City and Regional Planning

About the Department

The Department of City & Regional Planning's two-year, 19 credit-unit (CU) Master of City Planning (MCP) program is organized into 6 units of core courses, 4 units of workshop and studio, and 4-to-6 units of concentration courses; the remainder are free electives. All MCP students must complete one of six concentrations (Community and Economic Development, Land Use and Environmental Planning, Public-Private Development, Smart Cities, Sustainable Transportation and Infrastructure Planning, or Urban Design) as well as complete a summer internship between their first and second years.

Letter from the Chair

Planners’ skills are critical for solving the most vexing problems facing our world today. Worldwide, planners are managing the continuing migration to cities; working to upgrade slum housing, and finding practical solutions to problems of climate change and environmental degradation. Closer to home, planners are renewing and redesigning the nation's characterless suburbs; protecting vulnerable communities from the effects of the financial meltdown; and turning sustainability and resiliency from buzzwords into best practices.

At PennPlanning, we will give you the knowledge and skills you need to take on these challenges. We’ll prepare you for a fulfilling career in the private, public, and/or nonprofit sectors. You will gain the quantitative, qualitative and digital skills you will need to analyze complex problems and to visualize alternative futures for communities. You will learn how historical and institutional contexts shape planning practice, as well as how to work with community members to leverage their knowledge and skills. You will also gain in-depth knowledge in at least one of our six areas of concentration: Land Use and Environmental Policy; Urban Design; Community and Economic Development, Smart Cities; Public and Private Development; and Sustainable Transportation and Infrastructure Planning.

Philadelphia is an exciting place to study city planning right now.  Philadelphia is the sixth largest city in the U.S. It is a city of neighborhoods and retains a small town feel.  Our faculty are closely connected to community and city leaders, and our students benefit from the hands-on projects we do in Philadelphia and the larger region. Whether you are interested in gentrification, neighborhood-scale urban design, downtown development, green infrastructure, urban policy, new forms of public transportation, how the digital revolution is reshaping planning, or urban agriculture, Philadelphia has become one of the country’s great urban laboratories in which to test new ideas.

How To Apply

If you’re reading this, you’ve already determined that you’re curious about urban planning.  Now you need to figure out whether Penn’s program is a good fit with your interests.  Here are some questions to ask yourself as you explore this website:

  • Do you connect with at least one of the concentrations we offer?
  • Are our faculty teaching courses and doing research in areas that mesh with your interests?
  • Do our studio and applied projects appeal to the kind of work you’re passionate about?

Check out the certificate and dual degree programs we offer.  And if you continue to be interested in PennPlanning, it’s time to go deeper.  Call or email Lisa Servon, the chair of the department, Domenic Vitiello, associate chair, or a faculty member whose work seems particularly interesting to you.  We’re happy to answer any questions about the program, individual courses, teaching assistant and research assistant opportunities, and financial assistance. 

We can also connect you to current and former students, and work with you to set up a visit to campus so that you can sit in on classes and get a better feel for how things work.  Our annual Open House event is scheduled for Monday, November 5th, 2018 and there's no substitute for visiting in person. If you can't make it on open house day, come by when you can. You can e-mail faculty to set up individual appointments, or contact Ms. Roslynne Carter (, and she will try to line up appointments with faculty and current students.

Once you decide to apply to Penn, visit the PennDesign Admissions section for more detailed application instructions.

Take the GRE exam if you have not already done so, and the TOEFL, PTE, or IELTS Academic exam if English is not your primary language. Contact two or more of your undergraduate school professors and find out if they will write recommendation letters for you. If you have been out of school for a few years, identify employers who can write about your work history and abilities.

Most importantly, start thinking about how you can best express why you want to come to graduate school in general and PennPlanning in particular. Your personal statement should touch on three themes: (1) How you came to be interested in planning; (2) What you hope to do with your degree and graduate education once finished; and, (3) Why PennPlanning is a good fit for your interests and professional plans. If you have been involved in a planning-related activity, even just to volunteer, be sure to mention it. Try to keep your personal statement to 500 words or less, and if possible, have a friend or colleague review it to make sure it is clear and concise.

If you are applying for the Urban Design Concentration, you should STRONGLY CONSIDER submitting a digital portfolio of prior design work.

When deciding who to admit, we give slightly greater weight to personal statements and letters of recommendations, so make sure your personal statement fully reflects who you are, and make sure your recommenders discuss your ability to undertake graduate-level study. If you have had a blip in your undergraduate studies or professional career, be sure to explain it. We do look closely at test scores - along with your undergraduate grade point average (GPA) - as a way of determining if you are ready for graduate school. We don't, however, apply GRE or GPA minimums, so if your GRE scores or GPA are a little low, but your personal statement and recommendations are exemplary, there is a good chance you will be admitted.

If you can't come by, e-mail or call a faculty member to let them know who you are and that you are applying. We get hundreds of applications every year, so it's important to keep your name in front of our faces.

The deadline for all admissions materials to be received by us is January[KD1]  11, 2018. Be sure to follow-up with your undergraduate university to ensure they have mailed us your transcript (if a US school) or WES evaluation (if a non-US school), and your recommenders to ensure that they have sent us letters of recommendation. The number one problem with admissions is that the application is incomplete or missing a key item. Remember that it is your responsibility, not ours, to make sure that your application is complete. You can check the status of your application on-line.

Sometime in early February, we will get together as a faculty to make admissions decisions for the coming year. Once the faculty has made its decision, the university will still have to check on a number of things. You will be able to log back into your on-line application to view your notification letter on March 14, 2018. Please do not call before then to check on your application.

Good luck with your application and we look forward to seeing you at Penn.

PAB (Planning Accreditation Board) Student Outcome Assessment

Student Achievement

We define student achievement based on the following items:

  • First Year Studio Grades
  • Second Year Studio Grades
  • Graduating Student Exit Survey

The first and second year studios are taught by professionals in the field and is the culminating project of each year. 

In Fall 2016, out of 63 students, 9 received an A+, 21 received an A, 17 received an A-, 4 received a B+, 1 received a B and there was one B-.

In Spring 2017, out of 20 students, 6 received an A+, 7 received an A, 3 received an A-, and 4 received a B+.

The Graduating Student 2017 Exit Survey has a response rate of 100% (51 out of 51 graduates responded).  66% said that skills gained from the program helped them obtain employment.

A 2014 Alumni survey (with 175 respondents) reported that 80.23% though the Penn MCP gave them greater job/mobility/opportunities [2.9% said no, 16.86% were uncertain]

Tuition and Fees

2017-2018 Academic Year Tuition Fees Total
In-State $49,574 $3,530 $53,104
Out-of-state $49,574 $3,530 $53,104

Student Retention and Graduation Rates

Academic Year Entering Cohort 2nd Year Retention Rate Graduated within 4 years Graduation Rate
2009-2010 65 100% 65 100%
2010-2011 63 99% 61 96%
2011-2012 67 99% 63 94%
2012-2013 56 98% 52 92%
2013-2014 67 97% 62



2014-2015  58 98% 62 106%

Number of Degrees Awarded 2017: 51

Number of Degrees Awarded 2016:  58

Number of Degrees Awarded 2015:  62


AICP Exam Pass Rate

Graduation Years 2013 2014 2015
Number Taking Exam 11 6 7
Pass Rate 100% 100% 87%


Employment Rate

Total Employed within One Year of Graduation:   80%

2014 Graduates
Responses 57
Response Rate 94%
Employment within One Year of Graduation: Professional Planning Job 77%
Employment within One Year of Graduation: Professional Planning-Related Job 16%

Employment within One Year of Graduation:  Pursuing Advanced Degree

Total Employed Within One Year of Graduation 91%
2015 Graduates
Responses 55
Response Rate 88%
Employment within One Year of Graduation: Professional Planning Job 23%
Employment within One Year of Graduation: Professional Planning-Related Job 50%
Employment within One Year of Graduation:  Advanced Degree 0%
Total Employed within One Year of Graduation 80%


Student Groups

Land Use Club

The Land Use and Environmental Planning Club connects students in the PennDesign community to local programs, practitioners, and projects that represent best practices in the field.  The club invites professionals who work at the intersection of the built and natural environments to speak on campus and organizes site visits to experience this work firsthand.  All students at PennDesign are welcome to participate in the club’s events, as are students in other graduate schools at Penn.

Real Estate Club

The PennDesign Real Estate Club provides a platform for mentoring, speakers, panels, site visits, resume promotion and career strategizing. Through our various resources we seek to demonstrate how the interdisciplinary curriculum of PennDesign uniquely corresponds to the nature of real estate development and community-building today.
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PennDesign Social Justice Club

PennDesign Social Justice is a conduit for PennDesign to teach, organize, and resist by means of our privilege and resources in support of equality and and justice in our communities and professions. We stand against white supremacy, sexism, concentrated wealth and power, and hate speech. Our group keeps students connected with local, regional, and national activism, and builds the capacity of students to participate in these efforts. We also work to make PennDesign a more just educational environment.

PDSJ holds monthly meetings featuring guest speakers, targeted discussions, and or activist training. In addition, PDSJ holds monthly brown bag lunches to discuss particular issues relevant to our fields and social justice.

Student Planning Association

The Student Planning Association -- SPA -- is a student-led advocacy and social group meant for students of City Planning at PennDesign. As a peer-elected organization, our main purpose is to advocate on the behalf of CPLN students, both within the department and the School of Design. We are also responsible for department-wide, student lead social events and other student-oriented activities.
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UrbTrans (short for Urban Transportation) aims to facilitate conversation between students in PennDesign (and the broader University of Pennsylvania community), and professionals in the transportation field. UrbTrans’s goal is to foster greater knowledge of the latest transportation trends and ideas across academic and professional settings, and it does so by bringing speakers from within the public and private sectors to campus throughout the academic year. In addition, site visits and tours offer students firsthand exposure to ongoing and completed transportation projects in Philadelphia.

MCP Contact Information

Department Address

127 Meyerson Hall
210 S. 34th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Department Phone Number: 215-898-8329
Department Fax: 215-898-5731

Department Chair
Lisa Servon 

For inquiries @ visiting Penn contact:
Roslynne Carter, 215-898-8330,

For questions regarding the Department contact:
Kate Daniel, 215-898-8124,