Master of Community Planning


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 (M.C.P.), a professional degree accredited by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning and the American Planning Association. More than 450 students have earned M.C.P. 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 multi-disciplinary center, which is conducting a variety of research, evaluation and educational activities related to growth management, smart growth and sustainability.


The 48-credit M.C.P. 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.

Areas of Specialization

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” link.) 


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 learn to 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.


Economic Development

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.


Environmental 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.


Transportation Planning

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; understanding relationships with social and economic trends and the ties to other planning areas.

Tuition and Fees

Current tuition, fees and other expenses for degrees at the University of Maryland are posted on the Office of the Bursar website.

Visiting the School

The best way to learn more about the University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation is to visit. Throughout the year, both the School and the University of Maryland invite prospective graduate students to attend our annual Graduate Open House. Whether you choose to visit the official open house day or to arrange a visit on another day, a visit will certainly help you decide if the University of Maryland is the place to start your future. You are welcome to attend classes or come to special lectures or other events.


To make an appointment with the program director contact:

Casey Dawkins 


(301) 405-6795




Kristen Stack Tepper 

Program Coordinator

(301) 405-6311 

To graduate, students must complete the following requirements, for a total of 48 credits:

•    24 credits of required courses;
•    9 credits in an area of specialization;
•    9 credits of free electives (some of which could also be in the area of specialization, could form a second specialization, or be in one or more other planning topic areas);
•    a 6-credit “capstone” studio course, offered during the academic year or the summer; and  
•    a “capstone” internship with a planning-related agency or organization.  The internship is to be for 300 hours, done in a regular semester or a summer session.  Interning students work 20 hours per week for 15 weeks in the internship.  There is no credit associated with the internship.

Also, prior to graduation, an MCP candidate has the option of writing, submitting, and receiving faculty approval of, a professional or academic paper that is well organized, logically argued, uses evidence appropriately, and shows a command of the English language.  This paper should be strong enough to warrant publication in an academic or professional publication and should show potential employers what the student is capable of.  Students also have the option of writing a master’s thesis.  Please note that neither a professional paper nor a thesis is required for graduation from our program.

Course requirement are detailed in the section below.  Prior to graduation, each MCP candidate has the option of submitting and receiving faculty approval for a professional or academic paper that is well organized, logically argued, uses evidence appropriately, and shows a command of the English language.  This paper should be strong enough to warrant publication in an academic or professional publication and should show potential employers what the student is capable of.


Click here to view a detailed curriculum for the Master of Community Planning. 

Master of Community Planning Curriculum

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On behalf of the faculty, staff, and students we want to welcome you to the University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. We are happy that you will be joining us and hope that your experience is productive, rewarding, and enjoyable. We have assembled some information to aid you in your transition into our classroom environment. Should you find that there are items that are not addressed, please let us know so that we can help you get the answer to your question as well as include that information for future generations. Feel free to contact us to discuss your concerns.


As you scroll down this page, please click on the topic of interest to you in order to expand the window.


To schedule a meeting with the Program Director contact:


Casey Dawkins


(301) 405-6795




Kristen Stack Tepper

Program Coordinator

(301) 405-6311


Keep up to date on what's happening in the school and be informed about important deadlines by visiting the MAPP calendar.