Master of Professional Studies in Urban & Regional Planning

Explore the Degree

To master the art and science of urban planning requires a dedication to learning and refining skills, an understanding of practical theories and a commitment to gaining practical planning experiences. The Georgetown University Master of Professional Studies in Urban & Regional Planning curriculum provides students with a well-rounded balance of classroom instruction and field work, combined to make students highly marketable contributors in the urban planning profession.

The degree requires a total of 42 credits to complete, including:

  • Two Core courses (6 credits)
  • Five Foundation courses (15 credits)
  • Four Concentration courses (12 credits)
  • Three Elective courses (9 credits)

Typically, students can complete the program in two years of full-time study or three years of part-time study.

The Core is composed of two courses (6 credits total), described below, which are considered essential in the development of practicing urban planners. "Ethics and Planning Practice" introduces students to the history and theory of urban and regional planning; research method; the planning process; legal issues and ethical practices; and sustainability. The Capstone course is considered a culmination of knowledge gained throughout the Urban & Regional Development program.

Required Core Courses (6 Credits)

MPUP 500: Ethics and Planning Practice (3 Credits)
The Core course explores the values and decisions related to the ethical practice of urban planning in a democratic society. Students investigate the ethical decisions as well as the professional issues they may encounter as a planner. The course reviews the theories of urban planning and community and the environmental and social issues involved in planning. The planner’s role in regard to the ethical treatment of all members of a community, as well as issues of social justice, diversity, economic equity, resource allocation, environmental health, environmental sustainability and public process are also included in course content. This Core course must be passed with a grade of "B" (3.00) or better to be applied to graduation.

MPUP 950: Urban & Regional Planning Capstone (3 Credits)
In consultation with the Executive Director, students complete this Core course in their final semester of study, focusing on an in-depth research project that brings together key areas that they have learned throughout the program. The Capstone must be passed with a grade of "B" (3.00) or better in order to be applied to graduation.

Required Foundation Courses (15 credits)

MPUP 510: Urban Planning History and Theory (3 Credits)
The Core course examines the history of the planning profession and how the planner’s role has evolved over time. An overview of major planning theories and rationales such as equity, sustainability, community and community inclusion are discussed. The physical design of cities, the impact of urbanization and city’s response to technological advances are examined. Students analyze several present day scenarios facing urban communities and gain perspective through knowledge of planning theories and strategies taught throughout the course.

MPUP 520: Methods in Urban Planning Research & Analysis (3 Credits)
The Core course prepares students to analyze quantitative data and mapping used in the practice of urban and regional planning. Students become familiar with the sources of data and their relevance to making urban planning decisions. Students use publicly available data sets and data obtained from communities in the Washington region as a basis of course inquiry. Several data sources are examined, including GIS (Geographic Information Systems), census data, community data, and prior plans. Through readings, lectures and lab sessions, students gain knowledge of the skills and tools that accompany the practice of urban planning. Students are introduced to graphic delineation and mapping and the presentation methods used in planning studies. Note: this course is not an in-depth GIS course, which is offered as a specialization course.

MPUP 530: Economics for Planners (3 Credits)
The Core course introduces concepts and techniques of economics that pertain to urban planners. The government’s role in the economics of cities and in development, national welfare and housing policies, public and private finance, and the cost-benefits associated with development are addressed. The course addresses state and regional economic policies that affect cities and regional economies, as well as finance, investment, fiscal resources and redevelopment initiatives. Real estate development case studies from a variety of innovative local projects in the Washington region are included in the course content.

MPUP 540: Planning the Sustainable Future (3 Credits)
As population increases and natural resources become scarcer, the principles of sustainable communities have become integral to shaping livable urban environments. The course examines the facets of sustainability that affect the health and future of the 21st century city, including transportation, natural resource preservation, green infrastructure and building, and smart growth policies adapted to minimize resource depletion. Theories of sustainability, sustainability policy, as well as obstacles to sustainable development are reviewed and case studies of sustainable communities are studied.

MPUP 550: Legal Foundations of Planning (3 Credits)
Students in this Core course study landmark land use law cases that built the legal foundations of the urban planning profession. Students examine land use law, and the law as a method by which the form and quality of neighborhoods and communities is changed. They also evaluate the various legal issues that arise in the course of the planning, policy making, and regulation process impacting development and resource utilization. The powers and constraints of zoning law are examined, as well as environmental and housing policies and regulations that govern architecture and neighborhood form.

Concentration Courses (12 Credits)

In addition to completing the Core and Foundation courses above, students may also complete 12 credits of coursework in three concentration areas (Urban Design & Land Use; Housing, Community, & Economic Development; or International Development) as described below:

Urban Design & Land Use (subject to change)

This concentration explores the management and planning of physical development in the built environment. Courses include:

  • MPUP 602: Sustainable Development & Construction
  • MPUP 605: Geographic Information Systems
  • MPUP 701: Washington by Design
  • MPUP 751: Transit-Oriented Development
  • *MPUP 800: Urban Lab

Housing, Community, & Economic Development (subject to change)

This concentration explores the management and planning of socio-economic development of neighborhoods, cities and regions. Courses include:

  • MPUP 651: Housing Policy in the United States
  • MPUP 661: Big Investments in Big Cities
  • MPUP 711: Great Urban Places
  • MPUP 755: Affordable Housing Strategies
  • *MPUP 800: Urban Lab

International Development (subject to change)

This concentration explores the management and planning of urban development practices in an international context. Courses may include:

  • MPUP 610: Select International Regions: Asia
  • MPUP 611: Select International Regions: Latin America
  • MPUP 612: Select International Regions: Europe
  • MPUP 613: Select International Regions: Africa
  • *MPUP 800: Urban Lab

*MPUP 800: Urban Lab is designed in consultation with the Executive Director. With advance, written approval by the program and notification to the SCS Office of Academic Affairs & Compliance, this course can be counted towards one of the three concentrations.

Elective Courses (9 Credits)

MPUP 910: URP Independent Study (3 credits) – With advance, written permission of the Executive Director, students may enroll in an individualized section that may include an internship, externship, or other practice-based exercises built upon an academic foundation. International students should consult with their international student advisor about potential Visa-related regulations before enrolling in this course.

Additional Electives (subject to change)

  • MPUP 535: Applications in Big Data
  • MPUP 604: Capital Markets & Capital Hill
  • MPUP 660: Contemporary Issues
  • MPUP 800: Urban Lab I
  • MPUP 801: Urban Lab II

Elective credits may also be fulfilled by choosing a course in another URP concentration or, with advance, written permission from the Executive Director and notification to the SCS Office of Academic Affairs & Compliance, from an associated program in the MPS division, such as Real Estate, Sports Industry  Management or Emergency & Disaster Management.

Program Options

Students in the program work closely with professors and program advisors to structure electives, concentrations, internships, City Lab experiences and Capstone projects to meet specific learning goals, career objectives and specialty interests. Students can choose to focus their studies from one of two program concentrations, Land Use and Urban Design or Sustainability.

Application Deadlines

Visit the admissions page for more information about application deadlines and applying online.


Educational expenses each semester are based on the number of credits for which you are registered. See tuition rates, based on cost per credit, for the Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies.

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