Masters

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The Department of Urban Studies and Planning offers degrees in a Master in City Planning and Master of Science in Urban Studies and Planning and supports dual degrees with virtually any other department at MIT. On this page you will find additional information about your options as a masters degree student at DUSP.

Master in City Planning (MCP)

DUSP provides graduate professional education for individuals who will assume planning roles in public, private, and nonprofit agencies, firms, and international institutions, in the United States and abroad. The Master in City Planning (MCP) is a professional degree in the field of planning and 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; international development; urban science; and mobility. MCP students, in their application to the department, select one of these areas of specialization.

Admissions to the MCP Program

Admission to the MCP Program is highly competitive. Approximately 55-60 new students enroll each year from an applicant pool of about 400+. Of these, 30 percent are international students, approximately 50 percent are women, and about 20 percent of domestic students are from underrepresented minority groups. Most applicants have strong academic records coupled with some field experience. Also considered are promising applicants who are changing fields. 

For more information, please visit the Admissions page.

Degree requirements (MCP)

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)

  • 11.200 Gateway I
  • 11.205 Introduction to Spatial Analysis
  • 11.220 Quantitative Reasoning
  • 11.328 Introduction to Urban Design

Second Semester (Spring)

  • 11.201 Gateway II
  • 11.202 Gateway: Planning Economics
  • 11.203 Microeconomics
  • 11.222 Introduction to Critical Qualitative Methods 

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 clinic and signed thesis proposal completed in the third term of study
  • Thesis

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, Design, Qualitative Research and/or Quantitative Reasoning may test out of these requirements.

During the course of four semesters, students typically take about 14 subjects 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 126 units of coursework and 24 units of thesis 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.

Thesis (MCP)

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 (MCP)

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.

Master of Science in Urban Studies and Planning (SM)

Under special circumstances, admission may be granted to a limited number candidates seeking a one-year Master of Science (SM) degree. The SM is a non-professional degree intended for professionals with a number of years of distinguished practice in city planning or related fields who: have a clear idea of the courses they want to take at MIT, the thesis they want to write and the DUSP faculty member with whom they wish to work. That faculty member must be prepared to advise the candidate when at MIT and to submit a letter of recommendation so indicating as part of the candidate's application. This process means that prior to submitting an application, the candidate must contact the appropriate DUSP faculty member and work out such a relationship. To successfully obtain the SM students must have satisfactorily completed a program of study of at least 66 subject units, including a submitted thesis proposal, signed by a thesis advisor at the end of the fall semester, and a completed thesis at the end of the spring semester. The SM degree does not require the candidate to take the core courses, which are mandatory for the MCP degree.

Please note, there is no departmental funding available to support the SM program a this time.

Master of Science in Transportation (MST)

The Master of Science in Transportation (M.S.T.) degree program emphasizes the complexity of transportation, lying at the intersection of technology, operations, planning, management, and policy-making. The program is interdepartmental, drawing on coursework, faculty, and research staff from across MIT. During the two-year program, students work closely with a research advisor to select an individually-designed area of focus within the realm of transportation. Requirements include coursework across different aspects of transportation, as well as specialized work in the designated area of choice.

Learn more via the MIT Mobility Initiative website

Master of Science in Real Estate Development (MSRED)

Drawing on resources from the MIT School of Architecture and Urban Planning, the MIT School of Engineering, the Department of Economics, and the MIT Sloan School of Management, the Master of Science in Real Estate Development (MSRED) offers a specialized education beyond the scope of a traditional MBA. Our multidisciplinary master’s program incorporates every topic that impacts the real estate industry and is built on three intellectual pillars: Finance and Economics; Design and Development; Sustainability and Technology.

Learn more via the MIT Center for Real Estate website

Dual and Simultaneous Degrees

Students may pursue dual degrees in other departments at MIT, provided they are accepted for admission and complete degree requirements in each department.

Some common dual degrees completed by planning students are with architecture, real estate development, and transportation (MArcH, SMArchS, MSRED, MST). In addition to taking courses in other departments at MIT, students may cross-register at Harvard and other area universities, thereby allowing a wide range of course opportunities.

Students wishing to pursue a dual degree are encouraged to apply to both programs simultaneously. If admitted to both programs, you will have the most flexibility for program cadence and you will be able to plan your studies with the knowledge if you are in a dual program.

If you have additional questions about applying and completing a dual degree, please contact duspapply@mit.edu.  

Certificates

Some students in the MCP program choose to complete additional requirements for professional certificates associated with program groups. Students wishing to pursue any certificate must declare and formally submit their intention to do so at least one semester before graduation. Currently students may choose to complete a:

  • Environmental Planning Certificate
    • Any student in DUSP who meet the requirements will be eligible to receive an Environmental Planning Certificate when they graduate. The requirements are completion of (1) 11.601 (the graduate Introduction to Environmental Policy and Planning; (2) an environmental management practicum such as 11.360 or 11.362; and (3) six subjects, at least one from each of five listed sub-areas: Science, Health and Political Decision-making; Land Use, Growth Management and Restoration; Ecology and Landscape; Facility Siting, Infrastructure and Sustainable Development; and Methods of Environmental Planning and Analysis.
    • This certificate is intended to provide graduates seeking jobs in the environmental planning field a competitive edge by acknowledging the specialized competence and skills they have acquired. 
    • Apply for the Environmental Planning Certificate.
  • Urban Design Certificate
    • The Department of Architecture and the Department of Urban Studies and Planning offer a joint graduate program in urban design, and recognize the completion of this program by awarding a Certificate in Urban Design. 
    • To earn the Certificate in Urban Design students must first be admitted and enrolled in the MArch, SMArchS, MCP, or MS degree programs and complete at least one subject in each of six curriculum areas. At least one subject must be at an advanced level. The Urban Design Seminar, covering key issues and trends in city design, is a required subject for all certificate students, providing a common experience and base of knowledge.
    • Students pursuing the Certificate in Urban Design will be expected to complete a thesis on a topic substantially related to urban design, and at least one member of their thesis committee must be a member of the City Design and Development faculty. Students’ thesis proposals must also be approved by the Certificate committee.
    • Apply for the Urban Design Certificate. 

PAB Criterion 1F/Public Information

  • Student Achievement
    • The program used an exit survey of graduates of the program administered by the Provost's Office of Institutional Research, which included the following questions:
      • Overall, how would you rate the quality of your academic experience at MIT?: 83% responded "good", "very good", or "excellent";
      • Overall, how would you rate the quality of teaching by faculty?: 74% responded "good", "very good", or "excellent";
      • Overall, how would you rate the overall program quality?: 85% responded "good", "very good", or "excellent."
  • 2021-2022 Tuition and Fees
    • In State Residents, per full-time academic year:    $ 55,878
    • Out of State Residents, per full-time academic year    $ 55,878
  • Student Retention Rate
    • Percent Percentage of students who began studies in fall 2020 and continued into fall 2021:    87%
  • Student Graduation Rate
    • Percent Percentage of students graduating within 4 years, entering class of 2017:    100%
  • Number of Degrees Awarded
    • Number of degrees awarded for the 2020 - 2021 Academic Year:    45
  • AICP Certification
    • Percent Percentage of master’s graduates taking the AICP exam within 5 years who pass, graduating class of 2016:    100%
  • Employment
    • Percent Percentage of fulltime graduates obtaining professional planning, planning-related or other positions within 12 months of graduation, graduating class of 2020:    96-100%

Contact

We welcome any feedback you have about the DUSP masters programs. 

  • Questions, concerns, and/or complaints regarding registration, enrollment, leaves, exams and/or other student requirements should be addressed to Ellen Rushman.
  • Questions, concerns, and/or complaints regarding regarding the masters programs' student process should be addressed to the MCP Committee co-Chairs (see DUSP Governance)