Urban Planning is an interdisciplinary, application-oriented program that will enable one to integrate knowledge from several domains such as Environmental Engineering, Transportation, Geospatial Informatics, Land-Usage, Community Development, and last but not the least, Information Technology. With urban populations on the rise, local governments, public service agencies, and urban utilities face increasing demand for greater reliability, safety, affordability, and resiliency of aging urban infrastructure systems. These systems must be continuously adapted and upgraded (often with technology-driven solutions) to efficiently support essential public services, urban development, and economic growth. Urban planners lay the foundation for our everyday lives. By designing, adapting, and tailor-making urban infrastructure towards environmental sustainability and analyzing public needs, they shape our cities and create a comfortable, safer, convenient, and livable environment. This makes advanced & specialized training more crucial, requiring expert human resources for better urban planning and to handle the many complexities of urban living. A Master’s in Urban Planning online is a comprehensive program that offers education and pertinent skills to prepare students for high-level leadership positions in regional planning. These programs can lead to careers such as Environmental Designers, Architects for Urban Landscape Design, Sustainable Transport Designers, and more.

Featured Online Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

PROGRAM: Online Masters Degrees

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.

We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.

SNHU has earned the GetEducated.com Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.

Best Masters in Urban Planning Online Programs

A Master’s in Urban Planning online can be ranked according to the tailor-made curriculum, insights gained, cost, and relevance to focus areas. The next factor one looks for is affordability, along with factors such as quality of the faculty and experience, resources of the institute, and access to research facilities. Additionally, the availability of internships, career opportunities, communication & networking facilities, the structure of the program, and graduation rate are other key factors, based on all of which some of the best Urban Planning programs in the United States are:

<a href="https://www.onlinemasterscolleges.com/masters-in-urban-planning-online/">Urban Planning</a>

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
University of Florida, Gainesville
Tigert Hall, Gainesville, Florida 32611
University of Southern California
University Park, Los Angeles, California 90089
Northeastern University
360 Huntington Ave, Boston, Massachusetts 02115
University of Alabama, Birmingham
Administration Bldg Suite 1070, Birmingham, Alabama 35294
Boston University (Blended)
One Silber Way, Boston, Massachusetts 02215
University of Washington
1400 NE Campus Parkway, Seattle, Washington 98195
Harvard University (on-campus)
Massachusetts Hall, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
University of California, Irvine (on-campus)
501 Aldrich Hall, Irvine, California 92697
Florida State University, Tallahassee (on-campus)
222 S. Copeland Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32306
University of Central Florida
4000 Central Florida Blvd, Orlando, Florida 32816
Iowa State University
1750 Beardshear Hall, Ames, Iowa 50011
Kansas State University
919 Mid-Campus Drive, Anderson Hall, Manhattan, Kansas 66506
Arizona State University
University Drive and Mill Avenue, Tempe, Arizona 85287
California State University, Northridge (on-campus)
18111 Nordhoff St, Northridge, California 91330
Portland State University (on-campus)
724 SW Harrison, Portland, Oregon 97201

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Understanding Masters in Urban Planning Programs

A Master’s in Urban Planning online is designed to teach students various subjects and skills that will prepare them to hold high-ranking positions on urban & regional planning committees. Students will take classes in core subjects that focus on the theory and history of planning, analytical methods, dynamics of metropolitan development, and plan implementation. Additionally, students can customize their education to further specialize in fields such as transportation, environment, community development, land use, economic development, urban informatics, and sustainable architectural and environmental designs.

Students who receive their Master’s in Urban Planning learn very valuable skills that enable them to create well-designed urban development plans. Equipped with the knowledge and experience offered in the program, graduates are better prepared to pursue high-level leadership, management & planning positions.

Masters in Urban Planning Degree Types

An online Master’s in Urban Planning, Urban Affairs, etc., is offered by many universities in the U.S., through different schools, and the blending of departments such as geography, architecture, social sciences, administration, environment, or even liberal arts, etc. Degrees may be in many different forms vis-à-vis STEM eligible (MSUP, MDES), STEM non-eligible (MUP, MA), with simple Master’s degrees or more complex ones.


A MURP or Master’s in Urban & Regional Planning is designed to teach students various subjects and skills that will prepare them to hold high-ranking positions on urban and regional planning committees. This will enable them to create well-designed urban development plans. Students will take classes in core subjects that focus on the theory and history of planning, analytical methods, dynamics of metropolitan development, and plan implementation. They can also customize their education to further specialize in fields such as transportation, environment, community development, land use, and economic development.

MUP Degree

The MUP Degree or Masters in Urban Planning trains leaders interested in building sustainable solutions to today’s critical urban problems. The program combines expertise in urban planning, policy analysis, and data analytics with physical planning, design, and data visualization. Its curriculum provides students with a solid foundation in research design and statistics, economic analysis, legal foundations planning, and the history of urban development and urban planning. Students also specialize in one of four concentrations: Urban Design and Physical Planning; Urban Analytics; Urban Sustainability and Resilience; and Urban Development Policy and Planning.

MA Urban Studies

The MA Urban Studies is an interdisciplinary field of inquiry that complements degree programs in Geography, Anthropology, Economics, Sociology, History, Environmental Science, Policy, and many other Liberal Arts, Health & Human Service disciplines. Irrespective of the area of focus, foundational principles of urban planning education prepare the mindset for equity & social justice, emphasize sustainable solutions, and utilize technology to facilitate human-centered communities.

MPA Urban Planning

The MPA Urban Planning or Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Urban Planning provides professional education for students interested in public-service careers related to Urban Planning. This interdisciplinary program is designed to stress the knowledge, skills, values, and behaviors essential to a successful public servant. The curriculum components are designed to produce professionals capable of intelligent and creative analysis, communication, and action in the public sector context.

MBA Urban Planning

An MBA in Urban Planning directly bridges the gap between urban planning goals and effective real estate development objectives and constraints. The Urban Planning MBA program is tailored for experienced professionals who know that cities are our greatest challenge and opportunity. The curriculum of this program is designed with significant input from the practice community and includes myriad outreach opportunities throughout.

Specializations in Masters in Urban Planning Programs

Many of the Master’s in Urban Planning online degree programs discussed above give a choice of focus areas and specializations to choose from. The most important specializations and course electives that can be chosen are Geological Info Systems, Sustainability, Urban Design, International Development, Analytics (example: policy, economics, complexity, resources, stability, robustness, etc.), Physical Planning, Land Use & Spatial Analysis, Mobility & Transportation, Housing Policy, Disaster Policy, Informatics (data, communication technologies, data modeling, etc.), Arts & Culture, and Community & Economic Development. Some of the other focus areas and concentrations offered by select universities in the USA include:

  • MCRP or Master of City and Regional Planning
  • City Planning Degree
  • Environmental Planning Master’s
  • Urban Design Masters Programs
  • Urban Ecology Masters
  • Urban Sustainability Graduate Programs
  • Master’s in Architecture and Urban Planning
  • Transportation Planning

Curriculum and Skills Gained in Masters in Urban Planning Online Programs

The Urban Planning curriculum generally contains specialized coursework in various subjects like Environmental Planning, Land Use & Transportation, Housing and Community Development, Economic Development, Information Technologies for Planning, and Urban Design. The program aims to educate tomorrow’s professional planners by emphasizing a variety of learning experiences. These include traditional seminar/lecture courses, studio experiences working on applied problems in team situations, a student internship to gain practical experience in the field, and individual research work involving a thesis. Students are also encouraged to participate in the rich civic life offered by the host community and nearby counties. In general, a Master’s in Urban Planning online teaches:

  • Urban and regional planning theory and practice
  • Site planning and creative plan-making
  • Land use planning analysis and law
  • Public participation and dispute resolution
  • Professional written and graphic communication
  • Data-driven analytical methods, including geographic information systems (GIS)
  • Planning for real estate and urban development, urban transportation systems, and the environment
  • Health and the built environment
  • Planning for equity, diversity, and social justice

Students graduate ready to thrive in a profession of increasing importance in the face of climate change, growing urban populations, and challenges to social equity. Most areas of concentration can be summarized as Environmental Planning, Urban Transportation Planning, Real Estate, Urban Development, Heritage Conservation, Urban Informatics, Urban Design, Sustainable City Design, etc.

The Urban Design Master’s offered by a few colleges are designed to provide the foundation and skills for professional planning practice and an understanding of the institutions and social, economic, and physical environments that constitute the context of contemporary planning. The core curriculum provides a breadth of planning knowledge, including planning methods, history, theory, law, and finance.

Among other things, graduates of a Master’s in Urban Planning will be able to:

  • negotiate between public objectives and private sector constraints;
  • plan, design, and implement major public works and development projects;
  • convene multiple stakeholders to develop innovative planning solutions;
  • lead teams from project initiation to execution; and
  • analyze data from market research, censuses, and economic and environmental studies to craft innovative plans and development proposals.

Accreditation for Masters in Urban Planning Online Programs

The most needed accreditation of any Master’s in Urban Planning online program is an accreditation by the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB) – the highest recognition for graduate planning programs. Other examples of Urban Planning accreditation include the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), and regional ones such as – Higher Learning Commission (HLC)Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), and Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration(NASPAA).

Timeline for graduation from Masters in Urban Planning Online Programs

Most Master’s in Urban Planning online programs require 1-3 years to complete the degree requirements and at least 24–52 credits to be acquired during the period. Graduate Certificate courses offered by some universities can generally be completed in lesser time. Some of these courses include the option of a compulsory internship, project work, or a thesis completion, as mandated to receive the degree, which might extend the timeline.

Masters in Urban Planning Online Programs Admission Requirements

Among the most common Urban Planning prerequisites is the requirement of a Bachelor’s degree, in any discipline, from a regionally accredited university. Other Master’s in Urban Planning online admission requirements are:

  • An Application Form & Fee
  • Official/Unofficial Academic Transcripts
  • A minimum 2.75-3.0 GPA on a 4.0-point scale.
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae highlighting relevant skills & experience.
  • Statement of Purpose clearly explaining future goals, reasons to pursue an Urban Planning degree, prior experience in Urban Planning, etc.
  • 2-3 Letters of Recommendation

Test Scores of GRE / GMAT are generally not required for most online programs. However, a low GPA can be supported by a good GRE score.

Masters in Urban Planning Online No GMAT/ GRE Programs

Most Master’s in Urban Planning online programs do not require a GRE or GMAT test score to be submitted or have waived the requirement for the 2023 intake. However, some universities may ask for these standardized test scores if the applicant’s GPA is less than 3.0. Here are a few universities that offer Masters in Urban Planning Online No GRE / GMAT programs:

1-Year Urban Planning Masters Programs

Many students show interest in finishing their studies as early as possible to get a head start on their careers. Although most online Urban Planning Master’s require anywhere from 1 year and six months to 3 years to complete, some one-year Urban Planning Masters are available in specialized areas such as Urban Informatics, Sustainable Design, etc. Additionally, Graduate Certificate courses in Urban Planning can also be completed in 1 year. Here are a few universities that offer 1-Year Urban Planning Masters Programs:

How to Pay for Masters in Urban Planning Online Programs

With most Master’s in Urban Planning online programs, the course fee is charged on a per-credit basis. Courses are usually given a course value of 2-3 credits with a maximum of 4 credits by the university, depending on the number of hours per week needed to complete the curriculum. One can refer to the course catalog to know the course value.

The fee can be paid as a lump sum or semester-wise, based on the number of credits the student chooses to complete for that particular semester. Some universities also offer an EMI option (example: 2-4 installments, or even a choice to postpone it to the next semester with a minimum late fee of $10-50).

As far as Urban Planning Master’s Degrees are concerned, students are expected to complete around 24-52 credits, including internship and thesis credits, within 1-3 years. The tuition cost of this varies by the university (example: $498 per credit in some state universities, to $2000 for executive Urban Planning management degrees), depending on the course value. While tuition & fees estimates can look overwhelming, the net price of the program provides a better estimate of how much money the student will spend on their college degree. The net price is tuition, subtracted by any potential scholarshipsgrants, schools’ tuition waivers, and other types of Federal Aid. If a student is selected for a teaching assistantship or a research assistantship – half-time (10 hours a week) or a part-time (20 hours a week) – they will be awarded an in-state status, bringing down the overall tuition fee. Sometimes students may also qualify for tuition waivers based on their GPA.

FAQs about URBAN PLANNING Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Urban and Regional Planning course all about?

The Urban and Regional Planning course is all about learning how to manage space, civic amenities, environmental protection, and community development in our present cities and districts, as well as how to plan and create blueprints for the future to create a healthy living environment. The course also includes land use planning, economic development, and policymaking.

Masters in Urban Planning worth it?

What is an Urban Planning major?

Where to study Urban Planning?

Who can study Urban Planning?

Is my undergraduate major adequate preparation for an Urban Planning degree?

Is there a deadline to apply? Are the courses offered for the spring or fall semester?

What is the minimum GPA universities expect?

Is the Urban Planning degree a STEM-designated degree?

Careers and Salary Outlook for Masters in Urban Planning Graduates

Master’s in Urban Planning online graduates have several opportunities to influence the quality of life in society. They have many roles in store for them as landscape & environmental designers, construction managers, planners, sustainability professionals, or specialists in historic preservation. Urban Planning graduates also involve themselves in making decisions that change our communities, state, and nation and positively address key societal challenges, including those related to health and wellbeing, injustice, economic prosperity, poverty, and climate change. Furthermore, they have great roles to play in public and private sectors and the governance in upgrading, reshaping & modernizing cities with the use of modern technologies.

Graduates of a Master’s in Urban Planning can come to expect good salaries and a promising job outlook. For example, the median average pay for urban and regional planners is $75,950, with a potential for jobs to grow by 11% between 2019 and 2029, much faster than average. A few other designations in the field of Urban Planning, with their median average salaries, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, are:

  1. Architects: $82,320
  2. Landscape Architects: $70,630
  3. Construction & Building Inspectors: $62,860
  4. Construction Managers: $97,180
  5. Architectural & Engineering Managers: $149,530
  6. Social & Community Service Managers: $69,600

It is worth pointing out that, in general, the salaries of Urban Planners vary by state.

Certifications and Licensing for Urban Planning Graduates

Many Universities offer voluntary/concurrent Graduate Certificate Urban Planning online. Some also offer the choice of pursuing a concurrent degree along with the Urban Planning degree, or even a dual degree leading to a Minor, another Master’s or a Ph.D. (example: Master in Sustainable Solutions, Master in Public Admin or Public Policy, or an Architecture degree, etc.).

Earning an Environmental Planning Certificate or Urban and Regional Planning Certificate online is an alternative to a full-fledged Master’s in Urban Planning or can also complement the degree to qualify for better, more specific jobs.

But adding certifications and credentialing is always advisable because they almost always add weight to a Master’s degree and open a wider selection of careers to choose from. A valuable certification in Urban Planning is the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) Certification, which provides the only nationwide, independent verification of planners’ qualifications. Other examples include – Certified Transportation Planner (CTP)Certified Urban Designer (CUD)Certified Economic Developer (CEcD)Professional Transportation Planner (PTP), and Housing Credit Certified Professional (HCCP).

It must be noted that in some cases, and depending on the job and location, professionals may be required to have an Urban Planner License, eligibility for which differs by state. An unconfirmed source states that only New Jersey requires licensure, but students are advised to check with state authorities. However, when it comes to housing, becoming a home inspector requires a license through the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI).

Additional Resources for Urban Planning Professionals

A potential urban planner seeking/pursuing a Master’s in Urban Planning online degree may better understand their career by keeping in touch with professionals in the field. They can also boost their careers by getting to know people in the field of Urban Planning, by tapping into the resources mentioned below:

  1. American Public Works Association: The American Public Works Association is an international educational and professional association of public agencies, private sector companies, and individuals dedicated to providing high-quality public works and services.
  2. Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO): AMPO is a non-profit membership organization established in 1994 to serve the needs and interests of “metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs)” nationwide. AMPO offers its member MPOs technical assistance and training, conferences and workshops, frequent print and electronic communications, research, a forum for transportation policy development and coalition building, and various other services.
  3. National Association of Development Organizations (NADO): The National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) provides training, information, and representation for regional development organizations in small metropolitan and rural America. The association, a public interest group founded in 1967, is the largest and leading advocate for a regional approach to community, economic and rural development and provides a network for its members to share ideas and innovations.
  4. Planners Network: The Planners Network is an association of professionals, activists, academics, and students involved in physical, social, economic, and environmental planning in urban and rural areas, who promote fundamental change in our political and economic systems.
  5. Urban Affairs Association: The Urban Affairs Association is an international professional organization for urban scholars, researchers, and public service providers. UAA exists to encourage disseminating information about urbanism and urbanization, supporting the development of university education, research, and service programs in urban affairs, and providing leadership in fostering urban affairs as a professional and academic field.
  6. Urban and Regional Information System Association (URISA): URISA is a non-profit association of professionals using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and other information technologies to solve challenges in all state and local government agencies and departments. Through its international, national and local chapter operations, URISA serves nearly 7,000 professionals worldwide.
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