43 Best Urban Planning Schools (2022)

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.

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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.

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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. 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 a 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.
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.

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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.

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.

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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 inquantitative 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.

State Licensure

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

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“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.

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Helpful Planning Organizations

FAQs

Where is the best place to study urban planning? ›

Here are the top 15 of the Urban Planning Masters.
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Delft University of Technology.
  • UCL.
  • Harvard University.
  • University of California, Berkeley (UCB)
  • Politecnico di Milano.
  • Manchester School of Architecture.
  • University of Cambridge.

What major is best for urban planning? ›

Most urban planners complete a bachelor's degree program in economics, geography, environmental studies, or political science.

Is there a lot of math in urban planning? ›

Urban designers use math as they design the arrangement, appearance, and functionality of towns and cities, and in particular, the shaping and uses of safe public space. Also, urban designers use mathematical models to forecast the future needs of a group of people.

Is urban planning a good career? ›

Job Outlook

Employment of urban and regional planners is projected to grow 4 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

What is a RTPI accredited degree? ›

The RTPI works in partnership with universities to develop and accredit professional planning qualifications to put graduates on track to become a Chartered Town Planner. A number of universities also offer RTPI bursaries and the degree apprenticeship programme (England only).

What is urban design in architecture? ›

Urban design determines the physical scale, space and ambience of a place and establishes the built and natural forms within which individual buildings and infrastructure are sited. As such, it affects the balance between natural ecosystems and built environments,and their sustainability outcomes.

What is the future of Urban Planning? ›

URBAN PLANNING WILL BE HUMAN-CENTRIC

To create flourishing cities of the future, designers will address issues like public health and community building. Creating vibrant downtown districts, mixed-use spaces, human-powered and intermodal transit systems, and green spaces are all critical to this goal.

Why do people study Urban Planning? ›

Why Study Urban Planning? An urban planning degree allows students to use both engineering and sociological skills as they study the interaction between how cities and neighborhoods are planned and the subsequent impact on the world around them.

What skills do planners need? ›

Top 5 skills planners need to succeed in 2021 and beyond
  • Communication skills. Strong written and verbal communication skills are top priorities on every job description we receive. ...
  • The ability to multitask. ...
  • Commercial awareness. ...
  • Project management skills. ...
  • Problem solving skills.
12 May 2021

Do urban planners use calculus? ›

calculus can be useful in urban planning . . .

It won't hurt any would-be planner to take a one-semester basic course in calculus as I did but it definitely should be considered an optional addition to algebra and statistics.

Do you have to be good at math to be an urban planner? ›

Therefore, it's important to possess excellent communication, leadership and interpersonal skills, as well as a high proficiency in geography, mathematics, political science, economics, architecture, engineering and environmental studies if you're considering a career in urban planning.

Do you need maths to be a town planner? ›

You could complete a Level 3 Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment, a Level 3 Diploma in Civil Engineering, or a T Level in Design Surveying and Planning to help you on your journey to becoming a town planner. You'll need 4-5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English and maths, or equivalent.

Where do urban planners get paid the most? ›

Urban Planning Salary and Locations

The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the District of Columbia, where planners earn a median salary of just over $109,370, as the top-paying region in the United States followed by California, where the median income is $95,060, and New York, where average mean income is $87,520.

Who is the most famous urban planner? ›

1. Rem Koolhaas. Rem Koolhas, the Pritzker Prize laureate of 2000, is a revolutionary Dutch architect, urban planner, journalist, and urban essayist who is well-known in the architectural world.

Is urban planning stressful? ›

Not only is the job challenging, but being an urban planner can be stressful. As Glenn puts it, “you always have to worry about politics. If the mayor gets voted out, you don't know if you're staying.

Is licentiate a degree? ›

A licentiate (abbreviated Lic.) is an academic degree present in many countries, representing different educational levels. It may be similar to a master's degree when issued by pontifical universities and other universities in Europe, Latin America, and Syria. The term is also used for a person who holds this degree.

What is a chartered town planner? ›

Chartered Town Planners are professionals who work to achieve sustainable development. This means they shape the towns, cities or villages we live in by balancing the needs of people and business for homes, jobs, local facilities and open spaces with impacts on the wider environment.

Is Urban and Regional Planning a science course? ›

Urban and Regional Planning is the art and science of ordering land use development for the social, economic and political benefits of the population. It is concerned with formulation, design implementation and monitoring of development policy through spatial planning at the local, regional and national levels.

What are the 3 components of urban design? ›

As for the elements of urban design, these are more related to the physical and built form and consist of: 1) buildings; 2) public spaces; 3) streets; 4) transport; and 5) landscape (see Figure 1).

Which is better urban planning or urban design? ›

“Urban design focuses more on the shape and form of spaces, as well as people's experiences of a place. Urban planning focuses on how these spaces function in an effective way to make people's lives better.

Which is better architecture or planning? ›

Planning is better has crossed the paths of every student at least once in their lifetime. Due to the fact that the syllabus for B. Arch and B. Planning in JEE Main exam is almost the same, many feel that nothing noticeable difference can be spotted between these two.

What will cities look like in 2050? ›

Cities will continue to expand, with more skyscrapers being built as millions head to large cities for employment and career prospects. Climate change will also have a huge impact, as many will be forced out of coastal towns due to flooding. It's possible that one billion people could be displaced by 2050.

What will smart cities look like? ›

In the future, cities may see flying vehicles, mega bridges, super-connected street experiences, and underground spaces. Those futuristic cities will be powered by big data, the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence – so they may live, breathe, and even think with us.

What are smart cities? ›

A smart city is a municipality that uses information and communication technologies (ICT) to increase operational efficiency, share information with the public and improve both the quality of government services and citizen welfare.

What are the disadvantages of urban planning? ›

1)In a long term, the urban plan is not efficient as it was meant to be because of the increasing population in urban areas. Busy towns or cities can feel crowded and can result in more stress or pressure for an individual. 2)Public transport might not be as reliable as it was supposed to be.

How do I start a career in urban planning? ›

Most urban and regional planners have a master's degree from an accredited urban or regional planning program. Candidates with a bachelor's degree typically need work experience in planning, public policy, or a related field. Master's degree programs accept students with a wide range of undergraduate backgrounds.

Is an urban planner an architect? ›

While architects do design buildings, urban planners influence entire communities with decisions about how areas are developed and even where buildings can be placed. So, how do you decide whether urban planning or architecture is the best fit for you?

What kind of person is a planner? ›

The Planner personality style is organized, prepared, and dependable. Planners seek order and fairness. They crave consistency and things in their place. If the Planner personality style is your dominant style, you are naturally able to distinguish right from wrong.

What qualifications do you need to be a planner? ›

You'll need:
  • knowledge of English language.
  • knowledge of geography.
  • the ability to work well with others.
  • analytical thinking skills.
  • excellent verbal communication skills.
  • persistence and determination.
  • ambition and a desire to succeed.
  • business management skills.

What are the six stages in the planning process? ›

The six steps are:
  • Step 1 - Identifying problems and opportunities.
  • Step 2 - Inventorying and forecasting conditions.
  • Step 3 - Formulating alternative plans.
  • Step 4 - Evaluating alternative plans.
  • Step 5 - Comparing alternative plans.
  • Step 6 - Selecting a plan.

Which of the following is a Sanskrit text about Indian mathematics *? ›

Bakhshali Manuscript. The oldest extant mathematical manuscript in India is the Bakhshali Manuscript, a birch bark manuscript written in "Buddhist hybrid Sanskrit" in the Śāradā script, which was used in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent between the 8th and 12th centuries CE.

What is being an urban planner like? ›

Urban planners create and implement land development strategies while accomplishing goals like cultivating communities and encouraging growth. They develop plans for neighborhoods, towns, cities and counties. Some specialize in areas like public transportation or historic preservation.

What can you do with a masters in Urban Planning? ›

After graduating Urbam Planning, students find work as urban planners, conservation officers, housing officers, transport planners, local government officers, etc. Check out our list of Master's degrees in Urban Planning. Keep in mind you can also study an online Masters in Urban Planning.

How do you become an urban designer? ›

Qualifications in Urban Design

A university undergraduate degree in any subject relating to the built environment or spatial design is a good start. The best subjects to study are architecture, town planning, landscape architecture, geography, engineering.

Do you need a Masters to be a town planner? ›

Qualifications. An RTPI-accredited degree is usually required, and some organisations may require a master's degree in urban planning or a related field. You will also need a full and clean driving licence.

Do you need geography for urban planning? ›

Knowledge of geography is essential for an urban planner. With GIS, map data is coded in a variety of ways. Residential, commercial, or industrial parcels of land are assigned their own special code.

Is urban planning a high paying job? ›

Employees who knows Urban Planning earn an average of ₹24lakhs, mostly ranging from ₹10lakhs per year to ₹50lakhs per year based on 61 profiles. The top 10% of employees earn more than ₹38lakhs per year.

Is urban planning similar to civil engineering? ›

Urban planners work with civil engineers to envision the future of cities, regions and the state. While most urban planners are not civil engineers, it's important that they understand their interconnected issues. Students trained in both fields are in high demand.

What is the highest paying occupation? ›

The highest-paying job in the world, in a traditional sense, holds the number one spot in this article: anesthesiologist. They are also the only job listed above $300,000 a year.

Who is the father of urban planning? ›

John Friedmann, the 'Father of Urban Planning,' Dies at 91 World-renowned urban theorist was a central figure in founding what later became the UCLA Luskin Department of Urban Planning.

Who is the father of city planning? ›

Traditionally, the Greek philosopher Hippodamus (5th century BC) is regarded as the first town planner and 'inventor' of the orthogonal urban layout. Aristotle called him "the father of city planning", and until well into the 20th century, he was indeed regarded as such.

Is urban planning a hard major? ›

It takes a lot of hard work and skill to be a successful urban planner. Becoming a city planner requires several years of undergraduate and postgraduate education in an urban planning major.

Do urban planners enjoy their job? ›

Urban planners are about average in terms of happiness. At CareerExplorer, we conduct an ongoing survey with millions of people and ask them how satisfied they are with their careers. As it turns out, urban planners rate their career happiness 3.1 out of 5 stars which puts them in the bottom 43% of careers.

What do city planners wear? ›

When we met with planners for one city government, they always were dressed in business formal wear; full suits with ties and button-down dress shirts. I found that dress codes for larger municipalities tend to be more formal than for smaller municipalities, and less formal for counties than for cities.

Is Urban Studies a social science? ›

The core theoretical and methodological concerns of the urban studies field come from the social science disciplines of history, economics, sociology, geography, political science, anthropology, and the professional fields of urban planning, architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design.

What is international urban planning? ›

As an international urban planner, you work abroad and can specialize in multiple aspects of urban planning, including public transportation, environmental and natural resources, economic development, land use, and code enforcement. Your plans must be coordinated with the local municipality.

Is urban planning considered engineering? ›

Career Paths

Urban planners work with civil engineers to envision the future of cities, regions and the state. While most urban planners are not civil engineers, it's important that they understand their interconnected issues. Students trained in both fields are in high demand.

Why do people study urban studies? ›

A major in urban studies will provide you with an understanding of cities, the processes of urbanization, and urban life and society that will serve you well no matter what your career or educational goals.

Is urban studies the same as urban planning? ›

Urban Studies is an academic concentration that is made up of a variety of disciplines. The major, sometimes called Urban and Environmental Planning (depending on the institution), covers history, sociology, humanities, business and other facets critical to a well rounded education.

Who invented urban planning? ›

Hippodamus of Miletus, ancient Greek architect, mathematician, philosopher, and meteorologist, is credited with being the “Father” of urban planning.

What is urban planning degree? ›

This Urban Planning degree focuses on the built environment and how it's developed. You'll develop a thorough understanding of planning processes, design awareness and housing policy so you're equipped to pursue a career in town planning.

When did urban planning start? ›

Urban planning emerged as a scholarly discipline in the 1900s. In Great Britain the first academic planning program began at the University of Liverpool in 1909, and the first North American program was established at Harvard University in 1924.

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