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Dual Degree Programs in Civil Engineering & Urban Planning

Students interested in studying civil engineering and urban planning can find dual programs in the fields at the master's level. Learn more about these on-campus programs, including common courses and how to apply.

How to Earn a Dual Degree in Civil Engineering and Urban Planning

Students can most commonly earn a dual Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MSCE)/Master of Urban Planning (MURP) or a dual MSCE/Master in City and Regional Planning (MCRP), and some of these dual programs can be completed in as few as 3 years. Typically, students are required to complete the degree requirements for both programs, which may include a thesis, final project, and/or comprehensive exam option, but these requirements allow students to overlap coursework in order to complete both degrees faster than taking them separately. Although these dual degree programs usually provide students a lot of flexibility in the topics of coursework, here we discuss a handful of the more common courses found in dual civil engineering and urban planning programs.

Land Use Planning

Students may take one or more courses in land use planning, with some offered at the introductory and advanced levels. These courses discuss the reasoning behind land use planning and the different techniques used for different types of land. Students may explore the differences between physical and special planning, as well as planning at the community or regional levels.

Law and Land Use

Courses in law and land use can encompass a wide variety of topics; students may take multiple courses that explore issues in environmental law, growth management law, or law and urban land use. Courses in environmental law may explore specific laws that affect environmental planning for projects, such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. Students in growth management law focus on the planning involved in stimulating the economy and benefitting society. Courses in law and urban land use are broader and examine how the law regulates urban development in both the private and public sectors.

Statistics for Planning

Statistics for planning may be offered as an individual course or may be the main theme in an advanced planning course. Generally, these courses provide students with the knowledge of descriptive statistics, analysis of variance, linear regression, and other statistical methods used in planning. Students may also examine topics in research design and sampling to gather data for planning.

Transportation Planning

Students in these courses may begin by examining the history of urban transportation planning in the United States. They might then explore the techniques for planning transportation and how to analyze these plans. Students discuss integrated model systems, the operation of these systems, and the finances involved. Other specific topics for these courses may include environmental impacts, effects of politics, travel demand forecasting, and demand-supply interactions.

Structural Dynamics/Mechanics

Students may take a course in structural dynamics or applied structural mechanics that provide students with an introduction to structural dynamics and stability. Courses specifically in structural dynamics may explore differences in the dynamic response of linear and nonlinear structures and how these responses vary when subjected to different types of forces, such as periodic forces. Topics might also include dampening effects and the effects of wind and earthquakes on structures. Courses in applied structural mechanics include topics in structural dynamics but may also explore subjects like strain analysis, bending, plane elasticity, and failure criteria.

Admittance Requirements for a Dual Degree Program in Civil Engineering and Urban Planning

Students wishing to enroll in a dual degree program in civil engineering and urban planning typically need to apply to each master's degree program separately and be admitted to each program. Some schools may allow students to enter into one program and apply to the second during the first semester, but generally, students are encouraged to apply to both programs prior to beginning their master's education. Applicants typically need to have a bachelor's degree, and although a specific major is not usually required, some programs may require or prefer students to have prior coursework in fields related to urban planning and civil engineering. Some of these dual degree programs require students to take the GRE and international students may be asked to submit English language test scores. Although application materials vary by institution, students may be required to include items like their transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume or CV, and/or a personal statement with their application.

Dual degree programs in civil engineering and urban planning may be offered as MSCE/MURP or MSCE/MCRP degrees and usually take around 3 years to complete. Students must apply to each degree program and then complete coursework from each discipline and/or a culminating experience.