The Planning program curriculum is designed to be interdisciplinary, providing students with an opportunity to specialize in an area of interest while obtaining a solid background in planning theory and practice.

To earn the Master of Science in Planning (MSP) degree, students must complete 37 credits of core courses and an internship under the direct supervision of a professional planner. The internship seminar matches student interest with community partners. Students will also choose nine credits of concentration courses within one of our three areas, or may create their own independent concentration area. Choosing an area of concentration allows for greater student engagement with specialized faculty while providing an in-depth exploration of content, methods, and applications specific to a desired professional focus. Full-time planning students typically complete the program in two years.

Areas of Concentration

Incoming MS Planning students may choose from four diverse concentration areas or may tailor a unique educational experience by creating their own area of concentration through consultation with the academic advisor. The area of concentration allows students to engage with specialized faculty and to focus their study on content, methods, and applications specific to their desired professional goals.

Environmental Planning: This concentration allows students to study the interactions between human and natural systems. Fundamentally, this concentration investigates how urban planning can reduce or increase the impacts cities have on natural resources and the environment through concepts such as sustainability, conservation and resilience. Students pursuing this concentration will develop expertise in current patterns of natural resource consumption, methodological approaches in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), conflict resolution in natural resources, and planning and design for climate resilience. 

Urban Transportation Planning: Within the transportation concentration students explore issues and develop skills for building and maintaining sustainable urban transportation systems. We emphasize connections between transportation planning and safety, environmental and climate resilience, social equity, health and well-being, resource limitations, accessibility, and community impact. Through our emphasis on multi-modal planning (e.g. cars, public transit, pedestrians, bicyclists) and providing inclusive facilities and public spaces that are safe and comfortable for all users, this concentration teaches students to consider transportation planning in holistic, analytical, and innovative ways. This program of study will give students hands-on experience with practical transportation planning applications, including opportunities for original data collection, analysis, and plan making. Students will become familiar with the transportation planning profession at various urban scales and at the local, regional, state, and national levels. This concentration also provides students with opportunities to explore national and international best practices and to critically consider the implications of transformative/disruptive technologies, such as autonomous vehicles and transportation network companies, on existing planning, design, and urban growth considerations.

Real Estate and Urban Development: At Arizona, we strive to prepare students to do real estate and urban development in a sustainable and socially responsible manner. Those in this concentration will prepare for professional positions in public sector, non-profit, and private sector organizations focused on planning and executing land development and redevelopment projects. For example, students might go to work with a public redevelopment authority promoting urban revitalization and reinvestment, a non-profit community development organization promoting affordable housing, or a private development company building new or refurbishing housing or commercial projects. Students will deepen their knowledge and skills related to the development process and how to effectively manage the regulatory, social, and market forces that shape it.

Heritage Conservation: The Heritage Conservation concentration educates students in the preservation of the built environment as part of a comprehensive ethic of environmental, cultural, and economic sustainability. In this interdisciplinary concentration which is intended to balance theory and practice, research and outreach, students gain an awareness of the geographic, cultural technological, economic, and political factors that shape the built environment. They have an opportunity to become familiar with building traditions, cultural artifacts, sites, and cultural landscapes of prehistoric and historic groups who have defined the Greater Southwest. Students will gain an understanding of the language, concepts and tools of heritage conservation and historic preservation and will be able to survey, document and communicate information about cultural and historic resources.

Independent Concentration: The Independent Concentration focuses on areas of specialization identified by students who choose to work with faculty mentors to select courses that target individualized professional goals. Courses taken for the Independent Concentration must be pre-approved by the student’s adviser.

Degree Options

Dual Degrees

MBA/MS Planning: The Planning program has partnered with the Eller College of Management to offer the option to earn both a Master of Business Administration degree and an MS Planning degree concurrently.

MRED/MS Planning: The School of Landscape Architecture and Planning has developed a curriculum that allows students to earn a Master of Real Estate Development degree and an MS Planning degree concurrently over the course of five semesters.

Accelerated Degree: University of Arizona undergraduate students pursuing a degree in Geography and Regional Development or Sustainable Built Environments may be able to earn an MS Planning degree through the Accelerated Master’s Program.

Accelerated programs are available on a case by case basis for those students who have completed an undergraduate degree in Planning.

Graduate Certificates

Planning students may earn an interdisciplinary professional certificate along with the planning degree in any the following programs:

For additional information on admissions, please contact Program Coordinator Spencer Warmuth at, or at 520-621-5443.

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