Jun 14, 2024  
Graduate Record 2020-2021 
Graduate Record 2020-2021 [ARCHIVED RECORD]

Master of Urban and Environmental Planning


Students from a wide range of academic backgrounds are admitted to the Master of Urban and Environmental Planning degree program. Applicants with an accredited bachelor’s degree in the social sciences, engineering, design, or liberal arts contribute to the vitality of the program and to the field of planning.

Overview and Philosophy

The Master of Urban and Environmental Planning degree is a professional degree aimed at individuals interested in planning and creating healthy, safe, livable and equitable communities. Students in this degree program obtain the analytical skills, technical tools, theoretical insights, and applied experience needed to make them effective, ethical and compassionate professionals. 

A distinctive feature of our program is our commitment to community engagement, collaborative planning, and sustainability. While sustainability is addressed in specific courses with that title, it provides the underlying framework for virtually all of the department’s courses. The name of our department is Urban and Environmental Planning. We believe it is necessary to consider both the urban and environmental aspects of a setting to address its issues, problems, and opportunities. We are as much concerned with the economy and issues of equity as we are with the environment and find it more useful to emphasize linkages than distinctions. We hope to inspire our students to share our enthusiasm for addressing the planning needs of sustainable communities.

Graduate courses (5000-level or higher) are selected from those in the department and in other departments in the School and University. Students earning dual degrees or who have transferred from other planning programs may warrant advanced standing and be able to complete the planning program in less than two years. Students may take more than the minimum 51 credits if their schedules allow it.

Courses taken at other institutions are normally not accepted. Under exceptional circumstances, a petition along with supporting materials (i.e. syllabus and work samples) may be submitted to receive an exemption from taking a required course. Candidates are required to fulfill the total degree credit requirement regardless of course exemptions granted. Petitions are to be submitted to the instructor of the course for which a waiver is desired; the Graduate Director must approve the waiver.

The Core Courses Required of All Students

Student Directed Planning Concentrations

In addition to completing the basic curriculum, students meet with their faculty mentors to plan courses of specialized study called Planning Concentrations (PCs). Their purpose is to enable students to develop deeper expertise in a specific area (like transportation, housing, design) of greatest interest to them. Planning Concentrations should be crafted in consultation with departmental advisors; advisors have a template of courses that serve as foundation courses as well as complementary electives. 

Each self-directed planning concentration must include at least one appropriate PLAC class.

A planning application course combines theory and practice, emphasizing application through a project approach. These are listed each semester through the Student Information System (SIS), with their subject matter rotating among land use planning, housing, community development, environmental impact analysis, social planning, transportation planning, neighborhood analysis, and other subjects. This course should be taken within the first three semesters of residency.

Of the 15 credits required for the concentration, at least 2 courses must be drawn from the planning department (i.e., be PLAN or PLAC classes.)  

Students enrolled in specific certificate programs, such as the urban design and historic preservation certificates, should use the certificate program as their planning concentration.


The MUEP requires the completion of an internship in planning.  An internship is an approved eight-week (320 hours) or longer assignment in an agency, firm, or organization engaged in planning activities. It takes place during the summer between the first and second years of study, for which no course credit is given and no tuition is charged.  Students are required to secure their own internships.  Total internship hourly requirements may be satisfied by participating in multiple planning internships/externships. Students working in unpaid internships may enroll in an independent study with their faculty mentor in the semester following the internship, in which the student will develop a paper investigating some aspect of their professional planning experience. Prior work experience may satisfy this requirement.  Students seeking a waiver of the internship requirement must confer with the Graduate Director for approval.

Two-Year Program Summary

A typical two-year program leading to the Master of Urban and Environmental Planning degree would follow this general pattern. The environmental course requirement may be taken in any semester.

First Year

Fall Semester - Credits: 12 Spring Semester - Credits: 14
Summer Session  
  • Internship in a planning agency, organization, or firm (no credit).

Second Year

Fall Semester - Credits: 12 Spring Semester - Credits: 13

Degree Total - 51 Credits

Note:  As many as six credits may be gained by independent study for approved projects or work experience. These credits are granted only when the work or subject has been approved in advance by the faculty. Normally, the independent study credits include periodic faculty review, appropriate readings, and a final report in the form of an analytical paper or case study.

In regard to non-PLAN electives, students are encouraged to take graduate courses (5000-level or higher) throughout the School and University. The Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the School of Law all offer a variety of courses appropriate for degree requirements, particularly for student-designed concentrations.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) credit received for summer or fall break internships cannot be applied toward overall credits for degree requirements.  Course credits are applied to allow the student to participate in an internship/externship per the F-1 eligibility requirements and regulations.


Public Professional Licensure Disclosure

As a member of the State Authorizations Reciprocity Agreement, the University of Virginia (UVA) is authorized to provide curriculum in a distance learning environment to students located in all states in the United States except for California. (34 CFR 668.43(a)(6)& 34 CFR 668.72(n)).

Upon completion of the Master of Urban and Environmental Planning at the UVA School of Architecture, graduates may be eligible for initial professional licensure in another U.S. state by applying to the licensing board or agency in that state.

Please visit the University’s state authorization web pages to make an informed decision regarding which states’ educational requirements for initial licensure are met by this program. (668.43(a)(5) (v)(A) - (C))

Enrolled students who change their current (or mailing) address to a state other than Virginia should update this information immediately in the Student Information System as it may impact their ability to complete internship, practicum, or clinical hours, use Title IV funds, or meet licensure or certification requirements in the new state. (34 CFR 668.402).