The Master of Urban Planning (M.U.P.) is a graduate professional degree that prepares students for careers in urban planning. It is the normal academic qualification for various planning and planning-related positions. The M.U.P. degree is accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board. The program places strong emphasis on policy planning and analysis in the context of urban or urbanizing environments. The program is geared toward meeting the need for planning policy on urban issues at any level of government — federal, state, regional, and local — or outside the governmental arena.

3 major areas of knowledge are necessary for competence in policy planning:

  1. History and theory, which provide the conceptual framework of social, economic, and political environments within which public policy is formed;
  2. Quantitative methods, which provide the skills necessary to define and analyze problems through data manipulation; and
  3. Specialty areas, which provide focused information and skills in, housing and development planning, sustainable land use planning, and transportation planning specializations.

Baccalaureate Preparation

A good undergraduate education in almost any discipline is acceptable preparation. Undergraduate preparation in the social sciences, engineering, business, or architecture is closely related to the direction and content of the M.U.P. program at KU. Students pursuing the bachelor of architectural studies may apply for a joint M.U.P. degree during their junior year.

Admission

Persons whose previous records indicate ability to succeed with advanced work may be admitted to graduate studies through the Department of Urban Planning. Ordinarily, admission requires a bachelor’s degree and a grade-point average of approximately B from KU or another institution with substantially equivalent requirements for the bachelor’s degree. The student’s academic background is reviewed before an applicant without a bachelor’s degree is admitted as a degree-seeking student at KU. Admission decisions are based on the information supplied in the application materials.

A complete application consists of the following:

  • A completed graduate application submitted online (see Admission in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog);
  • A statement of the applicant’s career goals and substantive interests in urban planning and rationale for undertaking graduate study in urban planning at KU;
  • 1 copy of official transcripts from all colleges or universities attended;
  • 3 reference forms or letters of recommendation from persons qualified to comment on the applicant’s academic abilities and probable success in graduate study;
  • If an applicant has an undergraduate GPA below 3.0, we recommend but do not require submitting GRE scores.;
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IELTS scores achieved not more than two years prior to the semester of first enrollment, if the student’s native language is not English; and
  • Application fee submitted with online application.

Application deadlines are July 1 for fall and December 1 for spring admission. Candidates are urged to submit applications as early as possible. It may take several weeks to obtain all the materials required for an application file. International applicants must apply by June 1 for fall admission.

Note:  International applications for spring admission will only be considered under exceptional circumstances.

Applications for financial aid generally are considered early in the spring. In some cases, there is a February 15 application deadline.

Submit your graduate application and application fee online.  Other requested application materials may be submitted online with the application or mailed to: 

The University of Kansas
Department of Urban Planning
Marvin Hall
1465 Jayhawk Blvd., Room 317
Lawrence, KS 66045

M.U.P. Degree Requirements

All students must complete 48 credit hours, which normally involves 4 semesters of full-time study.*  The required courses are

General (6)
UBPL 736Planning Institutions3
UBPL 763Professional Practice3
Techniques (9)
UBPL 705Economic Analysis for Planners3
UBPL 741Quantitative Methods I3
UBPL 742Quantitative Methods II3
Theory (6)
UBPL 815History and Theory of Planning3
UBPL 850Urban and Regional Theory3
Total Hours21

*Students completing the 5-year B.A.-M.U.P. track within the School of Architecture, Design and Planning must complete 30 credits following completion of the B.A. portion of the track.

Specializations

The curriculum requires each student to specialize in one of the following substantive areas:

  • Housing and development planning,
  • Sustainable land use planning, and
  • Transportation planning.

The student should declare a specialization by the third semester of the course of study. In each specialization, the student must complete one course each in theory and policy, methods, and implementation. The minimum number of credit hours for the major area depends on whether the student pursues the thesis or the non-thesis option. For the thesis option, the student takes at least 9 hours in the major area. For the non-thesis option, the student takes at least 12 hours in the major area.

The specialty courses are as follows:

Housing and Development Planning

Theory and Policy (3)
UBPL 710Introduction to Housing Policy3
Methods (3)
UBPL 764Real Estate Development I3
Implementation (3)
UBPL 716Community and Neighborhood Revitalization3
Supplementary Courses (9)
UBPL 760Historic Preservation Planning3
UBPL 768Real Estate Development II3
UBPL 802Special Topics: ______3

Sustainable Land Use Planning

Theory and Policy (3)
UBPL 765Introduction to Sustainable Land Use Planning3
Methods (6)
UBPL 735Site Planning and Design3
UBPL 738Environmental Planning Techniques3
Implementation (3)
UBPL 773Sustainable Land Use Planning Implementation3
Supplementary Courses (9)
UBPL 730Plans and Planning Processes3
UBPL 762Sustainability and the Future of the Built Environment3
UBPL 764Real Estate Development I3

Transportation Planning

Theory and Policy (3)
UBPL 750Introduction to Transportation Planning3
Methods (3)
UBPL 756Travel Demand Forecasting Methods3
Implementation (3)
UBPL 757Transportation Planning Implementation3
Supplementary Courses (12)
UBPL 755Planning Intercity Transportation Systems3
UBPL 758Public Transit3
CE 781Traffic Engineering Characteristics3
CE 881Traffic Engineering Operations3

Free Electives

Besides the specialty courses, thesis students must take 3 additional credit hours, and non-thesis students must take 9 additional credit hours of elective courses; 6 of these hours may be outside the School of Architecture, Design and Planning.

Thesis Option

The thesis provides an opportunity for the student to apply individual research skills in the context of her or his interest. The thesis is a continuation of the student’s course of study rather than a separate academic effort. The format, medium, and focus of the thesis vary with the problem addressed. 6 hours of academic credit are given for the thesis. A student desiring to prepare a thesis must develop, with the assistance of a faculty advisor, a thesis proposal to be submitted to the faculty thesis committee no later than the first day of classes of the semester before the semester in which the student plans to graduate. The committee’s approval is required before the student may pursue the thesis option. A final general examination on the thesis and course work is held.

Non-thesis Option

The comprehensive examination may be taken as an alternative to the thesis. The examination provides a learning experience that encourages the student to synthesize the knowledge gained through course work and tests the student’s competence as a generalist/specialist planner. The examination consists of the student responding to a scenario or case study in which one is asked to synthesize knowledge gained in one's course work and apply it within a particular context. No academic credit is given for the examination.

M.U.P. Curriculum

A total of 48 semester hours is required. Students typically complete the degree within 2 years.

Year 1
FallHoursSpringHours
UBPL 7413UBPL 7053
UBPL 8153UBPL 7423
Specialization courses or electives6UBPL 7363
 Specialization course or elective3
 12 12
Year 2
FallHoursSpringHours
UBPL 7633 Implementation seminar in specialization3
UBPL 8503Specialization courses or electives9
Specialization courses or electives6 
 12 12
Total Hours: 48

Master of Urban Planning and Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Studies

This program leads to the Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Studies and the Master of Urban Planning; it combines 6 years into 5 years of study. A total of 154 credit hours is required, composed of 124 hours in architectural studies and 30 additional graduate hours in urban planning.

Students wishing to pursue this option must meet with the Chair of Urban Planning during the third year of study. Students must meet all the required courses for the bachelor degree and have a minimum 3.25 grade-point average. In the fourth year of undergraduate study, a student takes the same courses as a first-year graduate student and applies for graduate admission in the spring semester. The student may submit Graduate Record Examination scores during the junior year but must submit GRE test results in the senior year. If the student has completed all first-year planning courses and been accepted for admission by the end of the fourth year of study, the student officially enters the graduate program to pursue the second year of study toward the completion of the Master of Urban Planning degree.

Master of Urban Planning and Master of Architecture

This joint degree combines in a 4-year program the normal 2-year M.U.P. degree and the 3-year M.Arch. degree , both offered through the School of Architecture, Design and Planning. The program is intended for students interested in careers in urban design. A total of 133 credit hours is required, comprising 39 hours in urban planning and 94 hours in architecture.

Applicants must meet admission requirements of both the Department of Architecture and the Department of Urban Planning . Students pursuing the M.Arch. may apply to the joint degree program during, but not after, the second year of study. Students pursuing the M.U.P. may apply to the joint degree program during, but not after, the first year of study.

Master of Urban Planning and M.A. in American Studies

This joint degree combines in a 2½-year program the normal 2-year M.U.P. degree offered through the School of Architecture, Design and Planning and the normal 1-year M.A. degree in American studies offered through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The program is designed for students interested in careers in policy planning and research involving the arts, social planning, cultural activities and facilities, and historic preservation.

Contact the Department of American Studies or the Department of Urban Planning for information about degree requirements.

Master of Urban Planning and M.A. in Geography

This joint degree combines in a 3-year program the 2-year M.U.P. degree offered through the School of Architecture, Design and Planning and the normal 1½-year M.A. degree in geography offered through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The program is designed for students interested in careers in policy planning and research involving GIS cartography, environmental planning, and land use planning.

Contact the Department of Geography or the Department of Urban Planning for information about degree requirements.

Master of Urban Planning and Master of Public Administration

This joint degree combines in a 3-year program the M.U.P. degree offered in the School of Architecture, Design and Planning and the Master of Public Administration degree offered through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The program is intended for students interested in careers in urban policy planning and urban management.

Contact the Department of Public Administration or the Department of Urban Planning for information about degree requirements.

Master of Urban Planning and Juris Doctor

The joint Juris Doctor /Master of Urban Planning program is open to those who have earned baccalaureate degrees and whose undergraduate records indicate that they have the capacity to complete the law and urban planning programs. Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the School of Law and of the Department of Urban Planning. Applicants should apply and be admitted to each school separately before they enter the first year of the program. The Law School Admission Test is the required entrance examination for the law school; the Graduate Record Examination is required for the Department of Urban Planning. A student who decides to enter the program while enrolled in the first year of the J.D. or M.U.P. curriculum must obtain approval from the School of Law and the Department of Urban Planning as soon as possible. No student may enter the joint degree program after completing more than 4 full semesters in the law school or 3 full semesters in the Department of Urban Planning.

A total of 115 credit hours is required for the joint degree, comprising 39 hours in urban planning and 76 hours in law. The joint degree program can be completed in 4 years. To pursue the degrees separately would require 5 years. For information on the combined program, consult the School of Law and the Department of Urban Planning .