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Online Masters in Urban Planning Degree Program Overview

Get information about an online master's degree in urban planning. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, as well as career and continuing education information.

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Essential Information

Online master's degree programs in urban planning are rare to nonexistent, but online urban studies master's degree programs are available that offer urban planning courses. These programs are available in fully online formats and allow students to view lectures and assignments on their own schedule; however, students must adhere to due date requirements. A master's degree is typically the educational level required to work as an urban planner, and several years of work experience are generally required as well. Prerequisites for the master's program include a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA.

Master's Degree in Urban Studies with an Urban Planning Focus

Online master's degree programs dedicated to urban planning were rare as of 2014; however, online master's degree programs in urban studies may have a significant urban planning component. Urban planning courses address land use, community development, growth forecasting, infrastructure planning, and urban design. Students learn the importance of balancing the needs of communities for public services with environmental protection, and refine their analytical and communication skills. Minimum admission requirements include a bachelor's degree and a 3.0 grade point average.

Program Information and Requirements

All course work can be fully completed online. Course materials are distributed as a combination of print, graphics, interactive lessons, audio recordings, and video presentations. There are also tools for live discussion and team collaboration. Students have maximum freedom to access and finish assignments within a set structure.

Students need Internet access and standard word processing software to take part in an online master's degree program. High-speed broadband Internet access is recommended.

List of Common Urban Studies Courses

Courses in an urban studies program not related to urban planning are likely to cover such topics as racial and ethnic diversity, community organizing, public administration, and research. Programs may offer thesis and non-thesis options.

Policy Evaluation

Students in this course learn to evaluate the effectiveness of existing urban management policies and make forecasts about the likely success or failure of new policies. Topics covered also include effective communication in presentations and reports.

Policy Design and Implementation

This course explains the process of formulating, implementing, and adapting policies. Course content engages decision making in the public sector, the role of public administrators in the policy process and obstacles to policy success.

Strategic Planning and Management

The relationship between the policy making process, administrative agencies, and the delivery of public services are explored in this course. Students develop models for the administration of public agencies and operating procedures for public programs.


Career Information

Graduates online master's degree program in urban studies are qualified for positions with consulting firms, non-governmental organizations, and local, state and federal agencies as urban and regional planners. The degree may also supplement the training and expertise of established government workers who want to transition their careers into urban and regional planning.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of urban and regional planners will grow 6% over the years 2014-2024, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. The median salary of urban and regional planners, as of May 2015, was $68,220.

Continuing Education Information

Those who earn an online master's degree in urban studies may want to consider a doctoral degree in urban studies. Doctoral degree programs in the field are very unlikely to be offered online, as they are research-based programs.

While online master's degree programs specifically in urban planning are not available, those interested in this field can consider online graduate programs in urban studies. These master's programs offer courses in urban planning as well as in areas like policy evaluation & design.

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