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PAB Accreditation


Our two-year master’s in urban planning (MUP) degree is fully accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board, a Chicago-based organization that recognizes professional urban planning programs for performance, integrity, and quality.  After a complete review in 2013, our program was fully reaccredited through December 31, 2021.  You can learn more about the accreditation process at the Planning Accreditation Board’s website.

As an accredited program, we practice transparency about important data, so prospective applicants can be well-informed in deciding whether to apply to us.  Below, we provide information about student evaluations, graduation rates, graduates’ satisfaction, graduates’ employment, and voluntary professional certification.

Student Achievement

In keeping with our obligations as an accredited program, we require that students who are finishing the MUP demonstrate that they have attained the basic competence to become professional planners or the ability to enter advanced study and become planning researchers.  Though students undergo evaluation and grading throughout their course of study, we especially stress the mandatory culminating exercises, the final project or the thesis, as a demonstration of capability.

Unless permitted to pursue a master’s thesis, our students take 3-credit URP 697: Master’s Project in their final semester.  The class asks them each to independently write a planning report of professional quality in response to distinct, real-life, localized problems and opportunities, in a specific place.  The report tests abilities to integrate the concepts and skills learned during MUP studies;  apply these to a selected geographical area (neighborhood, city, urban area, rural area, or region);  work with the limited information and conflicting objectives often encountered in practice;  develop proposals about what local officials, government agencies, private or nonprofit organizations, or citizen groups should do; substantiate proposals with appropriate evidence and analysis; present ideas in a clear, well organized document;  and accomplish all this against a deadline.  The class instructor assigns the municipality on which students prepare their report.                          

In his or her report, each student must demonstrate

  • a clear definition of problem
  • effective presentation of background or existing conditions
  • appropriate selection of information and an explanation of the limitations of information
  • appropriate analysis and interpretation (this is the most important evaluation criterion) with findings flowing from the analysis, and
  • appropriate recommendations and proposals for implementation.

The report is further evaluated by its clarity of writing, clarity of organization, appropriate format, appropriate citations and referencing, and appropriate use of figures, maps, and tables. 

An instructor, advised in selected cases by a faculty committee, evaluates the results and assigns a final grade.  Students who perform below expectation may graduate based on their grade point average, or may be asked to perform remedial studies, depending on the exact grade.

  MUP Final Project Outcomes
Passed? (“B” or above) Fall 2015 Spring 2016 2015-16
# and %
Yes 6 13 19 83
No 1 3 4 17
Total 7 16 23 100

Though it is a different kind of exercise than the final project, a master’s thesis also demonstrates the ability to synthesize literature and empirical information of relevance to the advancement of professional planning.  In our program, students who have shown sufficiently strong academic performance may apply to prepare a thesis instead of a project.  Students must prepare a proposal by the early third semester of their study and have it approved by at least two faculty members and the department chair.

Tuition and Fees

Tuition and Fees are calculated for one full academic year (fall and spring semesters) and include tuition, University fees, and School of Architecture and Planning fees as outlined below:

2016 – 2017 Academic Year


University Fees[1]

School Fees












[1]University fees for the academic year include the Comprehensive Fee ($1974), the Activity Fee ($128) and the Academic Excellence Fee ($375). Matriculating International students are also assessed the International Student Fee ($200).  

For details regarding full and part time (per credit hour) tuition and fees, please refer to the University’s Tuition and Fee web page.

Student Retention and Graduation Rates

The retention rate for the master’s program is the percentage of full-time MUP students that return for the second year of the program. 

The graduation rate for the master’s program is the percentage of full time MUP students who graduate within 4 years of enrolling.


Academic Year

Number Enrolled

Retention Rate

Graduated within 4 years

4 Year Graduation Rate


2015 - 16 24 100% n/a n/a

2014 - 15




69% [2]

2013 - 14




98% [1]

2012 - 13





2011 - 12





2010 - 11





2009 - 10





2008 - 09





2007 - 08





2006 - 07





[1] Three-year graduation rate [2] Two-year graduation rate still in progress

Number of Degrees Awarded (single and combined):

2012 - 13: 41
2013 - 14: 34
2014 - 15: 41
2015 - 16: 34

AICP Exam Pass Rate

To become a certified planner, members of the American Planning Associate (APA) must meet certain education and experience requirements and pass the American Institute of Certificated Planners (AICP) Exam. Participation in the certification program is optional—many professional planners do not do so.  The pass rate is the percentage of test takers who pass the examination within 3 years of graduating from a master’s program.  Please note that many of our graduates have chosen to apply for certification after the 3-year period, and so are not reflected in the statistics below.

Graduation Year







Number taking exam







Pass rate







AICP Exam pass rate data are collected by the APA. For a complete list of pass rates for all PAB-accredited institutions, see:

Employment Rate in First Year after Graduation

2016 Survey Results for First Year Employment of Students that Graduated in Academic Year 14-15 (Graduates from September 2014, February 2015 and June 2015)





Response Rate


Employment within One Year of Graduation:

Professional Planning Job or Planning-Related Job



Job outside of Planning



Pursuing Advanced Degree


2016 Survey Results for First Year Employment of Students that Graduated in Academic Years 14-15, 13-14, 12-13, 11-12 and 10-11)





Responses Rate


Employment within One Year of Graduation:

Professional Planning Job or Planning-Related Job



Job outside of Planning



Pursuing Advanced Degree






No Response


Note: A planning position may take place at local, regional, state (province), national, or international levels.  It may occur in the public sector, public authority, nonprofit organization, or private sector.  Specific fields that constitute planning include: arts and culture planning, community activism/empowerment, community development, consulting, disaster planning, economic development, energy development and planning, environmental planning, GIS and other computer applications to planning, historic preservation and heritage, housing, international development, land use and code enforcement, legal practice related to planning, natural resources planning, neighborhood planning, parks and recreation, planning education, planning for training programs, planning within an architectural or engineering firm, planning management/finance, public health, real estate development, tourism development, transportation planning and analysis, urban design, and waste management.   A planning-related position includes consulting, design, development, nonprofit management and administration, policymaking, policy analysis, corporate location, health policy analysis, and public administration that in some way uses your planning skills or contributes to planning objectives but does not fall under the first definition above.

Program Satisfaction

In June, to find out our graduates’ perceptions after graduation, we surveyed graduates of the five preceding year.  Please see 2016 survey results for full information on our methods, numbers of respondents, and actual results. Previous survey results are available here:2015 survey results, 2014 survey, 2013 survey.

Our survey shows that, of our students who graduated from 2008 through 2015 that responded to the survey questions, 87% were satisfied with their education and 13% dissatisfied.  Of our respondents, a large majority agreed that the program had provided them with important planning capabilities.  Specifically, 91% said they agreed that our graduates were prepared for collaborative practice and client/community participation, 91% agreed that the program had prepared them on questions of ethical practice, 89% agreed that the program taught them to analyze data qualitatively and quantitatively, and 87% agreed that the program prepared them for employment.  Overall, we believe that these data reflect well on the quality of our program.

Faculty Sponsored Research

Externally funded research refers to planning research that our faculty performs because of grants from outside foundations and government agencies.  The resulting research spans community development, planning for public health, environmental planning, transportation planning, and other fields.  Through such research, our faculty contributes to the advancement of knowledge for the planning profession and for the understanding of urban affairs.

Fiscal Year


2014 - 2015 $960,643

2013 - 2014


2012 – 2013


2011 - 2012


2010 - 2011


2009 - 2010


2008 - 2009


2007 - 2008


2006 - 2007


Table 1: Sponsored Funding Performance

We are committed to maintaining a high volume of sponsored research by our faculty members, as befits a leading research university.  To measure our faculty productivity in such research, we collected data on actual sponsored research expenditures per year.  Since many projects involve multiple investigators from many disciplines, we were careful to identify the funding attributable to just our own faculty members.  Also, we did not include in this data funds committed to research but not yet spent.  The results (see table 1) show substantial increase in research expenditure with exceptional accomplishments in the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 academic years.  We expect such exceptional accomplishment in research performance in the coming years.

Urban and Regional Planning