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What Is Urban Planning?

Urban planning is a professional field concerned with addressing the health and welfare of urban areas. The potentials and problems of urban areas relate to the built environment and its underlying social, economic, political, and legal structure and related public policies. Professionals must be able to deal with both short and long range planning and projects at various scales. The Master of Urban Planning is an accredited professional degree oriented towards excellence for practicing in urban planning. It is the normal academic qualification for planning and planning-related positions. A good undergraduate education in almost any discipline is acceptable preparation for the M.U.P. program. Undergraduate preparation in the social sciences, the environment, engineering, business, or architecture is especially relevant to the direction and content of the planning program at the University of Kansas.

The M.U.P. degree at the University of Kansas is accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board. This status gives graduates of the Program an advantage in seeking membership in the American Institute of Certified Planners. The program has been continuously accredited since 1983.

The M.U.P. program emphasizes policy planning and analysis within the context of urban or urbanizing environments. Policies affecting urban issues are formulated at all levels of government--federal, state, regional, and local--as well as in the private sector. The M.U.P. program is geared towards meeting the needs for public planning policy regarding urban issues in all these forums.

Three major areas of knowledge are necessary for competency in policy planning: a) theory and practice, which provides the framework of social, economic, political , and legal environments within which planners work and public policy is formed; b) quantitative methods, which provide the skills necessary to define and analyze problems and policy alternatives; and, c) specialty areas, which provide focused information and skills with regard to housing and community development planning, environmental planning, transportation planning, and land use planning and urban design specializations. The planning program, through its interdisciplinary linkages with other departments of the University, provides the center for these specialty areas; this center is supported by a wide range of courses offered by the Architecture Program, the Departments of American Studies, Public Administration, Civil Engineering, and Geography; the School of Law; and other academic units at the University.

The following goals for the curriculum were adopted as part of the latest curriculum review:

To offer subject matter that reflects the state of the art of policy planning and analysis, of planning education, and of planning practice.

To achieve a curriculum flexible enough to respond to emerging needs of society, the profession, and the field of planning.

To give students some applied skills needed for entry-level professional positions as well as the fundamentals of theory and methods that will enable them to move up to higher positions or pursue advanced study at a later time.

To assist students in developing personal qualities essential to be an effective professional planner, such as creativity, common sense, judgment, integrity, initiative, and the ability to work amicably and effectively with others.


The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, retaliation, gender identity, gender expression and genetic information in the University’s programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies and is the University’s Title IX Coordinator: the Executive Director of the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access, IOA@ku.edu, 1246 W. Campus Road, Room 153A, Lawrence, KS, 66045, (785)864-6414, 711 TTY.