The Master of Science in Planning Program

The Master of Science in Planning program at The University of Arizona provides a diverse and interdisciplinary learning experience in sustainable urban and regional planning. The program utilizes Tucson and the unique Sonoran Desert environment as a learning laboratory for applied research and community-based projects involving a variety of stakeholders including government agencies, private sector partners, native nations, and the public. Sustainable planning is characterized by an understanding of the physical environment, policy, socio-cultural factors, and emerging technologies. With a commitment to student-centered learning and practice-based education, we envision our students in leadership positions in a rapidly changing world. Our approach creates a culture of scholarship and professional engagement to advance the profession of planning and to prepare students for the 21st-century workforce. 
The MS Planning program is located within the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture (CAPLA), a national leader in sustainable design, planning, and management. As a professional college, CAPLA’s Core mission and strength is training architects, landscape architects, and urban planners to work effectively within a challenging array of social, economic, and environmental conditions. As a campus leader in community engagement, CAPLA advances the University’s historic land-grant mission through design and planning assistance to diverse communities throughout the state of Arizona, the United States, and beyond. 
The School’s facilities are considered extraordinary with bright, spacious studio space, state-of-the-art computer facilities and a GeoDesign lab. The building has won multiple awards for sustainability, people from around the country flock to the Underwood Family Sonoran Landscape Laboratory, a model for the arid design principles of water harvesting, water re-use, and the creation of desert microclimates.
Tucson is a welcoming, diverse and family-friendly community surrounded by five majestic mountain ranges. The Tucson basin boasts a rich cultural heritage and offers nationally renowned events such as the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, All Souls Procession/Day of the Dead and the Tour de Tucson bike race. The SunLink Streetcar connects the University of Arizona’s north campus to the main campus, Tucson’s downtown and the Westside Mercado District. Southern Arizona, with 350 days of sunshine each year, is known for its abundant outdoor opportunities including hiking, biking, birding, and rock climbing. 
The MS Planning program is fully accredited through the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB) and per Criterion 7D, program information is available to the public. The University of Arizona's assessment of the program is also available. 
Curriculum and Areas of Concentration
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 and for an in-depth exploration of content, methods, and applications specific to a desired professional focus. The areas of concentration are: 
  • Land Use and Urban Development
  • Environmental Planning and GeoDesign
  • Heritage Conservation
  • Independently-designed
Graduate Certificates
Planning students may earn an interdisciplinary professional certificate along with the planning degree in any the following programs:  
Degree Options

Dual Degree: 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 (MBA/MS Planning). 

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.
For additional information regarding any of the above programs, please contact the Graduate Academic Advisor, Amy Moraga.
Admission to the Program, Costs, and Financial Aid

Most MS Planning students enter in the fall semester. The early admission application deadline for the fall semester is February 1, although we do accept applications throughout the year. Applicants who apply by the February deadline are given priority consideration both for admission and financial aid. Click here to learn more about admissions requirements and how to apply.

Financial aid is available to qualified students based on the program, merit and financial need. Many of our students receive some form of financial aid excluding loans. To see a breakdown of tuition and fees and learn more about applying for financial aid, click here

The cost to attend the program varies depending on whether the student is an in-state, out-of-state, or foreign student, and the number of credits carried each semester. To determine the cost of attending the program, view the current tuition rates and feesThe required College program fee is an additional $1500 per semester.

Planning Faculty

The Planning faculty has diverse experiences and talents; each member is committed to the integration of teaching, research, and outreach. All full-time Planning faculty hold Ph.D.’s in their area of specialization. Faculty research and teaching interests include multi-modal transportation, environmental and geospatial design, climate, equitable housing, heritage conservation, and sustainable development all of which are consistent with the overarching mission of the College as a leader in sustainable design and planning. To learn more about faculty teaching and research interests, click on the faculty names to the right.

Planning Students
Students who enter the Planning program are an educationally diverse group with degrees in architecture, business management, environmental sciences, geography, landscape architecture, political science, public health, regional development, fine arts, and other disciplines. Student interaction and interdisciplinary learning is an important value.  Each Planning student has a desk in the spacious studio which is shared with graduate Landscape Architecture and Architecture students. Class size is small with an average number of 20 Planning students each year. Students work closely with the graduate academic advisor and faculty members to define their plans of study. The Planning program culminates with a capstone project completed during the final semester.
Careers and Employment in Planning
Our students are highly employable with 100% of our alumni employed within the first year of completing the program. Our graduates complete internships and accept employment with governmental agencies, nonprofit organizations, private sector firms, and some continue on pursuing doctoral degrees. 
Professional Organizations and Partnerships
The Graduate Planning Society (GPS), an internal, student-run organization, provides students in the Planning program with the support and professional tools necessary to develop leadership skills so they may contribute to excellence in community planning, promote education and citizen empowerment, and provide the tools and support necessary to meet the challenges of growth and change. GPS serves as a link to the local American Planning Association chapter and connects students to professional planner and planning events.
Friends of Planning, a private, non-profit organization, was formed to help ensure the strength and longevity of the graduate Planning degree program at the University of Arizona.  Through financial contributions and shared expertise, Friends of Planning provides scholarship funds and student awards to UA Planning students.  Activities are funded by annual contributions from board members and fundraising activities.  Additionally, Friends of Planning offers mentorship opportunities to Planning students and they regularly meet with Planning program administration to ensure students are workforce ready.

The Planning program has developed partnerships with government agencies and other organizations by connecting faculty and students with local planning needs. Partnerships have been developed with the City of Tucson, Pima County, Cochise County, Town of Marana, Pima Association of Governments, the Warehouse Arts District, Tohono O’odham Nation, Arizona Department of Housing, and the U.S. Department of Housing. Additionally, many planners join the American Planning Association and the local chapter, the American Planning Association, Arizona Chapter


Diversity and Inclusion

The University of Arizona and the School of Landscape Architecture and Planning is committed to creating and maintaining an environment free of discrimination. In support of this commitment, the University prohibits discrimination, including harassment and retaliation, based on a protected classification, including race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or genetic information. We are dedicated to inclusive excellence; the recognition and acceptance of the talents, worldviews, perceptions, cultures, and skills that diverse communities bring to the educational enterprise that can be harnessed to prepare students for leading, living, and working in a diverse world.

Please refer to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion for more information and resources.


In Planning News

Philip Stoker
April 27, 2017

Philip Stoker, an assistant professor of... Read more

La Doce
October 26, 2016

A multi-disciplinary team of CAPLA students... Read more