Program: M.A., Urban Planning

Overview

The Master of Urban Planning provides a broad based education in urban planning, especially as it is practiced in the State of California, where a wide range of state laws and mandates have created a planning environment which is distinct from its practice in much of the rest of the United States. The degree’s curriculum is thoroughly grounded in the academic and applied dimensions of the profession. Classroom experience emphasizes key theoretical aspects of urban planning, while practical exercises and field experiences address how planning problems are addressed at the local and regional level. The 36 credit-unit master’s degree in urban planning is designed to be completed in two calendar years. The degree program is cohort driven with new class cohorts beginning each year in the fall semester. This program is cohort-driven; once a cohort starts, no other student will be accepted into the cohort. This degree is designed especially to serve the needs of working students and professionals. Classes are scheduled for evenings and Saturdays and are scheduled sequentially over the course of the two year program. It is intended that the students receive as much exposure to different professional planning environments as possible through field experiences and assignments in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

Program Requirements

Admission Requirements

Applications for admission to the master’s program will be processed by the department. Once complete, all applications will be reviewed by the Department of Urban Studies and Planning which will make the final admission decision.

For admission to this program, an applicant must:

  • Hold a baccalaureate (bachelor’s) degree from an officially accredited university or college. Applicants from a wide variety of academic backgrounds will be accepted, but those with bachelor’s degrees in the social sciences, engineering, design, and architecture are often best prepared for graduate study in planning.
  • Have an overall GPA of 3.0 or greater for courses taken in the bachelor’s degree. Postgraduate coursework is included in the calculation only if it is standard academic offerings at the upper level (third year/junior level or above). Nonstandard credit offerings (professional training, CEU courses, non-degree or other professional credit) are not included in the calculation. Students may also qualify for admission if their GPA in the last 60 semester credit hours of the bachelor’s degree exceeds 3.25. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required for application to the program. However, students with an overall GPA of less than 3.0 may be considered for admission to the program if they have a GPA of over 2.5 and pass one section of the GRE exam (verbal, quantitative, or analytical) with a score at the 50% percentile or higher. Applicants who do not meet the GPA or GRE requirements specified above, may be considered for admission if they can demonstrate other personal or professional experience that provides strong evidence of a commitment to planning (e.g. planning employment, service on a planning commission, etc.).
  • Submit a formal application to the program at CSUN.
  • Submit official transcripts in unopened, sealed envelopes sent directly from each educational institution attended to CSUN.
  • Submit a current resume.
  • Submit two letters of recommendation, preferably one from a professional reference and the other from an academic reference.
  • Submit a Statement of Purpose, between 500 and 1,000 words, explaining the reasons why the candidate is seeking the master of urban planning degree and how it will contribute to his or her personal and/or professional growth and success.
  • Have the complete application and supporting documents reviewed and the applicant approved for admission by the Department of Urban Studies and Planning.

Courses Required for the Degree:

Thirty-six credits of required coursework are needed to complete the master’s degree. The courses and the respective distribution of these credit units are as follows:

URBS 610 Contemporary Urban Planning in the United States and California (3)
URBS 615 Principles and Practices in Urban Planning (3)
URBS 620 Seminar in Comprehensive Planning (3)
URBS 630 Sustainable Development and Environmental Impact Analysis (3)
URBS 640 Seminar in Planning for Communities and Local Economic Development (3)
URBS 650 Policy Analysis and Implementation in Urban Planning (3)
URBS 660 Planning Law (3)
URBS 670 Visual Communication Skills for Planners (3)
URBS 680 Quantitative Analysis in Urban Planning (3)
URBS 685 Qualitative Research in Urban Planning (3)
URBS 690 Field Project in Urban Planning (3)
URBS 698 Professional Project (3)

In order to complete the master’s in urban planning degree program successfully, the student must:

  • Complete all twelve required courses.
  • Earn a grade of C or better in all courses.
  • Maintain an overall minimum GPA of 3.0 in the program.

Contact

Chair: Robert B. Kent
Sierra Hall (SH) 220
(818) 677-2904
www.csun.edu/urbs

Student Learning Outcomes

Principles, Theory, and History:

Graduates will know the basic principles, applicable theory, and history of urban planning as it is practiced in the United States and more specifically in the State of California.  This will include the ability to contextualize the economic, social, and political factors which affect and often dictate urban planning practice at the local and regional level.

  1. Explain the basic principles and techniques of urban planning research and practice from a U.S. perspective.
  2. Describe principles of urban planning and their application.
  3. Describe the principles and applied aspects of sustainable development.
  4. Explain economic and social factors affecting urban planning.

Methods and Techniques

Graduates will understand and utilize key methods utilized in urban planning research and practice.  These will include the use of quantitative data and its analysis, qualitative research techniques, and the application of these techniques to a field research project in urban planning.   Graduates will also learn the use of visual communication tools needed for data gathering, its analysis, and its eventual presentation in graphic format.

  1. Devise and carry out the fieldwork required to plan effectively.
  2. Demonstrate a plan of action to engage communities in the definition of their planning interests and concerns.
  3. Explain the importance of negotiation in the planning process and provide hypothetical strategies.

Professional Practice

Graduates will understand the key elements of professional planning practice including comprehensive planning and the creation and updating of the General Plan; the function and practice of zoning; the role of specific plans, community plans, and special overlay districts; the use of environmental impact analysis in planning and specifically the role of the California Environmental Quality Act; the role of politics and negotiation in the planning process; and the ethical responsibilities of planners in the exercise of their professional responsibilities.  Graduates will also demonstrate the ability to conduct a field project using applicable research techniques to address a practical planning problem in a local community.  Finally, all graduates will successfully complete a capstone project which will validate their understanding and ability to produce professional planning documents and reports.

  1. Explain the content of comprehensive plans and zoning.
  2. Explain the content of environmental impact analysis and its role in environmental decision-making.
  3. Apply the most current tools used to create, implement, and monitor comprehensive plans and zoning.
  4. Describe regulatory approaches in the United States which are directly transferable to an international context.
  5. Demonstrate vision and leadership skills.
  6. Integrate environmental and social aspects of planning with management practices.