Top 25 Most Affordable Urban Planning Schools

Most Affordable Urban Planning Schools BadgeGetting a master’s degree in urban planning is the benchmark for those who wish to work in the field. This can be a difficult task if you’ve already spent money on your undergraduate degree or have student loans to pay off. It is not impossible, however, to find affordable urban planning schools.

Master’s degrees can fluctuate in cost from $30,000 to $120,000. The average cost, per Forbes magazine, is $66,340. Remember that this degree can pay off big, however, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that urban planners working in the United States average an annual salary of $79,410 (May 2020 figures). It usually takes from one and a half to two years of full-time study to get a master’s degree in urban planning. If you go part-time, it could take much longer.

How We Chose the Top 25 Most Affordable Urban Planning Schools

The graduate urban planning degree programs listed below have been chosen based on affordability. Each of these schools offers tuition (based on 2021-22 figures) that is among the lowest in its state. Tuition rates have been quoted for on campus and online tuition, at in-state and out-of-state rates, when available.

Additionally, all of the schools listed below have received accreditation by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Each school has been evaluated and found to offer the highest quality urban planning programs.

Affordable urban planning master’s degree programs do not exist in all states. Some states, however, offer more than one affordable urban planning degree program.

Flexible Education Options

Online urban planning degree programs can offer the same quality of education as on campus urban planning degree programs. With today’s technology, it is possible to host most, if not all, of a master’s degree program’s classes in an online format. Some schools listed below offer degree programs that are hosted completely online. Other schools offer only on-campus options. Some offer classes in a hybrid format, with some classes hosted on campus and some offered online.

Internships Offered

Most of the graduate urban planning degree programs listed below offer optional or required internships, studio or field experiences. Having practical experience in urban planning gives students the chance to know that the field of urban planning is right for them prior to graduation. It also allows for networking opportunities.

Instructor Quality

The programs listed below are taught by instructors who have years of experience in urban planning. Some have worked as urban planners in the real world. They bring their unique planning experience and perspectives to the classroom, making them even more valuable to students.

Following, in alphabetical order by state, are 25 of the most affordable urban planning master’s degrees.

 

Alabama

Alabama A&M University, Normal, AL

Alabama A&M’s MURP program is one of the most affordable in the nation, whether you’re a resident or non-resident, commuter or boarder. Students complete an optional internship and mandatory thesis requirement before graduation. Prior internships have occurred within the cities of Huntsville and Birmingham, as well as with Bloomberg Philanthropies.

  • Degree:
    • Master of Urban & Regional Planning, with concentrations including
      • Environmental Planning
      • Housing & Community Development
      • Transportation Planning & International Development Planning
    • Tuition:
      • Resident Commuting: $4927/semester
      • Non-Resident Commuting: $9107/semester
      • Resident Boarding: $8802/semester
      • Non-Resident Boarding: $12,982/semester
    • Accreditation:
      • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
      • Planning Accreditation Board
    • Contact:

 

Arizona

Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

Offered on-campus in Tempe, ASU’s MUEP program is also offered as a bachelor’s-to-master’s accelerated program. The graduate tuition is one of the lowest in the country. Students must complete a practicum or applied project or thesis prior to graduation. Study abroad opportunities are also available.

California

California State University-Northridge, Northridge, CA

CSU’s MUP program offers a broad-based education in urban planning, especially as it is practiced in the state of California. Classes are scheduled for evenings and Saturdays to meet the needs of working students. Tuition and fees are among some of the lowest in California and in the country for MUP programs.

  • Degree:
  • Tuition:
    • Resident: $4236/semester
    • Nonresident: $6612/semester
  • Accreditation:
    • WASC Senior College and University Commission
  • Contact:
    • Robert B. Kent, Chair at (818) 677-2904

 

San Diego State University, San Diego, CA

Begun in 1968, SDSU’s MCP program is one of the most affordable in California and in the nation. It emphasizes knowledge, specialized skills and professional experience, as well as understanding the broader international context of planning. The interdisciplinary program provides much opportunity for students to learn in the field.

  • Degree:
  • Tuition:
    • Resident: $9154/year
    • Nonresident: $16,282/year
  • Accreditation:
    • WASC Senior College and University Commission
    • Planning Accreditation Board
  • Contact:
San Jose State University, San Jose, CA

SJSU’s MUP program is the only accredited MUP program offered in the Silicon Valley. With a history tracing back to 1970, the school also offers graduate certificates in a variety of areas, such as Transportation and Land Use Planning and Community Design and Development. Its tuition is among the lowest for MUP programs in the state of California and in the nation.

  • Degree:
  • Tuition:
    • Resident: $3588/semester
    • Nonresident: $7152/semester
  • Accreditation:
    • WASC Senior College and University Commission
    • Planning Accreditation Board
  • Contact:

Colorado

University of Colorado Denver, Denver, CO

Students in UC-Denver’s MURP program must complete a planning workshop or planning studio, as well as a capstone project for a real client or a thesis, prior to graduation. Tuition is among the lowest of MURP programs in the state and in the nation. The program boasts a 98% employment rate for graduates within one year of graduation.

Florida

Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL

FAU’s MURP program is among the lowest in Florida for residents. The school also offers an advanced standing, accelerated MURP program for those who have earned an undergrad degree from the BURP, BUD or BArch programs and have a GPA of at least 3.25. A graduate certificate in GIS is also offered.

  • Degree:
  • Tuition:
    • Resident: $8924/year
    • Nonresident: $24,643/year
  • Accreditation:
    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
    • Planning Accreditation Board
  • Contact:

 

Idaho

University of Idaho, Moscow, ID

University of Idaho’s unique MS program in Bioregional Planning and Community Design is offered on-campus in Moscow and Boise. The program is an interdisciplinary one of faculty from eight colleges and 10 departments. Tuition is among the lowest in the state and in the nation for comparable programs. A dual degree with Juris Doctor is also available.

 

Indiana

Ball State University, Muncie, IN

Ball State’s MURP program offers a regular, two-year track as well as an accelerated track, available only to graduates of a PAB-accredited bachelor’s degree program. Classes are held on-campus, and no GRE is required for admission to the program. Tuition for both in-state and out-of-state students is among the lowest in the nation for MURP programs.

  • Degree:
    • Master of Urban and Regional Planning, with specializations in:
      • Construction
      • Housing and Property Management
      • Public Policy and Facilities
      • Community Development
      • Business Administration
      • Real Estate Law
    • Tuition:
      • Resident: $438 per credit hour
      • Non-resident: $1197 per credit hour
    • Accreditation:
      • Higher Learning Commission
      • Planning Accreditation Board
    • Contact:

Kansas

Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS

Students in KSU’s MRCP program have many opportunities for real-world experience through internships, hands-on research, direct engagement with communities, and study abroad programs. Its tuition is among the lowest in the state and nation for similar accredited programs. KSU’s MRCP program is nationally recognized as one of the best.

 

Louisiana

University of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA

UNO’s MURP program is among the most affordable urban planning programs in Louisiana and in the nation. Real-world experience is offered to students through internships, community- based projects and field work. Dual degrees are available with Loyola School of Law, Dillard University, and Xavier University.

  • Degree:
    • Master of Urban and Regional Planning, with specializations in:
      • Environmental and Hazard Mitigation Planning
      • Historic Preservation
      • Housing and Community Economic Development
      • Land Use and Urban Design
      • Transportation Planning
    • Tuition:
      • Resident: $9108/year
      • Nonresident: $13,678/year
    • Accreditation:
      • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
    • Contact:

Maine

Unity College, Unity, ME

Unity’s online graduate degree in Urban Ecology and Sustainable Planning offers an affordable distance education solution for those who wish to study online. Experiential programs are delivered online with fieldwork designed with working professionals in mind. Five start dates per year, small class sizes and the requirement of maintaining a minimum GPA of 3.0 make this program one of the standouts on this list.

Maryland

Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD

Morgan State’s MCRP program offers students practical experiences in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. areas. It strives to be the leading planning program on the East coast by educating underrepresented leaders in the planning profession. Tuition for the MCRP program is among the lowest in the nation for urban planning programs.

  • Degree:
  • Tuition:
    • Residents: $12,582/year
    • Nonresidents: $23,118/year
  • Accreditation:
    • Middle States Commission on Higher Education
    • Planning Accreditation Board
  • Contact:

Michigan

Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan

EMU’s program emphasizes skills in land use and environmental planning and geographic information systems. Students in the program must pass an oral examination and a master’s thesis prior to graduation. Tuition and fees for this program is among the lowest in the state and in the nation for urban planning master’s degree programs.

 

New Mexico

University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

UNM’s MCRP program offers dual degree possibilities with Master of Arts in Latin American Studies, Master of Public Administration and Master of Water Resources. Its in-state graduate tuition is among the lowest in the state. Ninety-four percent of graduates of the MCRP program have found employment in the field within one year of graduation.

  • Degree:
    • Master of Community & Regional Planning, with concentrations in:
      • Community Development
      • Indigenous Planning
      • Natural Resources & Environmental Planning
      • Physical Planning & Design
    • Tuition:
      • Resident: $9831/year
      • Nonresident: $27,933/year
    • Accreditation:
      • Higher Learning Commission
      • Planning Accreditation Board
    • Contact:

 

New York

University at Buffalo, State University of New York, Buffalo, NY

Unlike some MUP programs, University at Buffalo’s program welcomes students from diverse undergraduate majors to apply. Learning is practice-based and includes research tackling a variety of urban planning challenges. Tuition for the MUP program is among the lowest in the state of New York as well as in the country.

  • Degree:
  • Tuition:
    • Resident: $5655/semester
    • Nonresident: $11,550/semester
  • Accreditation:
    • Middle States Commission on Higher Education
    • Planning Accreditation Board
  • Contact:

North Carolina

Appalachian State University, Boone, NC

Appalachian State’s MA in Geography with a Planning concentration is one of the best values in urban planning schools, especially for North Carolina residents.  A thesis is not required for graduation under this degree plan. An internship or directed research project, however, is required prior to graduation.

 

Oregon

Portland State University, Portland, OR

Students in Portland State’s MURP program have the opportunity to self-design pathways in addition to the concentrations offered. For the last two quarters of the program, students work in groups on community-based client-focused workshops. Tuition for the program is among the lowest in Oregon and the nation.

  • Degree:
    • Master of Urban and Regional Planning, with concentrations in:
      • Community development
      • Economic development
      • Environment
      • Food systems
      • Gerontology/Age-friendly cities
      • Land use
      • Transportation
    • Tuition:
      • Resident: $17,124/year
      • Nonresident: $25,296/year
    • Accreditation:
      • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
      • Planning Accreditation Board
    • Contact:

 

Pennsylvania

West Chester University of Pennsylvania, West Chester, PA

WCU’s MURP program students are able to use the school’s two GIS labs and Planning Studio, which provide 3-D modeling and virtual and augmented reality. Graduate certificates are also offered in GIS and Urban and Regional Planning. The tuition of WCU’s MURP program is among the lowest in the state of Pennsylvania and in the nation.

Tennessee

University of Memphis, Memphis, TN

University of Memphis’s MCRP program gives students the opportunity to pursue dual degrees with Anthropology, Architecture, Civil Engineering, Public Administration, Public Health and a variety of other disciplines. Tuition for in-state and out-of-state students is among the lowest in Tennessee and in the nation for MCRP programs.

  • Degree:
  • Tuition:
    • Resident: $12,120/year
    • Nonresident: $19,052/year
  • Accreditation:
    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
    • Planning Accreditation Board
  • Contact:

 

Texas

Texas Southern University, Houston, TX

TSU’s MUPEP program focuses on issues of environmental policy and urban planning that are significant to the southwest United States. Its in-state and out-of-state tuition rates are among the lowest in the nation and state for similar programs. It boasts that, as of 2020, 100 percent of its graduates have found full-time planning work within 12 months of graduation.

The University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX

UTA’s MCRP program offers students an optional internship for credit, as well as completing a professional report or thesis option prior to graduation. Tuition for in-state and out-of-state students is among the lowest in the state and in the nation. Eighty percent of the school’s graduates have found planning work within one year of graduation.

  • Degree:
    • Master of City & Regional Planning, focusing on:
      • Urban & Housing Policies
      • Smart & Resilient Cities
      • Transportation Planning
      • Design & Development
      • Environmental Planning
    • Tuition:
      • Resident: $10,622/year
      • Nonresident: $23,774/year
    • Accreditation:
      • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
      • Planning Accreditation Board
    • Contact:

 

Virginia

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, Blacksburg, VA

Virginia Tech’s MURP program offers classes in Blacksburg and the Washington, D.C. area. It focuses on the development of technical skills as well as conceptual and critical thinking. Tuition is among the lowest in the nation for MURP programs. Ninety-two percent of graduates of the class of 2019 found full-time planning work within one year of graduation.

  • Degree:
  • Tuition:
    • Resident: $15,490/year
    • Nonresident: $30,486/year
  • Accreditation:
    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
    • Planning Accreditation Board
  • Contact:

Washington

Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA

EWU provides an advanced standing MURP program for students who have a BA in Urban Planning from a PAB-accredited program.  Dual degrees are also available with Business Administration, Social Work, and Public Administration. EWU offers the lowest in-state tuition and fees of any public university in Washington state.

 

Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI

UWM’s MUP program admits students from all backgrounds to its program. Internships and research opportunities are offered and encouraged. The program’s tuition is among the lowest in the state. Study abroad activities as well as Innovative Cities lectures and the annual Causier Lecture are all highlights of this program.

  • Degree:
  • Tuition:
    • Resident: $11,864/year
    • Nonresident: $25,295/year
  • Accreditation:
    • Higher Learning Commission
    • Planning Accreditation Board
  • Contact:
    • Lingqian Ivy Hu, Chair at (414) 290-7274 or hul@uwm.edu