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Master of City Planning

Last modified 11.18.08

Master of City Planning (MCP) Degree

The Master of City Planning degree requires completion of 19 course units, including course requirements from the core curriculum and one of three concentration areas. In addition, all students must complete a non-credit planning internship between the first and second years of study.

The MCP Core Curriculum

The nine-course MCP core curriculum encompasses the basic skills and knowledge required of all planners regardless of their specialization, and is a hallmark of PennPlanning’s cutting-edge and practical approach to educating city planners. The core includes courses in planning history and theory, data analysis methods, urban economics, planning law, and a diverse selection of courses in spatial analysis and advanced methods. Students who complete the core will understand the legal and historical basis of city planning; they will know how to use a wide variety of population and economic data to understand local communities; and they will understand the form and arrangement of cities and metropolitan areas around the world. Most important, they will understand which planning approaches work best in which contexts and circumstances.

The core includes two hands-on opportunities for students to engage real planning problems in real communities for real clients. The first of these, CPLN 600 Workshop (Fall), offered to first-year students in cooperation with the renowned planning firm of Wallace, Roberts & Todd, and is organized around producing a community plan for a Philadelphia-area city, town, or neighborhood. CPLN 700 Planning Studio (Spring), offered to second-year students, centers on a more advanced and specific planning challenge. It gives students the opportunity to scope out a planning problem for themselves, design the appropriate planning process, and then, pursue that process to its conclusion. Studio topics vary year to year, but at least one studio usually has an international or comparative focus

Except for Studio, students typically take most of their core courses during their first year. Students earn two course units for Studio and one for Workshop. All other core courses earn one course credit. Waivers for specific core courses may be granted by the course instructor if a student can provide evidence of prior competence, and identify an appropriate substitute course.

The following describes the core requirements for students entering in the Fall 2008 semester.
To see or download this list in .pdf document form, click here. To see or download a list (in .pdf form) of core requirements for students who entered in the Fall 2007 semester, which differs slightly from the list below, click here.


Entering MCP students are required to have previously taken a course in descriptive and inferential statistics, and to have a working knowledge of spreadsheet analysis and digital graphics programs. Students who lack knowledge in these areas or just want to brush-up are encouraged to attend PennPlanning’s two-week “bootcamp” program just prior to the start of the fall semester.

Required Core Courses

CPLN 540 Introduction to City Planning: Past, Present, and Future (Fall-1st year)
CPLN 550 Urban and Planning Theory (Fall-2nd year)
CPLN 600 Workshop (Spring-1st year)
CPLN 624 Quantitative Planning Methods (Fall-1st year)
CPLN 633 Urban Economics (Fall-1st year)
CPLN 700 Planning Studio (Spring-2nd year)
CPLN 723 Planning Law (Spring-1st year)
Spatial Analysis Requirement: CPLN 666 Modeling Geographic Objects (Fall) or CPLN 708 Urban Design    Methods (Spring)
Advanced Methods Requirement: CPLN 648 Negotiation and Civic Engagement (Spring), or CPLN 683    Planning by Numbers (Spring), or CPLN 738 Research Methods for Planners (Fall, starting 2009)


The essence of good planning is making connections. To facilitate this, PennPlanning offers three concentrations which integrate knowledge across related specializations: (1) Community & Economic Development; (2) Land Use-Transportation-Environmental Planning; (3) Urban Development & Urban Design. Students are free to sample different concentrations during their first year, with the goal of selecting their final concentration/specialization before the start of their third semester. Although students may petition the faculty for individual course substitutions, all MCP students must complete coursework in one of PennPlanning’s three concentrations.

Community and Economic Development (CED)

This concentration focuses on how planners and policy leaders influence the social and economic factors shaping metropolitan economies and urban neighborhoods, particularly low-wealth communities and communities of color. It prepares graduates for positions in housing, community development finance, neighborhood revitalization, workforce development, center city redevelopment, and public sector management of urban and regional economic development.

Foundation:   CPLN 707 Introduction to Economic and Community Development (Fall)
Methods/Skills:   CPLN 623 Introduction to Property Development (Fall) or
CPLN 631 Techniques of Urban Economic Development (Spring)
Practicum:   CPLN 653 Community and Economic Development Practicum (Fall)

Concentration Electives (select one):
CPLN 559 City Limits: The Impact of Urban Policy
CPLN 601 Downtown Management
CPLN 658 Urban Markets and Residential Development
CPLN-xxx: Local Labor Markets and Economic Development
Breadth Electives:   select one; click here to see a list of CED Breadth Electives
Click here to see a typical two-year schedule for a student in the CED concentration

Land Use-Transportation-Environmental Planning (LUTEP)

This concentration introduces students to the complex challenges of managing metropolitan growth and development. It includes two separate but interrelated specializations: transportation planning, and land use and environmental planning.

Land Use and Environmental Planning Specialization

The land use and environmental planning specialization explores how federal, state and local planning programs address the management of burgeoning metropolitan growth, the conservation of ecologically significant land, and the provision of clean air and water. It prepares graduates to work as local land use and environmental planners; as land use and environmental planning consultants; in state and regional growth management agencies, and for smart growth, land conservation, and sustainable development policy and advocacy organizations. Students who want to gain additional depth in suburban and rural land conservation, may want to consider enrolling in PennPlanning’s new Land Conservation Certificate Program.

Foundation:   CPLN 585 Land Use Planning Principles and Practice (Fall) and
CPLN 676 Introduction to Environmental Planning (Fall)
Methods:   LARP 741 Modeling Geographic Space (Spring), or
Another GIS course as appropriate

Electives (select two):
    CPLN 661 Site Planning
CPLN 725 Innovations in Growth Management
CPLN 671 Sustainable Development
ENVS 643 Brownfield Remediation
ENVS 645 Planning for Land Preservation
or a related course as approved by the concentration faculty advisor.
Click here to see a typical two-year schedule for students in the Land Use & Environmental Planning specialization

Transportation Specialization

The transportation specialization focuses on the role of transportation systems in shaping urban and metropolitan development patterns and the role of planning in shaping transportation systems. It prepares graduates to work for federal, state and local transportation planning agencies, highway agencies and transit operators; transportation consultants, and transportation research and policy advocacy groups.

Foundation:   CPLN 655 Land Use and Transportation Planning (Fall) and
CPLN 585 Land Use Planning Principles and Practice (Fall) or
CPLN 676 Introduction to Environmental Planning (Fall)
Methods:   CPLN 685 Transportation Planning Methods (Spring)

Electives (select two):
    CPLN 752 Advanced Transportation Seminar
BPUB 664 Principles of Transportation
ESE 552 Transportation Systems Engineering
ESE 554 Urban Transit Systems and Technology
ESE 555 Cities and Transportation Systems
Click here to see a typical two-year schedule for students in the Transportation specialization

Urban Development & Urban Design (UDD)

The Urban Development & Urban Design (UDD) concentration includes two specializations: Urban Development, and Urban Design. These two specialization are principally connected through their elective courses.

Urban Development

Students in the urban development specialization learn the analytical and entrepreneurial skills required to undertake urban development projects, from small-scale affordable housing to macro-scale redevelopment and new town projects. These skills include assessing project feasibility, developing site plans, conducting market research, structuring public-private partnerships, and working with non-profit organizations on affordable housing and community development projects. Graduates go on to work as public and private developers, as public-sector planners who work with and regulate private development, and as non-profit housing developers, and for municipal development agencies such as ports and redevelopment districts. Students who want to gain additional depth in real estate development and finance may also want to consider applying to PennDesign’s Certificate program in Real Estate Development and Design.

Foundation:   CPLN 623 Introduction to Property Development (Fall) and
CPLN 680 Real Estate Finance and Investment (Spring)

Concentration Elective (select two):
    CPLN 658 Urban Markets and Residential Development
CPLN 744 Public-Private Development
CPLN 661 Site Planning
CPLN 631 Financing Economic Development
ARCH 762 Design and Development
Breadth Electives: select one;
    Click here to see a list of Urban Development breadth electives
Click here to see a typical two-year schedule for students in the Urban Development specialization

Urban Design

This specialization focuses on understanding the links between the physical form and structure of cities and regions and the economic, social and political forces that shape them. It provides knowledge about the alternative theories and methods for the physical improvement of urban places and includes courses in graphic communication, the history and theory of design, the context and operation of development incentives and controls. Graduates from the urban design specialization typically work in local government or for private design firms developing urban design plans, neighborhood and district plans, public space and street plans, and increasingly, plans for new communities.

Foundation:   CPLN 677 Urban Design Studio: The Public Realm (Fall Second Year) and
CPLN 767 Theory and Principles of Urban Design (Fall Second Year)

Electives (select two):
    CPLN 678 Representative Graphics for Urban Design (Fall) and
CPLN 708 Urban Design Methods (Spring)
Click here to see a typical two-year schedule for students in the Urban Design specialization

The Internship Requirement

Because a planning education extends beyond the classroom, all MCP students are required to complete a planning internship, usually between their first and second years. Internships may be paid or unpaid, but they must involve full-time work. Internships can be completed at any government agency or commission, private consulting firm, or non-profit or advocacy organization involved in planning practice, policy, or research.

To aid students in finding an appropriate internship and to connect them with professional contacts and alumni, PennPlanning sponsors a spring Internship Fair.

Students may intern at a Philadelphia-based organization, such as the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Transportation Resource Associates or the Women’s Community Revitalization Project; or look elsewhere in the country.

Internships outside the Philadelphia region have included Sasaki in Boston, the Mayor’s Office of Chicago, the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, Glatting Jackson in Orlando, and EDAW in San Francisco.

Go to: Registrar Course Descriptions