The following are suggested areas of specialization. Students may declare alternative areas of specialization with the approval by their mentors. As course offerings are constantly changing, an up-to-date list of suitable courses in each area will be issued from time to time.
Community development involves increasing communities' abilities to plan, pursue goals, and solve problems. Community-building is particularly concerned with helping low-income and racial minority communities organize and secure resources to improve living conditions. Students learn how social institutions, economic policies, politics, and culture influence community conditions and possibilities of community action. Students gain theoretical approaches and practical methods for working with community members to design comprehensive programs for making communities more cohesive, rewarding, and powerful.
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.
The study of housing entails knowledge of the physical structure, the socioeconomic relationship among the housing unit, the user, and the community at large, and the political infrastructure responsible for the delivery of housing services. To this end, the housing concentration in the M.C.P. program provides students with the intellectual background and technical skills to address problems designing, building, and delivering housing that is appropriate, affordable, and accessible.
Students in this specialization begin by developing two basic foundations: (a) an understanding of urbanization and urban-related conditions and change-processes, with special attention to the less well-developed countries of the two-thirds world, and (b) an appreciation of the challenges of cross-cultural and cross-national planning, including the ethical implications. Students develop special knowledge and skills in one or more focus areas on the basis of substance (e.g., international aid, the urban environment) and/or region (e.g., Africa, Latin America).
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 base requirements, legal and constitutional issues, cost effectiveness, political conflicts, equity concerns, and socioeconomic impacts of zoning and other forms of land regulation and growth management. Students have the opportunity to conduct case studies of regulation at the federal, state and local levels.
Social Planning aims to improve the social environment, including communities and organizations. Social planners work in the fields of health, education, and social welfare; they also work with other planners to develop communities that succeed physically, economically, and socially. Social planning methods include research and analysis, conflict resolution, political strategizing, group work, community organizing, and organizational change. Social planning students can develop skills in program design, policy analysis, decision making, and implementation. Graduates may work in the public, nonprofit, or private sectors in such activities as program planning, policy development, management, and organizing.
The transportation 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.
Students in this specialization explore the way people experience, understand and are affected by their physical environment. They gain an understanding of how to design environments that are pleasurable and compatible with lifestyles. City planning offices hire planners who are sensitive to design issues, and know how to develop policies and guidelines for improving the quality of the urban experience.