Master of Urban Planning and Development

Course of Study


The MUPD Program curriculum includes twelve (4 credit hour) classes fora total of 48 semester hours. A full-time student can complete the program in two academic years. The program accommodates both full-time and part-time students. Most of our required classes take place in the evenings, with some courses offered during the late afternoon, summer sessions and on weekends. MUPD students take 32 hours of required classes (ranging from one to four credits each) and have 16 hours of electives. Students may use their electives to complete one of our six specializations, which require completion of three or four classes. Students may also complete an internship for elective credit.

Required Planning Core Courses: (32 credit hours)
The required planning core courses provide students with analytical, methodological, theoretical, and substantive knowledge.

The planning core includes: a mix of technical, analytical, and skill-building courses (GIS Foundations, Regional Theory & Analysis, Public Budgeting & Finance, Graphics), topical courses on key planning subjects (History & Theory, Built Environment, Civic Engagement, Law, Land Use & Sustainable Development), and a cumulative studio class. Students should take UST 585 in their first or second semester and should complete this class prior to taking UST 613. Other first-year classes include UST 607, UST 671, UST 608 and UST 503. Students should take UST 611 – Planning Studio in their final spring semester in the program. This integrative course synthesizes the tools, skills and knowledge students learn throughout the program around a collective project in a studio environment.


UST 585: GIS Foundations (4)

Fall, Spring, Summer

UST 605: Regional Theory & Analysis (4)

Fall, Spring

UST 636: Public Budgeting & Finance (4)


UST 671: Urban Colloquium (1)


UST 607: Planning History & Theory (3)


UST 503: Graphics for Urban Professionals (1)


UST 608: Planning the Built Environment (3)


UST 579: Civic Engagement (1)


UST 609: Planning Law (3)


UST 613: Land Use Planning & Sustainable Development (4)


UST 611: Studio


Areas of Specialization
The MUPD program offers seven specializations in subfields of planning:

Economic Development: Economic development professionals work to cultivate quality jobs for the local population; promote economic stability through the development and maintenance of various business inputs; diversify the local economy; and promote local sustainability. The private sector creates wealth by producing tradeable goods and services, working with public and quasi-public economic development organizations to understand business and workforce needs, and promoting local sustainability through both business and civic activities. The public sector plays various roles in economic development depending on the development strategy and context. Economic development professionals often act as conveners and facilitators, connecting businesses with resources and knowledge bases. The public sector may also carefully invest public money to set the stage for private development.  Finally, the public sector is responsible for investing in projects and activities that promote economic development but which the private sector may not be willing to accept the risk to invest in. The economic development specialization prepares students to work across the private and public sectors for the economic benefit of neighborhoods, cities and metropolitan regions.

Environmental Sustainability: The environmental sustainability specialization provides students with an understanding of concepts, methods, and practice in environmental planning. Environmental planning entails integration of ecological and human health concerns into other areas of planning, most particularly in land use decisions, land development regulation, ecological function (surface water, ground water, habitat, etc.) and ambient quality of life for humans. Environmental planners work on planning problems such as storm water management, land use and stream quality, wildlife habitat preservation, open space and parks, urban sprawl/growth management, air quality, land remediation, and water quality.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS): The Specialization in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is designed to provide students with skills in the use of the ESRI ArcGIS platform, a computerized database management system for capture, storage, retrieval, analysis and display of spatial (locationally defined) data. GIS is used to analyze geographic patterns of land use, transportation, utilities, infrastructure, housing, emergency services, natural resources, economic development, demographics, public safety, and public health, to name a few. Students learn cartographic principles, database management, and how to analyze spatial data using desktop and web-based versions of ArcGIS. Students can earn a Certificate in GIS by satisfactorily completing three GIS courses; Introduction to/Fundamentals of GIS, GIS Methods, and GIS Applications.

Historic Preservation: The specialization in historic preservation introduces students to the processes, policies, and methods of preserving the historic built environment of the nation’s neighborhoods, towns and cities. It provides students with a strong foundation in federal, state and local preservation policies, preservation financing, preservation-based revitalization strategies, and material conservation of historic buildings. The specialization also focuses on contemporary issues in preservation, with a particular emphasis on prevalent topics in Northeast Ohio. The Historic Preservation specialization is ideal for students who want to work for public or non-profit preservation organizations and/or are broadly interested in advancing urban revitalization in older and historic communities.

Housing and Neighborhood Development: The specialization in Housing and Neighborhood Development provides an introduction to the planning, production, financing, and management of housing. It also analyzes housing policies and programs and legal issues that arise from these, as well as land use and zoning. It provides an overview of neighborhood planning and the factors, policies and organizations that influence neighborhood development. This specialization provides the necessary background for those interested in working for nonprofit community development corporations and housing providers, public agencies that engage in housing and neighborhood development activities, and for-profit development and planning organizations.

Real Estate Development and Finance: The specialization in Real Estate Development and Finance focuses on financing built improvements in the urban environment. This focus is most often needed because the planner is responsible for providing or seeking government loans or grants. Types of urban development projects may include for-sale housing, rental housing, retail/commercial investment properties, office buildings, and industrial development. Because of brownfields and other problems in assembling and developing urban projects on previously used land, many real estate deals have a financing gap. This specialization familiarizes students with financing issues such as mortgage subordination, valuation, and tax issues, as the basis for understanding how to structure complex, multi-layered financing packages.

Transportation: The specialization in Transportation was designated as one of the three most prominent emerging planning issues in Northeast Ohio according to a recent survey of regional employers. In collaboration with the CSU College of Engineering, the transportation specialization prepares planning students to design and implement urban and regional transportation strategies for communities and regions. Topics covered by the four-course specialization include land use patterns to address the economic, mobility, and recreational needs of the communities in the region, workforce mobility/accessibility,  transit-oriented planning concepts. and the challenges of autonomous vehicles.

Graduate Certificates
The Maxine Goodman Levin School of Urban Affairs also offers graduate certificates in Economic Development, GIS, Historic Preservation, and Real Estate Development and Finance. MUPD students can typically complete a certificate, if desired, within their elective coursework. Students should meet with the Graduate Advisor or the MUPD Program Director to plan their schedules.

Elective Credit
Students who do not wish to specialize may select electives totaling 16 credit hours from a number of graduate classes. These courses should be chosen in consultation with the Graduate Advisor or the MUPD Program Director.

Internships & Mentoring Program
We highly encourage students without planning or planning-related work experience to complete an internship. We also offer a mentoring program that provides students with additional networking and practitioner guidance. Paid and unpaid internships are arranged through Student Internships and Mentoring. Students may receive elective credit for internship work.