The Urban Studies and Planning (URSP) Program at the University of Maryland brings together an active community of scholars and students to creatively confront the issues facing our cities and suburbs. Through instruction, participation in research and community interaction, students explore the changing character, critical problems, and significant opportunities of metropolitan areas.
URSP offers the Master of Community Planning (MCP), a professional degree accredited by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning and the American Planning Association. More than 500 students have earned MCP degrees since 1973, when the program began at the University of Maryland's Baltimore campus. The aim of the program is to prepare planning practitioners who will be generalists with a specialization. The core curriculum emphasizes student understanding of the political, institutional, and social context in which professional planners develop and implement programs. Areas of specialization include housing community development, economic development, environmental planning, and transportation planning.
College Park is an ideal location for studying the urban environment because of its proximity to the fascinating and very different cities of Annapolis, Baltimore, and Washington, DC. The historic state capital, a major industrial port, and the nation's capital are all within a 30-mile radius of campus. In addition, several planned communities, including Columbia, Greenbelt, and Kentlands, are nearby in Maryland. The program's location enables students to intern at the international, national, regional, state and local levels of government.
Our program is closely affiliated with the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education, founded in the summer of 2000. The State of Maryland has attracted national attention with its innovative smart growth initiatives to control urban sprawl and promote city and inner-suburb revitalization. URSP is the lead unit of the multidisciplinary center, which is conducting a variety of research, evaluation, and educational activities related to growth management, smart growth, and sustainability.
The 48-credit MCP program includes required courses in the concepts, process, context, and practice of planning, as well as specialization courses in an area of student interest. The program includes a studio (group planning practicum) and internship. Students may complete the program full-time in two years or part-time in up to five years.
Students may designate an area of specialization by taking 9 credit hours of coursework within a specialized field of planning. Students may choose from one of the specializations below or declare an alternate area of specialization with the approval of their faculty advisor. The courses chosen for an area of specialization should provide adequate coverage of the knowledge, skills, and values germane to the specialized area of study (see a list of eligible URSP specialization courses under the “Curriculum” section).
Housing and Community Development
This specialization prepares students to work as housing and community development practitioners within a variety of professional settings. The curriculum emphasizes the theory, practice, and institutional context of housing and community development policy. Students will learn how housing markets and local economies function within the context of social, political, and economic forces operating at different geographic scales. Students will draw upon this understanding to develop and evaluate policies designed to realize housing and community development goals. Students will also learn techniques for engaging communities to develop locally driven solutions to community problems.
This specialty prepares students to work as economic development practitioners. The curriculum emphasizes understanding of the theory and practice of urban and regional economic development. It gives special attention to understanding the economy and market failures, location decisions of population and business, development models of regional growth and decline, development politics, and techniques for development planning.
Students examine the history and practice of policies intended to regulate the amount, pace, location, pattern and quality of growth in U.S. metropolitan areas. Of particular concern are technical aspects, data requirements, legal and constitutional issues, cost effectiveness, political conflicts, equity concerns, socioeconomic impacts of land regulation, and implications for sustainability and resiliency.
This specialization prepares students to work in the area of transportation planning. The curriculum emphasizes an understanding of the theories, policies, and techniques related to the design, planning, and evaluation of transportation infrastructure and services. The curriculum gives special attention to the requirements necessary to support a multi-modal transportation system. Theories and methods focus on forecasting demand; assessing systems performance; connection between land use, urban form, and urban design; and understanding relationships with social and economic trends and the ties to other planning areas.