The Master of Urban and Regional Planning program educates students in contemporary methods of Planning. It is a professional program and is fully accredited by the National Planning Accreditation Board. The mission of the Planning Master's program is the transfer of knowledge to action for the betterment of neighborhoods, communities, and regions in the U.S. and abroad. In the Master's program, students gain familiarity with planning problems and practices through a series of courses on the environmental, economic, and social challenges that communities face not only in Southern California, but in the United States, as well as other national contexts. Students are provided with a rigorous intellectual foundation and analytical skills that prepare them to work in Planning and related fields in the public, private and non-profit sectors. The Planning Master's program supports a diverse set of opportunities for students including an optional international educational experience as part of their degree. Internships are strongly encouraged as part of the Planning program.
The required core curriculum provides students with a foundational education in Planning. Through the selection of electives, students may pursue a generalist planning degree or identify a specific area of Planning in which to develop further expertise. Some examples include: environmental planning, housing and community development, international development planning, land use planning and transportation. Students develop a curriculum that fits their professional aspirations and meets program requirements in consultation with the Department’s faculty members and the Graduate Coordinator. A professional report, practicum, thesis or written comprehensive examination is the capstone requirement to be successfully completed in the second year of study.
For most Planning students, the professional report is the preferred capstone requirement, because the professional report allows students to develop and hone practice-related skills. A professional report is an analysis of a real-world planning issue or process, completed in a manner that demonstrates professional judgment and competence. It provides the opportunity for students to exercise judgment in diagnosing a planning problem, in selecting appropriate analytical methods, in posing and evaluating alternative approaches, and in recommending an approach. For some students, a research experience may be more appropriate as the capstone. The Planning program allows a small number of research-oriented Planning students to write a thesis in lieu of a professional report. Typically, students who choose a master’s thesis option will be considering Ph.D. study or research careers. Students may also complete the comprehensive exam or group practicum to fulfill the requirements of the capstone. See below for additional information on the capstone options.
Planners work in a wide range of positions in the public, private and non-profit sectors, addressing issues of metropolitan growth, environmental sustainability, rising social inequality and governance, including participatory processes. Career paths exist in government agencies that deal with urban planning, economic development, housing, regional growth management, air quality and water treatment and public utilities. Employment opportunities also exist with private consulting firms, residential and commercial development firms, and engineering and architectural firms. There is a growing number of exciting opportunities for planners interested in working in the non-profit sector. Examples include working for community-based organizations, cooperatives and labor unions.