City Planning Degrees and Courses
A city planning program can help you learn to design environmentally friendly, functional and attractive urban areas. Learn about available degrees, program coursework, licensure, certification and potential places of employment.
What You Need to Know
It may be difficult to find a job in city planning with only a bachelor's degree; luckily, advanced degrees including a master's and doctorate are available. Your coursework will likely be very focused on planning issues. Certification is rarely required, but voluntary certification is available through the American Planning Association.
|Degrees||Master's degree in city planning or doctoral degree in city and regional planning; bachelor's degrees may also be available|
|Courses||Economics, planning theory and planning law|
|Certification||Not required, but voluntary certification is available|
What Degree Do I Need to Become a City Planner?
You should earn a Master in City Planning or a Doctor of Philosophy in City and Regional Planning, because most employers require a minimum of a master's degree. Bachelor of Arts in Urban Planning or Urban and Regional Planning programs are also available, but only earning an undergraduate degree may limit your career opportunities.
Many master's degree programs confer dual degrees to graduates. These programs combine city planning with law, architecture or public policy studies. The additional requirements of the second-degree program may require extra time to complete. In general, however, a graduate degree program in urban planning can be completed in anywhere from 2-7 years.
What Subjects Will I Study?
City planning programs teach housing and economic development, planning theory, land use planning, environmental planning and planning law. You'll learn how to research and analyze land use problems, as well as how to identify locations for public and private housing, schools, airports, and utility lines. Internships and study abroad opportunities can provide you with real-world experience and an understanding of international planning theories.
What Courses Are Available in a Graduate Program?
In a graduate program, you'll concentrate your studies on a topic that you're interested in, like environmental planning and policy, community economic development or urban design. You'll research and write a thesis paper about an issue within your specialization. A variety of topics will be considered, including the following potential areas of concentration:
- Community and economic development
- Land use and environmental planning
- Public-private development
- Sustainable transportation
- Urban design
Will I Need to Be Licensed or Certified?
Licensure and certification requirements are rare. Voluntary certification is offered by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), a division of the American Planning Association (APA). You can become certified by passing an exam. To be eligible for the exam, you must have graduated from an institution accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB) and have at least two years of work experience in the field. Graduates of non-accredited schools must have eight years of work experience.
Where Can I Work?
The majority of city planners work for federal, state or local governments. Governmental city planning jobs typically require a master's degree. Other planners may work for architects or developers. These employers may hire you even if you do not have a graduate degree in city planning.