Master of Science in Urban Planning Curriculum

Planning students at a community workshop

The Master of Science in Urban Planning (MS Urban 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 degree, students must complete 34 credits of core courses and an internship under the direct supervision of a professional planner through an internship seminar course. The internship seminar matches student interest with community partners. Students will also choose nine credits of concentration courses within one of our four 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.

View the curriculum sheet to view core and concentration courses.


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.

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.


  • PLG 508 Planning for Urban Resilience
  • PLG 580 Environmental Spatial Analysis
  • PLG 595A Geodesign Studio
  • PLG 597S Sustainable Urban Development and Design

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.


  • ANTH 540A Cultural Resource Management
  • PLG 564 Preservation Planning Issues
  • LAR 571F Intro to Heritage Conservation
  • LAR 586 Materials Conservation
  • LAR 597J Documentation & Interpretation of the Historic Built Environment

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.


  • PLG 509 Due Diligence and Entitlements
  • RED 507 Survey of Responsible Real Estate Development
  • RED 625 Market Analysis for Responsible Real Estate Development
  • RED 421/521 Placemaking and Urban Form
  • PLG 576 The Land Development Process
  • PLG 520 Housing and Homebuilding
  • PLG 585 Foundations of Economics for Planning and Real Estate Development
  • PLG 569 Transportation and Land Use

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.

The University of Arizona is now part of the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), one of five USDOT-funded National University Transportation Centers. 


  • PLG 568 Urban Transportation Planning
  • PLG 469/569 Transportation and Land Use
  • PLG 473/573 Transportation and Society

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.

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