Current and prospective students should refer to the 2018-19 Graduate Catalog for a description of the Master of Urban Planning and Policy curriculum.

Note: Students enrolled in the MS in Urban and Regional Policy should refer to the 2018-2019 Graduate Catalog for a description of the curriculum.

The MS in Urban Planning and Policy (MUPP) trains students to work as urban planners in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. The curriculum provides a solid foundation in planning and policy, while allowing students to develop substantial expertise in one of four focus areas: Urban Design and Physical Planning; Urban Analytics; Urban Sustainability and Resilience; and Urban Development Policy and Planning.


Urban Design and Physical Planning

The Urban Design and Physical Planning specialization provides students with a foundation in principles and practices involved in designing vibrant, accessible, and sustainable urban spaces. Students learn theories of urban design and techniques and softwares of design representation. They can choose from three sub-tracks within the specialization: Urban Design and Real Estate, Physical Planning and Design for Sustainable Urbanism, and Urban Experience Design.

The Urban Design and Real Estate sub-track provides students skills in real estate finance and practice to prepare them to work with designers, communities, real estate professionals, government agencies, and other stakeholders to create great urban places.  The sub-track in Physical Planning and Design for Sustainable Urbanism develops skills to realize ecologically sustainable urban development through the application of principles of environmental and urban design in the planning and policy process. Students in the sub-track in Urban Experience Design learn methods for analyzing and visualizing the city as a data environment, and designing for human interaction within urban systems.


Urban Analytics

The Urban Analytics focus area prepares students for careers analyzing data to solve urban problems. Students develop cutting edge skills in big data analysis, data visualization, and Geographic Information Systems, and learn the theoretical and practical skills to analyze cities as a system of systems. Electives allow students to gain deeper understanding of the application of data analytics techniques in the areas of environmental policy and planning, transportation and land use planning, and climate change adaptation and mitigation, among others.


Urban Sustainability and Resilience

The Urban Sustainability and Resilience specialization is intended for students interested in working on critical issues of climate change adaptation and mitigation, environmental sustainability, and disaster planning facing cities. The curriculum provides a theoretical foundation in the interaction between the built environment of cities and ecological systems, and in methods like dynamic modeling and Geographic Information Systems that are used to analyze these issues. Electives allow students to explore both the policy and physical planning and urban design dimensions of issues of sustainability and resilience.


Urban Development Policy and Planning

The Urban Development Policy and Planning specialization area prepares students for careers working on issues of housing, economic development, and community development facing cities. The coursework allows students to focus their studies on specific topics. For example, students interested in housing can choose coursework that provides a strong background in housing policy and real estate finance and practice, while students interested in community development might choose coursework on community development, immigration policy, or nonprofit management.


MUPP students must complete an experiential requirement, such as an internship of at least 270 hours, a graduate Co-op program, or by achieving substantial professional planning and policy experience before the completion of the program.

The MUPP program consists of 12 courses totaling 48 semester hours. These include:

  • Six core courses
  • Three courses in a focus area
  • Two free electives
  • One capstone course


Cooperative Education (Co-op)

MUPP students can take advantage of Northeastern’s signature Cooperative Education Experience (“Co-op”) either at the College of Social Sciences and Humanities or the College of Arts, Media, and Design. The Co-op program offers full time, six-month research and work experiences in nonprofit, public, and private sector institutions in Greater Boston and across the United States. Participating students apply the skills and competencies acquired in the program in a particular professional environment, and then reflect on their professional experiences through the required one-credit Experiential Integration course. Students interested in Co-op should meet early on with Professor Linda Kowalcky, who coordinates the School’s experiential education program, to  determine eligibility and how Co-op will fit within the student’s curriculum.

Learning Outcomes

  • Explain the major socioeconomic and spatial forces that shape issues in contemporary cities, including issues related to the environment, housing, poverty, race and ethnicity, economic development, regionalism, and growth management.
  • Explain and critique major theories of the politics and practice of urban planning and policy.
  • Identify major historical urban policy shifts, and contemporary trends and debates in urban planning and policy in the United States.
  • Explain changes to cities in the United States and other parts of the world within a context of increasing global economic and social interconnections.
  • Explain the ideas of microeconomic theory with a focus on their application to urban planning and policy issues.
  • Explain roles played by actors in the public, private and nonprofit sectors in addressing the challenges facing urban areas.
  • Explain how different planning and policy strategies evolve in the interplay between branches and levels of government.
  • Interpret and critique social science research that applies statistical techniques.
  • Conduct a research project by collecting and analyzing socio-economic and other data to answer an urban planning and policy research question.
  • Utilize skills of teamwork and project management necessary to work effectively in professional settings.
  • Give public presentations that effectively communicate information to a range of audiences and stakeholders, including community residents, public officials, and others.
  • Write clear, evidence-based analyses of planning and policy issues for professional audiences and the broader public.
  • Explain contemporary issues related to race, gender, and class, in the practice of urban planning and policy.
  • Demonstrate advanced knowledge in a focus area within urban policy planning via report, presentation, proposal or exhibition as appropriate to the subject matter.

Additional Information

Requirements and policies subject to change. For up-to-date information, contact Julie Switkes or view the official graduate catalog for a full listing of graduate level courses.