As a culmination of the degree, all Master of Urban and Regional Planning students are required to complete an exit project. Exit projects are “integrative”: they rely on knowledge and skills developed across the urban and regional planning curriculum rather than through a single course. Most students meet this requirement by taking a Capstone Studio course. For a few students with a unique set of needs and opportunities, a professional project or a thesis may substitute for the Capstone Studio course. These require a greater investment of time and effort by the student, but offer the opportunity of a project uniquely tailored to their interests. The exit project requirement may be filled in one of three ways, each of which involves six credit hours.

1. URP 603 – Capstone Studio

Most students participate in the capstone studio, a client-based, collaborative planning experience that mirrors real-world practice. Each capstone course is limited in size to 9-12 students. Each capstone is unique, focused on the needs of a community partner or client. The key goals of the capstone are to provide:

  • Students with an active learning experience that addresses timely and real-world planning problems, requires engaging with actual clients, and mimics professional work experiences yet still conducted under the tutelage of instructors as a learning experience.
  • Local governments and nongovernmental community development groups assistance that will tangibly advance the group’s mission or address a pressing planning problem that speaks to issues of social justice and sustainability. Instructors give preference to groups that lack the staff or other resources necessary to undertake such planning projects on their own but that have sufficient capacity to work with students and move forward with the planning reports and recommendations produced.

Projects completed as Capstone Studio courses have been recognized with numerous state and national awards. To see examples of reports, visit the Urban and Regional Planning student work page.

2. URP 602 – Professional Project

This option provides students the opportunity to develop their creative abilities in planning and problem-solving on a professional, client-based topic not otherwise provided by a Capstone Studio. Students undertaking professional projects normally work with one faculty member and one community partner, who together serve as the advisory committee supervising the project.

The professional project should rely on and reflect knowledge of relevant literature and should exhibit attributes of urban and regional planning, as opposed to being a narrow technical exercise. That is, the project should deal with the formulation of policy goals and consider multiple constituencies. Professional projects are not normally based exclusively on the implementation of predefined techniques, such as the calibration of a measurement that is required by governmental regulation or analysis of census data. A professional project is not a project that an employer tells the student to do and is not a part of employment; rather, the project should develop from the student’s and the community partner’s perception of a need. The student’s advisory committee reviews the project, which must meet the committee’s standards for quality and scope.

A proposal for a professional project must be approved by the Curriculum Committee. For more information, refer to the document Policies on the Professional Project and Thesis.

3. URP 601 – Planning Thesis

A thesis is a creative, scholarly work developed from independent research. The major objective of the thesis is to give students the opportunity to develop their creative abilities in one or more of the following areas: defining and understanding urban planning problems or opportunities; developing new knowledge and planning methods or strategies to address urban planning problems and opportunities; or understanding the structure and function of urban systems. For a thesis, the advisory committee must be at least two faculty members, one of which must be a regular member of the Urban and Regional Planning faculty, with that URP faculty member serving as chair (or two as co-chairs).

Thesis research usually includes a literature review to delineate a problem or gap in knowledge, statement of objectives, formulation of hypotheses, explanation of methods, collection and analysis of data, report of results, discussion of conclusions, and an abstract. The student’s thesis committee reviews the thesis, which must meet the committee’s standards for quality and scope. Typically, students undertake a thesis only if they are contemplating continuing their academic studies through matriculation in a Ph.D. program following completion of their M.U.R.P.

A proposal for a thesis must be approved by the Curriculum Committee. For more information, refer to the document Policies on the Professional Project and Thesis.

Resources for Professional Project and Thesis

Professional Project / Thesis Proposal Questionnaire (Word Doc)

Confidential Adviser Review Form (Word Doc)