degrees
Master's

Master in City Planning

The basic professional degree in the planning field is the Master in City Planning (MCP). The Department of Urban Studies and Planning provides graduate professional education for persons who will assume planning roles in public, private, and nonprofit agencies, firms, and international institutions, in the United States and abroad. It seeks to provide MCP students with the skills and specialized knowledge needed to fill traditional and emerging planning roles. The two-year MCP program emphasizes the mastery of the tools necessary for effective practice, and is therefore distinct from liberal arts programs in urban affairs. An intensive course of study stresses skills for policy analysis and institutional intervention.

MCP graduates work in a broad array of roles, from traditional city planning to economic, social, and environmental planning. In addition to its basic core requirements, the program offers four areas of specialization: city design and development; environmental policy and planning; housing, community, and economic development; and international development. MCP students, in their application to the department, select one of these areas of specialization and, when applicable, indicate interest in the department programs in Transportation Policy and Planning, Urban Information Systems, and Regional Planning.

Degree requirements for MCP

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A collection of subjects and requirements to be taken during the students two years in the MCP program constitute a core experience viewed as central to the professional program and consisting of an integrated set of subjects and modules designed to introduce planning practices, methods, contemporary challenges, and the economic and social institutions within which planners work. The core subjects and requirements include the following:

First Semester (Fall)

  • 11.201 Gateway: Planning Action & Communication
  • 11.205 Introduction to Spatial Analysis
  • 11.220 Quantitative Reasoning
  • An introductory subject in the chosen specialization area:
    • 11.301 Introduction to City Design & Development
    • 11.401 Introduction to Housing & Community Development
    • 11.601 Introduction to Environmental Policy & Planning
    • 11.701 Introduction to International Development Planning

Second Semester (Spring)

  • 11.202 Gateway: Planning Economics
  • 11.203 Microeconomics

Additional Requirements

  • A practicum course-- complete one of several designated courses that provide the opportunity to synthesize planning solutions within the constraints of client-based project
  • A thesis preparation seminar in the area of specialization, taken during the second or third term of study
  • Thesis

For more detailed course descriptions please visit: http://dusp.mit.edu/subjects

Through lectures, case studies, and hands-on experience, students become familiar with theories of planning and their application in professional practice. Students are encouraged to take one of the Department's many workshop and studio subjects that engage planning issues in real-world settings. Entering students with significant knowledge in Microeconomics, Data Management and Spatial Analysis, or Quantitative Reasoning may test out of these requirements.

During the course of four semesters, students typically take about 14 subjects (in addition to thesis prep and thesis) from a selection of about 90 graduate subjects offered by the Department and additional courses offered elsewhere at MIT, Harvard and other area universities. Independent Activities Period (IAP) in January offers the opportunity to take additional short subjects or workshops or to conduct thesis research. Students must complete a total of 150 units of credit to graduate with a Master in City Planning degree.

The MCP program is designed to be completed in four semesters, but students can finish in three semesters if all requirements are met.

Specializations

At the end of the first semester, students submit a program statement developed jointly by the student and faculty advisor confirming their area of specialization and the subjects they plan on taking in the remainder of the MCP program. Linked to career development goals, the program statement describes the purposes and goals of study, the proposed schedule of subjects, the manner in which competence in a specialization is developed, and an indication of a possible thesis topic.

In the second and third semesters, most students take advanced subjects in their area of specialization as well as a studio or workshop. There are also opportunities for research work and field placements. In the second or third semester, students are required to take a thesis preparatory subject in their area of specialization. Each student chooses a thesis advisor and committee, and must complete an acceptable thesis proposal by the end of the semester.

Thesis

The fourth semester is devoted to completing a thesis and rounding out course work leading to graduation. A thesis in the MCP program may take one of several forms: an independent scholarly research project guided by an advisor and readers; a directed thesis contributing to a larger research effort directed by a faculty member; or a professionally oriented thesis developed in the context of a studio or practicum course. In all cases the thesis must be a piece of original, creative work conceived and developed by the student.

Field Work and Internships

Students in the MCP program are encouraged to integrate field work and internships with academic course work. The Department provides a variety of individual and group field placements involving varying degrees of faculty participation and supervision, as well as a number of seminars in which students have an opportunity to discuss their field experience.

In addition, some students complete additional requirements for the department's Environmental Planning Certificate and/or Urban Design Certificate.

PAB Criterion 1F/Public Information

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The Planning Accreditation Board requires the attached information (click link) be posted for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology MCP program.