Urban Planning

The Online Executive Master of Urban Planning From USC Price

Earn a Degree From the Top-Ranked School for Urban Policy

The University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy is ranked No. 3 for urban policy by U.S. News & World Report for 2022.¹ The school’s on-campus urban planning program was ranked No. 8 by Planetizen in 2019.²

Urban planning is becoming increasingly complex. Industry professionals have to navigate stronger regulation, dwindling public resources and political forces that simultaneously restrict government support and heighten income inequality. This makes advanced specialized training more and more crucial. USC Price’s accelerated online Executive Master of Urban Planning program directly bridges the gap between urban planning goals and the objectives and constraints of effective real estate development. The urban planning graduate program is tailored for experienced professionals who know that cities are our greatest challenge and opportunity.

Why Urban Planning?

Urban planners lay the foundation for our everyday lives. By designing and adapting urban infrastructure, building for environmental sustainability, and analyzing public needs, they shape our cities’ futures—and, in turn, the ease with which we interact with our surroundings and are able to thrive in the places in which we live.

Some specific duties of a leader in the urban planning field include:

  • negotiating between public objectives and private sector constraints
  • planning, designing, and implementing major public works and development projects
  • convening multiple stakeholders to develop innovative planning solutions
  • leading teams from project initiation to execution
  • analyzing data from market research, censuses, and economic and environmental studies to craft innovative plans and development proposals


Median pay per year


Expected job growth between
2016 and 2026

Become a Leader in Urban Development

To learn how you can advance your urban planning career with an online Executive Master of Urban Planning degree from USC, request information today.

Explore the Online Master’s Curriculum

USC’s online Executive Master of Urban Planning is a 24-unit curriculum designed with significant input from the practice community and includes myriad outreach opportunities throughout. The degree goes beyond that of a typical master’s program and equips graduates with an expert skill level in this field.

As a graduate from our urban planning master’s program, you will emerge with advanced knowledge in four main areas: project and land economics; political, legal, and regulatory process and stakeholder outreach; data analysis, visualization and communication; and urban design and the built environment.


Months to Complete


Core Courses


In-person Intensives

Review our admissions requirements.

Course Sequence

Term 1

Economics of a Productive Development
3 Units

Politics and Processes of Urban Development
2 Units

First Intensive
2 Units

Term 2

Urban Political Economy and Urban Development
2 Units

Economics for a Productive City
3 Units

Term 3

Engagement With Stakeholders
3 Units

Big Data for Planning and Development
2 Units

Second Intensive
2 Units

Term 4

Leading a Collaborative
4 Units

Integrating Concepts for Action
1 Unit

Course Descriptions

Economics of a Productive Development — 3 units

Introduction to the economic and financial aspects of real estate development, tools and methods of financial analysis, and public and private perspectives. 

Politics and Processes of Urban Development — 2 units

Introduction to concepts of formal and informal political institutions with a focus on planning and urban issues at the local, state and national levels as well as theories and methods to understand contemporary planning conflicts.

Urban Political Economy and Urban Development — 2 units

Planning and development within a complex political landscape; budgetary and fiscal politics, metropolitan fragmentation and sub urbanization, immigration, and race, gender, and ethnicity in urban politics; and implications for planning and development.

Economics for a Productive City — 3 units

Basic concepts of urban and land economics with an emphasis on how planning and development are shaped by the metropolitan economic context and of how key theoretical elements inform planning and development questions.

Effective Engagement With Stakeholders — 3 units

Approaches and challenges to community engagement, different conceptualizations of citizen microscale forum and macro-scale methods, and use of media for participation in communities.

Big Data for Planning and Development — 2 units

Introduction to data and visualization trends in relation to urban planning and development and training leaders to manage teams while leveraging data and information technology resources.

Leading a Collaborative City — 4 units

Leadership skills for planning and development; cross-sectoral collaboration, negotiation and theories of organizational leadership; and metrics for performance assessment, project management and team building in organizations.

Capstone Project: Integrating Concepts for Action — 1 unit

Research a planning and development topic; capstone project.


Intensives take place in person over two four-day periods. They are incorporated into the Executive Master of Urban Planning curriculum to allow students to build hands-on skills and network with peers and faculty in person.

First Required Intensive

Planning and Development Case Study — 1 unit 

Case study project: students analyze a project and develop recommendations for financing and regulatory issues.

Designing Livable Environments I — 1 unit 

Studio setting: students will go through a design charrette, site visit and develop an understanding of design principles.

Second Required Intensive

Designing Livable Environments II — 1 unit 

Studio setting: students will go through a design charrette, site visit and develop a further understanding of design principles.

Communicating Data for Planning and Development — 1 unit 

Methods and techniques for data visualization, application to planning and development contexts, and critical assessment of data presentation approaches and methods.

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Learn to lead teams that are innovating in planning and development.
  • Synthesize a range of skills in a multi-disciplinary team from a leadership perspective.
  • Understand the interlocking themes that influence the success of plans and projects in modern cities.
  • Understand the local, neighborhood, city and regional contexts of projects.
  • Obtain enhanced skills in finance, project management, economic analysis, urban design, demographic analysis and data visualization.
  • Build enriched project experience with attention to matters of politics and implementation — including project definition, collaboration and participation among diverse or competing actors, and ethical considerations — in a real-world setting guided by well-known academics and established professionals.

Final Application Deadline 

Summer Deadline: April 1, 2021
Fall Deadline: August 1, 2021

Start building the foundation to make a difference in your community. Apply today.

How Can This Executive Degree Advance Your Urban Planning Career?

USC Price’s online Executive Master of Urban Planning curriculum is designed to bridge the gap between good planning practice and the economics of urban development. Our coursework will equip you with hands-on skills you can use on the job, including the ability to:

  • navigate between public and private sector planning goals and innovate at the nexus of local public finance, private sector development and urban policy
  • understand and analyze the economics of urban planning and development projects
  • leverage available commercial and demographic data to improve decision-making
  • lead a team in the industry effectively

Our program is tailored so that professionals from outside the planning field can emerge with expertise that matches their peers in this space. It is also a good fit for professional planners who would like to build the expertise to advance and become leaders in the public, non-profit, or private sectors.

Who Can Benefit From an Advanced Degree in Urban Planning?

USC Price’s Executive Master in Urban Planning program can help a variety of professionals advance their careers. Those with expertise in urban planning can go on to work for public organizations like city, county, state or the federal government; metropolitan and regional agencies; and economic development organizations. Graduates may also be ready to work for private firms, such as development or architecture and engineering firms specializing in infrastructure.

Other employers who seek professionals with advanced experience in urban planning include development and law firms, nonprofits and NGOs, educational institutions, and private firms specializing in consulting.

The degree can also benefit those at every level of their career. This includes:

Public Policy Workers

City managers who want to work more effectively with planners and developers

Middle management planners who need to learn more about the link between planning with the development community

Public Policy Workers who need more specialized planning knowledge

Private Sector Developers

Architects who design infill projects or master-planned communities and need a stronger background in the space

Engineers whose work requires a foundation in economics, politics and planning

Senior analysts who need to better understand the complex public approval process

Leaders in Non-Profit and Other Fields

Affordable housing professionals who need more knowledge about navigating the project approvals process and reaching out to stakeholders

Land use attorneys looking to gain deeper understanding of the economics of developmenta

Online Master’s in Urban Planning Admissions

USC Price’s online Executive Master of Urban Planning requires a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. USC Price values diversity of experience, and the online master’s is designed for rising executives in the industry. Five to seven years of relevant full time work experience are recommended to apply.

No GMAT or GRE scores are required.

During each application period, the admissions team offers an Early Decision deadline, which allows you to receive a decision and start planning for your future sooner. 

Summer Application Deadline
April 1, 2021

Fall Application Deadline
August 1, 2021

Summer Classes Start
May 5, 2021

Fall Classes Start
September 1, 2021

Half of humanity now lives in urban areas. As challenges of sustainability, economic development, human health and democratic governance play out in cities and mega-cities across the globe, urban planners will be the innovators and leaders of the 21st century.

– Professor Marlon Boarnet, Chair, Department of Urban Planning and Spatial Analysis and Director, Executive Master of Urban Planning Program

Program Delivery: The Online Experience

Our online Executive Master of Urban Planning is designed to deliver the rigor of a USC Price degree with the flexibility to advance your education on a busy schedule. Classes are delivered through our live, face-to-face videoconferencing technology, and coursework is available 24/7 from any connected device. Throughout the urban planning program, we offer academic, career and technical support to help you get acclimated to online learning and reach your career goals.

Learn more about the online experience.

Request information today to learn more about the online Executive Master of Urban Planning program from USC Price
or contact an admissions counselor at Phone Number: 1-213-740-0550 or [email protected]

[1] U.S. News & World Report, 2021
[2] Planetizen Guide for Graduate Urban Planning Programs, 5th Edition, June 2019