August 20, 2014

Urban and Regional Planning Major


What is planning?

Planners work with decision makers to understand urban and rural problems and formulate policy solutions that promote development that is economically efficient, socially equitable, and environmentally sustainable. Planners help guide future growth and redevelopment of urban, suburban, and rural communities. The Urban and Regional Planning major attracts students who are interested in learning how to help solve these problems.

Everybody plans. Planning involves thinking ahead or organizing to get things done. Urban and regional planning deals with the problems that people have holding their communities together, coping with the pressures of urbanization and development, and trying to provide an opportunity for everyone–especially the poor and disadvantaged–to improve their lives.

Students work with local communities to address planning challenges. Here, students work to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety in Richmond, IN.

Planners are concerned with a variety of important policy issues: urban growth and redevelopment, rural and conservation development, efficient and equitable transportation, housing affordability, public service provision, and how best to include citizens in decision-making. Planners are increasingly guided by the principles of sustainability: promoting urban development that addresses “people, planet, and profits.”

Our Program

The Urban and Regional Planning program at Miami offers a combination of academic theory and practical techniques to enhance the student’s ability to understand the complex urban environment. Students should be both dedicated to the enhancement of the urban environment and willing to learn in an interdisciplinary academic structure. Planners believe that problems can be solved through the commitment of skilled professionals. The Urban and Regional Planning major is designed for students with such a spirit of commitment.

Our Urban and Regional Planning Program has three major learning objectives:

  • Conceptual: adapt and integrate core planning concepts and processes to social, economic, environmental, and administrative challenges.
  • Process: use planning perspectives to interpret and assess urban problems, inventory background conditions, set goals, formulate alternative strategies, apply through design or policy.
  • Analytic: learn key analytic tools and techniques used by urban and regional planners, and apply to real-world planning problems, assess the feasibility of a variety of alternative urban policies.

The Urban and Regional Planning Major is an interdepartmental program administered by the Department of Geography. Students choose courses from a variety of departments, including architecture, economics, political science, sociology and anthropology, statistics, and systems analysis, as well as geography. The required courses are divided into three groups:

  • Planning principles and issues. These courses present the planning discipline’s core concepts and introduce important social, economic, and administrative aspects of planning.
  • Analytic techniques for planning. These courses present key analytic techniques used by urban and regional planners and apply them to planning problems.
  • Concentration in specialized planning track. These courses provide an opportunity to take additional courses in a subfield of planning of particular interest to the student.

What do planning majors do with their degrees?

Graduates with a BA in Urban and Regional Planning usually do one of two things: some go to graduate school for a master’s degree and others find planning jobs. Some people find that the additional training offered by graduate schools is useful in pursuing a career in planning, although a master’s degree is not required in order to secure a job. The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning publishes a guide to all recognized graduate programs in urban and regional planning in North America. The guide is particularly useful in helping students match their interests to the specialties of the different schools.

For those graduates who prefer to secure a job in planning, opportunities exist in a variety of places. Planning takes place in public, non-profit, and private settings. At the local government level, municipal redevelopment, planning, public works, housing, and transportation departments are concerned about regulating the development of housing, roads, industry, and recreational spaces, as well as social services such as health care and education. State planners may be involved in the formulation of environmental policy and administration of transportation, housing, community development, criminal justice, and other programs. Regional planners work with public agencies, councils of government, and special districts to coordinate the activities of local government.

Non-profit groups are concerned with the provision of modestly priced housing and other social services. Private consulting firms and divisions of major corporations plan the location of new facilities, the application of new technology, and the appropriate policies for local governments.

The “typical” Miami Urban and Regional Planning graduate has found a planning job in a Midwestern small town, county or other local government. About one-third go to graduate school in planning, especially to Ohio State. Recent graduates hold planning jobs with Milford and Oxford cities, Cuyahoga and Licking counties, Burgess and Niple, and Strategic Edge consultants.

List of Required Courses

For a list of courses required by the College of Arts and Science and the Urban and Regional Planning major, click here.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will demonstrate skills in integrative thinking on patterns and processes and spatial analysis across scales and among places;
  2. Students will apply geographic tools and planning concepts toward problem solving and analysis;
  3. Students will demonstrate competence in critical analysis and inquiry through the design and completion of independent research;
  4. Students will demonstrate writing competency through the preparation of proposals, literature reviews, plans, reports or research papers, and public presentations.



For more information, contact the major advisor Dr. David Prytherch,, (513) 529-9284, 210 Shideler Hall.