Top 25 Urban Planning Schools

If you want to work in urban planning, a master’s degree is necessary. With so many schools from which to choose, how can you decide which is the best for you to attend? Many factors come into play when choosing a graduate urban planning degree program. You want to make sure that the program is accredited; decide if an online, in-person, or hybrid (a mixture of both) program is right for you; determine if you want the program to include an internship or field experience; and, of course, decide which program you can best afford. Luckily, there are scholarship opportunities available for those who wish to study urban planning, so in this list of the Top 25 Urban Planning Schools, we are going to take everything into account except the cost. (See our list of the Top 25 Most Affordable Urban Planning Schools if you are looking for affordability as the number one priority).

Accredited Urban Planning Schools

You should ensure that the graduate urban planning degree program you choose is accredited. Accreditation means that a program is recognized for its integrity, quality and performance. Standards and criteria have been established by the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB), in conjunction with groups such as the American Planning Association (APA), APA’s American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (AISCP).

Not every state has a graduate-level PAB-accredited master’s degree program. There are currently a total of 78 master’s degree programs nationwide that have received PAB-accreditation. The ones listed below have all received this accreditation.

How We Chose the Top 25 Urban Planning Schools

As noted above, we took many factors into account in choosing the top 25 urban planning schools across the nation. These include:

  • Accreditation. All of these programs have been accredited by the PAB and meet their rigorous standards for quality, integrity and performance.
  • The programs below offer options to students, such as online, in-person, and hybrid learning.
  • Internship. The programs below offer some type of internship, studio experience or field experience for students to gain real-world experience.
  • Respectability and Recognition. The schools listed below are all highly respected, not only for their urban planning programs but also for other degree programs. You will likely recognize many of these schools.

Not every state is represented with a graduate urban planning degree program in the list below. The schools that have been listed, however, contain some of the highest quality, most well-recognized, and most highly respected programs in the country that will lead to jobs in urban planning. In no particular order, and without further ado, here are the top 25 urban planning schools.


University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

With a focus on social justice and data innovation, USC’s 48-credit MUP program has come to be known as one of the best nationwide. Students may participate in internships and planning studios to gain real-world experience. Online options are available, with a fully online Executive Master of Urban Planning offered. These reasons help to place this school on our list of top urban planning schools.

  • Sol Price School of Public Policy
  • Master of Urban Planning
  • Concentrations Available:
    • Arts & Culture
    • Design of the Built Environment
    • Economic Development
    • Environmental Planning & Analysis
    • House & Real Estate Development
    • Mobility & Transportation Planning
  • 93% of graduates secured employment within one year of graduation
  • Contact:

 


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

University at Albany’s MRP program offers students the Albany Visualization and Informatics Lab in which they can gain hands-on experience in regional planning research. This is one reason the program has landed on our list of top urban planning schools. The school’s interdisciplinary program emphasizes public involvement, creativity and sustainability.

  • Department of Geography and Planning
  • Master of Regional Planning
  • Specializations Available:
    • Environmental & Land Use Planning
    • Community Planning
    • Transportation Planning
  • 100% of graduates secured employment within one year of graduation
  • Contact:

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

U of P’s MCP program requires students to complete an internship within or outside of the Philadelphia region. This requirement helps to place the program on the list of the best urban planning schools in the nation. As the sixth largest city in the U.S., Philadelphia is an exciting city in which to study city planning, comprised of many diverse neighborhoods.

  • Weitzman School of Design
  • Master of City Planning
  • Concentrations Available:
    • Housing, Community & Economic Development
    • Land Use-Environmental Planning
    • Public Private Development
    • Smart Cities
    • Sustainable Transportation and Infrastructure Planning
    • Urban Design
  • 75% of students obtained planning employment within one year of graduation
  • Contact:

Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Harvard’s MUP program administers joint degree programs with the Law School, the Harvard Kennedy School, and the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. Students may also cross-register in courses offered by neighboring Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This flexibility contributes to its place on this list of best master’s programs in urban planning. The school’s Community Service Fellowship Program provides summer internships in the U.S. and overseas travel grants.

  • Graduate School of Design
  • Master in Urban Planning
  • Concentrations Available:
    • Environment, Climate & Health
    • Housing, Community & Economic Development
    • International & Comparative Planning
    • Real Estate & Urban Development
    • Transportation & Infrastructure
    • Urban Analytics
    • Urban Design
  • 77% of graduates obtained planning employment within one year of graduation
  • Contact:

 


Hunter College, City University of New York, New York, NY

Hunter College’s MUP program does not offer specializations, but does require students to complete both a planning studio and an internship prior to graduation. These reasons help to place the school among our top urban planning schools. Students may design their own curriculum plan with the help of an advisor.

  • Department of Urban Policy & Planning
  • Master of Urban Planning
  • 87% of graduates obtained planning employment within one year of graduation
  • Contact:

 


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL

The Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is one of the oldest and largest planning departments in the country, and on our list of top degree programs in the country. It offers joint degree programs with Master of Architecture, Master of Landscape Architecture, Master of Science in Civil Engineering, Master of Public Health, Master of Science in Recreation, Sport and Tourism, and Juris Doctor.  Internships are suggested and a capstone project is required.

  • College of Fine & Applied Arts
  • Master of Urban Planning
  • Concentrations Available:
    • Land Use & Environmental Planning
    • Transportation Planning
    • Community Development for Social Justice
    • Local & Regional Economic Development
    • Transnational Planning Stream
  • 77% of graduates obtained planning employment within one year of graduation
  • Contact:

 


Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ

Students in the MCRP program at Rutgers must maintain a 3.0 GPA in order to graduate. This is one reason this program is on our list of best urban planning schools. Additionally, students must satisfy a professional report requirement. Between 40 and 50 MCRP degrees are typically awarded by Rutgers University each school year.

  • Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy
  • Master of City and Regional Planning
  • Concentrations Available:
    • Community Development & Housing
    • Design & Development/Redevelopment
    • Environmental Planning
    • International Development
    • Transportation Policy & Planning
    • Urban Informatics
  • 1% of graduates obtained employment within one year of graduation
  • Contact:

 


Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Workshops and research projects are encouraged in Cornell’s MRP program, one of the reasons it is on our list of top urban planning schools. Internships are required, and study abroad opportunities are offered. Students must complete an Exit Project Paper prior to graduation, usually a professional report, research paper or master’s thesis.

  • College of Architecture, Art & Planning
  • Master of Regional Planning
  • Concentrations Available:
    • Designing the City
    • Economic Development Planning: Communities and Regions
    • Land Use and Environmental Planning
    • International Studies in Planning
  • 100% of graduates obtained employment within one year of graduation
  • Contact:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

MIT’s MCP program requires students to complete a studio or workshop in their second and third semesters. This plus the individuality of each student tailoring their own specializations helps place it on our list of top urban planning schools. Field work and internships are also encouraged. Dual degrees with Master of Science in Transportation and Master of Architecture are possible.

  • School of Architecture & Planning
  • Master in City Planning
  • Specializations are tailored to each individual student and developed with an advisor
  • 100% of graduates obtained employment within one year of graduation
  • Contact:

 


University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL

The MUPP program at UIC requires that students complete an internship and a portfolio or thesis prior to graduation. This is one reason the school places among our top urban planning schools. A dual degree is available in Public Health. Other degrees offered by the college include Master of City Design and Doctorate in Urban Planning & Policy.

  • College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs
  • Master in Urban Planning & Policy
  • Specializations Available:
    • Economic Development
    • Community Development
    • Spatial Planning
    • Urban Transportation
    • Environmental Planning & Policy
  • 84% of graduates obtained employment within one year of graduation
  • Contact:

 


University of California-Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA

The MURP program at UCLA is one of the most published institutions in urban studies and urban planning, with faculty members having extensive experience. This is just one reason the program is on our list of top urban planning schools. Field work is required for students without industry experience. Joint degree programs exist with Juris Doctor, Business Administration and Latin American Studies, Public Health, and Architecture and Urban Design.

  • Luskin School of Public Affairs
  • Master of Urban and Regional Planning
  • Concentrations Available:
    • Community Economic Development and Housing
    • Design and Development
    • Environmental Analysis and Policy
    • Regional and International Development
    • Transportation Policy and Planning
  • 92% of graduates obtained employment within one year of graduation
  • Contact:

 


University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

Berkeley’s MCP program is internationally known for its innovative research and degree programs, landing it on our list of top urban planning schools. Students work on experiential learning and participate in international forums regarding critical issues. Faculty members have won many awards and are internationally recognized as top academics and researchers in the field of urban planning.

  • Department of City & Regional Planning
  • Master of City Planning
  • Concentrations Available:
    • Environmental Planning & Healthy Cities
    • Housing, Community & Economic Development
    • Transportation Policy & Planning
    • Urban Design
  • 91% of graduates obtained employment within one year of graduation
  • Contact:

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC

Students in the final year of UNC-Chapel Hill’s MCRP program must submit a professional master’s project in their area of specialization. This is just one reason this program has landed on our list of top urban planning programs. A problem-solving capstone workshop must also be completed prior to graduation.

  • Department of City & Regional Planning
  • Master of City & Regional Planning
  • Concentrations Available:
    • Economic Development
    • Housing & Community Development
    • Land Use & Environmental Planning
    • Transportation Planning
  • Optional Tracks Available:
    • Natural Hazards
    • Design
    • Real Estate
  • 94% of graduates obtained employment within one year of graduation
  • Contact:

 


George Washington University, Arlington, VA

GWU’s Master of Professional Studies in Sustainable Urban Planning is a fairly young program, having been around for just 10 years. However, its focused interdisciplinary urban planning curriculum, proximity to access federal government agencies and officials in Washington, D.C. and great opportunity for networking and careers places this program on our list of top urban planning schools.

 


Tufts University, Medford, MA

Tufts’ MA in EUP and MS in EPP programs allow for students to enroll full- or part-time, one of the reasons the programs have landed on our list of top urban planning schools. An internship is required, as is a capstone or master’s thesis, prior to graduation. Field projects are also offered to students, allowing them to work on real-world problems and challenges.

 


California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, CA

Cal Poly’s MURP program is one of the only PAB-accredited programs offering most of its classes in the evening hours, making it perfect for part-time students who work. This is one reason it has landed on our list of top urban planning schools. Planetizen has rated this program as the most diverse in the nation. Internships are optional but recommended.

  • College of Environmental Design
  • Master of Urban & Regional Planning
  • Tracks Available:
    • Planning & Public Policy
    • Entrepreneurship & Leadership
  • 68% of graduates obtained employment within one year of graduation
  • Contact:

 


Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

Texas A&M’s MUP program requires students to complete an internship prior to graduation, just one reason it’s on our list of top urban planning degree programs. It offers areas of emphasis or optional certificates in specializations. The school is located in one of the fastest-growing regions in the nation, making the program innovative and timely.

  • College of Architecture
  • Master of Urban Planning
  • Areas of Emphasis Available:
    • Transportation and Active Living
    • Resilient Communities
    • Housing, Community and Economic Development
  • Alternative Certificates Available:
    • Sustainable Urbanism
    • Environmental Hazard Management
    • Transportation Planning & Policy
    • Historic Preservation
    • Health Systems Design & Planning
    • Facilities Management
  • Contact:

 


University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

The University of Minnesota’s MURP program gives students the technical and analytical skills they need to develop strategic thinking about urban planning. This is one reason it’s included in our list of top urban planning schools. Graduates have had the highest passage rate in the nation on the AICP examination for the past ten years. Dual degrees are available in a variety of areas, including Public Policy, Master of Science in Civil Engineering, and Master of Landscape Architecture.

  • Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs
  • Master of Urban and Regional Planning
  • Concentrations Available:
    • Environmental Planning
    • Housing & Community Development
    • Land Use & Urban Design
    • Transportation Planning
    • Self-Designed Concentrations
  • 97% of graduates obtained employment within one year of graduation
  • Contact:

 


University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

The MURP program at the University of Florida offers both on-campus and fully online options. It also offers concurrent degrees in Transportation Engineering and joint degrees in Juris Doctor and other areas. This is one reason this program has landed on our list of top urban planning schools. In addition to the concentrations listed below, certificates may be obtained in each area.

  • College of Design, Construction and Planning
  • Master of Urban & Regional Planning
  • Concentrations Available:
    • Geographic Information Systems
    • Historic Preservation
    • Wetland Sciences
  • 91% of graduates obtained employment within one year of graduation
  • Contact:

 


University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Amherst, MA

Students in UMass-Amherst’s MRP program must complete a thesis or capstone project prior to graduation, one of the reasons this program is on our list of top urban planning schools. Research and studio projects that students have completed in the past may be browsed online. The program may be completed in two years, or one year for those who have an undergraduate degree in Sustainable Community Development.

  • of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning
  • Master of Regional Planning
  • Concentrations Available:
    • Community & Equity Planning
    • Land Use & Environmental Planning
    • Economic & Regional Development Planning
    • Student Designed Concentration
  • 85% of graduates obtained employment within one year of graduation
  • Contact:

 


University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL

UCF’s MSURP program offers students direct experience through the required studio and capstone courses, which must be completed before graduation. This is one of the reasons this school is on our list of top urban planning schools. The school also offers maximum flexibility, with classes offered in-person, online and in evening hours to fit all schedules.

  • School of Public Administration
  • Master of Science in Urban and Regional Planning
  • Classes offered in-person, online, and evenings
  • 89% of graduates obtained employment within one year of graduation
  • Contact:
    • Nasrin Lakhani, Manager, Academic Support Services, School of Public Administration, (407) 823-0912 or lakhani@ucf.edu

 


University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

University of Michigan’s MURP program offers students a broad view of urban planning, with the opportunity to focus in one of nine areas. This is one reason it is included in our list of top urban planning schools. Critical thinking skills are emphasized. An Optional Practice Training (OPT) extension of 24 months is offered to students interested in practical work experience.

  • Alfred Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning
  • Master of Urban & Regional Planning
  • Concentrations Available:
    • Land Use and Environmental Planning
    • Social Justice & Urban Development
    • Sustainability, Resilience, Adaptation, & Climate Change
    • Applied Planning Skills
    • Community and Economic Development
    • Housing and Equitable Development
    • Global and Comparative Planning
    • Physical Planning and Design
    • Transportation Planning
  • 83% of graduates obtained employment within one year of graduation
  • Contact:

Iowa State University, Ames, IA

Iowa State’s MCRP program offers students optional internships and the chance to study abroad, two of the reasons it places among our top 25 urban planning schools. Dual degree programs are offered with architecture, business, landscape architecture, sustainable agriculture, sustainable environments, and urban design. An online master’s in Community Development is also offered by the school.

 


University of California-Irvine, Irvine, CA

UCI offers MURP students the opportunity to study abroad, as well as capstone courses that are required for practical experience prior to graduation – two reasons this school is included among our top urban planning schools. As no area of concentration is required, some students develop into urban planning generalists, while others choose a focus area of their own design.

 


Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA

Georgia Institute of Technology’s MCRP program provides students with many opportunities for hands-on learning, one of the reasons it has placed among the top 25 urban planning schools. Full-time students are encouraged, but part-time hours may be accepted under exceptional circumstances.

  • College of Design
  • Master of City & Regional Planning
  • Specializations Available:
    • Economic Development
    • Environment and Health
    • Housing and Community Development
    • Land Use Planning
    • Transportation
    • Urban Design
  • 95% of graduates obtained employment within one year of graduation
  • Contact:

Gulsah Akar, Chair at (404) 894-2351 or gulah.akar@design.gatech.edu