The Online Executive Master of Urban Planning From USC Price

Earn a Degree From the Top-Ranked School for Urban Policy
Planetizen Top-Ranked Planning School
The University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy is ranked No. 2 for urban policy by U.S. News & World Report for 2019.1 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.

Planetizen Top-Ranked Planning School

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

$71,490 Median pay per year

13% 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.

16 Months to Complete

8 Core Courses

2 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

An introduction to the economic and financial aspects of real estate development. Financial analysis and cost of capital are introduced. Students learn methods for combining financing across the public and private sectors. 

Politics and Processes of Urban Development — 2 units

A study of policy across different levels of government (local, state, national), formal and informal political institutions and legal contexts of development. Common political tensions related to growth and development, including pro-growth and anti-growth movements, are explored.

Urban Political Economy and Urban Development — 2 units

Covers neighborhood and informal community or advocacy organizations. Budgetary and fiscal politics, metropolitan fragmentation and suburbanization, immigration, and race, gender and ethnicity in urban politics are examined.

Economics for a Productive City — 3 units

A study of basic concepts of urban and land economics, with a focus on applications that include project finance. Topics include externalities and public goods, financing infrastructure related to development, and economic development.

Effective Engagement With Stakeholders — 3 units

Includes modes and approaches to engaging community residents, including focus groups and charrettes, social media, open government and the role of information technologies. Emphasis is on building trust and maintaining the community’s voice, particularly among marginalized communities.

Big Data for Planning and Development — 2 units

An introduction to data and visualization trends as they relate to urban planning and development. Geographic information systems, smartphone technologies, social media, sensor data (e.g., “the internet of things”) and visualization are covered. Also includes an overview of trends and skills that managers should seek when building teams. 

Leading a Collaborative City — 4 units

Provides leadership skills tailored to urban planning and development. Cross-sectoral collaboration, negotiation, theories of organizational leadership, and team building within and across organizations are covered.

Integrating Concepts for Action — 1 unit

A team-based capstone project that focuses on policy aspects of urban planning, immersing students in questions of structural reform that span from projects to broader governance issues.


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 

This course will be half of a four-day in-person intensive. Following on the instruction in Economics of a Productive Development, students will analyze a project and develop recommendations for financing and regulatory issues.

Designing Livable Environments I — 1 unit 

This course will be half of a four-day in-person intensive. Students will work in a studio setting, going through a design charrette, visiting a site and developing an understanding of design principles.

Second Required Intensive

Designing Livable Environments II — 1 unit 

This course will be half of a four-day in-person intensive. This is the second part of a two-part sequence. Students will build on concepts learned in Designing Livable Environments I, and they will work in a studio setting, going through a design charrette, visiting a site and developing an understanding of design principles.

Communicating Data for Planning and Development — 1 unit 

This course will be half of a four-day in-person intensive. Instruction in data presentation and visualization methods will build on concepts introduced in the Big Data course.

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Learn how to lead teams that are innovating in planning and development;
  • Synthesize a range of skills from the perspective of the manager and leader of a multi-disciplinary team;
  • Understand the inter-locking 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: project definition, collaboration and participation among diverse and often competing actors, and ethical considerations, in a real-world setting guided by well-known academics and established professionals.


Final Application Deadline: 
July 13, 2020

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

Access Your Application

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 development

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, as well as waive the $90 application fee. If you are interested in a $90 application fee waiver, please reach out to your admissions counselor to learn more.

Apply Today

Early Decision Application Deadline

Priority Application Deadline

Final Application Deadline
July 13, 2020

Classes Start
September 2, 2020


“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: 1-855-637-1999 or