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UCLA Graduate Division

2014-2015 Program Requirements for UCLA Graduate Degrees

Applicable only to students admitted during the 2014-2015 academic year.

Urban Planning

UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

Graduate Degrees

The Department of Urban Planning offers the Master of Urban and Regional Planning (M.U.R.P.) degree and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in Urban Planning.

Master's Degree

Admissions Requirements 


The graduate adviser assigns temporary faculty advisers to new master's degree students on the basis of similarities in student-faculty interests. Students are expected to select a permanent adviser by the end of Winter Quarter of the first year. Ongoing evaluations of student progress are made at the beginning of each quarter, when students meet with their adviser to determine a course of study which best suits their needs and interests within the context of the general departmental and University requirements.

Students in the M.U.R.P program at UCLA should inform the graduate adviser before December 15 of their second year if they wish to be considered for the Ph.D. program for the following Fall Quarter.

Areas of Study

Students choose an area of concentration by the end of the first quarter in the program. Areas of concentration are fields in which planners characteristically become engaged, professionally or through research. They are not meant to be mutually exclusive.

Community Economic Development and Housing. This concentration addresses the social and economic forces affecting communities. Within this area, students can choose one of two streams: housing policies and development, or community economic development. Both streams highlight linkages to social, economic, and spatial justice; inequality; built form/physical environment; and applied research.

Design and Development. This concentration is intended to teach students how public and private market forces drive design and development of the built environment and how we can build in a smarter more sustainable way that is respectful of varying cultural needs and practices. This area of concentration equips urban planners aspiring to enter the public sector with tools to craft rules and regulations that meet public goals, and trains planners who wish to work for the private or nonprofit development sectors in the skills needed to work with neighbors, community and the public sector in the entitlement and development of complex projects.

Environmental Analysis and Policy. The natural environment is both the context within which all human activities take place and a social product of those activities. Environmental planning begins with analysis of the physical, biotic, socio-economic and cultural context in which environmental conflicts occur. An array of analytic tools ranging from cultural to socio-economic and ecological approaches is then applied to specific questions. Some of these are locality specific, but many also involve larger scale regional process and social movements. This multidisciplinary concentration engages resources within the program and the University to address the urgent questions inherent in environment and development. The program encourages broad training and use of the resources of many disciplines.

Regional and International Development. This concentration concerns the interrelated aspects of area development in both developed and developing countries. The perspective on questions of area development is that of political economy and spatial analysis. Industrialization, urbanization, and rural development are major focal points of interest. Within this area, students are expected to choose an emphasis on either developing or advanced economies.

Transportation Policy and Planning. This concentration emphasizes developing a broad, multi-faceted understanding of the historical, spatial, economic, social and environmental factors affecting transportation issues. While the program emphasizes domestic urban transportation policy, all aspects of transportation policy are covered.

Additional Areas of Concentration. In special circumstances, students may devise their own area in consultation with appropriate faculty members. Final approval of the proposed additional area of concentration must be obtained from the department chair. Further details may be obtained from the Graduate Advisor.

Foreign Language Requirement

There is no foreign language requirement for the master's degree, but students who expect to emphasize international development studies are encouraged to acquire proficiency in at least one foreign language. However courses below 100-level cannot count towards a graduate degree.

Course Requirements

Students must complete a minimum of 72 units (18 courses). Students should enroll in a minimum of 12 units per quarter, completing the program in two years. A minimum of 13 courses must be graduate courses (all 200-series courses except for up to four courses or 16 units of 500-series courses) in urban planning or a related field. One course (four units) of Urban Planning 496 may be applied towards the degree.

Core Course Requirements. The core areas comprise knowledge common to all areas of planning, regardless of one's specific focus. Six core courses are required: Urban Planning 207, 211, 220A, 220B, 222A, and one course on urbanization covering urban problems and processes chosen from a menu of options. Workshops in writing and presentation skills are integrated into Urban Planning 207, 220A, and 222A. Urban Planning 207, 220A, 220B and 222A should be completed during the first year of study. Exceptions to this timeline require the department chair's approval. The urbanization course is recommended but not required to be completed the first year. Urban Planning core courses are sometimes waived with the instructor's consent if the students can demonstrate mastery of the material through satisfactory completion of previous coursework that covered similar concepts, instructional materials, and content. Students are expected to present the relevant course syllabi when requesting waivers.

Undergraduate preparation in college algebra and microeconomics is recommended for students prior to their enrollment in the M.U.R.P. program. Before enrolling in the program, students must demonstrate the ability to master skills in quantitative methods. This requirement can be met by achievement of a grade of B or better in a college mathematics course (at a minimum level of college algebra), a minimum score of 600 on the Quantitative Test of the Graduate Record Examination, or satisfactory completion of a three-week preparatory Math Camp offered by the department prior to the beginning of Fall Quarter.

Upon entering the program, students must pass proficiency examinations in basic mathematics and microeconomics before enrolling in Urban Planning 220A and 207 respectively. Copies of sample examinations are mailed to applicants accepted into the program. An undergraduate course in college algebra or precalculus should provide suitable background to pass the basic mathematics examination. An undergraduate course in microeconomics should be sufficient preparation for the microeconomics examination. Students are strongly encouraged to prepare for the examinations before beginning the program so that they can take Urban Planning 207 and 220A during their first year of study. If students do not pass either or both examinations, they are advised to take Mathematics 1 and/or Economics 1 or 5 at UCLA during their first year of study. (These courses do not count toward the master's degree requirements.) Proficiency examinations need to be passed at the start of the second year in order to enroll in required courses Urban Planning 220A and/or 207, which are only offered in Fall Quarter.

Area Course Requirement. Each area of concentration has a five-course requirement, and this is in addition to an urbanization course which is part of the core course requirement.

Students may seek waivers for requirements that have been met through coursework prior to entering the M.U.R.P. program.

Teaching Experience

Not required.

Field Experience

A student without substantial prior experience in planning is required to complete a minimum of 300 hours of fieldwork. Fieldwork is defined as clinical or real world experience with a planning office, a private organization involved in planning, a community action agency, or applied research within a clinical context (excluding conventional university-based research projects). Students fulfill this requirement by enrolling in four units of Urban Planning 496 while completing the fieldwork requirement or immediately thereafter. Students with significant prior work experience may petition to waive this requirement. Further details about fulfilling this requirement or waiving it are available from the Graduate Advisor.

Comprehensive Examination Plan

A student must select this option by the deadline set by the department. Once a deadline has passed, students are limited to options with subsequent deadlines.

Plan A (Client-Oriented Project). A client-oriented project is recommended if students are more interested in practical application of what they have learned than in scholarly research. The time span of the final project approximates that of the thesis. Academic credit for project involvement is given through required courses Urban Planning 205A and 205B, and through 597 for faculty supervised independent research. Guidance of the project rests with a committee of at least one faculty committee chair, one consulting faculty, and a client representative. The project proposal should be ready for committee review by the end of the seventh week of Fall Quarter of the second year of study. The project is successfully completed when it is approved by the faculty committee and delivered to the client. A client project poster presentation is required in the Spring Quarter.

Plan B (Comprehensive Project). As an alternative, second-year students may take Urban Planning 217A-217B  for eight units credit, offered each year, either during the Fall and Winter or the Winter and Spring quarters to fulfill the comprehensive examination requirement. The faculty members in charge of this course sequence, one supervising, one consulting, plus a representative of the client make up the comprehensive examination committee. Students must notify the graduate counselor that they have selected this option and (in the event that more than one section is offered) they must indicate in which section of Urban Planning 217A-217B they will enroll by the end of Fall Quarter of the second year of study.

Plan C (Two-week Examination). Examinations for all areas of concentration are offered during the break between Winter and Spring quarters. A three-member faculty committee consisting of the departmental chair and two members nominated by the student, coordinates, administers and evaluates the examination. Students may be requested to do additional work on the examination after it has been reviewed by the committee. No course credit is received for the two-week examination. Students who choose this option must notify the graduate counselor by the end of Fall Quarter of the second year of study.

Client and comprehensive projects and two-week examinations are graded on an S/U basis. To receive a grade of S the level of the student's work must be equivalent to that of a letter grade of B.

Thesis Plan

Every master's degree thesis plan requires the completion of an approved thesis that demonstrates the student's ability to perform original, independent research.

A student must select this option by the deadline established by the department. Once a deadline has passed, students are limited to options with subsequent deadlines.

The thesis is intended to provide the opportunity for independent scholarly research and should be the length and quality of a publishable journal article. In order to meet graduation deadlines, students must begin thesis work no later than the beginning of Fall Quarter of the second year and present a preliminary proposal to their thesis committee chair by the end of the second week of classes. The thesis committee consists of three ladder faculty and must be selected by the end of Fall Quarter of the second year. Students enroll in required course Urban Planning 208C for four units of academic credit for thesis preparation, and for four units of 598 for faculty supervised independent research. The student must receive a grade of S in Urban Planning 598 for the thesis project to be considered of passing quality. The thesis poster presentations are required in the Spring Quarter.


Urban and Regional Planning is a full-time degree program. Students are expected to enroll in a minimum of 12 units per quarter. From admission to the master's program, normal time to award of the degree is six quarters (12 units of coursework per quarter).

Students who have completed the normal two-year program residence requirements (not to be confused with the official University residence requirements), but have remaining deficiencies, are allowed an upper time limit of one additional year to complete all remaining requirements (thesis, comprehensive examination, removal of outstanding Incomplete grades). An extension of the upper time limit may be requested by written petition to the department. Such requests will be approved only in extreme circumstances.

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