Online Master’s Degree in Urban Planning

Urban planning, sometimes called city and/or regional planning, is an important field of education within the civic and social realm. A masters degree in urban planning unites civic leaders, professionals, and citizens, by creating efficient public spaces for the community. Through obtaining an online masters degree, professional urban planners will learn to develop and implement a strategic vision to enhance the community, and in their course work, will learn to research and shape their plans, and effect change in public policy in order to realize their vision. The online masters degree program in urban planning is typically a one- to two-year academic and professional degree program, depending on the institution granting the degree, how many classes are taken, and whether or not the student extends course work in this field to obtain a doctoral degree following the online masters program.

Classes for an Online Masters Degree in Urban Planning

In order for online masters degree candidates to fully understand the background and vast historical importance of urban planning, standard course work requires learning not only how to form future projects, but also how to build on previous standard planning practices. During the course of their career, an urban planning professional will need to draw on an extensive knowledge of physical structural concerns, like design, architecture, and construction, as well as public policy and administration procedures. Courses in these areas are essential for a career in urban planning in order for professionals to reference public policy in their interactions with city officials and organizations, businesses, and colleagues. The following is a sample selection of courses typically offered as part of completing an online masters degree in urban planning:

  • History and Theory of Urban Planning
  • Urban Design
  • Statistics
  • Land Use and Planning Law
  • Urban Economics

Master of Urban Planning students may choose a particular focus area within their overall online degree course work, such as land use, housing, or transportation planning, just to name a few. Whatever the individual concentration, in order to complete their degree, they will be required to complete a thesis, or final project, to show they’ve adequately mastered the subject matter. Once an urban planner holding an online masters degree has graduated and begins work in the professional world, a high value will be placed on their ability to show their expertise, and experience is extremely desirable in the field of urban planning. For this, internships are often mandatory for masters degree candidates.

A Career as a Graduate with an Online Masters Degree in Urban Planning

Most urban planning positions, whether located in civic, regional, federal, private, or nonprofit sectors, require a graduate degree. Graduates of an accredited online masters degree program are typically eligible for the highest-ranking positions in urban planning, such as planning director, principal planner or planning manager, and senior planner. Depending on the graduate’s qualifications and career ambitions, they may find more room for growth at a private or nonprofit organization, where the planning director position often requires the additional responsibilities, and enjoys the accolades, of owner, CEO, or president, for example. Urban planners with only an undergraduate education will have noticeably more limited job prospects, and may find it difficult to move beyond an entry-level position, while, as of 2010, a graduate with a masters degree could choose from more than 40,000 jobs in urban planning in the U.S. alone, and enjoy an average annual salary of $63,040. With a growing world population, and an ever-evolving focus on sustainability and environmental preservation, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the demand for qualified urban planners to increase by 16% over the next eight years.


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