Top Master’s Degree Programs in City Planning

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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.

Arizona State University

Tempe, United States

  • 130SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 40,463Average Tuition
  • 84%Acceptance Rate

The Arizona State University is the largest public university by enrollment in the U.S. ASU comprises 16 colleges and schools that offer more personalized experiences for students, while offering opportunities to collaborate across disciplines and campuses....

Queen's University Belfast

Belfast, United Kingdom

  • 164SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 18,575Average Tuition
  • 0Acceptance Rate

Queen's University Belfast (Queen's) is a public institution located along the University Road in Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK. Queen's offers a wide range of master's degree programs across its three academic faculties namely: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; Engineering and Physical Sciences; and Medicine, Health and Life Sciences....

University of Illinois, Chicago

Chicago, United States

  • 170SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 42,430Average Tuition
  • 74%Acceptance Rate

The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is a public research university in Chicago, Illinois, United States and has 15 academic schools through which it offers interesting master’s degree programs in a wide range of subject areas....

University of Dundee

Dundee, United Kingdom

  • 177SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 21,670Average Tuition
  • 80%Acceptance Rate

The University of Dundee (DU) is a public research university located in the city of Dundee, Scotland. The University has dedicated faculties through which it delivers master's degree programs to both local and international students ...

University of Kansas

Lawrence, United States

  • 227SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 23,700Average Tuition
  • 93%Acceptance Rate

The University of Kansas (KU) is a state-sponsored, public research institution located in Kansas, United States. KU is spread across five campuses and through its 14 colleges, the university offers a wide range of master's degree courses....

Anglia Ruskin University

Cambridge, United Kingdom

  • 241SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 18,048Average Tuition
  • 0Acceptance Rate

Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) has 4 campuses located in Cambridge, London, Chelmsford and Peterborough, United Kingdom. ARU offers over a 100 master’s degree programs across its 4 academic faculties, namely: Arts, Law and Social Sciences; Health, Social Care and Education; Science and Technology; Medical Science; and the Lord Ashcroft International Business School. ...

University of South Florida

Tampa, United States

  • 245SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 15,900Average Tuition
  • 0Acceptance Rate

The University of South Florida (USF) is a public research institution located in the city of Tampa, Florida, United States. The university has three campuses through which it delivers master’s degree courses in the fields of health professions and related programs, business, management, marketing, and related support services, biological and biomedical sciences, social sciences, psychology, architecture, liberal arts, education and visual and performing arts....

University of Colorado, Denver

Denver, United States

  • 259SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 40,993Average Tuition
  • 73%Acceptance Rate

University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver) is a public institution with its main campus located in Denver, Colorado, U.S.A. CU Denver offers a wide range of master's degree programs through its eight academic faculties including: Business School; School of Education and Human Development; College of Architecture and Planning; and Graduate School....

Eastern Michigan University

Ypsilanti, United States

  • 279SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 24,000Average Tuition
  • 73%Acceptance Rate

Eastern Michigan University (EMU) is a learning and research institute in Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA. Students can choose from over 150 master’s degree programs at EMU. ...

University of Strathclyde

Glasgow, United Kingdom

  • 287SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 24,371Average Tuition
  • 50%Acceptance Rate

University of Strathclyde (Strathclyde) is a public institution located in Glasgow, Scotland, UK. Strathclyde offers a wide range of master's degree programs across its four academic faculties namely: Engineering, Humanities and Social Sciences, Science, and Strathclyde Business School....

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