well as addresses the political, environmental and economic processes involved in urban development.

Historic Preservation

Urban planning often involves a complex set of decisions surrounding the preservation and restoration of historic buildings. This course offers instruction in historic districts and regulations, previous preservation projects and adaptive reuse of existing structures.

Project Management Essentials

Urban planners deliver large and small projects within budget, time and quality specifications. This class explores best practices for a project from inception to maintenance, which includes everything from risk management to assembling a support team.

Introduction to Sustainability

As development continues to spread, urban planners must be aware of the effect on the natural environment. This class covers sustainable materials and design, habitat displacement, energy efficiency and water use. Also discussed are local and regional codes surrounding sustainability.


Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the May 2015 average salary for urban planners and regional was $70,680 per year. Approximately 66% of urban and regional planners worked for a government-related employer, the BLS reported in 2015. Urban planning is a growing field, with the BLS anticipating jobs in the field to increase by 6% (about as fast as the average for all occupations) between 2014 and 2024.

Continuing Education Information

Most entry-level jobs in urban planning require a minimum of a master's degree, which is offered at more than 60 schools in the U.S. with graduate programs in urban planning. Regional programs, some of which are online, offer project-specific or task-specific training for urban planners.

Urban planning certificate and diploma programs are generally unavailable in a fully online format, but there are fully online master's degree programs in public administration, a closely related area. These programs are intended for current professionals in the field and normally explore topics such as urban planning, historic preservation, project management and sustainability.

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