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Urban Planning Graduate Programs in Chicago

Jan 09, 2019

Those who wish to become urban planners and undertake projects such as neighborhood revitalization or transportation system development might consider earning a graduate degree in the field of urban planning.

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Urban planners work to support communities by reviewing a range of proposals for land use and public project development. They consult with city officials and communities to ensure that social, economic, and environmental considerations are taken into account when land uses are chosen. Typically, a graduate degree is required for entry into this field.

Universities in Chicago Offering Graduate Programs Related to Urban Planning

The city of Chicago provides a working laboratory for those interested in entering the field of urban planning. Read on to find out about a range of program options within the city.

University of Illinois at Chicago

At the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), students can work towards the Master of Urban Planning and Policy (MUPP). This program is the only program in the Chicago area accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board of the American Institute of Certified Planners. Students take core classes and a three course concentration area. Options for the concentration area include environmental planning, economic development, or urban transportation. The program culminates in a thesis or professional project. Students who are interested in the finance of urban planning projects can learn from the Government Finance Research Center, housed at the University. To be considered for admission, students should hold a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA during the last 60 semester hours of study and submit recommendations, a personal statement, and an example of a professional paper or project.

Beginning in 2019, students can also study towards the Master of City Design. Students should hold a baccalaureate degree in architecture, urban planning, or a similar field, with a 3.0 GPA during the last 60 semester hours of study. Applicants should provide a personal statement, recommendations, and a portfolio in PDF format. Applicants with two or more years of professional experience are preferred.

Students who wish to enter a program with an academic research focus may consider the Ph.D. in Urban Planning and Policy at UIC. This program requires core coursework as well as specialization in an area of urban planning, including spatial planning or economic development. Other expectations include a supervised research project and teaching. Multiple options are available for supervised research, including the Great Cities Institute and Urban Transportation Center. Applicants will usually need to have a master's degree in urban planning or a related field.

DePaul University

At DePaul University, students can earn a Master of Arts (M.A.) in sustainable urban development. The program at this Roman Catholic school focuses on balancing environmental protections, economic development, and social equity. Students participate in community-based projects within the city of Chicago. To apply, it is required to provide transcripts, a resume, and a personal statement. This program can usually be completed in two years.

Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Chicago is another Roman Catholic school, which offers an M.A. in Urban Affairs and Public Policy. While this program is not directly related to planning, it can provide a strong interdisciplinary background in how cities work. As a component of their degree, students attend a series of lectures given by practitioners in various areas of urban studies. Internships help students gain hands on experience in urban policy. To apply, students should submit transcripts, GRE scores, recommendations, a statement of purpose, and a resume. The program typically takes two years of full-time study

Core Classes in Graduate Urban Planning Programs

In addition to coursework, students may undertake an internship or community project to develop their practical planning skills and enable them to create a portfolio. Program requirements will vary depending on the school, degree, and area of specialization chosen by the student. However, some core class types will be encountered in many urban planning programs, such as the following.

Geographic Information Systems

Within this course, students will learn how to use geographic information systems, or GIS. Students may learn how GIS works and review a variety of techniques, such as spatial analysis and mapping across different types of urban planning. The importance of GIS data for planning may become evident by the end of this type of class.

Urban Space and Infrastructure

Students enrolled in a course of this nature may learn the range of functions related to urban space. Factors leading to urbanization and suburbanization might be studied. The range of public infrastructure projects, such as schools, parks, libraries, and transportation could be considered, as well the sustainability and environmental impact of these projects.

Environmental Planning

The information contained in this course will provide students with an introduction to the environmental impacts of various types of planning projects. Students could explore how to assess and analyze the environmental impact and risk of projects. Major state and local laws may be studied.

Urban Transportation

A class such as this could explain the key concepts of urban transportation planning. The impact on urban and regional development may be considered. Cost structures of planning projects might also be examined.

Community Revitalization

This course will consider the socio-economic restructuring of urban areas. The purpose of this course is to help students learn to identify problems in various areas, and re-plan locations. Topics such as gentrification may be studied, and financial impacts of community revitalization may be a component of this course.

Local Governmental Administration

The major issues affecting urban environments, including income inequality and decentralization, may be considered in this type of course. How these issues are addressed through local policies may be considered. The roles of different local administrators, such as city managers or park superintendents, could be studied. Collaboration among different local governments in metropolitan areas may be a topic as well.

Urban planners can make a difference in ensuring that cities are functioning entities for all of the residents. Graduate study for this field within the city of Chicago may take place at the master's or doctoral levels and can provide an entry into this career.

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