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 and economic development, land use, growth management and environmental planning, transportation planning, and social 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 field placement. Students may complete the program full-time in two years or part-time in up to five years.
Areas of Specialization
While URSP offers courses in a range of planning-related topics, the program’s faculty currently has particular specializations in three areas: Local and Regional Economic Development, Land Use and Environmental Planning, and Transportation Planning. Students may declare alternative areas of specialization with the approval by their mentors.. Other areas in which students have specialized by taking courses in our program, in other UMD campus departments, and through the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area are the following: Housing; Community Development; International Urban and Regional Development Planning; and Social Planning, Organization and Administration. (See a list of eligible specialization courses at UMD under the “curriculum” link.)
At the present time, the following categories are those in which our faculty members offer a range of specialization courses. As course offerings are constantly changing, an up-to-date list of suitable courses in each area will be issued from time to time.
Local and Regional 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.
Land Use and 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.
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.