Colleges with Urban Development Courses: How to Choose

Dec 09, 2019

Urban development, also known as urban planning, is the process of improving urban areas. While it is more common at the graduate level, some bachelor programs in urban planning also exist.

Urban development programs are primarily offered at the graduate level, and and most positions as an urban or regional planner require a master's degree, though some junior positions may only need a bachelor's degree

City Management and Urban Policy Schools

These institutions offer city management, urban policy or public administration programs.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition* (2018-2019)
University of Kansas Lawrence, KS 4-year, Public Master's $11,027 (In-state Graduate); $24,404 (Out-of-state Graduate)
Arizona State University Tempe, AZ 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $10,822 (In-state Undergraduate); $12,134 (In-state Graduate)
Cleveland State University Cleveland, OH 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $10,457 (In-state Undergraduate); $9,942 (In-state Graduate);
New York University New York, NY 4-year, Private Master's $45,426 (Graduate)
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill Chapel Hill 4-year, Public Master's, Doctoral $12,212 (In-state Graduate); $29,423 (Out-of-state Graduate)
University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, Graduate Certificate $56,225 (Undergraduate); $45,561 (Graduate)
University of North Texas Denton, TX 4-year, Public Master's, Doctoral $7,338 (In-state Graduate); $14,808 (Out-of-state Graduate)
University of Illinois - Chicago Chicago, IL 4-year, Public Master's $16,792 (In-state Graduate); $26,479 (Out-of-state Graduate)
Syracuse University Syracuse, NY 4-year, Private Master's, Doctoral $38,708 (Graduate)

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

School Selection Criteria

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 72 accredited master's degree programs and 15 accredited bachelor's degree programs in the U.S. as of 2013 (, available at colleges and universities accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board.

There are some considerations aspiring urban development students should keep in mind when choosing a program.

  • Students may want to diversify their experience by taking classes from other related fields, such as architecture, law, geography, economics or earth sciences, so students should research course offerings at each school.
  • Look for a school with internship opportunities through state governments or local planning offices.
  • Not all schools offer undergraduate and graduate degrees, and those interested in pursuing both levels of study may want to select a school that offers programs at both levels.
  • Some programs focus on urban development, while others focus on public administration; it may be important to review the courses offered to ensure you pick the program that best suits your career goals.

Bachelor of Science in Urban Development and Planning

The undergraduate degree combines urban studies, economics, architecture and other studies to create an interdisciplinary focus. This degree, along with experience such as an internship, can allow students to obtain an entry-level position at a state planning office or be a qualified candidate for an urban development master's program.

Master of Science in Urban Development and Planning

This 2-year, full-time advanced degree program is designed to educate students for professional careers in urban planning, environmental policymaking and sustainable design. Master of Urban Planning, Master of Urban and Environmental Planning and other specialized degrees have similar curricula.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Development and Planning

The Ph.D. program in urban development and planning is an advanced degree that prepares graduate students for careers as educators and researchers. It can be an interdisciplinary research program, combining such areas as sociology and architecture, or it can be research-based. Analytical methods and research design form part of the curriculum along with a dissertation of original research.

Urban development programs may be offered as a degree in urban development, city management, public administration, or urban studies. The program emphasis may vary slightly, and it's important to consider long-term career goals and the courses offered when selecting an urban development program.

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