Affordable Urban Planning Degrees

Scroll down to see the most affordable urban planning degrees, as well as info on the different types of urban planning degrees and program accreditation.

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School Rankings

1

University of California-Irvine

The Department of Planning, Policy and Design at UC Irvine blends the fields of public policy, design and planning to creatively look for ways to solve problems in the natural and built environment. The department offers an undergraduate major in Urban Studies and offers a Master of Urban and Regional Planning and a Ph.D. in Planning, Policy and Design. A dual degree program, resulting in an M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Master's in Planning, is available; students in the engineering section of that program specialize in transportation systems or water resources. Many local governments and agencies provide paid or unpaid internships for students in the master's program.

CAG Score 97.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

30,051 Students

2

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill is part of the College of Arts and Sciences, which brings a social science approach to the study of urban planning. The school offers a Master and Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning. Master's students have the option to study interdisciplinary tracks that connect four areas of specialization. These are design, real estate, hazards, international development, and Geographic Information Systems. Students take part in community engagement class projects, helping identify sustainable, practical solutions to real-world problems. Six research centers offer internship and research opportunities. The school offers the Stipe Assistantship in Historic Preservation ($10,000), Master's teaching and research assistantships ($11,100), and Doctoral assistantships ($18,000).

CAG Score 97.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

29,135 Students

3

Texas A & M University-College Station

Seven research centers support ongoing work in urban planning at the Texas A&M University-College Station. Students in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning utilize these centers for internships, field work, and service-learning opportunities. The school offers a Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Planning, Master of Urban Planning, Master of Land and Property Development, and Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Science. The MLPD program is a unique curriculum that combines business with physical planning. The MUD program requires a thesis or research project. Numerous graduate certificates are offered as well. Urban planning students may qualify for the Center for Heritage Conservation Fellowship, History Maker Homes Endowed Scholarship, or the King Endowed Memorial Student Research Scholarship

CAG Score 96.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

61,642 Students

4

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

The Resilient Communities Project at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities provides students in the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program an opportunity to work with municipalities on a collaborative, sustainable solution to a community problem. The school also offers research opportunities at the State and Local Policy Program and Project on Regional and Industrial Economics. The program requires students to complete a 400-hour professional internship and a capstone project. Students may choose a degree concentration in areas of environmental planning, housing and community development, land use and urban design, or transportation planning, or design an interdisciplinary program. Graduate certificates complement the degree. Graduate student support is available through the Berrie Fellowship, Howard Award, and Humphrey Fellowship programs.

CAG Score 96.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

51,147 Students

5

University of Florida

The University of Florida's Master of Urban and Regional Planning program provides students with traditional lecture/seminar classes, studio work in a team environment as students apply their knowledge to real-world situations, professional experience through an internship, and research work for a capstone project. The program, accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board, is known for its emphasis on environmental planning, growth management and transportation, housing, community and economic development, information technologies for planning, and urban design. The university also offers an online program designed for professional planners, a combined degree program that allows undergrads to work on their MURP during their junior and senior years, and a Ph.D. in Design, Construction and Planning with a concentration in Urban and Regional Planning.

CAG Score 96.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

49,459 Students

6

University of Washington-Seattle Campus

The University of Washington-Seattle organizes undergraduates seeking a Bachelor of Arts in Community Environment and Planning into learning groups of 17 students who work together for two years on foundational assignments and practical field work projects. The Master of Urban Planning offers specialization in land use, infrastructure, and transportation planning, real estate, urban design, and historic preservation. The school also offers graduate certificates in urban design and historic preservation. Master's students may continue their academic careers in the Ph.D. program. The department is affiliated with the Institute for Hazard Mitigation and Planning Research, Northwest Center for Livable Communities, Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies, Urban Ecology Lab, and Urban Form Lab. The school recently established the Cushman Scholarship Fund.

CAG Score 96.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

44,784 Students

7

University of California-Los Angeles

Students earning a Master of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of California Los Angeles are expected to select an area of concentration by the end of their first term, selecting from these options: Community Economic Development and Housing; Design and Development; Environmental Analysis and Policy; Regional and International Development; or Transportation Policy and Planning. Students who do not have a background in planning must complete 300 hours of fieldwork. The program requires students to complete 18 courses and write a thesis or pass comprehensive exams. The department offers international study programs and internships. The Ph.D. program is designed to be flexible, with students allowed to select the classes and research projects that best suit their interests and goals.

CAG Score 96.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

41,845 Students

8

CUNY City College

City College offers a Master of Urban Design program that is delivered as a two-semester, full-time course of study. The main focus of the program is a design studio. In the first semester, students work on a design project for a large New York City site. During the semester break, students visit another city that is facing unique stresses, which have ranged from New Orleans to Hanoi. Students work on a design for the site in the second semester. The program is open to applicants who hold a professional degree in architecture or landscape architecture. Students must take two required courses and two electives each semester.

CAG Score 96.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

15,579 Students

9

Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Community and Regional Planning through its Department of Geography and Planning. Students are required to perform an internship in a professional office to earn their degree. The department also grants a non-thesis Master of Geography with a concentration in Planning that requires students to perform an internship or undertake a directed research project. Grad students can also opt for a Certificate in Planning, which requires 18 credit hours of coursework and emphasizes skills in the geospatial applications of planning. Scholarships available for planning majors include the Robert E. Reiman Planning Scholarship and the ASU Local Government Alumni Association Planning Scholarship.

CAG Score 96.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

18,026 Students

10

Iowa State University

Iowa State's Bachelor of Science in Community and Regional Planning is a professional program covering the theory, methods and applications of planning practice. When possible, studios and other classes work with local communities on real world problems. Students in the program can choose from five focus areas: community development and social policy, ecological and environmental planning, regional and international planning, physical planning and urban design, or transportation and land use. The program is accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board. While not required, students are urged to participate in an internship. Iowa State also offers a Master of Community and Regional Planning that allows students to concentrate in land use and transportation, community design and development, or rural and environmental planning.

CAG Score 96.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

34,435 Students

11

University of Massachusetts Amherst

The two-year Masters in Regional Planning program at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst offers service learning opportunities through a variety of on-campus research centers and interdisciplinary programs, such as the Springfield Design Center, Center for Economic Development, or the Center for Resilient Metro-Region. All of the centers work with communities throughout the region on issues of social planning and economic development. The Master's program is offered through the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning. This allows the program to offer graduate students a certificate in landscape management. Studio courses are a requirement of the Planning Accreditation Board-accredited program. These may be completed on campus or through international courses, such as a climate change field study in Brazil or a tour of urban development in Amsterdam.

CAG Score 96.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

28,635 Students

12

Michigan State University

Michigan State offers a Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Planning, a Master of Urban and Regional Planning, and a Ph.D. in Planning, Design and Construction with a concentration in Urban and Regional Planning. The undergraduate program focuses on practical skills to prepare students for the workplace, including a capstone practicum course where students work with a local community on a planning project. Master's students gain the research and analytical skills needed to be innovative leaders in the field. MURP students can concentrate in areas such as golf course planning, community development, environmental and resource economics, economic development, or urban transportation planning. Students interested in planning law can choose the dual degree option for a MURP and a J.D.

CAG Score 96.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

50,081 Students

13

University of California-Davis

The University of California-Davis offers an Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning major that allows students to take a track in City and Regional Planning. In this track, undergrads gain an understanding of how cities develop and the planning that is necessary to solve problems. Courses required for this program include urban planning and public lands management, transportation planning, and urban politics and community development. The department offers a summer abroad program led by department faculty that investigates the sustainable cities of Northern Europe. Another departmental study abroad program takes students to examine ecological and social issues at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.

CAG Score 96.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

34,508 Students

14

California State Polytechnic University-Pomona

At Cal Poly Pomona, the Department of Urban and Regional Planning is part of the College of Environmental Design. The department offers baccalaureate as well as master's degrees in urban and regional planning. The Bachelor of Science program is accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board and provides students with broad-based classroom instruction as well as substantial field work opportunities. The master's program is accredited by the American Planning Association and offers the following areas of specialization: transportation policy, environmental policy, housing and community development, or land use and design. The department's alumni organization provides several merit- and need-based scholarships (with variable amounts) to urban and regional planning students. The URP Graduate Fellowship Fund provides support for master's thesis projects as funds allow.

CAG Score 96.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

23,966 Students

15

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

The University of North Carolina-Charlotte's Master of Urban Design is a 36-credit graduate program that can be completed in as little as three semesters. The degree is designed for students with a background in architecture, planning, landscape design, or related fields. The curriculum is balanced between studio and seminar classes. Faculty coordinate a five-week travel immersion program that in recent years has included study of high-density urbanism, historic regeneration, and new town movements in multiple cities in China. Research opportunities are provided through the Center for Integrated Building Design Research, the City Building Lab, daylighting and Energy Performance Lab, d-Arts, and Lab for Innovative Housing. Graduate students may qualify for research assistantships ($1,000-$3,000) or teaching assistantships ($1,000-$1,500).

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

27,238 Students

16

University of South Florida-Main Campus

The School of Public Affairs at USF's College of Arts and Sciences offers a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree. Students accepted to this program can choose from the following areas of specialization: housing and community development, land use planning, local economic development, geographic information sciences (GIS), globalization and international development planning, and transportation planning. The curriculum includes coursework in community development planning, urban and metropolitan economic development, research methods for urban and regional planning, and quantitative aids for public managers. Students are given the option of writing a thesis or taking a comprehensive exam in order to graduate from the program. Full-time students can apply for graduate assistantships which include a tuition waiver as well as a stipend.

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

41,938 Students

17

University of California-Berkeley

The urban planning program at the University of California, Berkeley, is built around a mission to improve the ethics, environment and economy of cities and communities by creating spaces that are accessible, enjoyable and sustainable. The Department of City and Regional Planning offers a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies, a Master of City Planning and a Ph.D. of City Planning. The MCP program takes two years and allows students to concentrate in Environmental Planning and Healthy Cities; Housing, Community and Economic Development; Transportation Policy and Planning; and Urban Design. The university offers several concurrent graduate degree programs. The Ph.D. program encourages students to develop a specialty and to seek training in related fields such as architecture or civil engineering.

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

37,565 Students

18

Minnesota State University-Mankato

The Urban and Regional Studies program at Minnesota State University takes an interdisciplinary approach to regional and urban issues by combining class work, research and field work for undergrads who are interested in community development or other planning jobs. Students are also encouraged to take internships, take part in community service projects, undertake independent study and participate in field projects. The major requires students to complete 33 semester hours, including taking four courses in the focus area they choose. Minnesota State also offers an M.A. in Urban Planning, a two-year professional program. The Urban and Regional Studies Institute typically hires three or four graduate assistants a year. The institute also offers tuition scholarships for full-time graduate urban planning students.

CAG Score 95.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

15,387 Students

19

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recognizes that issues of international planning are a vital part of training for urban planning professionals. That is why it offers an integrated transnational planning courses within other areas of specialization. The school offers a Bachelor of Arts, Master, and Ph.D. of Urban Planning, with the BAUP and MUP degrees accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board. Research opportunities and service learning are available through the Land Use Evolution and Impact Assessment Model and Regional Economic Applications Laboratory research centers. Master's students have the option to pursue an area of emphasis in community development for social justice, land use and transportation planning, local and regional economic development, or sustainable design and development.

CAG Score 95.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

45,140 Students

20

University of Idaho

The Master of Science in Bioregional Planning and Community Design at the University of Idaho is an interdisciplinary program to prepare community leaders who can plan for sustainable development, efficient management of natural resources and sustainable quality of life for residents. The program is unique in North America because of its interdisciplinary nature, which involves nine different colleges within the University of Idaho. Students choose a specialty such as regional planning and multi-jurisdictional governance, community design, community and economic development, or transportation and sustainable infrastructure. Students take part in bioregional planning studios, where they work with a regional client, such as a city, on a planning need, putting their skills to work and gaining real-world experience.

CAG Score 95.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

11,702 Students

21

University of Georgia

The Master of Environmental Planning and Design at the University of Georgia emphasizes a studio-based integrative planning process focused on environmental principles. The program creates professionals who can make long-range goals for a region that incorporate community input as well as important cultural, historical and design elements. In each of their four semesters in the program, students take planning classes and participate in a design studio looking at a real world problem that reflects that semester's concentration, such as city, neighborhood or region. The program requires 58 credit hours. Students in the program can work an optional internship. The university's Center for Community Design & Preservation allows students to work on conceptual design projects and historic resource surveys.

CAG Score 95.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

35,197 Students

22

University of Illinois at Chicago

The University of Illinois-Chicago College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs offers advanced study in urban planning and community development through its Master in Urban Planning and Policy. The degree is accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board. Students complete an area of specialization in one of the following: globalization and international planning, economic development, community development, spatial planning and design, urban transportation, or environmental planning and policy. All master's candidates are required to complete an internship and choose a master's project in applied research or a traditional thesis. Eight research centers in the specialization areas support faculty and student research. A foreign exchange program with University College Dublin is also available. Master's students are eligible for the Anna B. Memorial Scholarship ($3,000).

CAG Score 95.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

27,969 Students

23

University at Buffalo

The School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Buffalo offers a 52-credit Master of Urban Planning. The program is open to students who have completed an undergraduate degree in any discipline and offers thesis or professional project options. An interdisciplinary graduate certificate in historic preservation studies and dual degree programs with the Master of Architecture and Law degrees. Students may seek specialization in economic and international development, environmental and land use planning, GIS and spatial analysis, neighborhood planning and community development, or urban design and physical planning, with several research centers on campus to support field work and service learning projects. Financial aid is offered through the Smith Scholarship ($1,000), and the IDeA Center Fellowship.

CAG Score 95.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

29,995 Students

24

SUNY at Albany

SUNY Albany offers a Master of Regional Planning, a two-year program designed to prepare students for a professional planning practice. Students can choose to specialize in one of three areas: Environmental and Land-Use Planning; Housing, Local Economic Development and Community Planning; or Transportation Planning. The interdisciplinary program emphasizes sustainability, public involvement and creativity. Students gain technical skills and have the opportunity to intern and practice their skills in a real-world setting. The program is accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board. Planning students can also enter a joint master's program that allows them to earn an MRP and a law degree. The Department of Geography and Planning also offers an undergraduate major in Urban Studies and Planning.

CAG Score 95.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

17,273 Students

25

Rutgers University

Students seeking the Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP) from Rutgers University choose a concentration such as environmental and physical planning, housing and real estate, transportation policy and planning, international development and regional planning, or urban and community development. By choosing a concentration, students are able to deeply explore specific planning issues they will face as professionals. The program requires 48 credit hours and generally takes students two years of full-time work. Rutgers also offers a Bachelor in Urban Planning and Design, which acquaints students with both the design and planning disciplines. Undergrads must apply for the program after completing several prerequisite courses. Rutgers offers an accelerated program for undergrad majors who want to earn the MCRP.

CAG Score 95.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

48,378 Students

26

University of Southern Maine

The University of Southern Maine offers a Master of Policy, Planning and Management with a concentration in sustainable development and geospatial technologies. The 36-credit degree program requires 18 credits of core courses in subjects such as sustainable development, public finance, public service management and quantitative methods. Specialization course requirements include three core courses: a sustainable development workshop, a course in remote sensing and an introductory GIS or ArcGIS course. Students are also required to complete 18 credits of electives, with course options in urban geography, global planning issues, town design, food planning and natural resource conservation. Students can also complete a one to three-credit internship as an elective. The University also offers a graduate certificate in community planning and development and a minor in planning and GIS.

CAG Score 95.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

8,428 Students

27

San Diego State University

The Master of Urban and Regional Planning at San Diego State University is designed for flexibility so that students can adapt the program to their personal aspirations and interests by taking courses in other departments. The required internship also allows students to match an intern position with their interests and career goals. Students in the program gain skills in design, economic analysis and quantitative techniques. They also learn about fiscal affairs and intergovernmental relationships, preparing them for a job in any section of the economy. To earn the degree, students must complete at least 48 credit hours and write a thesis or pass a comprehensive exam.

CAG Score 95.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

33,483 Students

28

The University of Texas at Arlington

With its location in the heart of the fourth largest metropolitan region in the United States, the University of Texas-Arlington offers a unique opportunity to study issues of urban sprawl, pollution, economic development, equity, and aging infrastructure. The school offers a Master of Community and Regional Planning accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board. Students gain hands-on experience in planning development and design through the Institute of Urban Studies, which helps develop skills in data gathering and analysis, small group facilitation, and report preparation. In addition, the school offers certification in development review, Geographic Information Systems, public budgeting and financial management, and urban non-profit management. Scholarships include the Geisel Endowed Scholarship and the Mebus Public Service Graduate Fellowship.

CAG Score 95.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

39,740 Students

29

University of Colorado Denver

The University of Colorado-Denver sets high goals for students in its Ph.D. program in Design and Planning. The goal of the program is to educate the next generation of leaders in the fields of planning, architecture, and landscape architecture by giving them a critical understanding of the social and political forces that influence their profession. Admission to the program is competitive and based in part on available funding. The university also offers a Master of Urban and Regional Planning in an interdisciplinary program built around three university initiatives: Healthy Communities, Urban Revitalization, and Regional Sustainability. The MURP program is designed to be hands-on, and the Colorado becomes a classroom as students work with planning professionals and local communities.

CAG Score 95.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

22,791 Students

30

California State University-Chico

The California State University Chico offers a Bachelor of Arts in Geography program that allows students to choose from the following two options: human geography or physical and environmental geography. Human geographers study urban and regional planning and take courses in global economic geography, community and rural planning, urban geography, American cultural landscapes, and community service practice in geography. CSU Chico also offers a certificate in rural and town planning as well as a minor in planning and development. Students can apply for a number of scholarship opportunities, including the Robert and Bobbe Christopherson Geosystems Award in Climate Change (undergraduate students), the Robert Russell Erving Scholarship (graduate students), and the David W. Lantis Geography Scholarship (seniors). Award amounts for these scholarships vary.

CAG Score 95.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

17,287 Students

31

The University of Texas at Austin

Students seeking a Master's or Ph.D. in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Texas-Austin will enter a small program of about 100 students. The school has a student-faculty ratio of 9 to 1, allowing for a great deal of mentorship and guidance. The program's focus is sustainable development processes and practices that help to balance growth with environmental and population equity. The Center for Sustainable Development supports these efforts through ongoing research, and provides employment opportunities for graduate research assistants. The curriculum requires students complete an intensive planning practicum and coursework in an area of specialization, such as social and economic equity or historic preservation. Graduate students may apply for posts as teaching or research assistants.

CAG Score 95.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

51,313 Students

32

Westfield State University

The Geography and Regional Planning Department at Westfield State University offers a foundation in geographic theory and hands-on learning in its Bachelor of Science in Regional Planning degree. Students may choose a degree concentration in environmental planning or urban and social justice. A certificate in Geographic Information Systems is also offered. Students take part in internships, independent study, and capstone research projects. They also engage the campus and wider community in collaborative projects, such as helping to create community revitalization plans. The school's Environmental Planning Club organizes a sustainability event on campus each year and a geocaching club offers extracurricular activities. Each year, the department presents the Kelly Award in Regional Planning ($1,000) and awards the Regional Planning Scholarship.

CAG Score 95.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

6,321 Students

33

University of Central Florida

The urban planning programs at the University of Central Florida emphasize sustainability and socially responsible planning. The university offers a Master of Science in Urban and Regional Planning that allows students to concentrate in environmental planning, health and human services planning, or transportation planning. The program takes an interdisciplinary approach, as faculty with expertise in areas such as engineering, sociology and health administration lead classes. Students can enroll in the 48-credit-hour program on a part-time basis, taking two classes a semester for eight semesters. UCF also offers a Graduate Certificate in Urban and Regional Planning, a 15-credit-hour program. Undergraduates may minor in Urban and Regional Planning by completing seven core classes.

CAG Score 95.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

60,767 Students

34

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

The Master of Community and Regional Planning program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln does not require a specific undergraduate degree but welcomes those who have a background in social sciences, statistics, and economics. The program offers the option of completing a thesis, a professional project, or a comprehensive written and oral exam. Students can specialize in environmental studies, Great Plains studies, or water resources planning and management, and a graduate certificate in public management is available. Established study abroad programs are offered in seven countries, though students may also propose a unique international experience. The school offers the Clark K. Independent Grocer Community Planning and Design Fund for a research project and the Mutunayagam Memorial Fellowship Fund.

CAG Score 95.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

25,006 Students

35

The University of Texas at San Antonio

The University of Texas at San Antonio offers a Master of Science in Urban and Regional Planning. The goal of this program is to prepare students for careers and leadership roles in public and private sectors with the intent to plan and design communities as well as regions. This program is a collaboration of the Department of Public Administration in the College of Public Policy and the College of Architecture, Construction, and Planning. Students in this program will take courses such as Community Planning and Design, History and Theory of Urban and Regional Planning, and Land Use Policy.

CAG Score 95.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

28,628 Students

36

East Carolina University

The Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Planning at East Carolina University requires 33 credit hours of classes covering theory, methods, law, design, geographic information systems and environmental planning. Students take nine credit hours of electives in an area of emphasis, either coastal planning or community planning. During their senior year, planning majors take part in an applied planning studio and write a capstone professional paper. Internships are encouraged and academic credit may be available. For graduate students who want to study planning, the university offers a Master of Arts in Geography with a Planning Concentration and a Master in Public Administration with a Planning Concentration, as well as a four-course certificate in development and environmental planning.

CAG Score 95.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

27,511 Students

37

Western Michigan University

Western Michigan University's Department of Geography offers a Bachelor of Science in Community and Regional Planning and a Master of Science in Geography with a concentration in community and regional planning. The B.S. in Community and Regional Planning requires 32 credits of core courses in subjects like planning theory, history, techniques, methods, ethics, law and administration. Students are also required to complete 25 credits of cognate courses in statistics and the social sciences. Additionally, students complete 12 credits in one of five specializations: environmental analysis and resource management, local economic development, tourism development and planning, local government or application of geographic techniques to planning. The M.S. in Geography with a concentration in community and regional planning requires 36 credits of coursework, including five community development and planning courses.

CAG Score 95.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

23,914 Students

38

Wayne State University

The Department of Urban Studies and Planning at Wayne State University offers a Master of Urban Planning degree that prepares students to become urban planners for local governments, planning consultancies and community based organizations. The M.U.P. degree is a 48-credit program that offers three concentrations: housing and community development, urban economic development, and managing metropolitan growth. The program curriculum includes 23 credits of core courses, 9 to 12 credits of concentration courses and 7 to 12 credits of capstone coursework. To fulfill the capstone requirement, each student must complete a studio/workshop course and final paper, which can be in the form of a master's essay or master's thesis. Most of the classes in the M.U.P. program are held once per week, either in the evening or on a Saturday.

CAG Score 94.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

27,578 Students

39

Kansas State University

Through its College of Architecture, Planning and Design, Kansas State University offers a Master of Regional and Community Planning, a Master of Science in Community Development and an undergraduate minor in community planning. The Master of Regional and Community Planning is available in two tracks of study. The five-year track is designed for recent high school graduates or those who have not earned a bachelor's degree, and the two-year track is designed for those who already hold a bachelor's degree. Both programs are accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB). The 36-credit M.S. in Community Development is an online, collaborative degree offered through a partnership between KSU's Department of Landscape Architecture/Regional and Community Planning and the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance.

CAG Score 94.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

24,766 Students

40

San Jose State University

The Department of Urban and Regional Planning at San Jose State University's College of Social Sciences offers a minor in urban studies, as well as the following certificate programs: applications of technology in planning, community design and development, environmental planning, real estate development, and transportation and land use planning. On the graduate level, the department offers a Master of Urban Planning (MUP) program. To accommodate the schedules of students who are also working full time, classes meet in the evenings (after 4 pm) once a week. MUP students can apply for a number of scholarship opportunities including the California Planning Foundation (CPF) Scholarships and the Don and Ann Rothblatt Scholarship. Award amounts for these scholarship programs vary from year to year.

CAG Score 94.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

32,713 Students

41

Ball State University

The College of Architecture and Planning at Ball State University offers a Bachelor of Urban Planning and Development degree that is accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board of the American Collegiate Schools of Planning. A Master of Urban and Regional Planning programs is also available. This program has two tracks: a 48-credit-hour standard track, for students without a bachelor's degree in planning; and a 36-credit-hour accelerated track, for students with an undergraduate degree in planning. Students can choose between two available concentration areas - sustainable and comprehensive planning or economic development, or craft an individualized area of concentration. The Architecture and Planning Scholarship and the C. Eugene and Maybelle E. Hamilton Memorial Scholarship supports qualified urban planning students (variable award amounts).

CAG Score 94.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

20,655 Students

42

Arizona State University

Arizona State University offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in urban planning, including an accelerated program that results in a Bachelor of Science in Urban Planning and a Master of Urban and Environmental Planning (MUEP). The undergraduate program focuses on planning analysis and presentation of information, and students may specialize in local neighborhoods, public participation, housing, environmental quality, hazardous waste, contemporary legal issues, or preservation planning. The MUEP is a professional, interdisciplinary program preparing students to work in the private or public sector. Students in the Ph.D. in Urban Planning program do research in areas including transportation planning and policy; urban design and sustainable cities; and spatial and economic analysis. Departmental scholarships include the Matthew G. Bailey Scholarship Award.

CAG Score 94.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

50,320 Students

43

University of Oregon

The University of Oregon offers a Master of Community and Regional Planning, which instructs policy-oriented planners who are seeking positions of leadership within the nonprofit, public, and private sectors. For example, many graduates of this program become environmental planners, emergency services directors, planning consultants, private developers, or employees of economic development corporations. The program takes two years to complete, and it enrolls around 25 - 30 students annually. The program features applied learning opportunities like the Community Planning Workshop, which requires students to work on real projects for paying clients, as well as the Sustainable Cities Initiative, which helps students to plan more sustainable cities.

CAG Score 94.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

24,096 Students

44

University of Oklahoma Norman Campus

The University of Oklahoma-Norman allows students in the Master of Regional and City Planning program flexibility in course selection to tailor courses to individual interests. The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning-accredited program offers a thesis option, with 48 credits required, or a non-these option of 50 credits with a learning portfolio requirement. Those taking the non-thesis route are encouraged to complete an internship or directed reading course during a summer semester. Two specializations are offered, physical planning and community and economic development and students may combine their master's degree with a Master of Business Administration, Master of Landscape Architecture, Master of Architecture or Juris Doctor degrees. Scholarships include the Flex-Ability Concepts Scholarship and the Buskuhl Scholarship.

CAG Score 94.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

27,261 Students

45

Florida State University

Florida State University offers a Master of Science in Planning to prepare students for careers as specialists or generalists in the field of planning and a Ph.D. in Planning to prepare students for a role as a teacher or researcher in the field. Students in the master's program select one or more areas of specialization such as Environmental Planning and Natural Resource Management; Housing and Community Development; Land Use and Comprehensive Planning; Planning for Community Health; Planning for Developing Areas; or Transportation Planning. They also complete an internship that requires 400 hours of work in a professional setting and complete a capstone project. FSU also offers an accelerated MSP program for undergrads in any major.

CAG Score 94.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

41,226 Students

46

Metropolitan State University of Denver

Metropolitan State University of Denver offers a Bachelor of Art in Land Use with a concentration in Urban Land Use Planning. The program requires 65 credit hours earned in the Land Use program, including 17 credit hours of core courses. Urban Land Use Planning majors take 46 credit hours of classes in the concentration area, including topics such as residential and recreational land use patterns, environmental policy, and transportation planning. Graduates will be prepared to enter the job market or to go on to graduate school. The program is offered through Metropolitan State's Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

CAG Score 94.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

21,674 Students

47

Texas State University-San Marcos

Texas State University-San Marcos offers a Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Planning and a Master of Applied Geography through its Department of Geography. Applied geography includes the sub-fields of land use, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), environmental management, location analysis, and transportation systems. Undergraduate students have the option to earn certificates in GIS, environmental interpretation, location analysis, and water resources policy. Master's students choose a concentration area in land management, resource and environmental studies, or geographic information science. Research and community engagement activities are offered through The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science, and the James and Marilyn Lovell Center for Environmental Geography and Hazards Research. Teaching and research fellowships are available.

CAG Score 94.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

36,739 Students

48

New Jersey Institute of Technology

The New Jersey Institute of Technology's School of Architecture offers a Master of Infrastructure Planning and a Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Systems. The M.I.P. program requires 36 credits of coursework and is designed for students who already hold degrees in architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning or similar disciplines. The M.I.P. is a studio-based program that takes a year to complete and teaches students how to apply progressive design strategies to urban environments. The Ph.D. in Urban Systems is a 48-credit program that offers specializations in urban environment studies, urban health systems and urban educational policy. Additionally, many dual degree program options are available, including a B.S. in Architecture/Master of Infrastructure Planning and a Master of Infrastructure Planning/Ph.D. in Urban Systems.

CAG Score 94.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

10,646 Students

49

Central Michigan University

Central Michigan University's Geography Department offers a concentration in Environmental and Land Use Planning that prepares students for an entry-level position in a regional planning agency or environmental agency. Students in this program can earn a B.A. or a B.S. They are required to complete 36 credit hours of classes in the major and concentration area, including courses in geographic information systems and land use planning. The Geography Department offers small classes, field trips, and the opportunity to work with professors on research projects. Departmental scholarships include the C.W. Olmstead Award in Geography and the Charles Warren and Denzil Slentz Thornthwaite Scholarship.

CAG Score 94.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

26,879 Students

50

University of Memphis

The University of Memphis offers a Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP) degree through the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy. The core curriculum consists of coursework in the following: land use controls, planning theory and perspectives, analysis for community planning, site planning, and planning and the metro economy. Students can select electives to customize their learning experience. Electives are available in several areas, including housing and community development planning, urban design, and environmental planning. MCRP students can pursue a graduate certificate at the same time as their master's degree in areas such as population health, geographic information systems, and local government management. Urban studies is offered as an area of concentration in the Bachelor of Professional Studies degree.

CAG Score 94.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

21,059 Students

Employing a multidisciplinary approach, planners develop programs and plans for the use of land in rural and urban spaces. Urban planners may be involved in creating new housing developments, schools, and parks; assessing proposals for manufacturing facilities; preserving historic districts; implementing innovative transportation solutions; or revitalizing downtown neighborhoods. With every project, they must take into account factors such as budget constraints, environmental issues, and the social impact of their decisions. Their job is to make the best use of land and resources for the communities they serve.

If this sounds like your kind of career, we’re here to help. In our short guide to affordable planning programs, you’ll find all kinds of information on degrees, accreditations, and certifications. Here you can explore your bachelor degree options, learn why a master’s degree is important, and decide whether AICP certification is right for you. As a bonus, we’ve also included a list of useful sites for planning professionals.

Types of Planning Degrees

Associate’s Degree in Planning

An associate’s degree in planning is a 2-year undergraduate program that provides students with a grounding in basic planning subjects. In addition to general education, your courses might cover areas such as computer graphics, codes/zoning/inspections, geographic information science, and environment/sustainability. Associate degrees are often offered at a reasonable price from community colleges. A high school diploma or GED is required to apply.

Associate degree programs in urban planning are rare, and are usually intended to help you earn credits for a bachelor’s degree. If you’re lucky, you may be able to find work as a planning technician or site planning assistant, but to get anywhere in the profession you will need a higher degree. If you’re aiming for a bachelor’s, make sure your credits will be transferable to the BA or BS of your choice.

Bachelor’s Degree in Planning

A bachelor’s degree in planning is a 4-year program that grounds students in both the theory and practice of urban/city planning. You’ll find planning programs in architecture schools, design schools, public policy schools, and even geography departments. A high school diploma or GED is required to apply.

Although there are a few entry-level positions open to baccalaureate graduates, most students earn a bachelor’s in order to advance to graduate work. A master’s degree is the standard requirement for jobs in the field of planning.

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) maintains a list of schools with undergraduate planning programs. For quality assurance, you can also check if the program has PAB accreditation.

Degree Options

Since urban planning is a multidisciplinary field, you have a lot of options when it comes to your degree. The standard choices are the:

  • Bachelor of Planning (BPlan)
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Urban Planning
  • Bachelor of Science (BS) in Urban Planning

However, you may also wish to consider related degree titles such as:

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Geography with an Emphasis on Urban Planning
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Geography and Sociology
  • Bachelor of Science (BS) in Architectural Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Environmental Design

Different degrees have different emphases. For example, a planning degree from an architecture school may concentrate on physical planning and design. A degree from a public policy school may be concerned with sociology, public policy, and administration. For advice on which area is right for you, check out the APA’s breakdown of 20 planning divisions.

Sample Coursework

Since planning students typically go on to graduate work, most universities aim for an broad, interdisciplinary approach in the bachelor’s. The standard curriculum for the BPlan includes general education prerequisites and core courses related to planning. For example, you could be taking classes in the history and theory of urban planning, engineering, urban design, ethics, statistics, land use, urban ecology, sustainability planning, growth management, community development, and/or site planning.

In your third and fourth years, you will often be allowed to concentrate in a specific area of interest (e.g. geographic information systems (GIS), international development, historic preservation, etc.). Look for programs that incorporate studio/lab sessions, internships, and fieldwork experiences. These will help prepare you for your future career.

Career Options

It can be tough to find a job with a bachelor’s degree in planning. Most positions require a master’s degree, although you may be able to work as an assistant or junior planner while you earn money for graduate school.

Master’s Degree in Planning

A master’s degree in planning is a 2-year graduate program that is intended to prepare students for a career in planning. Although a bachelor’s degree is necessary, you don’t need to have a BPlan in order to apply for a master’s program. Many schools will consider students who have degrees in related fields such as geography, architecture, political science, public policy, sociology, and environmental design.

A master’s degree and ~1 year of professional experience (e.g. internships) are the standard requirements for planning practitioners. 

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) maintains a list of schools with graduate planning programs. For quality assurance, you can also check if the program has PAB accreditation.

Degree Options

When it comes to choosing a master’s degree, you’re going to be overwhelmed with choice. Common titles include:

  • Master of Urban Planning (MUP)
  • Master of City Planning (MCP)
  • Master of Community Planning (MCP)
  • Master of Regional Planning (MRP)
  • Master of Town Planning (MTP)
  • Master of Planning (MPlan)
  • Master of Environmental Planning (MEP)
  • Master of Arts (MA) in Planning
  • Master of Science (MS) in Planning

All of these are generally considered to be professional master’s degree programs – i.e. the highest qualification you need to apply for professional planning positions.

You also have the option to consider a related degree with a planning focus. For example, if you’re interested in government work, you may wish to consider the:

  • Master of Public Policy Administration (MPPA)
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA)

There are also joint degree programs where you can combine a master’s in planning with a degree in law, engineering, public policy, health management, or a related field. As always, we recommend you talk to your graduate adviser and your professional mentors about which degree is right for your career goals.

Sample Coursework

Coursework will depend on your choice of degree and concentration. For example, in an urban planning program, you may be studying urban revitalization, urban economics, sustainability issues, transportation policy, and housing and real estate. In a rural planning program, you may investigating issues related to agriculture and the environment. Having said that, most programs will include foundation classes in areas such as the history and theory of planning, statistics, planning law, and data analysis.

You won’t be spending all of your time in class. A good chunk will be spent in lab work, internships, and fieldwork. Internships and experience with real-world planning projects are particularly valuable when it comes to applying for jobs after graduation. You will also be expected to conduct independent research and present your findings in a thesis or capstone project in your final year.

Career Options

With a master’s degree and strong work experience, you’re in a good position for careers. In addition to local and state government agencies, you may wish to consider working for non-profit organizations, architecture practices, law firms, consulting firms, or real estate developers. The majority of urban and regional planners end up in local government.

Sample job titles for master’s graduates include:

  • Transportation Planner
  • Natural Resource Manager
  • Tribal Planner
  • Land Use & Code Enforcement Planner
  • Urban Design Planner
  • Economic Development Planner
  • Housing Policy & Projects Planner
  • Economic Development Specialist
  • Historic Preservation Officer

Doctoral Degree in Planning

A PhD in Planning is a 4-7 year graduate program intended for planners who wish to teach at the university level or pursue a career in high-level research and/or public policy. Unlike the master’s degree, which is aimed at professional training, the PhD is focused on research and scholarly investigation. You do not need a PhD in order to qualify for planning jobs.

PhD programs are not accredited by PAB. However, the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) maintains a list of schools that offer PhD planning programs.

Certificate in Planning

A certificate in planning is a non-degree, academic program that takes approximately 6 months-1 year to complete. Most certificates in planning are offered at the graduate level, to students who already hold a bachelor’s degree. You may wish to earn a certificate in order to fulfill continuing education requirements, amass course credits for a master’s, specialize in a particular area (e.g. real estate development, landscape development, etc.), or hone your skills.

Important Accreditations

Regional Accreditation

Overall, we recommend you attend a regionally accredited college or university. Regional accreditation is a “seal of approval” granted to institutions by one of 6 regional accrediting bodies (e.g. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools).

You can learn more about the difference between national accreditation and regional accreditation in: Accreditation: Understanding the Difference Between Real Schools and Diploma Mills.

Benefits of Regional Accreditation

By attending a regionally accredited school, you will find it easier to:

  • Transfer credits (many regionally accredited schools don’t accept credits from nationally accredited institutions)
  • Qualify for scholarships, funding, student loan, and tuition reimbursement
  • Apply for respected graduate schools
  • Look good in the eyes of headhunters and recruiters

Remember that regional accreditation is given to an overall institution. To see if the planning program is accredited, you should look for PAB accreditation as well.

Planning Accreditation Board

The Planning Accreditation Board (PAB) is the sole body that accredits university programs in North America that offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees in planning. Every year, the PAB reviews new programs and decides whether they meet certain standards for the profession. These standards have been created with input from the public and the American Planning Association (APA), the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP).

Do you need to go to a PAB-accredited program in order to get a job? No. However, it tells prospective employers that you have:

  • Knowledge in areas such as the structure and functions of urban settlements; the history and theory of planning processes and practices; the administrative, legal, and political aspects of plan-making and policy implementation; and a specialization of your choice
  • Skills in quantitative analysis and computers, problem formulation and solving, plan-making and program design, ethics, communication, and application of knowledge to practice

In addition, graduates of a PAB-accredited program can take the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) certification exam earlier in their careers than students from non-accredited programs.

Find a PAB-accredited professional program.

Licensure & Certification

State Licensure

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

“As of 2012, New Jersey was the only state that required planners to be licensed, although Michigan required registration to use the title ‘community planner.'”

You can learn more about these licensing processes from New Jersey’s State Board of Professional Planners and Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

AICP Certification

Once you have your degree in hand, you might consider becoming board certified through the APA’s professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). You’ll often see these initials after the job titles of professional planners. Some employers like to see AICP certification, since it tells them that you have met certain schooling/experience requirements and have mastered a set of planning skills.

How to Become AICP-Certified

In order to earn AICP certification, you must:

  • Be a current member of the American Planning Association (APA)
  • Be engaged in professional planning, either currently or in the past, as defined by AICP
  • Have completed one of the combinations of education and corresponding years of professional planning experience (listed on the AICP site)
  • Pass the AICP Comprehensive Planning Examination
  • Pay AICP dues
  • Maintain your certification every 2 years through continuing education

AICP also offers Advanced Specialty Certification in transportation planning, environmental planning, and urban design.

AICP certification is a great planning credential, but you may not need it for a job. For instance, if you’re interested in running a large planning agency, you may wish to focus your attention on law, public policy, and business management. Talk to your mentors about your options. Regardless of your choice, you should still consider becoming a member of the American Planning Association (APA). This is a major networking hub for planners.

Helpful Planning Organizations

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