About Urban Studies and Planning

The Urban Studies and Planning Program at the University of Maryland is located in College Park, an ideal place to study city and regional planning. We have easy access to the industrial city of Baltimore, the nation's capital of Washington, D.C., and the historic state capital of Annapolis. We are also in close proximity to such well-known planned communities as Greenbelt, Md., Columbia, Md., and Reston, Va., along with several highly-regarded examples of New Urbanism such as Maryland’s Kentlands and King Farm.  

Our location also contributes to the "hands-on" nature of our master's curriculum, which includes a community planning studio and an internship. Our interns can work in a diverse range of contexts, from international and national organizations, federal, state, and local governments, private consulting firms, and several innovative community-based organizations.

The Urban Studies and Planning Program brings together an active community of scholars and students to creatively confront issues facing our cities and metropolitan regions. Through instruction, participation in research, and community interaction, students explore the changing character and critical problems of modern urban development. The curriculum emphasizes student understanding of the political, economic, institutional, and social context within which planners work with a diverse range of stakeholders to develop and implement plans, policies, and programs. Specializations include housing and community development, economic development, environmental planning, and transportation planning. These areas reflect our faculty members, who are nationally and internationally respected in their fields.

Our graduate students come from an array of undergraduate disciplines, including the social sciences, arts and humanities, and the physical sciences. Despite our different backgrounds, we share a commitment to analyze and address -- with creativity and rigor -- major issues facing metropolitan areas inside and outside the U.S. Our 48-credit hour curriculum can be completed in two years by full-time students, but we also have many students who work full-time in the Washington-Baltimore region and complete their degrees as part-time students.

We are closely affiliated with the nationally-recognized National Center for Smart Growth Research, a nonpartisan center for research and education on smart growth, sustainability, and related land-use issues both in the country and around the world. The Center conducts research in four general areas: community development, international planning and urban management, land use, and transportation. Through its interdisciplinary research, outreach, and education activities, the Center has established the University of Maryland as a national leader in this field. 

In 2014 the Center created the Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability (PALS), where the talents of the University of Maryland students and faculty are being applied to specific, sustainability-related issues facing Maryland’s diverse communities. 


Clara Irazabal
Professor; Director
Urban Studies & Planning Program