Urban Planning Degree Programs and Schools
Urban planners contribute to the design and evolution of cities. Find out what undergraduate and graduate degree programs are available in this field, and review what you'd study as an urban planning major. Get info on important factors to consider when choosing an urban planning degree program.
What You Need To Know
Urban planners develop plans for the use of land in large cities. This may include both public and private lands. While the job field is expected to increase, there are a limited number of openings. Additionally, a graduate degree is typically required.
|Degree Programs||Bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees|
|Schools||71 master's degree programs accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board; 15 bachelor's degree programs are accredited|
|Courses||Housing in America, city planning, comprehensive school reform as applied public policy, downtown development, science of politics, education in American culture, urban research methods, community economic development|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$71,490 (for urban and regional planners)|
|Projected Job Growth (2016-2026)*||13% (for urban and regional planners)|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, University of Pennsylvania, Brown University
What Will I Study in an Undergraduate Urban Planning Program?
Urban planning is an interdisciplinary field. In an undergraduate program, you might take courses in subjects as seemingly unrelated as sociology, history and economics, but each of these will contribute to your overall understanding of the urban environment.
Aside from class work, an important part of an urban planning program is the internship. Schools are striving to turn out graduates with hands-on experience engaging with current-day urban issues, and requiring a certain number of fieldwork hours is one way to make this happen. Through your internship, you can learn more about the day-to-day life of an urban planner and make an educated decision about which specialty of urban life most appeals to you.
What Do Graduate-Level Programs Offer?
Graduate programs in urban planning allow you to choose from a list of sub-disciplines, so that when you graduate, you'll be prepared to enter the job market with considerable specific knowledge and hands-on experience. Some areas of graduate concentration include:
- Transportation planning
- Water management
- Community economic development
- Housing planning
- Regional policy
- Environmental policy
How Long Are The Programs?
Urban planning is offered at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. In a 4-year program, you can earn a bachelor's degree and either enter the workforce in entry-level planning jobs or continue your studies in a graduate program. Master's degree programs in urban planning are usually two years in duration, and Ph.D. programs vary in length, depending on how long it takes to complete your dissertation. The average length of Ph.D. programs is 5-7 years. Once you obtain a doctoral degree in urban planning, you can teach at the university level. Master's degree graduates can teach at community colleges.
How Do I Choose a School?
You'll spend a fair amount of time working in the closest urban community to the school you attend, so the location of the school is an important factor in deciding where to study. If working in the Big Apple appeals to you, you may want to consider urban planning programs in or around New York.
If you have very specific urban planning career goals - to work for the department of transportation in the city of St. Louis, for instance - your choice of where to study may be connected both to the school's proximity to St. Louis and to the available courses in transportation issues.
What Schools Offer Urban Planning Degrees?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Planning Accreditation Board accredited 71 programs in 2016 where master's degrees in planning were offered. There were also 15 accredited bachelor's degree programs in planning. Here are some of the schools with urban planning programs in different cities, along with examples of degrees offered:
- University of Louisville: Master of Urban Planning
- Texas A&M University: Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Planning
- University of Washington: PhD in Urban Design and Planning
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Master in City Planning
- Arizona State University: Bachelor of Science in Urban Planning
Because urban planning is such a collaborative field and because of the varying needs of schools' locales, schools differ considerably in what types of courses they offer and in how much choice students have in what they take.