Master of Urban and Regional Planning

Student Desk crit
Student Desk crit


The Masters Program in Urban and Regional Planning at Cal Poly was established in 1972 and is fully accredited by the American Planning Association. It is the only accredited program in Southern California offering most of its classes in the evening hours. The program can be completed in two years if taken on a full time basis, or in up to seven years on a part-time schedule. The quality of the program has been recognized by national accreditation teams, in awards by professional organizations, and by employer demand for our students. Planetizen also rated the program as among the most diverse in the nation. The Graduate Coordinator is Dr. Courtney Knapp

Our graduates work as planners, managers, analysts, advisors, and designers, at urban, regional, state, and national levels. They work for local governments and governmental agencies, for private consulting firms, and for nonprofit and environmental groups. Students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and disciplines. Many are working part time while they move into or expand their education in the field of planning.

Planning issues are complex and interrelated.   The program draws upon a broad range of disciplines, including economics, sociology, ecology, philosophy, political science, management, and the design professions. This multidisciplinary aspect is valuable in a world where the pace of change  and interaction is intensifying. The setting in a College of Environmental Design offers opportunities for collaborations with graduate students in architecture, landscape architecture and regenerative studies.

The program offers a broad, interdisciplinary, and rigorous curriculum that combines lectures, seminars, and studio projects. The program features extensive contact with faculty. All required core courses are offered in the evening to accommodate working students. The Master of Urban and Regional Planning Program is fully accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board and has been cited as a national model for the education of planners.

The Master of Urban and Regional Planning at Cal Poly Pomona was established in 1972 and is fully accredited by the American Planning Association. It is the only accredited program in Southern California offering most of its classes in the evening hours.  The program can be completed in two years if taken on a  full time basis, or in up to seven years on a part-time schedule.  The quality of the program has been recognized by national accreditation teams, in awards by professional organizations, and by employer demand for our students. In 2006, Planetizen rated the program in the top 25 nationally, 6th in the nation for zoning administration. Planetizen also rated the program as the most diverse in the nation.

The program consists of a 42 unit  core, a 12 unit area of specialization, 12 units of electives, and 6 units for either a Masters Thesis or a Comprehensive Exam.  Areas of specialization allow students to focus upon  transportation policy, environmental policy, housing and community development,  land use and design or a specialization of their own design. The electives, which are taken in  related areas of interest to the student, are developed with the help of the Graduate Coordinator.  The program also allows up to 13 units of electives to be taken in other graduate programs or at other graduate institutions.

The multidisciplinary core of the program emphasizes:

  • a  perspective on the history and theory of urban development and planning,
  • analysis through rigorous training in the definition, assessment and methodological study of current problems,
  • values and diversity through the study of the ethics and implications of different actions and the promotion of diversity in study and practice,
  • effective communication  through the use of writing assignments, computer technology, and presentations throughout the program.

Students may particiate in many international programs, including a planning/architecture studio in China. They may also take advantage of strong Geographic Information System programs in the department and across the campus.

Learning Outcomes

The primary learning outcome demonstrated by graduates of the Master of Urban and Regional Planning is effectiveness as urban and regional planning professionals. Effectiveness means the application of planning knowledge and skills to facilitate the development of vision and goals, create and implement plans, and solve urban and regional problems. Planning work takes the form of physical design as well as plans and policies. This work is done with a long-term comprehensive perspective, addressing environmental sustainability and social justice.

These outcomes are assessed in capstone studio and individual research projects. External assessment is provided through student competition in American Planning Association and other organizations’ competitions and award programs as well as Planning Accreditation Board reviews.

 The secondary learning outcome is that graduates have a critical reflective perspective concerning the creation of knowledge, use of planning skills, and professional practice and ethics. They continually consider their own values and those of their clients and communities in undertaking professional planning. Their reflection considers issues of democratic participation, social justice, and environmental sustainability.

These outcomes are assessed in students’ ability to reflect on key planning issues in a capstone professional practice seminar.

Effective urban and regional planning practice requires knowledge about cities, regions, and global issues. It is expected that graduates of the program demonstrate knowledge in the following areas:

  • Structure and function of urban settlements, and how those settlements are part of larger regional, national, and global systems.
  • Ecological principles and their implications for sustainability.
  • History and theory of planning processes and practices.
  • Administrative, legal, and political aspects of plan-making and policy implementation.
  • Mastery of a specialized area of planning knowledge, such as community development, urban design, transportation planning, etc.

These outcomes are assessed in students’ performance in lecture-based core classes and in planning electives covering specialized knowledge areas.

Effective urban and regional practice requires skills in plan development, problem solving, and implementation. Graduates demonstrate skills in the following areas:

  • Problem formulation, research skills, data gathering, and analytic techniques.
  • Quantitative analysis and computers, including statistical methods, forecasting, and spatial analysis.
  • Qualitative research and analysis such as interviewing, discussion facilitation, human behavior, and matrix analysis.
  • Design research, iterative design process, synthesis.
  • Written, oral, and graphic communication. Reflective listening.
  • Collaborative problem solving, plan making, and program design.
  • Synthesis and application of knowledge to practice.
  • In-depth research and social policy analysis.
  • Planning management and leadership

These outcomes are assessed in students’ performance in core classes, primarily through instructor/student interaction in activity and laboratory sections.

Ethical urban and regional practice requires that planners adopt a reflective practice that considers complex issues such as social justice, diversity, and the public good. Graduates demonstrate an ability to reflect on and argue a reasoned position on the following issues:

  • Relationship of undergraduate education with the field of urban and regional planning.
  • Equity, social justice, economic welfare, and efficiency in the use of resources.
  • Government and citizen participation/balancing individual and collective rights and interests in the pursuit of a civically engaged population.
  • Respect for diversity of views and ideology.
  • Conservation of natural resources/heritages in the built environment and obligations to act to solve global problems such as climate change.
  • Ethics of professional practice, including management positions where responsible for ethics of others.

These outcomes are assessed in students’ performance in seminar classes, as part of capstone studies, and in activity sections.


How long does the program take?

Two years if you attend full time. Part-time attendance is possible. All coursework must be completed within seven years.

When can I start?

The course sequencing is set up for Fall quarter admission.

Do you require a particular degree for entry?

No. A variety of undergraduate degrees are appropriate preparation for a planning education.

What does it mean that the program is accredited?

Accreditation means that the Planning Accreditation Board has certified that the program provides professional training that meets their standards. Employers look for students from nationally accredited programs.

Do I need a drafting background?

No. A first year studio course will teach you what you need to know in graphic communication and design. Beyond that, it is your option whether you want to take additional courses in urban design.

Is an internship required?

Internships are a valuable source of experience but they are not required. The college has an internship coordinator to help you find a position.

Will I get practical job skill?

The program focuses on providing the skills you need for effective professional practice. Coursework emphasizes learning by doing, through fieldwork and projects in communities.

What are the job prospects?

Job prospects are very good. Southern California will grow rapidly in the next decade; planners are needed to manage that growth. Recently, there has been growth in the areas of GIS, environmental planning, transportation planning, economic development and telecommunications.

Measures of Student Achievement: Planning Accreditation Board (PAB) 7D/Public Information


The Department accepts applications for Fall quarter only.

To be considered for admissions, you are required to submit materials to both the University Admissions Office and to the Department of Urban and Regional Planning. Please pay close attention to the procedures and deadlines for all required materials.

For specific information, application instructions, and requirements please refer to the Masters Admissions page:

Materials submitted to the University

Deadline for University application: January 15

The University’s online application form (,application fees, and a copy of official transcripts from all institutions of higher education that you have attended must be sent from the originating institution directly to the Cal Poly Admissions Office (the Department is not permitted to forward transcripts to the Admissions Office.)


Materials submitted to the Department

Deadline for Department application: February 15

The following material must be submitted to the Department:

  • Three letters of recommendation: Letters from individuals who can address your scholarly or professional abilities and can address your potential for success in graduate study. Letters should be submitted on letterhead, .pdf files are preferred. Recommenders may e-­‐mail pdf files directly to
  • Statement of Purpose: Your statement should indicate your reasons for seeking a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree. The statement should be one to two pages in length and typed, in which you discuss your interest and career goals. (The online application has a space for a statement of purpose; however, the department requires a separate submission of your statement as noted above).
  • Unofficial transcripts (one copy)
  • Unofficial test scores (GRE and/or TOEFL) (one copy)
  • A copy of your university online application which shows your contact information and schools attended

Digital documents (.pdf) are preferred. Send to If it is necessary to mail the documents send them directly to the department office:

Graduate Coordinator
California Polytechnic University, Pomona
Department of Urban and Regional Planning
3801 W. Temple Avenue
Pomona, CA 91768



The department has established the following minimum requirements to prospective students.


Minimum grade point average (GPA) score is 3.0. The University determines your GPA by evaluating all college course work.


Applicants with an undergraduate grade point average between 2.5 and 3.0 will be considered for admission on the basis of scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Applicants with an undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 or better are not required to take the GRE The entrance requirements for Urban and Regional Planning (if the test was taken before 2011) are a combined score of no less than 1000 on the verbal and quantitative sections, with no less than 450 on either section. If the test is taken using the current scoring system we require a combined score of 280 and no less than 135 on either section.


If English is not your first language, you must submit the results of the TOEFL examination. The required minimum score on this examination is 237 (computer based exam), 580 (paper based exam), or 92-­‐93 (Internet-­‐based).

Portfolio (Optional)

Students with a scholarly or professional background in design or graphic communication may prepare a portfolio of their work. Students with non-design undergraduate degrees are not expected to submit a portfolio of design work. Submit in pdf format to


International Applicants

Known for its outstanding academic programs, Cal Poly Pomona offers excellent education for international students who wish to pursue a degree in the United States.

The Graduate Program accepts non-resident and foreign students. Current and future International Students in Cal Poly academic programs must contact the International Center for information regarding visas, guidelines for maintaining academic progress, and procedures for internships and post graduation work.

For additional information on Incoming International Students and requirements, please refer to:



For information regarding admissions to the Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree program, please contact the Graduate Coordinator:

Dr. Courtney Knapp

(909) 869 4507



The Department's learning outcomes are strategically connected to each course in the curriculum. The statment below includes the learning outcomes of the Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree.

The Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree seeks to achieve the learning outcomes described below. The curriculum follows a progression in which learning outcomes are introduced, developed, and mastered. The Master’s degree seeks a level of development appropriate to mid-level professional planning manager or entry into a Ph.D. program. Students complete a core curriculum and select from among two tracks: 1) planning and public policy, and 2) entrepreneurship and leadership. Students develop their own subject matter expertise in one of the tracks, selecting a specific subject matter expertise in conjunction with the Graduate Coordinator.

  • The Planning and Public Policy Track serves students interested in research-based planning and policy practice in public, non-profit, and private sectors, as well as those intending to pursue a Ph.D. It provides advanced mixed-methods research and analysis techniques to guide and underpin plan and policy proposals. The track is intended for those seeking to be analytic leaders in the field and provides a research experience that includes a thesis. Students work with the Graduate Coordinator to focus their attention on a substantive planning and policy area of interest such as environmental policy, transportation policy, community development, or land use and design.
  • The Entrepreneurship and Leadership Track aims to produce leaders who thrive in a highly advanced, globalized society. Recognizing that graduate planning programs’ roles now serve a broader function than public planning positions, this track provides graduates with the necessary analytic tools, technical skills and vision to take on leadership positions in private, non-profit, and public sector entities. It is intended to produce visionary leaders who build organizations from the ground up to meet unmet needs for the public good, both domestically and internationally. Students work with the Graduate Coordinator to focus their attention on the needed planning, entrepreneurial, and leadership courses to prepare them for their field of interest.

1. Mastery of urban and regional planning knowledge

a) Demonstrate knowledge of the evolution of substantive and procedural planning theory, emphasizing behaviors and structures to bring about sound planning and the purpose and meaning of planning, emphasizing the philosophical underpinnings of that understanding, an ability to discern and critique paradigms, and an ability to theorize about planning.

b) Demonstrate knowledge of the role of planning in public, private, and non-profit settings and methods of collaboration and entrepreneurship across sectors appropriate to management-level planning.

c) Demonstrate an ability to argue positions regarding planning laws, constitutional rights, legal procedures, and the intergovernmental framework for planning and organizational administration.

d) Explain the historical, current, and likely future influences shaping cities and regions, including design, land use, environmental, social, economic, financial, legal, institutional, and social justice dimensions, while understanding these influences in a global context. Show an ability to apply a multi-paradigmatic approach to these influences.

e) Demonstrate expert knowledge of at least one subfield of planning, such as community development, environmental policy, transportation policy, or land use and design.


2. Demonstrated communication and dialogic skills

a) Make well researched, logically crafted, and adequately warranted presentation, analysis or argument in written, oral and graphic forms, suitable for graduate research and advanced professional reports.

b) Discuss clearly planning concepts, research activity, and policy proposals at a level appropriate to mid-level professional planning.

c) Communicate, listen, and interpret effectively in planning and interdisciplinary groups, diverse community settings, and decision-making environments, using tools for stakeholder engagement.

d) Effectively design and carry out visioning, facilitation, and negotiation in planning settings, emphasizing empowerment and broadening of the voices in planning.

e) Demonstrate leadership and collaboration skills for organizing team work, community motivation, and decision-making, based on an understanding of organization and community culture.

3. Demonstrated skills and creativity in research, analysis, and problem solving

a) Demonstrate competence and creativity in graduate-level data collection, including secondary sources such as library, internet, and government data sources, and primary sources such as field research, surveys, and interviews.

b) Uncover and mine relevant data, literature or policy, use case studies, and develop research designs appropriate for graduate research and/or advanced studies.

c) Apply quantitative, qualitative, mixed-method, and spatial analysis tools suitable for carrying out graduate research; interpret research methodologies from the literature.

d) Apply models for ex ante and ex post policy analysis for sophisticated, multi-dimension problems.

4. Demonstrated skills and creativity in design, plan, and policy making

a) Assess the application of alternative design, plan and policy making processes to a problem context, emphasizing change making and organizational capacity. Innovate in designing new planning processes.

b) Develop physical design and non-physical economic and/or social solutions and strategies that anticipate and influence future conditions.

c) Develop implementation strategies to carry out physical designs, and/or economic and social policies, including designing ex post evaluations.

d) Develop a logical hierarchy of ends and means in plan texts; write clear policy and regulatory language that meets legal standards for logic and clarity.

e) Evaluate designs, development plans, and associated implementing tools once implemented.

f) Demonstrate entrepreneurship in implementing plans, policies and regulations, including project management, through in-class experiences.

5. Reflective capacity in ethical and normative reasoning

a) Reflect on, articulate and justify with graduate-level reasoning positions on concepts such as the public interest(s), governance processes and participation, sustainability and environmental quality, economic growth and efficiency, and diversity and social justice.

b) Demonstrate analytic capability and judgment in considering professional ethics as they apply to typical public, private, and non-profit planning situations that commonly occur at the management level. Articulate and coherent approach to politics and power.

c) Manifest self-knowledge, experiences, and reflective ability concerning learning styles, roles in interdisciplinary teams, and cultural awareness. Have a game plan to carry reflection through one’s professional career.

d) Demonstrate a commitment to civic engagement and ability to foster and participate in community activities.


The Master of Urban and Regional Planning curriculum is a 72-unit program that can be completed in two years as a full-time student. Degree completion over a longer period is possible for those with extensive work obligations.  The program is comprised of the following:

  • URP 501/501L - Introduction to Graphic Communication and Physical Design Skills (1/2)
  • URP 502L - Urban Analysis Fundamentals (1)
  • URP 505 - The Economic, Social and Environmental Context for Planning (4)
  • URP 506 - Legal Foundations of Urban and Regional Planning (4)
  • URP 512/512A - Urban and Regional Planning Theory and Practice (2/2)
  • URP 521/521L - Urban and Regional Planning Research Methods (3/1)
  • URP 522/522L - Urban and Regional Planning Data Analysis and Simulation (3/1)
  • URP 523/523L - Policy Analysis, Implementation and Evaluation (3/1)
  • URP 551 - Social and Political Planning Policy (4)
  • URP 641/641L - Graduate Planning Studio I (2/2)
  • URP 642/642L - Graduate Planning Studio II (2/2)
  • URP 652 - Planning Administration and Professional Practice (2)
  • URP 692 - Independent Study with Comprehensive Examination (6) or
  • URP 696 - Master’s Degree Thesis (3)
  • Specialization module courses (12) See below.
  • Electives (12) See below.

Specialization Module

Students develop an area of specialization composed of 12 units and must be approved by the Graduate Coordinator. Suggested areas of specialization are listed below along with the appropriate core course(s).

Environmental Policy

  • URP 537 - Environmental Policy for Planning (4)
  • URP 466 - Environmental Assessment (4) or
  • URP 487 - Environmental Factors in Regional Planning (4)

Land Use and Design

  • URP 538/538L - Land Use Planning and Design (3/1)
  • URP 485/485L - Urban Design Seminar (3/1) or
  • URP 487 - Environmental Factors in Regional Planning (4)

Housing and Community Development

  • URP 534 - Urban Housing and Community Development (4)
  • URP 434/434A - Community Development Theory and Practice (3/1) or
  • URP 484/484A - Neighborhood Revitalization (3/1)

Transportation Planning and Policy

  • URP 535 - Regional Transportation Planning and Policy (4)
  • URP 488/488L - Local Transportation Planning (3/1) or
  • URP 489/489L - Transportation Methods and Analysis (3/1)

URP Graduate Electives

Students must complete 12 units of elective courses

  • URP 400-level electives in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator
  • URP 513 - Evolution of the Planning Process (4)
  • URP 525/525L - GIS Planning Support Systems (3/1)
  • URP 534 - Urban Housing and Community Development (4)
  • URP 691 - Directed Study (1-2)