Program accreditation
Planning Accreditation Board

Program goals

The Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree program envisions a better future by enhancing the quality of life in mature communities and regions, particularly in Virginia, but also elsewhere in the United States and abroad, through strong planning education, high-quality scholarship and professional planning practices. The goals for the program are to:

  1. Create a diverse learning environment that cultivates engagement of diverse participants — both students and faculty — in the program.
  2. Prepare students to be effective practitioners in a variety of planning-related organizations, especially in mature communities and regions, with competence in the preparation, presentation and implementation of professional plans and in doing planning-related work.
  3. Produce scholarship that increases knowledge and understanding of sustainability and planning support systems as well as the development of innovative methodological approaches and solutions to address issues related to sustainable community development.
  4. Provide useful planning services to mature communities and regions, in cooperation with private and public planners, as appropriate.

Student learning outcomes

  1. Students should display evidence of having developed a multidisciplinary understanding of urban life.
  2. Students will display an understanding of the theory and practice of planning for cities and regions.
  3. Students will display the skills necessary to work effectively and competently as planners in a variety of settings.
  4. Students will demonstrate an understanding of, and a willingness to act in accordance with, the ethics and values of the professional planner, as well as the social and environmental responsibilities of planners.

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university. These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

Visit the Graduate study section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Visit the Graduate study section for additional information on degree candidacy requirements.

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Visit the Graduate study section for additional information on graduation requirements.

Apply online at graduate.admissions.vcu.edu.

Admission requirements

Degree: Semester(s) of entry: Deadline dates: Test requirements:
M.U.R.P. Fall Apr 1 (Mar 1 for assistantship consideration or financial aid) GRE, GMAT, LSAT or MAT
Spring Oct 1

Special requirements

  • These deadlines are designed to allow sufficient time for application review and admission processing. Applications may be submitted after the deadline; however, there is no guarantee of sufficient time for processing. Any application submitted too late for current semester processing will be considered for the following semester.

In addition to the general admission requirements of the VCU Graduate School, the following specifications apply:

  1. Students must have a minimum 2.7 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) in their last 60 semester hours of undergraduate work. In addition, a minimum GPA of 3.0 must have been maintained in their undergraduate majors. Finally, applicants are expected to receive satisfactory scores on each of the categories in the GRE, LSAT, GMAT or MAT examinations.
  2. Students not meeting these requirements may be admitted to the program on a provisional basis. The provisional period shall consist of the first nine to 12 hours of designated graduate work in which all grades must be no less than B. Provisional admission does not constitute a waiver of the requirement related to a standardized test.
  3. Generally, at least two of the three letters of reference should come from former faculty.

All courses in the post-baccalaureate graduate Certificate in Urban Revitalization and the post-baccalaureate graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems may be applied to meet the requirement of the Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree. However, successful completion of either certificate does not guarantee admission into the M.U.R.P. degree program.

Degree requirements

In addition to general VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, students in the M.U.R.P. degree program must:

  1. Complete a minimum of 48 graduate credit hours plus an internship (not for credit). A core of required courses accounts for 27 of these credit hours; the remaining 21 are electives. A minimum overall GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) is required for receipt of the M.U.R.P. degree. In addition, students must receive a minimum grade of B for all core courses.
  2. Complete either a six-credit thesis (URSP 764) or prepare a six-credit professional plan project through the professional plan course (URSP 762). Program administrators request permission to utilize the grade of PR, in addition to normal letter grades (A, B, C, D or F) in URSP 762. This will allow students the ability to work on their plans over a more extended period of time, if necessary.

In selecting their elective courses, students may (1) opt for exposure to a wide array of planning-related subject matter (the generalist or comprehensive approach), (2) select one of the areas of specialization defined by the department’s faculty (see the list that follows) or (3) develop an individualized program, focusing on one or more self-defined topics. Regardless of the approach selected, students are expected to meet regularly with their faculty advisers for discussion of their courses of study in relation to their career plans.

The following faculty-defined areas of specialization are offered by the department:

  1. Community revitalization
  2. Environmental planning
  3. Metropolitan planning
  4. Planning management

Curriculum requirements

Required courses

URSP 610Introduction to Planning3
URSP 622Community Socioeconomic Analysis Using GIS3
URSP/GVPA/PADM/URSP 623Research Methods for Government and Public Affairs3
URSP/GVPA 632Planning Theory and Processes3
URSP 635Legal and Legislative Foundations of Planning3
URSP 662Foundations for Development Planning3
URSP 761Planning Studio3
URSP 762Professional Plan6
or URSP 764 Thesis or Projects
Total Hours27

Environmental planning concentration (12 credits)

Required courses
URSP 645Sustainable Energy Planning and Policy3
URSP 650Natural Resources and Environmental Planning3
Concentration electives
Select six credit hours from the following: 16
Real Estate Investment Analysis
Financial Management in Government
Principles of Nonprofit Management
Fund Development for the Nonprofit Sector
Historic Preservation in Planning
Urban Public Policy-making Processes
Principles of Urban Design
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
GIS Applications in Urban Design
Land Use Planning
Citizen Participation and Negotiation
Housing Policy
Adaptive Reuse of Buildings
Transportation Project Development and Evaluation
Food Systems, Rural Development and Landscape Conservation
Topics in Urban and Regional Planning 2
1

With the approval of the program chair, other appropriate graduate courses may be applied toward the concentration.

2

URSP 691 when the topic is race, gender and ethnicity in planning; digital graphic design and desktop publishing; historic preservation applications; architectural analysis and historic preservation; or fundamentals of design for planners.

Electives

Select nine credit hours from the following: 19
Global Economic Change and Development
Park Planning
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
Site Planning and Graphics
The American Suburb
Urban Planning History
Spatial Database Management and GIS Modeling
Transportation Analytics and Modeling
Strategic Planning and Management in the Public Sector
Sustainable Community Development
Sustainable Energy Planning and Policy
Natural Resources and Environmental Planning
Transportation Policy and Planning
Environmental Analysis
Transportation Projects
Environmental Remote Sensing
Environmental Policy and Planning
Transportation Finance
International Urban Policy and Planning
Topics in Urban and Regional Planning
Planning Practicum Seminar
Directed Research
1

With the approval of the program chair, other appropriate courses may be applied as electives.

Total graduate credit hours required (minimum) 48

Internship

The internship is designed to give students practical experience in planning-related activities in an institutional context. Normally, the internship is taken during the summer between the first and second year or during the second year. Many opportunities for internship positions, as well as part- and full-time jobs in planning at all levels of government, exist within the Richmond area. Upon request, the internship requirement may be waived for students with substantial planning-related professional experience.

Graduate program director
Meghan Z. Gough, Ph.D.
Associate professor and program chair
Email: mzgough@vcu.edu
Phone: (804) 827-0869

Additional contact
Simon H. Okoth, Ph.D.
Director of graduate studies, Wilder School
Email: okothsh@vcu.edu
Phone: (804) 827-1430

Program website: wilder.vcu.edu/academic/urban/grad.html