Congratulations on exploring the higher education opportunities in the field of planning!
Planning is a broad and diverse field and there are several ways to pursue a career in this rewarding area of work. An education in planning from an accredited planning program at a college or university is the most common and standard route. There are many legal, technical, political, social, and scientific issues in planning and it is important to lean and understand the issues, methods, and processes for addressing them with communities before you practice in the field. The APA’s Planning Accreditation Board grants accreditation to planning master’s programs to ensure these issues are comprehensively covered by the core curriculum. As you explore your options, understand the difference between accredited and non-accredited planning schools in order to choose the one that is right for you. Many employers prefer graduate level degrees that are also from accredited schools. For more information on the Planning Accreditation Board, click here.
While the standard and most common degree is a master’s in Urban Planning or City & Regional Planning offered by one of the 73 accredited masters programs in the U.S., additional non-accredited programs also offer undergraduate, master’s and Ph.D. degrees. Consult the Guide to Undergraduate and Graduate Education in Urban and Regional Planning from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning for a complete listing of all types of planning programs. The website, Planetizen also offers a Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs for about $25. Note: the Planetizen school rankings are based on surveys completed by participating institutions. Some rankings may be skewed by the non-response rate, since some universities choose not to participate, as well as issues related to self-reporting by the universities.
In Colorado, there is one accredited planning program, the Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Colorado Denver. The University of Colorado Boulder offers an undergraduate planning-related degree in Environmental Design. Other universities, colleges, and community colleges in Colorado also offer planning-related courses. Click here for links and more information to these programs.
I encourage you to explore the various educational options to find a program that is right for you! Take time to investigate the learning outcomes; speak with the faculty, students and alumni; research the student resources; estimate the total costs, as well as available scholarships and work-study opportunities; consider the location of the program in relation to where you would like to work; ask about the subsequent career opportunities after you have completed the degree; and identify the full and part-time options. Visit the APA website for more background on planning education and a list of 10 things to consider when selecting a planning program.
University of Colorado Denver
Dept. of Planning & Design