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Department of Urban Planning and Policy Program Requirements: MUPP
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Master of Urban Planning and Policy (MUPP) Program

Program Overview

A minimum of 60 semester hours of graduate credit is required. The program is divided into seven components: core courses, specialization courses, methods courses, globalization courses, electives, internship, and a thesis or project. The overall distribution of credits is as follows:

Component Number of Courses Credit Hours
Core 5 20
Specialization 3 12
Methods Courses
(students enrolled prior to
Fall 2007)
2 8
Electives 2-5 8-20
Internship 1 4
Project or Thesis 1 (project) to
4 (thesis)
TOTAL 15 60

Core Courses

Unless a waiver is granted, the following courses are required:

Areas of Specialization

Five areas of specialization are offered to students of the MUPP program. At least one specialization must be completed, but there is room in the curriculum to pursue two specializations, if desired. In addition to the standard specializations, students have the opportunity to develop a user-defined specialization subject to faculty and advisor approval. Twelve (12) semester hours are required to complete each specialization, however each has varying course requirements. Required courses, by specialization, follow:

Globalization and International Planning
Community Development
Economic Development
Spatial Planning and Design
Urban Transportation
Environmental Planning and Policy

Globalization and International Planning

The purpose of this concentration is to make students aware of the importance of planning in different contexts that tie the local and global. Students will develop an understanding of how globalization has changed both cities and planning. Students will be exposed to a contextual framework for exploring planning literature and practice in an international perspective. Students will develop an understanding of the relationship between local conditions and global forces, particularly the importance of globalization in local politics through exploration of how global economic forces rather than local supporters have become dominant in maintaining local regimes. Students will develop an understanding of the forces driving urbanization and the challenges at the periphery of urbanizing areas. Students will explore new challenges and issues, such as environmental impacts and migration.

Goals for the Globalization and International Planning Concentration


Community Development

The Community Development (CD) Concentration seeks to prepare students for work principally in the nonprofit sector but also in institutions and firms dedicated to the wellbeing of communities. The concentration introduces students to rationales informing community action, to the strategies CD applies to its work, to in-depth issues challenging urban communities. Emphasis is placed on social change and fairness/equal opportunity especially for the most challenged and disadvantaged groups in US society.

Goals for the Community Development Concentration


Economic Development

The modern city prospers when the local economy produces a diverse assortment of jobs and revenues. But the roller coaster of economic boom and bust often takes a heavy toll on local residents. Plants shut with little warning and the burdens of economic growth fall unevenly across the urban landscape. The field of economic development starts from the assumption that state, market, and third sector institutions can and do intervene to spread the benefits of economic activity, reduce its costs, and counter its uneven distribution.

Goals for the Economic Development Concentration


Spatial Planning and Design

All human activity has a physical manifestation and takes place within a territorial context that land use planners or urban designers learn to study, analyze and integrate within plans. The Spatial Planning and Urban Design concentration teaches knowledge and skills for professional entry level planning in land use planning or urban design. Students learn to work across a variety of scales from site-level to region using theory, method and practice. Students also learn to understand and include institutional, legal, and environmental relationships as part of plan making and implementation focusing on the pressing demands for just and sustainable urban development.


Note: Requirements described above reflect a curriculum revision in place for students entering Fall 2013 and after. Students entering prior to that time, please consult your advisor or the Director of Graduate Studies for requirements and with any questions.

Urban Transportation

The urban transportation concentration teaches students how to plan for equitable and efficient transportation systems, emphasizing multi-modal transportation (public transit, bicycle, pedestrian, and transportation of goods) and its connectivity to the physical and built environment, the economy, and society. Emphasis is placed on how to develop successful multi-modal transportation systems. Long-range and operational planning at the national, regional, and local scales are investigated, acknowledging the importance of both information-based, rational planning and participatory planning. Students will learn appropriate use of both planning and technology solutions to satisfy travel needs and address mobility problems. Students prepare for professional practice in public agencies and private transportation companies.

Goals of the Urban Transportation Concentration


Environmental Planning and Policy

The Environmental Planning and Policy (EPP) Concentration provides students with an overview of the theory and methods used to guide urban development and redevelopment in a more sustainable manner, so as to conserve natural resources and enhance ecosystem services while providing for economic development and promoting social equity and civic engagement within the planning process.  The concentration introduces students to both regulatory and market-based strategies of environmental management, explores economic and systematic quantitative analyses of environmental policy, and offers electives examining discrete topics of environmental practice (such as EIS development, food policy, energy planning, green infrastructure for urban stormwater management, water resources management, etc.).

Goals of the Environmental Planning Specialization


Methods Requirement

For students entering Fall 2007 and later, the methods requirement is not applicable.

Students enrolled prior to Fall 2007 should consult the Graduate College catalog for the year they entered the program and the Director of Graduate Studies in UPP.

The Professional Practice Requirement/ Internship

The Professional Practice Internship (UPP 590) consists of 300 hours of fieldwork. Students must have completed 12 hours of credit towards their degree and have the internship agreement form approved by Prof. Curt Winkle, UPP's Director of Graduate Studies before the internship can begin.

Credit may be taken concurrently with the internship or the semester after the internship, so long as the internship was approved before it began.

Students who come to the program with professional planning experience or are already employed in a public or private agency doing planning may apply to waive the internship requirement.  Contact Curt Winkle, Director of Graduate Studies.

Students enrolled prior to Fall 2007 who have not completed their internship should contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Curt Winkle.

Over the years, students have been actively involved with governments at the city, county, state, and federal levels; with regional planning organizations; with community groups; and with private consulting firms, using their individual and collective skills in actual planning situations. Although most students do their internships in the Chicago region, students may also seek an internship placement in another U.S. location, or occasionally, a foreign country.

Masters Project/Thesis

The masters project or thesis is the final requirement of the MUPP program. The purpose of this requirement is to give the student experience in the conceptualization of a research or planning problem, the development of a methodology for addressing the problem, and the preparation of a document which carries out the analysis and communicates the results and conclusions reached.

The thesis and project differ with respect to content, credit hours, and advising requirements.

A project is usually an exercise in applied research directed toward an actual planning problem. The project may focus on the definition of the problem, the context of the problem, and the analysis of alternative solutions or issues in implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. The primary focus in the project is the substance and the context of the planning application. A project is often developed in the context of a student's professional job experience or internship. When this applies, it should be clear that the student has direct and personal responsibility for any work product submitted as a masters project. Any questions on this point should be discussed with the faculty advisor.

Masters projects carry 4 hours of credit. Students are required to write and secure approval of a masters project proposal prior to registering for masters project hours. The project proposal can be reviewed and approved by any UPP faculty member.

A thesis is a more traditional piece of academic research, which frequently involves the analysis of historical materials and use of secondary sources. An exploration of planning theory or research methods would also be appropriate in a thesis.

Students can earn from 8 to 16 hours of credit for thesis research. Thesis proposals must be reviewed and accepted by a faculty committee constituted according to requirements of the Graduate College.

Students who select the thesis must present their work to a formal thesis examination committee. The thesis committee must include three members of the UIC faculty. The chair of the committee must be a member of the UPP faculty. At least two of the committee members must be permanent members of the UIC Graduate Faculty. Most associate and full professors are members of the UIC Graduate Faculty.

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