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

Now is a great time to study city planning at the University of Pennsylvania. Worldwide, it is planners who 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, it is planners who 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, our approach is to give you the knowledge and skills you will need to take on these challenges. Working with our world-class sister programs in PennDesign, we will teach you the quantitative and digital skills you will need to analyze urban communities and to visualize alternative futures. You will learn how historical and institutional contexts shape planning practice, as well as how to work with community members to break bureaucratic logjams and think outside the box. You will learn how to create synergies between subfields, whether it is connecting real estate to affordable housing, transit-oriented development to urban design, or land use planning to community agriculture and public health.

With its diverse neighborhoods and scrappy spirit, Philadelphia is a great place to study and practice city planning.  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

The first thing to do is to find out if Penn is right for you. Obviously, you have taken a look at our website. Now see how your interests match those of our faculty and current students. Then take a look at our concentration areas, certificate programs, and dual degree opportunities and see how well they offer the study and practice opportunities you might be interested in. Look past individual courses to see if you can identify interesting sequences and areas of study.

Next, send an e-mail to one or more Planning faculty and start a conversation about your study and career goals. Is Penn the right place for you? How does Penn stack up to its competition in your areas of interest? How do our studio and workshop classes work? What jobs are available after graduation? What can Penn do in terms of financial aid?

If you decide to apply to Penn, start lining up your application ducks. 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 strong and timely recommendation letters. 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 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, come by PennDesign. This year's Open House event is scheduled for Novermber 13, 2017, and there's no substitute for you looking us over. And vice versa. 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.

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 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 YearTuitionFeesTotal

Student Retention and Graduation Rates

Academic YearEntering Cohort2nd Year Retention RateGraduated within 4 yearsGraduation Rate



2014-2015 5898%62106%

Number of Degrees Awarded 2017: 51

Number of Degrees Awarded 2016:  58

Number of Degrees Awarded 2015:  62


AICP Exam Pass Rate

Graduation Years201320142015
Number Taking Exam1167
Pass Rate100%100%87%


Employment Rate

Total Employed within One Year of Graduation:   80%

2014 Graduates
Response Rate94%
Employment within One Year of Graduation: Professional Planning Job77%
Employment within One Year of Graduation: Professional Planning-Related Job16%

Employment within One Year of Graduation:  Pursuing Advanced Degree

Total Employed Within One Year of Graduation91%
2015 Graduates
Response Rate88%
Employment within One Year of Graduation: Professional Planning Job23%
Employment within One Year of Graduation: Professional Planning-Related Job50%
Employment within One Year of Graduation:  Advanced Degree0%
Total Employed within One Year of Graduation80%


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

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