City and Regional Planning

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.

Master of City Planning (MCP) Requirements

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


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 a two-week "bootcamp" program just prior to the start of the fall semester.


The eight-course MCP core curriculum encompasses the basic skills and knowledge required of all planners regardless of their specialization, and is a hallmark of our cutting-edge and practical approach to educating city planners. 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 (Spring), offered to first-year students and is organized around producing a community plan for a Philadelphia-area city, town, or neighborhood. CPLN 700 Planning Studio (Fall), 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.

Required Core Courses*

Year 1 Fall
  • CPLN 500 Introduction to Planning History
  • CPLN 501 Quantitative Planning Analysis Methods
  • CPLN 510 Urban and Planning Theory
Year 1 Spring
  • CPLN 600 Workshop
Year 2 Fall
  • CPLN 700 Planning Studio
Year 2 Spring
  • CPLN 502 Urban and Infrastructure Finance*
  • CPLN 509 Law and Urban Development

Students may choose to take the following core requirements whenever they best fit their schedule:

Spatial Analysis Requirement
  • CPLN 503 Modeling Geographic Objects (Fall) or an equivalent GIS course
Breadth Methods Requirement for students entering Fall 2017
  • CPLN 504 Site Planning (Fall)**
  • CPLN 505 Planning by Numbers (Spring)***
  • CPLN 506 Negotiation and Civic Engagement (Spring)
  • CPLN 508 Urban Research Methods (Fall)****
  • CPLN 560 Introduction to Graphics for Urban Design (Spring)
  • CPLN 671 Spatial Statistics and Data Analysis (Fall)*****

*Students in the Land Use-Environmental Planning concentration MUST TAKE BOTH CPLN 502 and CPLN 509 due to concentration requirements.

**Students in the Land Use-Environmental Planning or the Public Private Development concentrations choosing to use CPLN 504 as their Breadth Methods course must choose another elective to complete their concentration requirement.

**Students in the Urban Design concentration CAN NOT take CPLN 504 as their Breadth Methods course.

***Students in the Sustainable Infrastructure and Transportation Planning concentration CAN NOT take CPLN 505 as their Breadth Methods course.

**** Student in the Thesis Studio CAN NOT take CPLN 508 as their Breadth Methods course.

***** Students in the Smart Cities concentration requirement CAN NOT take CPLN 671 OR CPLN 505 as their Breadth Methods course.


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.

Students may intern at a Philadelphia-based organization, such as the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Diamond and Associates or Interface Studios.

Internships outside the Philadelphia region have included Nikken Sekkei in Tokyo; the New York City Department of Planning; or the Chicago Mayor's Fellowship.


The essence of good planning is making connections. To facilitate this, the Department of City & Regional Planning offers six concentrations which integrate knowledge across related specializations: (1) Community & Economic Development (2) Land Use-Environmental Planning (3) Public Private Development (4) Smart Cities (5) Sustainable Transportation and Infrastructure Planning and (6) 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 our six concentrations. Click here to learn more about each concentration.

MCP Concentrations

Community and Economic Development (CED)

The Community and Economic Development 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 and economic development finance, neighborhood revitalization, workforce development, center city re-development, and public sector management of urban and regional economic development. Community and Economic Development is a 4 credit concentration.

Faculty Advisors:

Vincent Reina, Lisa ServonDomenic Vitiello

Required Courses
  • CPLN 520: Introduction to Community & Economic Development (Fall, First Year)
  • CPLN 620: Techniques of Urban Economic Development (Spring, First Year)
  • CPLN 720: Community Development Practicum (Spring, Second Year)
Concentration Electives (take at least one)
  • CPLN 621: Metropolitan Food Systems 
  • CPLN 624: Readings in Race, Place and Poverty
  • CPLN 625: Politics of Housing and Urban Development
  • CPLN 644: Housing Policy
  • CPLN 676: Immigrant City 

Land Use-Environmental Planning (LU-EP)

Land use and environmental planning are at the core of city planning, With the U.S. forecast to add 80+ million new residents over the next forty years (and the world forecast to add 3 billion), land use and environmental planners will have to figure out new ways to accommodate population and economic growth while strengthening existing cities and towns; preserving precious and irreplaceable farm and resource lands; promoting new urban forms such as transit-oriented and mixed-use development; taking advantage of new water, land, telecom, and transportation infrastructure systems; promoting clean air and water, and robust ecologies; and reducing the carbon footprint of cities and suburbs alike. Students who complete the Land Use and Environmental Planning concentration work for local and municipal governments, for land use and environmental planning consultants, for and regional growth management agencies, and for smart growth, land conservation, and sustainable development policy and advocacy organizations. Land Use and Environmental Planning is a 5 credit concentration.

Faculty Advisors:

Tom Daniels, Allison Lassiter

Required Courses
  • CPLN 530: Introduction to Land Use (Fall, First Year)
  • CPLN 531: Introduction to Environmental Planning (Fall, Second Year)
  • CPLN 509: Law of Urban Development(Fall, Second Year)*
Concentration electives (take at least two)
  • CPLN 504: Site Planning (Fall version)**
  • CPLN 630: Innovations in Growth Management
  • CPLN 631: Planning for Land Conservation
  • CPLN 635: Water Policy
  • CPLN 675: Land Use and Environmental Modeling
  • CPLN 730: Sustainable Cities

*Since CPLN 509 is a required LUEP course, students must take CPLN 502 as their Core Finance/Law requirement

**Students choosing to take Site Planning for this requirement CAN NOT count it toward their Core Breadth Methods requirement

Public Private Development (PPD)

Students in the Public & Private Development Concentration will learn the planning, design, entrepreneurial, and financing principles of developing for-profit and community-oriented housing and commercial development projects; how to put together development proposals and plans that meet the needs of tenants, the marketplace, and the community; how to develop projects that are economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable; and how private developers can work in partnership with cities and towns, redevelopment agencies, non-profits, and community groups to create affordable housing and public-private development partnerships. These same skills and abilities will be widely valued outside the United States, especially in growing areas of Asia and South America. Public Private Development is a 4 credit concentration.

Faculty Advisor:

John Landis

Required Courses
  • CPLN 540: Introduction to Property Development (Fall, First Year)
  • CPLN 641: Progressive Development (Spring, First Year)
  • CPLN 642: Downtown Development (Fall, Second Year)
Concentration Electives (take at least one)
  • CPLN 504: Site Planning (Fall version)*
  • CPLN 644: Housing Policy 
  • CPLN 620: Techniques of Urban Economic Development

* Students who take CPLN 504 to meet this elective CAN NOT use it to meet the Breadth Methods requirement.

Smart Cities

Today's combination of portable-yet-powerful computing and communication devices and Internet-accessible "big data" are democratizing all manner of urban planning and decision-making.  And in the process, transforming planners from central information gatekeepers into bottom-up enablers who are helping city dwellers take better advantage of the opportunities and richness of urban life.  By giving everyday people quick access to usable information, these new technologies are connecting planners, residents, businesses, and non-profits; and making them smarter and more productive.  The purpose of this concentration is to give MCP students the skills and abilities they will need to develop this new generation of planning applications that seamlessly combine user-friendly data retrieval and modeling procedures with individual and collaborative urban planning and design tools. Smart Cities is a 4 credit concentration.

Faculty Advisors:

John Landis, Allison Lassiter

Required Courses
  • CPLN 590: Spatial Analysis for Planning (Fall, First Year) *
  • CPLN 505:  Planning by Numbers (Spring, First Year) or CPLN 671:  Spatial Statistics & Data Analysis (Fall, First Year)**
Electives (take at least two)
  • CPLN 571: Sensing the City
  • CPLN 670: Geo-spatial Software Design (Python)
  • CPLN 690: Java Programming for Planning and Urban Management
  • CPLN 691: Data Wrangling and Visualization
  • CPLN 675:  Urban & Environmental Modeling 

*Smart Cities students who take this course in place of CPLN 503 in the core must take an additional Smart Cities elective.

**Students who take CPLN 505 or CPLN 671 to meet this requirement CAN NOT use it to meet the Core Breadth Methods requirement.

Sustainable Transportation and Infrastructure Planning (STIP)

This concentration explores the roles of transportation and other capital infrastructure systems in shaping urban and metropolitan development patterns in the U.S. and around the world. It focuses foremost on urban highway, public transit, and non-motorized transportation systems and their connections to sustainable, livable and economically-productive development forms; and secondly on water, energy, and communications infrastructure. It covers initial planning and development topics (such as right-of-way and system planning issues), linkages to urban and economic development issues (such as those surrounding high-speed rail), and ongoing finance and management topics such as pricing, equity-of-access, and value-creation. Students who complete the Sustainable Transportation & Infrastructure Planning Concentration work for local and municipal governments, for state highway departments and metropolitan transit operators, for transportation and infrastructure planning consultants, for system developers and utilities, and for policy and planning organizations advocating more sustainable transportation and development choices. Sustainable Transportation & Infrastructure Planning is a 5 credit concentration.

Faculty Advisors:

Erick GuerraMegan Ryerson

Required Courses
  • CPLN 550: Introduction to Transportation Planning (Fall, First Year)
  • CPLN 505: Planning by Numbers (Spring, Second Year)*
  • CPLN 650: Transportation Planning Methods (Fall, Second Year)
Concentration Electives (take at least two)
  • CPLN 652: National TransportationInfrastructure Seminar
  • CPLN 655 Multi-modal Transportation
  • CPLN 750 Airport Systems Planning

*Since CPLN 505 is required as part of the STIP requirements, students CAN NOT use it to fulfill the breadth methods requirement

Urban Design (UD)

Urban Design 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. Urban Design is a 5 credit concentration.

Faculty Advisor:

Stefan Al

Required Courses
  • CPLN 660 Fundamentals of Urban Design Studio (Fall, First Year, 2cus)
  • CPLN 504 Site Planning (Spring, First Year)**
  • CPLN 760 Public Realm Studio (Spring, Second Year, 2 CUs)

** Students in the Urban Design Concentration CAN NOT take CPLN 504 to meet their Breadth Methods requirement.

Dual Degrees and Certificates

Within Penn Design

Dual Degree–MCP/MLA
Master of City Planning and Master of Landscape Architecture

Dual Degree–MARCH/MCP
Master of Architecture and Master of City Planning

Dual Degree–MCP/MSHP
Master of City Planning and Master of Science in Historic Preservation

Dual Degree–MCP/MUSA
Master of City Planning and Master of Urban Spatial Analytics

Outside PennDesign

Master of City Planning/Master of Social Work

A joint degree is offered by the City Planning program in the School of Design and the School of Social Policy and Practice. The blended curriculum covers three years and may include one intervening summer. Students must take the required courses in each curriculum. Upon successful completion of the joint program, the student is awarded the degrees of Master of City Planning (MCP) and Master of Social Work (MSW)

Master of City Planning/Juris Doctor

The MCP/JD is a joint degree program sponsored by the Law School and the School of Design. The aim of the joint degree program is to train leaders who can blend the professional concerns of law and city and regional planning. This is a four-year program, plus one summer of office practice in the planning field. Students apply to each school independently through each program’s specified admission process.

In order for a student to receive both degrees, he or she must complete the independent degree requirements of each program. Law students must complete a minimum of 89 credits, 55 hours of which must be advanced credit completed in the second and third years of Law study. Students in the joint program may apply twelve semester hours (four courses) taken in the MCP program or elsewhere in the University while in their 2L and 3L years of the Law program toward that requirement, reducing their upper level credit requirement to 43 credits. These four courses are the total number of non-Law courses that a Law student can take in other departments of the University. Students must also satisfy the Law School’s pro bono requirement via the Public Service Program and fulfill senior writing and professional responsibility requirements (more on these requirements can be found in the Law Student Guide to Policy and Procedures).

Students must complete 19 course units for the Masters of City Planning (MCP) degree. Of these, ten course units are core requirements and must be taken in the MCP Program and 5 course units are courses taken in their area of concentration, selected from a list designated by the Department. Students are also required to complete four course units in the Law School selected in consultation with their Law School and MCP program advisors. Students may satisfy the elective requirements via City Planning related courses offered in the Law School. Electives must be approved in advance by the MCP Program Advisor.

Master of City Planning/Master of Business Administration

City and Regional Planning students have the option of simultaneously completing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the Wharton School. Applicants to the dual-degree program apply separately to the relevant department/program of the School of Design and to the MBA program of the Wharton School. Admission decisions are made independently by each department/program, and students may pursue a dual degree program only if admitted to both the School of Design and the Wharton School. Students already enrolled in the School of Design may apply to the Wharton School in the fall semester of their first year.

To satisfy the School of Design portion of the dual-degree program, students must take at least 25 course units in the architecture or landscape architecture departments or at least 15 course units in city planning or historic preservation. To satisfy the MBA portion of the dual-degree program, students must take at least 15 course units at the Wharton School. It is Wharton policy that courses taken at Wharton prior to admission may not be applied toward the degree requirements of the MBA program.

Dual degree students do one entire year at the School of Design, followed by one entire year at the Wharton School. In the case of City Planning, this would be followed by one year of a combination of Design and Wharton courses.

Master of City Planning/Master of Public Administration

A joint degree is offered by the City Planning program in the School of Design and the Fels Institute of Government in the School of Arts and Sciences. Applicants to the dual-degree program apply separately to the School of Design and to the MPA program at Fels. Admission decisions are made independently by each department/program, and students may pursue a dual degree program only if admitted to both the School of Design and the Fels Institute of Government. The MCP/MPA is a two and one half year program aimed at training leaders who blend city planning and government administration skills. It requires completion of 23 course units distributed as follows: 15 in city planning (10 course units in core courses and 4-6 in the area of concentration) and 8 in the government administration core requirements. Students also must complete an internship in the summer between the first and second years.  Upon successful completion of the joint program, the student is awarded the degrees of Master of City Planning (MCP) and Master of Public Administration (MPA).

How to Apply to the Dept of City & Regional Planning

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 12, 2018. Be sure to follow-up with your undergraduate university to ensure they have mailed us your transcript, 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%


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,