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Focus Areas

The Urban and Regional Planning Program offers focus areas for master’s students to gain depth in a specific area of the very broad field of urban and regional planning.

The Urban and Regional Planning Program offers focus areas for master's students to gain depth in a specific area of the very broad field of urban and regional planning. There are five program-defined focus areas. Students may choose to "specialize" in one focus area, or selectively choose electives from across two or more focus areas to create their own specialization. Students might also choose to sample from across multiple focus areas, or take more courses from across campus, to gain skills broadly. 

Note that courses offered in other departments may require prerequisites and may restrict enrollment.

You can easily add or drop courses within the first three weeks of each term. Students shop around for courses during the first week or two of class and faculty generally expect to see students coming and going during the first few sessions. Remember that while you do not need to finalize your schedule until the third week of the semester, you must register by the first day of the term and have at least one course on your schedule. Registration deadlines.

Learn more about each of the five focus areas below:


Global and Comparative Planning

The Global and Comparative Planning focus area provides students with the opportunity to examine the interconnected social, cultural, and political-economic processes that frame patterns of urban development and planning in the United States and abroad. Many cities in low and middle-income countries face challenges of rapid population growth, resource scarcity, rural-urban migration, severe poverty and socioeconomic inequality. Yet they also exhibit remarkable planning innovations, some of which are replicated in urban settings of high-income countries. Students develop the tools and ideas to understand how globalization impacts the local space of cities and regions; work effectively in multicultural settings; empower marginalized populations; and facilitate collaborative practice. Read more.


Housing, Community, and Economic Development

The Housing, Community, and Economic Development focus area teaches students how to plan housing, neighborhoods, and the economic well-being of a community and the larger region. The goals of the concentration are to inform students how to increase social and economic capital and improve the quality of life generally, especially in low-income, minority, and other disadvantaged communities. Read more.


Land Use and Environmental Planning

The Land Use and Environmental Planning focus area prepares planners to work toward the long-term environmental and social sustainability of land use. The concentration focuses on training students to better inform private and public decision making processes related to land development, especially within the context of these ongoing issues of urban decline and suburban sprawl. Read more.


Physical Planning and Design

The Physical Planning and Design focus area enables planning students to contribute to the design, function, and sustainability of our communities. In this concentration, students visualize scale, density, and the physical dimensions of different built structures, transportation systems, and infrastructure requirements; learn how to create and review site plans; study design philosophies; and learn how community participation can enhance design. Read more.


Transportation Planning

The Transportation Planning focus area builds an interdisciplinary range of skills and perspectives to help foster local and regional accessibility, including understandings of transportation’s societal roles, applied technical and evaluation skills, and historical uses and misuses of transportation techniques. Read more.