Regional Planning Programs and Courses

Regional planners help to design and develop neighborhoods, cities and sometimes even entire regions. Read on to learn about degree options for becoming a regional planner. Explore the prerequisites for entering these programs, what you'd study as a student and whether or not you can pursue regional planner education online. Schools offering Land Use Planning degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

You can find regional and urban planning degrees at the graduate level, most commonly in 2-year master's programs. Many universities offer these programs, since a master's degree is most often required for a job as a regional planner, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( Dual master's degree programs also give you the option to study regional planning along with other relevant professional areas.

You can find regional planning degree programs at the undergraduate level, though relevant courses or a regional planning minor is more common within 4-year urban studies programs. Undergraduate course topics include an introduction to regional development, city planning or local economics.

Courses Civil engineering, architecture, planning law, public policy, local economics, city planning, regional demographics, economic analysis
Degrees Undergraduate degrees; graduate degrees in regional and urban planning
Online Options Graduate courses in regional economics, practical methods and planning theories; courses in public policy and urban studies

What Undergraduate Programs Are Available?

For students interested in studying regional planning, there are a variety of four-year degrees to consider. A Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning is one option, and this program typically involves studio and laboratory coursework to give students practical experience in planning. Additional program selections include a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in urban studies or a minor in city and regional planning. The courses you'll take at the undergraduate level may include the following:

  • Zoning
  • GIS and mapping
  • Budgeting
  • Sustainability at the city level
  • Disaster planning

What Do I Need to be Admitted to a Graduate Program?

To study regional planning at the graduate level, you don't need undergraduate experience in the subject. Most programs accept students from a variety of backgrounds and majors, including economics, English, geography, engineering or history. However, you may want to take preparatory college courses in algebra, political science and microeconomics. You might also be required to take a graduate school admissions test to enroll.

What Will I Study?

A master's degree program in urban and regional planning requires you to study legal and economic theories behind regional planning, as well as practical methods for implementing regional development. You may be able to choose a specialization, such as environmental planning, housing or transportation. Most programs culminate in a capstone or thesis project. Graduate courses include urban dynamics, regional design, and land use. These course topics may be covered as well:

  • Growth management law and implementation
  • Quantitative and computer methods
  • Advanced planning methods
  • Economic analysis in planning
  • Geographic information systems

Can I Take Courses Online?

Although you may not be able to earn your entire regional planning degree online, some graduate courses might be available to you through distance learning at a few universities. Courses in regional economics, planning theories and practical methods may all be available online, though you'll need to participate in on-campus studies for other course offerings. You might find related master's degree programs online, such as public policy or urban studies, that might qualify you for a regional planning position.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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