Master of Community Planning


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.
Transportation Planning
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.

Tuition and Fees

Current tuition, fees and other expenses for degrees at the University of Maryland are posted on the Office of the Bursar website.


  • December 15 for Part I (initial online application) and Part II (ASF) for all applicants
  • January 1 for transcripts and recommendations

Application requirements

Online Graduate Application (Part I)

Go to the Graduate School website.

Read the latest instructions. When prompted, put in the four letter code that identifies the program for which you are applying.

The four-letter online code for the Master of Community Planning degree is CMPL



Before you submit your online application, you will be assessed a non-refundable $75 application processing fee. Applicants are responsible for paying this fee whether or not they submit any supporting materials, are offered admission, or choose to enroll.


Online Graduate Application Supplemental Form - ASF (Part II)

After electronically submitting the Online Graduate Application (Part I), applicants will receive an e-mail from graduate admissions with instructions on how to file ASF (Part II) of their application. This email usually arrives within 2 business days of submitting Part I online, but in peak times may take as long as 3-5 business days.



Applicants must request transcripts be forwarded to the Graduate Admissions Office from each institution where undergraduate or prior graduate work was undertaken. Sealed envelopes of transcripts that meet the requirements below must be submitted; copies will not suffice. Transcripts of course work and degrees from University of Maryland need not be submitted.


Transcripts must bear the signature of the registrar and seal of the granting institution and should include the years of attendance, courses taken, grades received, class standing and any degree, certificate or diploma received. If you anticipate a serious delay in official transcripts arriving, you may submit unofficial copies to the School (see submission addresses below) for review purposes only. Official admission (and registration for classes) cannot occur until all official transcripts have been received by the Graduate Admissions Office.


Letters of Recommendation

Three recommendations are required from professors or others who can assess the quality of the applicant’s potential to succeed in the graduate program they have selected.

The online ASF (Part II), provides an electronic recommendation form, which facilitates submission and receipt in most cases. Applicants can also download the Recommendation Letter Forms and add the applicant’s full name, so that the Graduate School can attach the recommendation letter upon receipt. All recommendations must be submitted directly to the Graduate School by the person providing the recommendation (online or in a sealed envelope).


Statement of Goals, Experiences and Research Interests 

(1000-2000 words)

All programs require applicants to prepare a statement of their goals and objectives in pursuing graduate study. This should be submitted using the ASF online.



All programs require applicants to provide an up-to-date resume via the online ASF (Part II).


Graduate Record Examination


A GRE score is required to be sent directly to the University by the testing Authority. The Code for the GRE is 5814.


For more information visit:


International Applicants

Applicants who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents must submit additional documents.

Updated information is available on the Graduate School website at:


The Urban Studies and Planning Program offers limited number of assistantships each Fall, but the competition is high. Prior to filling out and submitting an application, international students may want to e-mail the Director of Graduate Studies for an assessment of the likelihood of funding.


Please note that the Graduate School will only admit international applicants who show sufficient financing. 


Transfer Students

Urban Studies and Planning may accept up to 9 credits toward the M.C.P. degree for relevant graduate work at other universities. For graduate work at some campuses of the University of Maryland system, the number of transfer credits may be greater. Requests for transfer credit should be made on the student's official application for admission.


Application Submission

Submit application Part I and Part II and supplemental materials ONLINE. The Online Application (Part I) must be submitted before any other materials, alongside payment of the application fee.


Transcripts and other off-line materials (recommendations if necessary) must be submitted to:

University of Maryland

Enrollment Services Operation

Attn: Graduate Admissions

Mitchell Building - Room 0130

College Park, MD 20742


Visiting the School

The best way to learn more about the University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation is to visit. Throughout the year, both the School and the University of Maryland invite prospective graduate students to attend our annual Graduate Open House. Whether you choose to visit the official open house day or to arrange a visit on another day, a visit will certainly help you decide if the University of Maryland is the place to start your future. You are welcome to attend classes or come to special lectures or other events.


• Make an appointment with the program director: see below for contact information

• Attend a Prospective Students Open House (check for an upcoming open house in the News/Events page



For more information about admissions to the MCP degree, contact:

Jim Cohen
(301) 405-6795

Ruth Davis-Rogers
(301) 405-0753


To graduate, students must complete the following requirements, for a total of 48 credits:

•    24 credits of required courses;
•    9 credits in an area of specialization;
•    9 credits of free electives (some of which could also be in the area of specialization, could form a second specialization, or be in one or more other planning topic areas);
•    a 6-credit “capstone” studio course, offered during the academic year or the summer; and  
•    a “capstone” internship with a planning-related agency or organization.  The internship is to be for 300 hours, done in a regular semester or a summer session.  Interning students work 20 hours per week for 15 weeks in the internship.  There is no credit associated with the internship.

Also, prior to graduation, an MCP candidate has the option of writing, submitting, and receiving faculty approval of, a professional or academic paper that is well organized, logically argued, uses evidence appropriately, and shows a command of the English language.  This paper should be strong enough to warrant publication in an academic or professional publication and should show potential employers what the student is capable of.  Students also have the option of writing a master’s thesis.  Please note that neither a professional paper nor a thesis is required for graduation from our program.

Course requirement are detailed in the section below.  Prior to graduation, each MCP candidate has the option of submitting and receiving faculty approval for a professional or academic paper that is well organized, logically argued, uses evidence appropriately, and shows a command of the English language.  This paper should be strong enough to warrant publication in an academic or professional publication and should show potential employers what the student is capable of.