M.S. Urban Planning

The Columbia University Master of Science in Urban Planning is an accredited two-year program of professional education. Actively engaged in practice, our curriculum connects the study of the urban built environment with grounded analysis of socioeconomic and political conditions. We explore the tensions between market forces, civil society, and the goals of planning, paying special attention to the role of urban analytics and the quest for social justice. Students learn to evaluate and shape efforts to develop and enhance cities and their communities in ways that foster healthy and sustainable living.

Located in New York City, our program promotes a global outlook. We look to planning issues locally and internationally for studio projects, classroom case studies, and thesis research. By studying the impact of global linked processes (e.g. immigration and climate change) as well as local conditions on cities and communities, we think creatively about planning and policy approaches to improve processes and outcomes in cities around the world.

Planning education promotes the redistribution of resources and social justice in cities as much as the creation of wealth. Our students connect challenges of urban development, sustainability and equity with the political and socioeconomic conditions that define them. They learn to engage and assess the increasing abundance and availability of data to address urban problems and inform planning efforts. Throughout the curriculum, the emphasis is on real-world problems and how planners can act to improve the lives of urban residents.

Being part of GSAPP, our program connects with design, preservation, and real estate faculty and professionals to add to ideas and techniques developed by planners and social activists. We also offer a range of curriculum and dual-degree options within and beyond GSAPP for students interested in additional content expertise and skills. Our graduates work in critical and leading roles in government, private firms, nonprofit organizations, advocacy groups, multilateral institutions, and international NGOs.


The faculty shares a core pedagogic belief that the best professional education takes place in an environment of learning by doing, reinforced by classroom work and group projects. Planners must have a thorough understanding of the economic, social, political, legal, and physical forces that shape the built environment.

Curriculum offerings equip students with familiarity with the range of analytic and research techniques used by planners, practical skills through a semester-long studio project and other class projects, and competency in both general and specialized knowledge of planning. Students are required to choose at least one concentration area among four options: Built Environment, Community and Economic Development, International Planning and Development, and Urban Analytics. Students take a minimum of four courses and 12 points in a concentration.

In the Urban Planning studio, there is a real client with a real-world issue that will be analyzed by students working as a team under the direction of faculty. The deliverables that results will reflect critical analysis of socioeconomic, environmental, and political conditions as well as stakeholder engagement, and encourage students to consider "best practices" in planning and innovative thinking. Studio takes place in the spring of the students' first year, and is thus not a "capstone" project but a way of integrating classroom learning with practical experience early in the students' education.
Current Faculty
Moshe Adler
Jessie Braden
Eldad Gothelf
Nicholas Klein
Floyd Lapp
Peter Marcotullio
Jonathan Martin
Leah Meisterlin
Lee Miller
Kaz Sakamoto
Andrew Scherer
Ethel Sheffer
Kairos Shen
Belinda Tato
Marcela Tovar-Restrepo
Graham Trelstad
Jose Luis Vallejo
Jeremy White
Laura Wolf-Powers
Dual and Joint Degree Programs

M.S. in Urban Planning and Master of Architecture

M.S. in Urban Planning and M.S. in Historic Preservation

M.S. in Urban Planning and M.S. in Real Estate Development

M.S. in Urban Planning and Business

M.S. in Urban Planning and International Affairs

M.S. in Urban Planning and Law

M.S. in Urban Planning and Social Work

M.S. in Urban Planning and Public Health