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Department of Urban Planning and Policy Prospective Students: FAQ
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ACSP Education Guide

What do planners do?

According to the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, planners develop long- and short-term plans to use land for the growth and revitalization of urban, suburban, and rural communities, while helping local officials make decisions concerning social, economic, and environmental problems.

What kinds of students enroll in your programs?
UPP students are very diverse in their backgrounds and professional goals. Some enter the program directly from their undergraduate programs while others pursue their graduate degree on a part-time basis as they continue with their current employment. Many CUPPA students are beginning a new career in the planning field to build upon their previous professional experiences. Detailed information on applications, acceptance rates, and degrees awarded as well as demographic information on current students, is available in the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning Guide to Undergraduate and Graduate Education in Urban and Regional Planning.

Are there profiles of students
and student work available to view?
MUPP students create exceptional works every semester in courses, internships, and for their Masters Projects and theses. Click here to learn more about our students, what brought them to planning (and UIC's MUPP program), and where they see themselves going, as well as examples of their work.

What kind of educational background do I need to become a planner?
Our students have degrees across all academic disciplines. We have students who have undergraduate degrees in planning and students with undergraduate degrees in sciences, social sciences, the humanities, engineering, and the arts. The UPP curriculum is designed to provide you with the core competencies you will need to function effectively as a planner upon graduation.

What is the current job market for planners?
The job market for planners is projected to continue to increase 7 to 9 percent through 2014. While planners have traditionally worked in units of local government, job growth is projected to be strongest in the private sector. UPP has been responsive to the need to provide graduates with the skills necessary to work in private planning consultancies with a curriculum revision effective Fall 2007. Visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics website for more information about planning as an occupation and the job outlook for planners.

What do planners earn?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median annual earnings of urban and regional planners were $53,450 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent of planners earned between $41,950 and $67,530. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,840, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $82,610. Median annual earnings in local government, the industry employing the largest number of urban and regional planners, were $52,520.

What is the Master in Urban Planning and Policy (MUPP) degree?
The MUPP degree is a two-year professional degree accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board. At our last accreditation site visit, UPP was awarded a full five-year accreditation, effective through 2011. UPP is continually undergoing self-evaluation in order to be responsive to changes in the profession. We are the only school of planning offering an accredited degree in the Chicago area.

Why should I think about getting my degree from UPP?
Our students are exposed to the wealth of resources in Chicago, a city with a rich history in planning and one that faces many challenges across planning specializations. UPP is one of the largest schools of planning in the country, which provides our students with access to a large and diverse faculty and student body. Our location in Chicago gives us access to highly experienced and recognized practitioners who teach for UPP on an adjunct basis. Our size and access to practitioners as teachers allows us to offer specialized courses such as Historic Preservation, Transportation and Site Planning, and Bicycle Planning that are not available at smaller programs. Recent graduates confirmed that they had developed strong networks among fellow students and faculty that would benefit them in career development. Our graduates also have opportunities for professional development and networking through the hundreds of alumni working throughout Chicago, the country, and the world as planners.

Is financial aid available?
Financial aid awards through the UPP Program are available to qualified full-time, domestic students who will not be employed when beginning their graduate study. International students must be financially self-sufficient in the first year of study, and may be considered for a graduate assistantship in their second year. Financial aid is available to MUPP and PhD students through fellowship programs and research assistantships.

When are classes offered?
UPP rotates class so that they alternate between day and evening hours to accommodate both full and part-time students.

What are the prerequisites for admission?
Generally, at least a GPA equivalent to "B" in the last 60 hours of the baccalaureate is required for the MUPP and PhD. There are no specific requirements as to what type of degree.

How long does it take to get accepted? When will I know?
If you meet the priority deadline (January 1st) for fall applications, you will receive a written notice of UPP's admissions recommendation by April 15. Those submitting applications by the March 15 deadline will receive notification by May 1. Shortly after this notice you will receive written confirmation from the Graduate College of their approval of our decision. Further details are available on the Application Deadlines page.

When can I start?
MUPP applicants may apply for admission for the fall or spring semesters. PhD applicants may only apply for admission for the fall semester.

Who teaches? Part-time or full-time faculty?
In general, full-time faculty teach required core courses and the required sequence within each specialization. UPP's full-time faculty was ranked fifth in productivity in the nation in a study published in the Journal of Planning Education and Research in 2004. The program's full-time faculty is complemented by distinguished adjunct professors who are recognized planning and policy practitioners. Part-time faculty teach courses in their specialties.

Can I take a course as a non-degree student and transfer credit toward the MUPP degree?
Non-degree students who have been accepted into the degree program will be able to transfer up to 12 credits (three courses) from courses in which grades of "A" and "B" were earned. Also, approval of transfer credits must take place within five years of completing the course. Once admitted as a degree seeking student, please see the UPP Program Office to complete the necessary paperwork.

Will you help me get a job?
The UPP Program staff and CUPPA has an Assistant Dean for Student Services and the UPP Program Office also assists with career development efforts.

What are the pass rates for the AICP exam?
The AICP (American Institute of Certified Planners) exam is an important credential for planners in certain career paths, particularly consulting and employment in the local government sector. For the period from 2004-2011, UIC's MUPP program is in the top quintile in terms of the number of graduates taking the exam (108), with 79 passing, for a pass rate of 73%. The national average pass rate is 72%. More information on AICP can be found at: http://www.planning.org/certification/

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