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2021 Urban & Regional Planning Degree Guide

Instead of building castles in the sky, do you spend time day-dreaming up your own city? A major in Urban and Regional Planning would prepare you to develop and maintain city and community centers around the world. City planners are responsible for planning the buildings, roads, parks and utilities of cities and urban centers. They also address issues of city sprawl, endless traffic, few natural spaces, and a lack of reliable public transportation.

Your course load will depend on the college you choose. Common courses in this major can range from topics such as economics, architectural principles, management, drafting, law and geographic information system.

Urban & Regional Planning Degrees Growing in Popularity

#170 Most Popular Major
2.7k Degrees Awarded
1.6% Increase in Graduates

In 2018-2019, urban and regional planning was the 170th most popular major nationwide with 2,729 degrees awarded. This represents a 1.6% increase in urban planning degrees awarded over the prior year's total of 2,685.

There are 39 schools offering degrees in urban and regional planning in the United States. This year's Best Colleges for Urban & Regional Planning ranking compares 22 of them to identify the best overall programs in the country. Continue reading to check out one of our many unbiased rankings of urban planning programs later in this article.

What Are The Requirements For a Degree in Urban & Regional Planning

If you think you would enjoy learning and applying principles of planning, analyzing, and architecture to developing and improving urban areas, this may be the major for you. A career as a city, community or regional planner is for someone who takes pleasure in understanding how social, economic, and political systems work together. Students will rely on the principles of architectural design in order to create communities that are eco-friendly and appealing to its residents. This is done by designing public transportation, affordable housing, and comfortable and environmentally friendly buildings.

Critical assessment and problem identification are necessary skills for this major. It is also imperative to be able to evaluate and come up with strategies to fix problems and implement solutions. Students will need to be strong thinkers with an interest in correcting present problems and avoiding problems in the future. The idea is not to provide a Band-Aid to an issue, but to actually fix it in order to create livable and healthy environments for communities all around the world. Students should be prepared to build physical models and designs as well as models on the computer.

Urban Planning Degree Program Entry Requirements

urban and regional planning degree applicants generally need have finished high school or their GED. Many schools may also have GPA and SAT/ACT score minimums that must be met. Once you obtain your degree, additional urban planning certifications required to pursue a career in this field.

Types of Urban & Regional Planning Degrees

There are many different urban planning degree levels. You can spend many years getting as high as a research / scholarship based doctorate's in urban and regional planning to something that takes less time like a bachelor's. Depending on the urban and regional planning degree you choose, obtaining your diploma can take anwhere from 1 to 4+ years.

Degree Credit Requirements Typical Program Length
Associate Degree 60-70 credits 2 years
Bachelor’s Degree 120 credits 4 years
Master’s Degree 50-70 credits 1-3 years
Doctorate Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation At least 4 years

A master's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to urban planning, with approximately 40.9% of workers getting one. People currently working in careers related to urban planning tend obtained the following education levels.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Master’s Degree 45.6%
Bachelor’s Degree 30.6%
Doctoral Degree 11.2%
First Professional Degree 6.2%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate 4.2%

About 66.3% of workers in careers related to urban planning obtain at least master's degree. View the chart below to get an idea of what degree level most of those in urban and regional planning careers have.


The education level required is different depending on the urban planning career you are seeking.

Career Opportunities for A Degree In Urban Planning Graduate

Average Number of Jobs
$48k Average Starting Salary
7% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

With a degree in Urban and Regional Planning a student can go in many different directions. They can become a land use and code enforcement planners, transportation planners, environmental and natural resources planners, economic development planners, and urban design planners. With so many different focuses, it really allows the student to pick what interests and inspires them.

In order to become a city planner a master's degree is necessary. Most programs will accept undergrads with a degree in a range of topics, such as economics, geography, political science, or environmental design. Depending on what interests you, the graduate program you pick will focus on the issues that mean the most to you.

Growth Projected for Urban Planning Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your urban planning degree? Urban & Regional Planning careers are expected to grow 7.1% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to urban and regional planning.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
Architectural and Engineering Managers 190,000 5.5%
Urban and Regional Planners 40,600 12.8%
Social Sciences Professors 16,800 9.8%
Architecture Professors 10,500 10.5%

How Much Money Do People With a Urban Planning Degree Make?

Recently graduated urban and regional planning students earned an average of $48,040 in 2017-2018. Earnings can range from as low as $29,700 to as high as $68,500. As you might expect, salaries for urban planning graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


High Paying Careers for Urban Planning Majors

Salaries for urban and regional planning graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 5 highest paying careers urban planning grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Architectural and Engineering Managers $148,970
Architecture Professors $99,320
Social Sciences Professors $87,950
Urban and Regional Planners $76,240

Getting Your Urban & Regional Planning Degree

With over 217 different urban planning degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased urban planning school rankings to help you with this.

Study Areas in Urban & Regional Planning

One of 8 majors within the Architecture & Related Services area of study, Urban & Regional Planning has other similar majors worth exploring.

Related Major Annual Graduates
General Architecture 6,145
Architectural Sciences & Technology 5,448
Landscape Architecture 1,177
Environmental Design 717
Interior Architecture 663

View All Urban Planning Related Majors >


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