Universities Offering a Masters in Urban Planning

While master's degree programs in urban planning may go by different names, such as Master of Urban and Regional Planning or Master of Community Planning, all master's degree programs in this field should be accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board and meet set criteria. Common factors in selecting a college or university for its master's program in urban planning include available specializations within the program, location and class size.

A number of 4-year colleges and universities offer master's degree programs in urban planning. Programs may be offered through a school's architecture or design departments or through its public policy or social sciences departments.

Top Urban Planning Schools

These schools offer urban planning master's degree programs

College/University Location Institution Type Tuition 2015-2016*
University of Kansas Lawrence, KS 4-year, Public $9,958 in-state, $22,049 out-of-state
New York University (Wagner) New York, NY 4-year, Private not-for-profit $40,984
University of Southern California (Price) Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Private not-for-profit $40,670
Arizona State University Tempe, AZ 4-year, Public $11,304 in-state, $23, 274 out-of-state
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC 4-year, Public $11,074 in-state, $28,285 out-of-state
Cleveland State University (Levin) Cleveland, OH 4-year, Public $9,625 in-state, $18,040 out-of-state
Florida State University (Askew) Tallahassee, FL 4-year, Public $11,543 in-state, $25,975 out-of-state
University of Illinois - Chicago Chicago, IL 4-year, Public $16,527 in-state, $25,386 out-of-state

Source: *National Center for Educational Statistics

University Selection Criteria

Students should keep these important considerations in mind when choosing a school:

  • Students should find out which specializations a program offers, such as transportation, land use, environmental design, community development and technology in planning.
  • Students should look for smaller class sizes, as that allows for more individualized attention and one-on-one feedback from professors.
  • Students may want to consider a program that offers internships for additional experience.
  • Programs that are located within cities may help students study urban growth and development.

Master's in Urban Planning Housed in an Architecture or Design School

As the name would suggest, if a master's degree program is in the design or architecture school of a university, it is likely to have design as its focus. Sometimes these programs focus on the built environment and may place an emphasis on such topics as designing efficient solutions to transportation problems. Additional requirements could include a thesis, field internship and/or teaching internship. A bachelor's degree in any field is required, although many students entering these programs have studied architecture or art as an undergraduate. Hands-on experience may also be important in the admissions process.

Master's in Urban Planning Housed in a School for Public Policy or Social Sciences

Master's degree programs in schools focused on social sciences and public policy teach students about the intersections of community, business and government. Students learn about proper land use and transportation issues and focus on implementation of programs and project management. The curriculum often includes courses in law and policy so that students understand the governmental framework in which they will work after graduation. Some programs include a capstone project. A bachelor's degree and experience working in the social sector are typical requirements for entry.

Master's degree programs in urban planning prepare students to work in fields such as government or architecture and design. Some programs require internships, theses, or capstone projects, and students should consider which programs offer specializations relevant to their desired career.

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