Master of City Planning

The Master of City Planning (MCP) at Boston University’s Metropolitan College prepares students for a wide variety of professional roles in urban planning and management, including as city planners, city managers, community development directors, research analysts, and policy experts in federal, state, and local governments; nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations; corporations; and research institutions.

During the course of their study, MCP students can specialize in an array of complex issues and policy areas that include: environmental sustainability, land use, housing, and community development; infrastructure planning; public finance, transportation planning; and energy, climate, and urban design. The MCP is a professional graduate degree intended for those pursuing careers in planning-related fields, and can be completed within three semesters of full-time study. Students can also complete the degree on a part-time basis. All classes are generally offered during evening hours to ensure flexibility. 

Students who complete the master’s degree in City Planning will be able to:

  • Understand and apply knowledge of the history and theory of urban and regional development, the structure and functions of urban systems, local and national policymaking processes, and the role of planning to create sustainable outcomes.
  • Explain and assess the economic, environmental, political, social, and equity issues inherent in policy work and planning practice.
  • Apply quantitative and qualitative research skills to theory-building, data-gathering and analysis, and planning and policy-making processes.
  • Create relevant policy and planning solutions that incorporate the diverse perspectives of various stakeholders, including those of minority and disadvantaged communities.
  • Mediate and communicate effectively in public (community) and policy settings.

For more information visit the City Planning/Urban Affairs website.

Candidates for admission to the degree program are selected on the basis of academic transcripts, academic and professional references, and a statement of intent. The statement of intent should clearly outline the applicant’s interest and aspirations in the field. Applicants with an undergraduate grade point average (GPA) lower than 3.0 are encouraged to submit additional information to demonstrate their capacity to succeed in graduate school.

International students are required to submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) Internet-Based Test (iBT). A minimum score of 100 is required for admission, though the minimum score may be lower for some admission cycles, depending on the average score of the applicant pool. Suggested scores in each section are as follows: Reading—25; Listening—25; Speaking—25; and Writing—25. International applicants are also urged to submit their Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, although these are not formally required.

There are no fixed application deadlines. The program allows for students to submit applications on a rolling basis, although all students are encouraged to submit a complete application no less than one month prior to the start of the semester in which they desire to commence studies. Admission decisions are announced promptly, pending receipt of all application materials.

The Application for Graduate Admission can be found at bu.edu/met/admissions.

Course Waivers for Related Programs

Master of City Planning students may pursue a certificate program in Commercial Real Estate, Commercial Real Estate Practice, or Real Estate Finance at Boston University’s Center for Professional Education (CPE). MCP students who earn a CPE certificate in Commercial Real Estate or Real Estate Finance will be granted a waiver of two graduate-level elective courses (8 credits) toward their degree.

With prior departmental approval, MCP students may receive up to two additional graduate certificates upon successful completion of specific electives. Currently, MET offers a Graduate Certificate in Applied Sustainability as part of the MCP degree.

Additional Information

A maximum of two City Planning and Urban Affairs courses (up to 8 credits) taken at Metropolitan College before acceptance into the degree program may be applied toward the degree. The courses must be of graduate level, with a grade of C (2.0) or higher.

Up to two graduate-level courses (8 credits), with a grade of C (2.0) or higher, taken outside the City Planning program may be applied as an elective to the degree. These courses, if taken prior to admission into the MUA Program, should be from another accredited institution in an urban discipline; should meet the program criteria; and should have received a minimum grade of C (2.0). These courses may be transferred for credit toward the MCP degree after completion of two graduate-level courses in the program. No credit is allowed for courses used to fulfill another degree. Prior approval of the program director is required.

Prior approval of the program director is required if students wish to take more than two courses outside the department to fulfill their elective requirements, and will be considered only under special circumstances.

Academic Standing

An average grade of B (3.0) must be maintained during the course of study to remain in good academic standing and satisfy the degree requirements. Students who earn a grade lower than C in a core requirement must retake that class and earn a grade of C or higher for it to count toward their degree.

The Master of City Planning (MCP) requires the completion of 48 credits. Students are encouraged to participate in the Directed Internship Program for course credit through MET UA 804 Supervised Fieldwork.

Core Requirements

(Five courses/20 credits)

History, concepts, and methods of contemporary urban and regional planning practice. Governmental, nonprofit, and private settings of professional planning; plans, research, and policy development; uses and implementation of planning. Political analysis of planning issues, such as comprehensiveness, public interest, advocacy, negotiation, and future orientation. Case materials drawn from redevelopment, growth management, land use conflicts, and service delivery.   [ 4 cr. ]

Mixed-Methods Design for Urban Research is intended to develop skills in the evaluation and utilization of quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods approaches to scholarship in social-science research. The course will explore survey, experimental, observational, interview, ethnographic, and case-study research methods in depth, and students will learn how to collect, organize, and evaluate data in various forms. Students will create a fully developed research proposal drawing upon mixed-methods techniques to investigate a topic of interest.  [ 4 cr. ]

This course provides basic understanding of economics and approaches urban problems and planning issues from economic perspectives. It explores how microeconomic theories and models can help us understand how cities and regions function, analyze urban problems, and evaluate urban policies. This is a broad introductory survey course, focusing on how "microeconomic" actors including business firms, households, and nonprofit and government institutions - organize to provide for the sustaining and flourishing of life.   [ 4 cr. ]

Plus one from the following pair:

This course specifically explores the area where the private and public sectors meet so that the student can develop an awareness of the complexity of dealing with these often competing interests. The objective of the course is to give the student an understanding of the motivations of the private sector in the way they go about creating their products and projects and to leave the student with the tools and knowledge to successfully negotiate the Public Interest with the Private Needs.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
D1 IND Haynes PSY B53 R 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm

Planning, zoning, subdivisions, eminent domain, exactions, impact fees, and other land use controls: what are they, how do they operate, what are the limitations on their use? In this course, we will explore the use of those tools for planning and development and read and understand the important U.S. Supreme Court and state court decisions that have shaped and continue to influence planning and land use throughout the country. We will see the connection between land use controls and court decisions and how each has evolved to meet changing conditions and goals. We will also review the structure of the U.S. legal system and create a framework for understanding constitutional requirements on eminent domain, due process, and equal protection from a planner's perspective.  [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
C1 IND Benson PSY B53 W 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm

And one more from the following pair:

Topic must be approved by designated instructor or advisor. For M.C.P. students only. Application of program coursework and independent research to a selected topic individually arranged.  [ Var cr. ]

The capstone course integrates the principles and applications of the major area of study of City Planning, Urban Affairs and Public Policy. During the course of the semester, students are required to work in groups to complete a comprehensive project which serves as an evaluative tool for student achievement for the major learning goals of the Programs. The course is primarily student driven, and is aimed to foster interdisciplinary partnerships and help cultivate industry alliances and cooperation. Recognizing the unique and diverse characteristics of the Boston urban environment, the capstone projects will be drawn from a range of topical issues that are currently ongoing in the greater Boston metropolitan area. The project-based course emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of city planning and urban affairs and provides students the direct opportunity to gain experience with real-world projects and stakeholders.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
A1 IND Dutta-Koehle CAS 222 M 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm

Electives

(Seven courses/28 credits)

Electives should constitute a coherent concentration within the general curriculum. Additional courses may be approved in consultation with the department.

Sample of City Planning Elective Courses

Surveys the factors affecting supply and price of urban housing. Examines federal, state, and municipal programs, as well as future policy options, from the standpoint of housing quality and community development goals. Analysis of selected international comparative experience.   [ 4 cr. ]

Various factors affecting location, construction, financing, and marketing of real estate in metropolitan areas. Studies the relationship of public policy to the activities of the private sector, market analysis techniques, evaluation of development projects, and problems of real estate investment.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
D1 IND Northcutt EPC 203 R 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm

Economic, social, and political aspects of state and local government finances. Theory of public finance; revenues, expenditures, and survey of budgetary processes. Planning techniques in capital budgeting and other finance activities. Selected issues: debt, user fees, property taxes, and incentives.   [ 4 cr. ]

UA510 is the designation for "Special Topics in Planning". The subject matter for UA510 courses changes from semester to semester, and more than one UA510 can be offered in a given semester.

Fall 2017 -- Special Topic: "Sustainable Energy Planning" (Section A1, MON 6pm Instructor: Jermain) - Disruptive technology, climate change impacts, and fast-changing consumer preferences, combined with significant sustainable energy innovations (e.g., in solar, wind, biofuels, storage solutions, and granular EMS) are up-ending urban / regional energy planning and policy-making. Planners play a critical role in helping define and solve urban energy challenges. While the goal may be achieving reliable sustainable energy systems (SES), still, conventional urban energy resources (including hydro, natural gas, coal, and nuclear power) will remain an important part of the energy mix for the foreseeable future. This course examines end-to-end energy systems planning and policy challenges facing SES transformation. The focus is on the U.S., but comparative experiences from Europe and Asia will be included. The course teaches the fundamentals of urban / regional energy planning; and provides practical tools for facilitating economic, social, and environmental policy-making.

Fall 2017 -- Special Topic: "Inequality: Policy Implications for Communities" (Section B1, TUES 6pm Instructor: Weis) - Income and wealth inequality are greater today than anytime since the Depression of 1929. The course explores the history of inequality in the U.S. and around the world to better understand it's causes and possible solutions. To understand how inequality affects society at community scale, the class will conduct detailed studies of two communities in the Boston area which represent the extremes of inequality.

Summer 1 2017 -- Special Topic: "Transit Oriented Development in the 21st Century" (Section A1, TUES/THUR 6 PM Instructor: Johnson) - As rates of urbanization continue to increase, there is amplified demand for housing, economic development, and connectivity through transportation networks. This course unpacks 'sustainable development' by focusing on strategies and best practices at the intersection of zoning and land use patterns with sustainable transportation options (e.g. subway, bus, rapid transit, biking, and walking). Students learn how to address sustainable development and transportation issues at the local, state, regional, and national levels. Case studies are used to address central issues many cities are facing. Topics covered include stakeholder engagement, climate change preparedness and adaptation, resilience planning, transportation networks, bikeshare and bikeable networks, walkability, equity, sustainable land use, and zoning.

Summer 2, 2017 -- Special Topic: "Public Health and the Built Environment" (Section B1, MON/WED 6 PM Instructor: Zemel) - Since the mid- 1800s, scientists and researchers have continuously shown how public policies significantly impact the health of individuals now and in the future. Through readings, case studies, guest lectures, and in-class exercises, students learn about the lasting impacts of many of these policies. Students are also introduced to a variety of strategies used to design interventions that target urban problems and to the role of evidence in the policymaking process. This course is well- suited for curious students with an introductory background in planning, public health, and related fields.

Summer 2, 2017 -- Special Topic: "Feeding the City: Urban Food" (Section B2, TUES/THUR 6 PM Instructor: Carroll) - Examines historical and contemporary issues involved in providing food to cities and metropolitan areas. Tracing the routes that food takes into the city and the major sources of food, the course looks closely at the accessibility of food, especially in poorer urban neighborhoods. Among topics covered are obesigenic neighborhoods, food deserts, gentrification and foodie culture, public school food nutrition, attempts to minimize food waste, and immigrants and ethnic foods in the city. The course also considers recent attempts at food production in cities, including urban agriculture, vertical farming, and craft production of food products. After closely looking at the history and current status of food programs, the course concludes with a consideration of urban food policies.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
A1 IND O'Connell PSY B53 M 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm
A2 IND Sungu-Eryilm SHA 210 M 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm

Principles and status of environmental law for pollution control and environmental improvement. Impact statements, resource conservation and protection, growth management. Emphasis on air, water, land, and hazardous waste issues. Environmental, economic, and other policy relationships. Case materials and court decisions.   [ 4 cr. ]

Students introduced to specific skills and techniques to help them achieve community and urban planning goals. The course covers a range of communications skills, including oral, written, visual, and using social media in planning to help planners develop concise, understandable plans and documents. Grant research, writing, and administration will be discussed. Segments on community outreach and engagement and how to build equity and cultural competency will be explored. Students will be introduced to skills in designing and implementing community meetings, including facilitation skills and managing group dynamics.   [ 4 cr. ]

The Boston Experience is a graduate and advanced undergraduate course designed in the seminar format. The course will provide an introduction to the study of architecture as an important foundation for students of urban affairs and city planning and as an important foundation for students in other disciplines such as civil engineering, historic preservation, and the applied social sciences (such as sociology). The course will also serve as a foundation of the basic concepts and a general overview of the field of architecture. This foundation will also provide a prerequisite for the two advanced studio planning courses currently offered at MET in the Department of Urban Affairs and City Planning (UA 613 and UA 510).  [ 4 cr. ]

Examination of a selected country, region, or city in relation to issues of urbanization and development planning. Emphasis on comparative analysis of policy, techniques, conditions, issues, and effectiveness. Topics and international subjects vary. Consult the department for details.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
B1 IND Kyei-Aboagye MCS B23 T 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm

This course is designed to present a comprehensive approach to urban environmental issues by integrating environmental planning and policy. It is intended for both students with and without planning background. This course provides a broader view and discussion of natural resources planning relating to issues affecting urban watershed management. This approach includes water policy, sustainability of water resources, freshwater planning (Lakes and Rivers), coastal waters, open space protection, stormwater management, clean water act, wetland protection, low impact development, and stakeholder involvement with a focus on the means and techniques available to local governments to plan and protect watersheds. Case studies will be used to demonstrate the potential to address full range of urban watershed issues, including water supply planning, water quality restoration and protection, open space planning, habitat protection and ecological conservation, and enhancement and regulatory activities.  [ 4 cr. ]

The role of urban design in the community development process. Examines human behavior, aesthetic foundations of design methods, citizen/client participation, and public policy issues. Analysis of actual community spaces. Student design exercises.   [ 4 cr. ]

Sustainability generally refers to the ability of "systems" to be maintained such that they remain viable over long periods of time. As much as achieving the perfect sustainable equilibrium may be the ideal, it is important to recognize that there will be competing and conflicting interests, especially within complex hierarchical social, economic and ecological systems, particularly in light of ongoing climatic change. This field intensive course draws on the practices and theories of sustainability and climate change to understand what sustainability can mean in different contexts, and, more important, how nuanced, sustainable solutions can be achieved under varying conditions and in different systems. With an emphasis on the urban environment, the course will consist of projects in which students will identify, analyze, and develop practical proposals to real world issues. This course is intended for a wider audience from a range of disciplines.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
A1 IND Dutta-Koehle ARR

This course will provide students with a broad introduction to important concepts and policy issues in transportation, principally at an urban and metropolitan level. In addition, the course will explore methods planning practitioners can use to analyze transportation problems and propose solutions. The course will use specific examples of planning initiatives (both operations and capital) from transportation agencies within the Boston Metropolitan region. Guest speakers from local, regional, and state transportation agencies within the Greater Boston Metropolitan area will supplement the instructor's lectures and assigned readings.   [ 4 cr. ]

Sustainability has emerged as a popular concept in recent years and been used by policy makers and urban planners to guide development in cities. What, in fact, does sustainability mean in the context of urban areas? Can sustainability be achieved in cities? If so, in what contexts and how? And if not, why not? These are the overarching questions that guide the course.

In this course, we will explore theoretical elements of sustainable development and their applications to urban planning. We will also explore various practices in important subfields of planning -- land use, transportation, brownfields redevelopment, affordable housing, renewable energy, food systems, economic development, and governance. Through a comparative study of sustainable practices in cities, students will learn about the constraints and opportunities different cities confront. This course is a project-based course and includes lectures, discussions, workshops, case studies, selected guest speakers, and a final project.   [ 4 cr. ]

Interrelationships between physical environment and processes of urbanization. Case studies develop historical perspective on social, economic, and physical aspects of the quality of urban life. Special attention to the preparation of environmental impact statements and assessment of urban environmental quality.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
D1 IND Gaertner KCB 102 R 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm

Geographic Information Systems for Planners provides an introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) specifically with a focus on applications in urban planning. The role of spatial analysis in local, state and regional planning has steadily increased over the last decade with the infusion of windows-based GIS software such as ESRI ArcGIS. The class focus is to prepare students to feel comfortable communicating with other GIS users, research spatial data, and produce high quality digital maps in an applied learning environment.  [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
B1 IND Sungu-Eryilm PSY B42 T 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm

Major problems confronting urban areas and the process of policy formulation and implementation. Emphasis on problem interdependence and systems characteristics. Analysis of problem definitions (housing, crime, poverty, etc.), goals, public/private responsibilities, existing programs, and policy options. Analysis of selected, comparative international experience.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
B1 IND Carroll EPC 203 T 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm

Limited to a maximum of 8 credits toward the degree requirements. Approval by program director required prior to registration. Study of urban and public affairs and planning individually arranged between student and instructor to provide training opportunities not available elsewhere.  [ 4 cr. ]

Limited to a maximum of four credits toward the degree requirements. Approval by program director required prior to registration. Students spend a minimum of 5 hours per week working with public agencies, community groups, or private organizations, during the semester.   [ 4 cr. ]

View all City Planning & Urban Affairs graduate courses.