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50 Great Value Colleges for Urban Studies

Great Value Colleges - Urban Studies

There is rising popularity of an urban planning degree at both the bachelor’s and master’s degree levels. Urban planning education includes urban theory, studies, and professional practices. Degree choices can range from urban planning programs in urban, city, or regional planning, depending on the school. Most graduates go on to serve on a city planning council, commission, or board. Others choose to pursue doctoral studies as well. All these degrees teach students how to interact with professional planners, public officials, and the public. 

Urban planning degree programs are typically housed in larger departments. These could be an architecture school, a geography department, a design school, or a public policy instead of planning schools. One reason is that these planning programs are usually small. But also, their interdisciplinary nature forms a good blend with the other programs. If they are part of architecture schools, they focus on physical planning and design. If they are in policy schools, they tend to focus on policy and administration.

Urban planning is a broad and interdisciplinary field. It emphasizes subject matter expertise, communication skills as well as knowledge of governance. The core coursework provides a strong background for all areas of planning. Core courses include coursework in urban design, history/theory of urban planning, urban economics, statistics, land use/planning law, and planning practice. Students can choose to concentrate on a specific area of interest within planning. These include:

  • Land use
  • Housing
  • Transportation planning
  • Community development
  • Environmental planning
  • Economic development
  • International development
  • Historic preservation
  • Urban design
  • Real estate
  • Geographic information systems (GIS)

Urban planning bachelor’s degree programs train students in engineering, designing, managing, and resolving urban human settlements’ challenges. They learn about the techniques and theories related to settlement design. Urban planning master’s programs qualify graduates to work as urban planners and are often considered the terminal degree in the field. Since this is a practice-based subject, thesis, final project, or capstone project and an internship component are almost always mandatory. 

The degrees listed here are:

Bachelor Degree Programs

  • Urban Studies B.A.
  • Urban Studies BS
  • Community and environmental planning B.S.
  • Bachelor- Urban + Environmental Planning
  • Urban Studies & Planning B.A.
  • Urban Studies & Planning BS
  • BS in Urban and Regional Planning
  • Urban and Community Studies BA
  • BS in Urban and Regional development 
  • Community, Environment, and Planning, B.A.
  • B.S. in Geography Urban & Regional Planning
  • B.A. in Urban Policy and Planning 
  • B.A. Urban Regional Studies 
  • Urban and Regional Studies (B.S.)
  • Urban Planning and Design BA
  • BS in Community and Regional Planning

Master Degree Programs

  • Master’s in Urban & Regional Planning
  • MS Urban Planning 
  • Master of Urban Planning (MUP)
  • Master’s in Sustainable Urban Planning
  • MA in Sustainable Urban Development 
  • Master in Urban Planning and Policy 
  • Master of Regional and City Planning 
  • Master’s in City & Regional Planning
  • Master of Regional & Community Planning 
  • Online MURP
  • Regional Planning (MRP) 
  • M.S. Bioregional Planning and Community Design 
  • Master of Urban Design
  • Master of Urban Planning and Design 
  • Master of Community and Regional Planning (MCRP) 

In this article, we have researched and reviewed the schools that offer accredited and recognized urban planning degrees. We zeroed down to the top 25 schools that provide comprehensive urban planning bachelor’s degree programs in the field. Then we looked at the top 25 that offer urban planning master’s programs. We have considered the program offerings, school, program accreditation, faculty profiles, affordability, and internship opportunities. The programs are ranked based on cost. 

Tuition

  • Net Price Below $10,000: 4 points
  • Net Price Below $15,000: 3 points
  • Net Price Below $18,000: 2 points
  • Net Price Below $20,000: 1 point

Student to Faculty Ratio

  • Less than 20:1: 1 point
  • Less than 15: 1: 2 points
  • Less than 10: 1: 3 points

Return on Investment (ROI) According to Payscale.com

  • Top 500: 1 point
  • Top 300: 2 points
  • Top 150: 3 points
  • Student Support Network (faculty mentors/advisors, writing/technology support, etc.)— 1 point per item
  • Concentrations/Specializations – 1 point per item
  • Accreditation (School-Wide and Program-Specific) – 1 point per item
  • Campus Diversity Support Network – 1 point per item
  • “Wow” Factor – 1 point (anything that would mark a program as unique. Special qualities that make a program “stand out from the crowd”)

Bachelor Degree Programs 

#25 Stanford University

Stanford, CA 

Urban Studies BA

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Points: 6

Stanford University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies. The interdisciplinary field focuses on the impacts of cities on society and people’s lives. Students are encouraged to inquire into the techniques used to modify urban environments. They learn to address urbanization, urban social systems, and effect social change. Concentration options include: 

  • Cities in Comparative and Historical Perspective
  • Urban Society and Social Change
  • Urban Education
  • Urban Sustainability
  • Self-Designed

Students gain a knowledge base and theoretical, analytical, and practical skills to understand urban development and related issues. They also learn to formulate research questions and assess their significance concerning academic writings.

Fast facts:

  • 70 units
  • Offered through: School of Humanities and Sciences
  • Format: Traditional face-to-face
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
  • Tuition per year: $18,491

#24 University of New Hampshire  

Durham, NH

Community and environmental planning BS

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Points: 7

The University of New Hampshire offers a Bachelor of Science in Community and environmental planning. Students pursuing this major gain the knowledge and skills to become effective community planners in the public or private sector. Coursework includes: 

  • Economic development
  • Affordable housing
  • Transportation
  • Green space
  • Local agriculture
  • Sustainability

Students have to complete an internship that allows them to apply their knowledge in the real world for hands-on experience. They get a solid planning background with planning courses covering local, state, and regional planning topics and methods. They learn to manage development, assess proposed changes, protect natural resources before recommending program and policy changes.

Fast facts:

  • 128-136 credits
  • Offered through: College of Life Sciences and Agriculture
  • Format: Traditional face-to-face
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education 
  • Tuition per year: $15,520

#23 Rutgers University–Camden

Camden, NJ 

Urban Studies BA

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Points: 7

Rutgers University–Camden offers a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies. Students study cities and learn how they function, grow or decline. The coursework is interdisciplinary and policy-focused. Students are encouraged to apply what they learn to acquire a range of skills prized in the wider labor market through fieldwork and internship opportunities. Course subjects include:

  • Population trends
  • How cities are planned
  • Urban policy issues like housing
  • Sustainability
  • Environmental justice

Students can also take courses in other departments like sociology, criminal justice, political science, and history. They learn to use computer mapping programs to facilitate community engagement and conduct community-based participatory action research and policy analysis. 

Fast facts:

  • 120 credits
  • Offered through: Department of Public Policy and Administration (DPPA)
  • Format: Traditional face-to-face
  • Accreditation:  Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Tuition per semester: $5,721.00

#22 University of Virginia

Charlottesville, VA

Bachelor- Urban + Environmental Planning

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Points: 7

The University of Virginia offers a Bachelor of Urban + Environmental Planning. The program gives students professional and design skills in the context of a liberal arts education. It focuses on understanding how cities can fulfill their greatest promise as places of commerce, social equity, and environmental sustainability. The interdisciplinary study includes internships and research and design projects. Required courses include:

  • History of Architecture
  • Experiencing Architecture: Mindful Ways to Explore Our Built Environment 
  • Introduction to Urban and Environmental Planning
  • Foundation Studio

Students take courses in the humanities, social and natural sciences, and design fields that complement planning practice courses and theory.

Fast facts:

  • 122  credits
  • Offered through: School of Architecture
  • Format: Traditional face-to-face
  • Accreditation: Planning Accreditation Board (PAB);  Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition per year: $15,224

#21 University of California, San Diego

La Jolla, CA 

Urban Studies & Planning BA

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Points: 8

The University of California, San Diego offers a bachelor of arts degree in Urban Studies and Planning (USP). It provides students with various perspectives for understanding the development and growth of cities and communities. Coursework includes: 

  • History of U.S. Urban Communities
  • Urban World System; The City and Social Theory
  • Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
  • Introduction to Urban Planning; History of American Suburbs
  • Ethnic Diversity and the City; Urban Sociology 

Upon graduation, students either opt for advanced degrees or careers in planning, architecture, real estate and development, government, business, education, public health, law and the nonprofit sector. 

Fast facts:

  • 30 courses 
  • Offered through: The Department of Urban Studies and Planning
  • Format: Traditional face-to-face
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Tuition per year: $14,679

#20 Michigan State University

East Lansing, Michigan

BS in Urban and Regional Planning

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Points: 8

Michigan State University offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Urban and Regional Planning. It prepares students to take on and succeed in various entry-level professional planning projects. Students get a basic understanding of the history of urbanism, the theory and principles of urban design, and the relevant legal and administrative procedures. Coursework includes: 

  • Digital Graphic Comm./Design
  • Introduction to Urban and Regional Planning
  • Methods for Investigation of Urban Systems
  • Land Use Planning; Planning Law and Ethics
  • Geographic Information Systems and Design Tools for Planning

These courses give students a solid understanding of survey and research techniques, written and graphic communication that prepares them for the workforce.

Fast facts:

  • 120 credits
  • Offered through: School of Planning, Design and Construction
  • Format: Traditional face-to-face
  • Accreditation: Planning Accreditation Board; Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition per year: $14,524

#19 University of Connecticut

Storrs, CT 

Urban and Community Studies BA

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Points: 8

The University of Connecticut offers an undergraduate major in Urban and Community Studies. The interdisciplinary program focuses on educating students on the multiple dimensions of urban and community life. The major trains students in three different ways:

  • Core courses provide a broad education in the study of cities, suburbs, neighborhoods, and communities 
  • Provides a solid foundation in analytical techniques and geographic information systems
  • Offers additional electives to help expand academic knowledge and develop a deeper specialization in selected areas

 Students are prepared for careers in public and community service as well as for advanced degrees. 

Fast facts:

  • 120  credits
  • Offered through: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Format: Traditional face-to-face
  • Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Tuition per year: $14,406

#18 University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, CA

Urban Studies BA

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Points: 8

The University of California, Berkeley offers a bachelor of arts in Urban Studies. It trains students for a variety of careers in the fields of urban studies and planning. They are well-prepared to tackle the challenges of rapid urbanization. Coursework includes: 

  • Engineered Systems and Sustainability
  • Environmental Issues
  •  Introduction to Environmental Studies 
  •  Introduction to Development 
  • Environmental Science for Sustainable Development

Along with urban planning, students also opt for other practice-oriented fields like nonprofit management, law, and public policy. They explore various ways of providing more humane, equitable, efficient, and environmentally sensitive settlements for better urban futures.

Fast facts:

  • 120 units
  • Offered through: College of Environmental Design
  • Format: Traditional face-to-face
  • Accreditation:  Western Association of Schools & Colleges (WASC)
  • Tuition per semester: $5,721.00

#17 University of Minnesota

Minneapolis, MN 

Urban Studies BS

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Points: 9

The University of Minnesota offers a Bachelor of Science in Urban Studies. It is a good fit for students who want to gain diverse skills and training for a successful career. Students need to complete at least four skills classes. These include:

  • Social and Cultural Analysis of Urban Life – focuses on the diverse social and cultural situations found in cities
  • Urban Political Economy – focuses on the economic and political/administrative structures of cities 
  • Urban Infrastructure and Environment – focuses on the environmental and health hazards in urban areas
  • International Urban Issues – focuses on the larger-scale issues, economic development

The program provides a good foundation for graduate study. 

Fast facts:

  • 120  credits
  • Offered through: College of Liberal Arts 
  • Format: Traditional face-to-face
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition per year: $13,318

#16 Texas A&M University

College Station, TX 

BS in Urban and Regional Planning

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Points: 9

Texas A&M University offers a Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Planning. It prepares students to address problems in communities across the state, nation, and world. They learn to deal with the opportunities and tackle the challenges in the development and growth of communities. Students learn to:

  • Address complex community problems
  • Apply critical thinking and analytical skills for problem-solving at the community and regional scale
  • Understand the needs of a community and address its challenges
  • Collaborate with government officials and citizens to help build communities 

The program has two tracks – policy and urban design, which address issues of the built and natural environment.

Fast facts:

  • 120  credits
  • Offered through: College of Architecture
  • Format: Traditional face-to-face
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition per year: $13,012

#15 University of Arizona 

Tucson, AZ

B.S. in Urban and Regional Development

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Points: 10

The University of Arizona offers a Bachelor of Science in Urban & Regional Development. It covers the study of the economic development and sustainability of built and natural environments. Students learn to address economic activity questions, urban and regional growth, land development, and real estate. Courses include: 

  • Introduction to Sustainable Development
  • Population Geography
  • Introduction to Remote Sensing
  • The American City

Students have to complete internships as a part of the curriculum. These are integral to the major and can be done in the private, public and non-profit sectors. They prepare for careers like regional planners, land development project managers, city managers, sustainability specialists, etc. 

Fast facts:

  • 120 units
  • Offered through: College of Social & Behavioral Sciences 
  • Format: Traditional face-to-face
  • Accreditation:  Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition per year: $12,600

#14 University of Washington

Seattle, Washington

Community, Environment, and Planning, BA

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Points: 10

The University of Washington offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Community, Environment, and Planning (CEP). The interdisciplinary program empowers students to pursue their own educational goals in the company of other self-directed individuals. The two-year program has a core curriculum that focuses on theory and practices applied to real-world settings. Graduates become:

  • Urban planners
  • Communication experts
  • Non-profit managers
  • Educators
  • Entrepreneurs

Students participate in a governance process that supports the major while teaching them how to be influential leaders. They develop the skills, techniques, and knowledge to be leaders and planners in urban communities. 

Fast facts:

  • 80  credits
  • Offered through: College of Built Environments.
  • Format: Traditional face-to-face
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Tuition per year: $11,745

#13 Texas State University 

San Marcos, TX

B.S. in Geography Urban & Regional Planning

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Points: 10

Texas State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Geography Urban and Regional Planning. The program combines urban theory, studies with professional practices in city or regional planning. Courses include: 

  • Fundamentals of Geographic Information Systems
  • Urban Geography; Community and Regional Planning
  • Cities and Urban Design
  • Advanced GIS        
  • Natural Resource Use and Management
  • Energy Resource Management         
  • Water Resources; Regional Field Studies
  • Environmental Management
  • Parks and Protected Places
  • Transportation Systems
  • Solid Waste Planning and Management

Graduates pursue advanced degrees and also prepare to serve on a city planning commission, council or board. 

Fast facts:

  • 120 credits 
  • Offered through: College of Liberal Arts 
  • Format: Traditional face-to-face
  • Accreditation:  Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)
  • Tuition per year: $11,540

#12 University of North Texas 

Denton, TX

BA in Urban Policy and Planning 

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Points: 10

The University of North Texas offers a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Policy and Planning. Students learn about the history of cities and the impact of the urban space on communities and urban development. The coursework includes: 

  • Principles related to demographic data
  • Functioning of government
  • Community mapping
  • Land-use codes and zoning regulations
  • Building designs 
  • Sustainability practices

Graduates can pursue careers in state and federal government, city and regional government, housing, transit, private development, and nonprofits. They are well-trained to design beautiful and functional urban spaces, transportation that works, public spaces and parks, and address environmental issues.

Fast facts:

  • 120 credits 
  • Offered through: College of Health and Public Service
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Format: Traditional face-to-face, online and blended
  • Tuition per credit :$230.11

#11  Cleveland State University 

Cleveland, OH 

B.A. Urban Regional Studies 

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Points: 11

Cleveland State University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Regional Studies. It is an interdisciplinary program that includes a foundation in urban economic and political systems, urban geography, and social issues. Students learn about various US cities, metropolitan areas, and their people. They can choose from the following concentrations: 

  • Personally-Designed Track
  • Urban & Regional Planning
  • Environmental Policy and Management
  • Public Management
  • GIS & Applications

Students learn about the political, cultural, and historical aspects of urban living. They learn to use the best of modern technology and methods to help create sustainable communities. 

Fast facts:

  • 120 credits 
  • Offered through: Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs 
  • Format: Traditional face-to-face
  • Accreditation:  Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition per: 6,058.65

#10 Worcester State University

Worcester, MA

Urban Studies BS

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Points: 11

Worcester State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Urban Studies. Students learn about the history of urbanization as well as the modern-day issues that plague urban societies. Coursework includes:

  • Introduction to Urban Studies           
  • American Metropolitan Evolution
  • Human Identity and Urban Environment
  • Power and Urban Insecurity
  • Research Methods in Urban Studies
  • Research Seminar in Urban Studies/ Capstone         

Students are encouraged to take community-based experiential courses as a part of their practicum and internship. These provide them with hands-on learning experiences and prepare them for the real world. There is an option for a combined five-year Bachelor of Science in Urban Studies/Masters in Nonprofit Management program for motivated students.

Fast facts:

  • 121-126  credits
  • Offered through: School of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Format: Traditional face-to-face
  • Accreditation:  New England Commission on Higher Education, Inc. (NECHE)
  • Tuition per year: $10,586.00

#9 University of California, Irvine

Irvine, CA

Urban Studies BA

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Points: 12

The University of California, Irvine, offers a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies. It is an interdisciplinary program that teaches how to foster fair, sustainable, and livable cities. Students integrate theories, analytical tools, and experiences to get a comprehensive education. They study planning, policy, and design to understand the causes and tackle urban challenges. Students are equipped for careers that: 

  • Build affordable housing
  • Make cities safer
  • Reduce traffic congestion
  • Clean the air
  • Build sustainable resources for urban locales
  • Change the way our cities work 

Graduates work in various education, government, nonprofit, business, law, and research settings. 

Fast facts:

  • 48 units
  • Offered through: School of Social Ecology 
  • Format: Traditional face-to-face
  • Accreditation:  Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition per year: $10,272

#8 University of Missouri–Kansas City

Kansas City, MO 

Urban Planning and Design BA

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Points: 12

The University of Missouri–Kansas City offers a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Planning and Design. It provides an innovative curriculum that combines liberal arts with professional planning classes and a series of design studios. Students graduating from this program will:

  • Show written, oral, and graphic communication skills 
  • Use planning knowledge to create project planning solutions
  • Show capacity in planning and design practice
  • Articulate and exercise professional ethics and responsibility

Students use a creative process along with theoretical knowledge in the design studio. They learn to generate holistic urban planning and design solutions. 

Fast facts:

  • 120  credits
  • Offered through: College of Arts & Sciences
  • Format: Traditional face-to-face
  • Accreditation:  Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition per year: $10,272

#7 Iowa State University

Ames, IA  

BS in Community and Regional Planning

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Points: 12

Iowa State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Community and Regional Planning. Many of its graduates have become visionary planners focused on social change and the common good. Students learn to work with communities and governments of all sizes on projects. The curriculum trains students to focus on:

  • Urban revitalization
  • Public transit
  • Environmental reclamation
  • Affordable housing
  • Food systems 

Students have the option to choose their own areas of focus. Options include community development and social policy, regional and international planning, physical planning and urban design, ecological and environmental planning, transportation, and land use.

Fast facts:

  • 128  credits
  • Offered through: College of Design
  • Format: Traditional face-to-face
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition per year: $9,320

#6 The University of New Orleans

New Orleans, LA 

Urban Studies and Planning BS

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Points: 13

The University of New Orleans offers a Bachelor of Science in Urban Studies and Planning. It covers the study of social sciences and analysis of the complex issues that urban environments face. Students are equipped to think creatively about pressing social and urban issues and design solutions to improve living standards. They gain the knowledge and skills to address structural issues and create lasting change. Areas of specialization include: 

  • Geography
  • Planning
  • Transportation

Students learn to examine the historical, cultural, social, economic, and environmental factors that shape urban societies. They build in-depth knowledge in social science, gain professional skills in technical writing, quantitative analysis, and public speaking. 

Fast facts:

  • 120  credits
  • Offered through: College of Liberal Arts, Education and Human Development
  • Format: Traditional face-to-face
  • Accreditation:  Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition per year: $8,772

#5 Minnesota State University, Mankato

Mankato, MN

Urban and Regional Studies (BS)

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Points: 13

Minnesota State University, Mankato offers a Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Studies. The interdisciplinary degree program helps students examine and understand the broad range of problems with the nation’s urban and regional areas. They are equipped to handle the varied challenges associated with urban planning. They are required to pursue internships and get hands-on experience in the field. Coursework includes: 

  • Introduction to the City
  • The City: Design and Architecture 
  • Sustainable Communities
  • Community Leadership 
  •  Foundations in Urban Management and Planning 
  • Urban Analysis 

Graduates work in areas like community development, urban and regional planning, city and county management, urban and regional design, real estate development, and public administration, among others. 

Fast facts:

  • 120 credits
  • Offered through: College of Social and Behavioral Sciences 
  • Format: Traditional face-to-face
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition per credit: $297.80

#4 Queens College, City University of New York

Flushing, NY 

Urban Studies BA

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Points: 14

Queens College, New York, offers a bachelor of arts in Urban Studies. It helps students develop a critical understanding of the issues facing our cities. They learn to do and use urban-related research and perform urban policy analysis. They gain essential skills that are useful for their future careers in urban development. These include making an interesting oral presentation, writing a policy brief,  and writing a paper that is full of critical insights. Coursework includes: 

  • Urban Poverty and Affluence
  • Urban Politics
  • Urban Research Methods
  • Making Public Policy
  • Contemporary Urban Theory

Students learn to apply critical social theory to form and evaluate social and economic policies.

Fast facts:

  • 120  credits
  • Format: Traditional face-to-face
  • Accreditation:  Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Tuition per semester: $3465

#3 San Francisco State University 

San Francisco, CA

Urban Studies BA

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Points: 14

San Francisco State University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies and Planning. The interdisciplinary curriculum reflects a social science education with a problem-solving focus and training in research methods. Students learn to:

  • Integrate social science, planning, and policy into the study of cities
  • Develop the research and analytic tools for urban planning and policy analysis
  • Apply their knowledge to urban planning and policy and offer hands-on applied research experience

Most students pursue graduate studies and careers in public policy and administration, architecture, social work, law, and public health. 

Fast facts:

  • 43-45 units
  • Offered through: College of Health and Social Sciences
  • Format: Traditional face-to-face
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Tuition per year: $7,440

#2 California State University, Northridge  

Northridge, CA

B.A., Urban Studies and Planning

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Points: 15

California State University, Northridge offers a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies and Planning. It is an interdisciplinary program that focuses on solutions to the complex problems of contemporary urban life. Students understand the urban environment and get trained in the principles and methods of planning and urban analysis. Coursework includes: 

  • Planning Theory
  • Legal Foundations of Planning 
  • Growth and Sustainable Development of Cities
  • Quantitative Urban Research Methods
  • Qualitative Urban Research Methods 
  • Community-Based Urban Design
  • Urban Problems Seminar 

It is a great fit for students who wish to enter fields like urban planning, law and public administration, environmental planning, urban design, social welfare, and international development. 

Fast facts:

  • 120  units
  • Offered through: College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Format: Traditional face-to-face
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Tuition per year: $4995

#1 The University of Texas at Austin,

Austin, TX

Urban Studies BA

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Points: 16

The University of Texas at Austin offers a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies. The interdisciplinary program combines classroom studies with real-world experience. Students get to explore how cities are built, the history of urbanization, economic and political factors that affect urban growth and development. Coursework includes: 

  • Introduction to Urban Studies
  • Urban Studies Research Methods 
  • Internship and Service Learning 
  • Senior Project

Students are introduced to methods and theories that support constructive solutions to pressing urban problems. These include tackling issues like poverty and homelessness, pollution, racial segregation, and inefficient transportation.

Fast facts:

  • 120  credits
  • Offered through: The College of Liberal Arts
  • Format: Traditional face-to-face
  • Accreditation:  Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition per year: $5,291

Master Degree Programs

#25 Georgetown University 

Washington, DC  

Master’s in Urban & Regional Planning

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Points: 5

Georgetown University offers a Master of Professional Studies in Urban & Regional Planning. It prepares students to design sustainable solutions for local communities. They gain the applied knowledge, skills, and values to become a city-building leader in a rapidly urbanizing world. Coursework includes: 

  • Ethics in Planning Practice;
  • Research Methods
  • Urban Economics
  • Urban Sustainability
  • Legal Foundations
  • Urban Planning History and Theory

The program emphasizes responsible leadership and development practices. Students gain market-relevant skills in geo-spatial analysis, applied urban research, and professional best practices as they study urban planning in the global hub of Washington, D.C.

Fast facts:

  • 42  credits
  • Offered through:  School of Continuing Studies
  • Format: On-campus/Evening
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education,
  • Tuition: $62,286

#24 Columbia University 

New York, NY

MS Urban Planning  

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Points: 6

Columbia University offers a Master of Science in Urban Planning that prepares students to break down structures and old practices of oppression rooted in inequality and build sustainable environments. The two-year accredited professional degree takes a comparative, global perspective to urban planning, centering on social justice and critical practice. The concentration options include:

  • International Planning and Development
  • Built Environment
  • Urban Analytics
  • Community and Economic Development

Students learn to combine grounded analysis of socioeconomic and political conditions with studying the urban built environment. The program aims to foster new, creative planning and policy approaches to building cities. 

Fast facts:

  • 60  points
  • Offered through: Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
  • Format: On-campus
  • Accreditation: Planning Accreditation Board (PAB); Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Tuition per term: $30,540

#23 University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA

Master of Urban Planning (MUP)

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Points: 6

The University of Southern California’s Price School offers a Master of Urban Planning (MUP) degree. It prepares students to improve the quality of life for urban residents and regional communities. They study the traditional elements of urban planning through innovative and emerging themes. The coursework focuses on social justice, equity, and inclusion in planning practice. Students can customize and their degree by choosing from six areas of concentration: 

  • Arts and culture;
  • Design and the built environment
  • Economic development
  • Environmental planning and analysis
  • Housing and real estate development
  • Mobility and transportation planning

Many of the school’s graduates serve as leaders in the public, private and non-profit sectors.  

Fast facts:

  • 48  units
  • Offered through: USC Sol Price School of Public Policy
  • Format: On-campus
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
  • Tuition per unit: $1,938

#22 Boston University

Boston, MA 

Master’s in Sustainable Urban Planning

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Points: 7

Boston University offers a Master of City Planning (MCP). It is a good fit for students interested in planning-related careers. It prepares them for various professional roles in planning for urban and regional management. Students have the option to tailor their degree and specialize in policy areas that include: 

  • Environmental sustainability, land use, housing, and community development
  • Infrastructure planning
  • Transportation planning
  • Urban design

Graduates work as town and city planners, research analysts, and policy experts with federal, state, and local governments; and community development directors. They can also work for various corporations, nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations, and research institutions.

Fast facts:

  • 48  credits
  • Offered through: Metropolitan College
  • Format: On-campus
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Tuition per semester: $28,427

#21 Harvard University

Cambridge, MA

Master in Urban Planning (MUP)

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Points: 7

Harvard University offers a Master in Urban Planning (MUP). The two-year professional accredited program engages with critical issues facing cities and regions. Students learn how various forces like social, economic, political, and ecological shape the built environment. They can choose from the following areas of concentration to tailor their degree per their career goals:

  • Environmental, Climate, and Health
  • Housing, Community, and Economic Development
  • History and Theory; International and Comparative Planning
  • Transportation and Infrastructure; Real Estate and Urban Development
  • Urban Analytics & Urban Design

Graduates work in city planning departments, private consulting firms, state and national agencies, and not-for-profit organizations. 

Fast facts:

  • 80 units
  • Offered through: Graduate School of Design
  • Format: On-campus
  • Accreditation: Planning Accreditation Board; New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Tuition per year: $53,420

#20 The George Washington University

Washington, DC

Master’s in Sustainable Urban Planning. 

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Points: 8

The George Washington University offers a Master of Professional Studies in Sustainable Urban Planning. It covers the study of cities through the lens of economic, social, and environmental sustainability. The program has a unique focus on anthropogenic climate change and helps students gain skills to promote more inclusive and ecological cities. Coursework includes:

  • Principles of Sustainable Urban and Regional Planning 
  • Urban and Environmental Economics
  • Research Methods
  • Geospatial and Econometric Analysis
  • Sustainable Communities: Housing and Design 
  • Studio in Sustainable Urban Planning 

Students learn to face the complex challenges arising from increased inequality, economic pressure, and environmental degradation. 

Fast facts:

  • 48  credits
  • Offered through: College of Professional Studies
  • Format: On-campus
  • Accreditation: Planning Accreditation Board (PAB); Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Tuition per credit: $1,825

#19 DePaul University

Chicago, IL 

MA in Sustainable Urban Development 

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Points: 9

DePaul University offers a Master of Arts in Sustainable Urban Development. It prepares students for a career in sustainability and urban analysis. They also become experts in public policy, economics, and environmental issues. They gain technical skills and academic knowledge with hands-on experience through internships. Coursework includes: 

  • Sustainable urban development i: planning, policy & community development
  • Sustainable urban development ii: green infrastructure & the environment
  • Urban design laboratory
  • Professional seminar in sustainable urban development
  • Capstone – professional portfolio

Students learn to look at sustainability holistically. Their work involves researching urban environments as an integrated system. 

Fast facts:

  • 52  credits
  • Offered through: College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences 
  • Format: On-campus/Evening
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition per credit: $729

#18 University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

Champaign, IL

Master in Urban Planning and Policy  

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Points: 9

The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign offers a Master of Urban Planning (MUP) program. It is designed for students interested in urban planning careers. Students with diverse backgrounds hailing from the social and natural sciences, liberal arts, and engineering can apply. They learn to address pressing issues that impact urban lives like climate change, poverty, and affordable housing. Coursework includes:

  • Planning History and Theory: Physical Planning
  • Urban History and Theory: Urban and Regional Analysis
  • Law and Planning: Plan Making Workshop

The program provides intellectual grounding and advanced skills and creates leaders in the planning profession. They go on to create more sustainable, equitable, efficient, and healthy communities. 

Fast facts:

  • 64  credits
  • Offered through: College of Fine + Applied Arts
  • Format: On-campus
  • Accreditation: Planning Accreditation Board; Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition per year: $17,910

#17 University of California, Los Angeles 

Los Angeles, CA 

Master of Urban and Regional Planning  

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Points: 9

The University of California, Los Angeles offers a Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP). The two-year accredited degree program prepares students for successful careers in urban planning and related areas. Students need to complete core courses during the first year of study. They can then select one or more of the following areas of concentration to focus their studies:

  • Community Economic Development and Housing (CEDH)
  • Design and Development (DD)
  • Environmental Analysis and Policy (EAP)
  • Regional and International Development (RID)
  • Transportation Policy and Planning (TPP)

Students must complete 300 total hours of professional planning fieldwork as well.

Fast facts:

  • 72  units
  • Offered through: Luskin School of Public Affairs
  • Format: On-campus/Online
  • Accreditation: Planning Accreditation Board; WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Tuition per year: $17,486

#16 Portland State University

Portland, OR 

Master of Urban and Regional Planning  

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Points: 10

Portland State University offers a Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP). It is designed for students interested in working as professional planners and becoming leaders in the field. Experiential learning is an integral component of the program, and students engage in practice from the very beginning. They use the region’s real planning issues and processes as the basis of their learning and research. Students can specialize in fields like:

  • Community Development; Economic Development
  • Environment; Land Use
  • Transportation

Students need to complete an internship and a workshop project that is client‐focused and community‐based.

Fast facts:

  • 72  credits
  • Offered through: College of Urban and Public Affairs
  • Format: On-campus/Online
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Tuition per credit: $444

#15 University of Illinois at Chicago

Chicago, IL 

Master in Urban Planning and Policy  

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Points: 10

The University of Illinois at Chicago offers a Master in Urban Planning and Policy (MUPP) program. The professional planning program offers a comprehensive range of courses, including many specialized electives and studios. Core courses include:

  • Introduction to Geospatial Analysis and Visualization
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • History and Theory of Urban Planning
  • Urban Space, Place and Institutions; Planning Skills: Computers, Methods, and Communication
  • Plan Making: Plan Making Studio
  • Global Urbanization Planning

Students can choose to specialize in one of five areas like Economic Development, Community Development, Spatial Planning, Urban Transportation, Environmental Planning & Policy. 

Fast facts:

  • 60  credits
  • Offered through:  College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs
  • Format: On-campus
  • Accreditation: Planning Accreditation Board; Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition per year: $15,538.00

#14 University of Oklahoma 

Norman, OK 

Master of Regional and City Planning  

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Points: 10

The University of Oklahoma offers a Master of Regional and City Planning program. It prepares students to address the challenges that face the state and the nation’s cities and towns. Students have access to a multidisciplinary learning environment and benefit from a low student-faculty ratio. They can work closely with faculty and gain insight from faculty expertise. Coursework includes:

  • History and Theory of Regional and City Planning
  • Urban Land Use Controls; Urban and Regional Analysis 
  • Computer Mapping and GIS in Planning; Comprehensive Planning Studio
  • Planning Management 

Founded in 1947, it is one of the oldest programs west of the Mississippi River. Graduates prepare to be successful city planning professionals. 

Fast facts:

  • 48  credits
  • Offered through: Gibbs College of Architecture
  • Format: On-campus
  • Accreditation: Planning Accreditation Board; Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition per year: $15,538.00

#13 University of Massachusetts Amherst

Amherst, MA 

Regional Planning (MRP) 

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Points: 11

The University of Massachusetts Amherst offers a Master of Regional Planning Program. It seeks to stimulate creative and systematic approaches for addressing the physical, economic, and social problems of urban regions. The accredited program provides graduates with benefits like eligibility for the American Institute of Certified Planners, higher learning potential, and job market competitiveness. The main areas of concentration are:

  • Community and Equity Planning
  • Economic and Regional Development Planning
  • Land Use and Environmental Planning
  • Student-Designed Concentration

The program combines theoretical, historical, social, political, and technical dimensions of planning practice. It emphasizes practice through studio and service to communities in local and global regions.

Fast facts:

  • 48  credits
  • Offered through:  College of Social & Behavioral Sciences
  • Format: On-campus
  • Accreditation: Planning Accreditation Board; New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Tuition per semester: 7,389

#12 University of Florida

Gainesville, FL

Online MURP

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Points: 12

The University of Florida offers an online master of urban and regional planning. The program can be tailored to fit the needs of a busy student. It is designed to empower planning professionals with practical knowledge of urban issues. Coursework includes: 

  • Planning Theory and History; Urban Land Economics
  • Quantitative Data Analysis for Planners; Urban Economy; Land Use Planning Law 
  • Planning Administration and Ethics; Planning Research Design; Transportation Policy & Planning 
  • Introduction to Planning Information Systems; Urban Planning Project & Internship

The same renowned faculty teach the online courses as the on-ground program. 

Fast facts:

  • 52  credits
  • Offered through: College of Design, Construction and Planning
  • Format: On-campus/Online
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition per credit: $865

#11 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 

Chapel Hill, NC

Master’s in City & Regional Planning.  

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Points: 12

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers a Masters of City and Regional Planning program. It prepares students for professional planning practice and related careers. The program covers planning theory and methods in the core, methods, techniques, and institutions in an area of specialization, and elective courses to broaden knowledge and skills. The curriculum covers social and institutional problems, settings and planning, and management skills. Specialization options include: 

  • Economic development
  • Housing & community development
  • Land use & environmental planning
  • Transportation planning

Each of the above emphasizes equity, economic viability, environmental quality, and social participation.

Fast facts:

  • 51  credits
  • Offered through: College of Arts and Sciences
  • Format: On-campus/Online
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition per year: $12,515

#10 Kansas State University

Manhattan, KS  

Master of Regional & Community Planning  

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Points: 13

Kansas State University offers an accredited Master of Regional & Community Planning degree. The two-year program prepares students for employment as city planners. The curriculum focuses on social, economic, cultural, and political issues that impact urban regions’ physical environment and policies. Coursework includes:

  • Infrastructure Plan Implementation
  • Knowledge Methods; Planning Theory and Law 
  • Planning Professional Practice; Professional Elective

K-State University provides one of the most affordable, high-quality graduate programs. Students learn to understand and improve the quality of life for people in cities across the world.

Fast facts:

  • 72  credits
  • Offered through: College of Architecture, Planning & Design
  • Format: On-campus
  • Accreditation: Planning Accreditation Board (PAB); Higher Learning Commission 
  • Tuition per year: $11,856

#9 The State University of New York at Buffalo

Buffalo, NY

Master of Urban Planning 

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Points: 13

The State University of New York at Buffalo or SUNY Buffalo offers a Master of Urban Planning. The accredited program is built around practice-based learning and research. Students learn to tackle urban planning challenges and build better cities and communities. They can specialize in: 

  • Community Health and Food Systems
  • Economic Development Planning
  • Environmental and Land Use Planning
  • Historic Preservation (Graduate Certificate)
  • Historic Preservation (Advanced Graduate Certificate)
  • Urban Design and Physical Planning
  • Neighborhood Planning and Community Development

The two-year professional degree combines practical experience and research along with theoretical knowledge. The focused, practical, and relevant program helps students develop versatile skills. 

Fast facts:

  • 52  credits
  • Offered through:  School of Architecture and Planning 
  • Format: On-campus
  • Accreditation: Planning Accreditation Board; Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Tuition per semester: $5,655

#8 Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, GA 

Master of City and Regional Planning

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Points: 13

Georgia Institute of Technology or Georgia Tech offers a Master of City and Regional Planning degree. It blends theoretical, historical, practical, analytical, and conceptual knowledge about urban and regional development. Coursework includes:

  • History and Theory of Planning; Growth Management Law and Implementation
  • Quantitative and Computer Methods; Advanced Planning Methods
  • Economic Analysis in Planning; Applied Planning Studio
  • Intro to Geographic Information Systems

The program offers six specializations as well as several dual degree options. Students can complete a thesis or applied research paper in their major area of interest. With their capstone, they can complete the applied studio course, which offers hands-on learning for real-world situations. 

Fast facts:

  • 55  credits
  • Offered through: College of Design
  • Format: On-campus
  • Accreditation: Planning Accreditation Board (PAB); Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition per year: $10,258

#7 University of Idaho

Moscow, ID

M.S Bioregional Planning and Community Design 

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Points: 14

The University of Idaho offers a Master of Science in Bioregional Planning and Community Design. The interdisciplinary program trains students to blend strategic, sustainable, and economic health strategies to build urban spaces of the future. They develop research and problem-solving skills to create real-life projects and help build sustainable communities. Coursework includes:

  • The Bioregional Approach; Sustainable Communities
  • Introduction to Bioregional Planning
  • Creating the Community Narrative
  • Bioregional Planning Methods: Bioregional Planning Studio 
  • From Narrative to Action: Reflection & Preparation
  • Local and Regional Comprehensive Planning
  • Public Planning Theory and Process

The curriculum provides students with professional skills for their future work. Students embed themselves in the local planning capacity of communities statewide.

Fast facts:

  • 43  credits
  • Offered through:  College of Art and Architecture
  • Format: On-campus
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • Tuition per year: $9,876

#6 University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Charlotte, NC

Master of Urban Design  

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Points: 14

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte offers a Master of Urban Design (MUD). It seeks to meet the growing demand for expertise in urbanism both locally and globally. Students explore innovative design, applied research, and transformative policies and implementation strategies in building cities and neighborhoods. The coursework focuses on:

  • Architecture
  • Urban planning
  • Landscape architecture
  • Real estate
  • Engineering 

The program is a good fit for students interested in pursuing careers in governmental agencies, design and planning practice, and non-profit organizations. They learn to foster environmental and social sustainability through built environments. 

Fast facts:

  • 36  credits
  • Offered through: School of Architecture
  • Format: On-campus
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition per semester: $4,800

#5 University of Georgia

Athens, GA 

Master of Urban Planning and Design  

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Points: 14

The University of Georgia offers a Master of Urban Planning and Design program. It is structured around planning studios that foster an energetic, collaborative and creative environment. The innovative teaching method focuses on the physical planning and design of the built environment. Students engage in interdisciplinary collaboration and experiential learning. Coursework includes:

  • Environmental Planning Studio; Representation; GIS and LAB
  • City Planning; Research Strategies; History & Theory of American Urban Planning
  • Planning Law; Ideas of Community; Ethics, Justice and Professional Practice

The studio culture enables students to develop and employ new ideas and technologies and promotes innovation in various urban and regional projects. 

Fast facts:

  • 58  credits
  • Offered through:  College of Environment + Design
  • Format: On-campus
  • Accreditation: Planning Accreditation Board; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition per year: $8,686

#4 Ball State University

Muncie, IN 

Master of Urban and Regional Planning  

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Points: 14

Ball State University offers a Master of Urban and Regional Planning. Students learn to solve the complex problems of urban communities and to shape their built environments. They can choose from two tracks – the standard path or the accelerated path if they have experience in the field. The curriculum includes topics like: 

  • Design and Graphic Communication
  • Introduction to Urban Planning ; Quantitative Analysis
  • Impact Analysis; Planning Law
  • Planning Analysis Studio; Planning Research Methods 
  • Land-Use Planning; Qualitative Methods and Social Justice 

Graduates work for nonprofits, planning and housing agencies, land development and professional service firms, and community development agencies. 

Fast facts:

  • 48  credits
  • Offered through:  College of Architecture and Planning
  • Format: On-campus
  • Accreditation: Planning Accreditation Board; Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition per year: $7,632

#3 The City College of New York

New York, NY 

Master in Urban Planning and Policy  

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Points: 15

The City College of the City University of New York offers a Master of Urban Planning in Urban Design. The curriculum blends leadership, technical, and design skills to change the built environments methodology. The program fosters new conversations in urban crises and challenges and ways to deal with them. Students are trained to create equitable, diverse, resourceful, and ecologically healthy cities. Coursework includes: 

  • Urban Design Studio 
  • History of Urban Space
  • Reading the City
  • Urban Ecologies

Applicants should hold a professional degree in either architecture or landscape architecture. Students can complete the program in two full-time, sequential semesters.  

Fast facts:

  • 32  credits
  • Offered through:  The Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture
  • Format: On-campus
  • Accreditation: Planning Accreditation Board; Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition per semester: $3,465

#2 University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Lincoln, NE

Master of Community and Regional Planning (MCRP)  

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Points: 15

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln offers a Master of Community and Regional Planning degree. It trains students to become dynamic professionals in the field of urban planning who can affect positive cultural, societal, and environmental change. The coursework includes: 

  • Introduction to Planning; Planning Theory
  • Legal Aspects of Planning; Qualitative Techniques
  • Planning with GIS; Planning Methods and Analysis
  • Professional Planning Practice; Planning Studio

Students from diverse backgrounds with a desire to impact the environment, society, and communities in positive ways will find this program a good fit. They learn to create the urban spaces of the future through sustainable practices and planning efforts. 

Fast facts:

  • 48  credits
  • Offered through: College of Architecture
  • Format: On-campus
  • Accreditation: Planning Accreditation Board; Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition per credit: $452

#1 San José State University 

San Jose, CA 

Masters in Urban Planning   

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Points: 16

San José State University offers a Masters of Urban Planning program. It partners with local agencies and organizations to provide experiential learning for students. They learn to be pragmatic problem solvers and address the challenges related to growth and change. They tackle issues that range from affordable housing and climate change, economic development, and environmental protection to public health and transportation. Coursework includes: 

  • Seminar on Urban and Regional Planning
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Land Use Planning and Law
  • Urban and Regional Planning Policy Analysis – Tools and Methods
  • Planning Sustainable Cities
  • Geographic Information Systems Overview – Urban Planning Applications 

Faculty and students engage in public service projects in partnership with local communities to address their planning needs.

Fast facts:

  • 48 semester units 
  • Offered through: College of Social Sciences
  • Format: On-campus
  • Accreditation: Planning Accreditation Board; Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Tuition per year: $4,643

More About Affordable Urban Planning Degree Programs

What does an urban planning degree mean?

Urban planning degree programs are available as bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees. Most are accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board or PAB. The programs need to meet the standards for planning education set by the PAB, at both the bachelor and graduate degree levels. The field of planning provides professional training in the skills, knowledge, and values of the planning field. It includes learning in subjects like urban theory and studies, planning, and professional practices. 

Depending on the school, students can choose from urban planning degree programs in urban, city, or regional planning. Once they have graduated and gained work experience, they work as part of the city planning councils, commission, or board department. Most urban planners work in government who is the biggest employer due to the various services these planners provide in the community.

Urban planning is a broad and interdisciplinary field. The core coursework provides a strong background for all areas of planning. Urban planning programs offer students the option to learn and practice the various aspects of physical, social, health, and environmental services. It emphasizes subject matter expertise, communication skills as well as knowledge of governance. Core courses include:

  • Structure and functions of urban settlements
  • Urban design
  • History and theory of urban planning processes and practices
  • Administrative, legal, and political aspects of plan-making and policy implementation
  • Urban economics
  • Quantitative analysis
  • Problem formulation and solving
  • Statistics
  • Plan-making and program design
  • Land use/planning 
  • Planning practice
  • Planning ethics
  • Law

Urban planning degree programs teach students about the techniques and theories related to settlement design. They get training in engineering, designing, managing, and resolving urban human settlements’ challenges. A master’s program, often considered the terminal degree in the field, qualifies graduates to work as urban planners.  

Students can choose to concentrate on a specific area of interest within planning. These include:

  • Land use
  • Housing
  • Transportation planning
  • Community development
  • Environmental planning
  • Economic development
  • International development
  • Historic preservation
  • Urban design
  • Real estate
  • Geographic information systems (GIS)

Urban planning degree programs are housed within cognates since they are small programs. These offer a comprehensive blend of related subjects for students. These include an architecture school, a geography department, a design school, or a public policy school. Most students get into successful careers after completing urban planning master’s programs. However, some students choose to pursue doctoral studies as well.   

What will you learn in an urban planning degree program?

Urban planning programs teach students how to sustain and enhance the quality of life in urban areas. Students receive a broad liberal education that blends technical and design skills with an understanding of the natural and social environments. They gain insight into the problems or cities and regions and how they can be resolved to enrich human life. urban planning degree programs 

The urban planning degree emphasizes problem-solving, analysis, and communication within complex urban and social contexts. As a result, graduates can go into urban planning and pursue careers in law, public policy, business, or public administration. Typical coursework includes:

  • Writing and Research
  • Contemporary Issues in Ind Country
  • Global Development&Environment
  • Social and Cultural Geography
  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Microeconomic Principles
  • Introduction to Applied Microeconomics
  • Urban Informatics
  • Statistics
  • Introduction to City Planning
  • Planning in Action
  • Cities: Planning & Urban Life
  • Communication for Planners
  • Land Use Planning Workshop
  • Economic Development Workshop
  • Sustainable Planning Workshop
  • Small Town/Rural Planning Workshop
  • Community Development Workshop
  • Ecology & Environmental Sustainability
  • Urban Sustainability
  • International Environmental Planning and Governance
  • Watershed Ecology and Planning
  • Urban Ecology
  • Planning for Historic Preservation
  • Pedestrian and Bicycle Planning
  • Sustainable Planning Seminar
  • Transportation/Land Use Policy
  • Energy & the Built Environment
  • Sustainable Design Principles
  • Planning with Climate Change
  • Capstone and Internships 

All degree requirements include completion of a capstone program or internships. Students can meet with their advisors to develop a plan to choose and meet the capstone requirement. Students engage in applied activity outside of the classroom during these experiences, which provides them with hands-on experience. The goal of these modules is to immerse them in the real world and prepare them for good careers in the job market. These could range from a paid or unpaid internship, volunteer work, consulting project, or a summer research project. Once the project is done, students present their experiences in a capstone seminar. 

How to get into urban planning degree programs?

Admission requirements differ depending on the college. Applicants for urban planning degree programs must meet each college’s general admission requirements. For an urban planning bachelor’s degree, these include some minimum GPA, a high school diploma or equivalent, and transcripts, with standardized test scores criteria.

For urban planning master’s programs, an accredited bachelor’s degree may be required in the field or related fields. Aspiring students should always check each program’s requirements before applying. The right urban planning master’s programs will prepare graduates for successful careers in urban planning, law, and related government agencies.

Students should work with an enrollment advisor before deciding on a particular option. They should consider things like:

  • How long is the enrollment process?
  • Are there any prerequisite foundation courses?
  • What documents are needed for the application?
  • How long is the program for, is it flexible?
  • Which route should you take, full-time or part-time?
  • Is there an accelerated format available?
  • How can you juggle your busy schedule with your studies?
  • Can credits from associate’s degrees or another bachelor’s be rolled over?
  • How many credit hours are required to complete urban planning degree programs?
  • Would the internships lead to entry-level careers?

How long does it take to complete an urban planning degree?

In most cases, a full-time urban planning bachelor’s degree can be completed in four years. However, there are exceptions; part-time students take longer to graduate. Some schools offer a lot of flexibility for working students if they have a blended or online option. Students who have completed an associate degree or have transferred in with some college credits can readily move up their graduation timeline.

Urban planning master’s programs can be completed in two years. If the schools allow an accelerated format, they can achieve it sooner. If they have online or part-time options, they can choose a pace of study that best matches their busy schedules.  Those who need more time can work with their advisors to stretch their program and complete them in more than two years.

It is important to note, however, that there are few online options in this field. Most schools offer urban planning programs that are on-campus and delivered in the traditional face-to-face format. Some offer evening classes for working professionals, but very few have online or blended options. A big reason for this could be the hands-on practical approach that this degree requires.

What are the typical specializations or concentrations offered in urban planning bachelor’s degree? 

Concentrations offered in urban planning bachelor’s degree may include:

  • Designing the Urban Environment
  • Global Cities
  • Environmental Policy
  • Social Justice
  • Urban History & Society
  • Policy & Planning
  • Policy Analysis and Urban Problems
  • International Development
  • Sustainability
  • Education

What are the typical specializations or concentrations offered in urban planning master’s programs?

  • Specializations or concentrations offered in urban planning masters programs may include:
  • Applied Planning Skills
  • Community and Economic Development
  • Community Economic Development and Housing
  • Global and Comparative Planning
  • Housing and Equitable Development
  • Land Use and Environmental Planning
  • Physical Planning and Design
  • Design and Development
  • Social Justice and Urban Development
  • Environmental Analysis and Policy
  • Sustainability, Resilience, Adaptation, and Climate Change
  • Regional and International Development
  • Transportation Policy and Planning

A specialization or concentration allows students to focus on a particular area and build skills. They can tailor their degrees to meet their career goals and interests. Undergrad students often choose a concentration that they can pursue as a master’s, while master’s degree students choose to focus on an area they may pursue as a career or a doctoral program. Specializations also benefit working professionals who wish to grow in their careers.

Benefits of urban planning degree programs

There are many benefits of earning urban planning degree programs. Students are prepared for a wide range of jobs in the government, city, and related areas. These degrees increase their chances of getting a good job and positive income potential. Students who get advanced degrees are more successful in getting jobs in important state and federal government departments. They also earn more money and enjoy career stability. 

Urban planning programs generally require capstone projects or internships at the end of the final year. These provide students with hands-on learning along with the traditional academic theses. They get the chance to present capstone projects that will help them demonstrate their knowledge, technical skills, and core competencies, all of which make them career-ready. 

What are the career prospects with urban planning masters programs?

There is a great demand for urban planners. Earning an urban planning degree prepares graduates for various urban and regional careers. Some of the jobs one can get with an urban planning degree are: 

  • Development Manager
  • Real estate agent
  • Project Manager
  • Economic development manager
  • Urban Planner
  • Regional Planner
  • City government official 
  • Planner, consulting.
  • Urban consultant
  • Associate Planner
  • Research Associate
  • International urban development 
  • Nonprofit or international NGO official 
  • Project Planner and Analyst

What are the different types of urban planning degree programs?

Bachelor Degree Programs

  • Urban Studies B.A.
  • Urban Studies BS
  • Community and environmental planning B.S.
  • Bachelor- Urban + Environmental Planning
  • Urban Studies & Planning B.A.
  • Urban Studies & Planning BS
  • BS in Urban and Regional Planning
  • Urban and Community Studies BA
  • BS in Urban and Regional development 
  • Community, Environment, and Planning, B.A.
  • B.S. in Geography Urban & Regional Planning
  • B.A. in Urban Policy and Planning 
  • B.A. Urban Regional Studies 
  • Urban and Regional Studies (B.S.)
  • Urban Planning and Design BA
  • BS in Community and Regional Planning

Master Degree Programs

  • Master’s in Urban & Regional Planning
  • MS Urban Planning 
  • Master of Urban Planning (MUP)
  • Master’s in Sustainable Urban Planning
  • MA in Sustainable Urban Development 
  • Master in Urban Planning and Policy 
  • Master of Regional and City Planning 
  • Master’s in City & Regional Planning
  • Master of Regional & Community Planning 
  • Online MURP
  • Regional Planning (MRP) 
  • M.S. Bioregional Planning and Community Design 
  • Master of Urban Design
  • Master of Urban Planning and Design 
  • Master of Community and Regional Planning (MCRP) 

How to choose the right urban planning degrees

Students need to do thorough research and consider alternatives before investing time and money into a particular program. There are many degree options and schools out there, so choosing the right urban planning degree can be hard. They should also consider the kind of degree offered, the format and flexibility, the type of student support provided, and the cost of the program. Applicants should also check the school’s choice of specializations to ensure the program offers courses that can help them meet their academic and career goals. They should look for institutional and programmatic accreditation. Many urban planning programs hold accreditation from the PAB. These schools can add more value to one’s resume and career prospects.

Prospective students can make a checklist and choose the right online graphic design bachelor degree programs:

Program features – How the format of the program works is important.  Depending on the school and the format they choose, they can complete their degree on campus or online at their own pace. Students should ask about the flexibility of the program during the enrollment process. They should look into the school recognition and rankings, the school’s accreditation, and the program-specific accreditations. This may also include the school’s regional reputation and standing among national rankings.

Coursework – It is important to review the coursework carefully before enrolling in urban planning degrees. Choosing the right specialization or concentration is important since they need to align with one’s interests and career goals. Students should thus look at the list of core topics, specializations, or concentrations, internships, and capstone requirements. It is important that program format blends hands-on and applied learning in the courseware. This will prepare graduates for successful careers.

Career outlook – Students have to find out the job potential during their research. The choice of the right program will ensure that students become subject matter experts and advance their careers. Students need to determine the salary potential and the value of the degree.

Cost – the cost of the program is an important criterion. It differs from one school to the other and depends on a lot of parameters. Students can choose from well-recognized urban planning masters programs or urban planning bachelor’s degree programs to the cheapest ones. However, the latter option does not mean a compromise in the quality of education.

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