Top Master’s Degree Programs in City Planning

Master’s Degree Programs in City Planning – An Overview

Master’s degree programs in City Planning are designed to help students understand the complex social and practical issues that arise from planning and development decisions. Instruction includes not only communication and leadership training but also discussions of the political ramifications of planning decisions. Since city planning officials work in diverse communities and make decisions about the allocation of basic resources, programs also emphasise political and diplomatic skills.

What is a Master’s Degree Program in City Planning?

The Master’s in City Planning is generally a high-credit degree for students due to the diversity of coursework involved, typically requiring at least three years to complete. Typically, students take basic courses in research methods and policy theory before branching out into a specialised area, such as:

  • Land-use regulation
  • Community and local economic development
  • Infrastructure planning and budgeting
  • Sustainable development
  • Urban design

It is worth noting that some programs decline to offer specialisation tracks in their program in favour of a large pool of electives that draw from these topics. For students interested in more than one of these areas, these Master’s degree programs in City Planning offer opportunities.

What Are the Benefits of Getting a Master’s in City Planning?

For those who already work in a city planning office in one capacity or another, this Master’s program offers access to raises and promotions. That is because it signifies a substantial amount of extra education in the theoretical aspects of the field, preparing students for more responsibility. It is also a great way to gain the skills necessary to move from another field of public administration for those interested in changing careers.

The degree specifically helps prepare students by developing the following skills:

  • Leadership and communication skills learned through hands-on work, including experiential learning opportunities like internships.
  • Political and diplomatic skills learned through a combination of theory and experiential opportunities.
  • Analytical thinking and writing skills that specifically pertain to the best practises and most current methods in the field of City Planning.

This broad base of preparation is integral to the careers that most students of Master’s degree programs in City Planning choose to pursue.

What Kind of Career Can You Expect With a Master’s in City Planning?

There are a wide variety of careers in both the public and private sector for City Planning graduates. On the public side, numerous municipal and regional branches of government seek degree holders for positions related to development. This includes zoning offices, city planning departments, offices with mandates for economic development, and special projects put into place by local governments to encourage growth. Overall, approximately two thirds of city planners are employed by government offices.

On the private sector side, real estate developers and construction companies often use the expertise of city planning consultants and others to lobby for their interests. Consulting is also an option for those interested in advising cities on specific elements of their growth and planning, such as sustainable development.


Overall, this field is a growing one, with the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics estimating that approximately 4,000 new city planning jobs will be added to the country’s economy by 2022.

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