Schools with Urban Planning Programs: How to Choose

Dec 10, 2019

Aspiring urban planners may choose from bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs. Programs at all levels are designed to prepare graduates to conduct independent research and to work with professionals from a wide range of disciplines, from architecture to sociology, to address issues of urban development and community relations.

Top 10 Schools with Degrees in Urban Planning

Here is a list of top schools that offer urban planning at various degree levels:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2018-2019, In-state)*
University of Kansas Lawrence, KS 4-year, Public Master's Undergraduate: $11,148
Arizona State University Tempe, AZ 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Undergraduate: $10,822; Graduate: $11,406
Cleveland State University Cleveland, OH 4-year, Public Master's, Master's/J.D. Graduate: $9,818
New York University New York, NY 4-year, Private Bachelor's/Master's, Master's Undergraduate: $51,828; Graduate: $42,888
Northern Illinois University Dekalb, IL 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Undergraduate: $14,617; Graduate: $11,904
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Undergraduate: $8,987; Graduate: $10,243
University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Undergraduate: $56,225; Graduate: $44,712
University of North Texas Denton, TX 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate: $10,852; Graduate: $5,450
University of Illinois - Chicago Chicago, IL 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate: $13,764; Graduate: $13,612
Syracuse University Syracuse, NY 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Doctoral Undergraduate: $51,853; Graduate: $37,416

*Source: National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Since there are many schools that offer programs in urban planning, it is important to consider the following when choosing a program:

  • Students may want to consider if there is a particular urban environment they wish to focus on. Urban studies programs may focus on the particular environment within which they are located.
  • Students may want to consider the program curriculum. Some programs are interdisciplinary while others might allow students to specialize in a sub-discipline.
  • Students may want to research faculty to find out if they are involved with local projects and if they can introduce students to a network of professional contacts.
  • Consider programs that are accredited with the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB), as employers are more likely to hire individuals who have completed degrees from accredited programs.

Bachelor's Degrees in Urban Studies

These 4-year programs offer general education courses, as well as courses in the different fields encompassed by urban planning. Graduates may find entry-level positions, or they may continue on to graduate school.

Master's Degrees in City Planning

These 2-year programs often include a substantial fieldwork component, and they culminate in either a comprehensive exam or a thesis project. Programs also involve focused study in a specialization, such as design and development, environmental analysis or community economics.

Doctoral Degrees in Urban Planning

Doctoral degree programs may take 4-7 years to complete, depending on dissertation field research.

There are many options for individuals interested in a degree in urban planning. Prospective urban planning students should consider the program's focus, specialization options, accreditation and opportunities for professional contacts.

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