6: Graduate School of Architecture

General Information | Programs and Degrees Offered | Course Descriptions | Faculty

Ownership of Student Works | Applications | Master of Architecture
Master of Landscape Architecture | Special Programs | Master of Planning | Master of Architectural History
Doctor of Philosophy in the History of Architecture | Interdisciplinary Programs | Programs Abroad

Master of Planning

Admission   Students from a wide range of academic backgrounds are admitted to the Master of Planning degree program. Applicants with an accredited bachelor's degree in the social sciences, engineering design and liberal arts have done well and have contributed to the vitality of the program.

Those applicants whose previous course work has not included a university level course in statistics must complete such a course prior to enrollment in the graduate program, or take such a course at the University during their first semester of study.

Curriculum   The University of Virginia's graduate program leading to a Master of Planning degree is designed to develop the understanding, sensitivity, and capabilities necessary for a career as a professional planner. Planning is a pervasive process within public policy-making and private development. The number of roles from which planners make contributions and the range of problems and social concerns which they address continue to expand. The objectives of the planning curriculum are to enable students to:

  1. Understand the theory and practice of the diverse roles that planners fill;
  2. Identify and analyze local, regional and national problems with special emphasis on understanding the interdependence between natural and social processes;
  3. Develop an ability to use planning techniques which extend beyond the quantitative and extrapolative tools, as well as methods for generating alternatives, negotiation, and public involvement;
  4. Communicate effectively through oral, written and graphic means;
  5. Develop plans,and programs as well as the analyses upon which they rest;
  6. Create implementation strategies.

Two full years of resident graduate work, normally a total of 50 credits, and a summer internship are required for successful completion of the program.

The Core Courses Required of All Students
PLAN 601Planning Information and Analysis
PLAN 604Legal Aspects of Planning
PLAN 605Quantitative Planning Analysis
PLAN 607Urban Theory and Public Policy
PLAN 609Planning Theory and Practice

Planning Application Courses   In addition to these required courses, all students will take at least two Planning Application courses. A Planning Application course combines theory and application, with emphasis on application, through a project approach. These Planning Application courses are designated each semester in the class schedules. The subject matter of these courses encompasses land use planning, housing, community development, environmental impact analysis, social planning, transportation planning, neighborhood analysis and other subjects.

Planning Concentrations   The core courses provide the common curriculum for all students. Students meet with their advisors to plan a course of specialized study. These curriculum plans are called Planning Concentrations (PCs). Their purpose is to design a coherent program with considerable depth. The formal Planning Concentrations listed below should not be viewed as mutually exclusive program compartments. Rather, they should be viewed as umbrella categories which assist students to focus their interests. Within these categories, sub-specialties may be developed for individual students. The PCs overlap, combine, and reinforce each other. The PCs suggest the type of programs we emphasize at the University of Virginia, but the definition of each PC is flexible. Land use planning, for instance, is an important component of two PCs, Environmental Planning and Urban Development. Prospective land use planners can pursue their career objectives through either of these two PCs, or by using the Land Use PC.

Urban Development   This Planning Concentration stresses (1) urban forms of land development and provision of public and private services to establish viable communities, (2) urban land reuse and redevelopment, and (3) urban economic development. Housing is a key element in each. Different emphases are feasible depending upon whether one's interest is primarily physical, economic, or social. Substantial opportunities are provided to explore private land development and public/private development partnerships, and to concentrate on urban design and preservation planning.

Environmental Planning   Environmental planners assess the impact of land development on the biophysical environment and recommend policies to conserve the natural bases of life (air, water, land, energy, and minerals). The courses in this PC provide students with (1) a general understanding of how biophysical systems function, (2) a working knowledge of the methodologies and techniques commonly used in natural resource and regional land use planning, and (3) an ability to apply ecological knowledge to practical problems of environmental management, drawing on an understanding of environmental economics, environmental law, and environmental policy. Environmental planning embraces many settings, ranging from urban environments to wilderness areas to agricultural ecosystems.

Land Use Planning   Land use planners confront diverse issues. Land use is considered as an outcome (many non-land use decisions have land use consequences), as an object to be planned (such as the decisions reflected in land use plans), and as a stimulus effecting other variables (such as the effect public improvements may have on the ecological stability of a sensitive environment). Courses reflect this diversity of issues and the scale (regional, local, or project) appropriate to them. Courses central to this PC include growth management, comprehensive planning, land development, plan implementation, and housing and community development. Many other courses supplement these five.

Policy Planning   Policy planning describes the function of planners who serve as general program/policy planners, either within traditional planning agencies, or within executive or legislative offices as advisors to managers or elected officials. The recommendations of these planners must reflect a general understanding of the political and economic system and embody a substantial level of analytical skill. Substantive knowledge also is important. Planners are usually assigned to policy problems that combine their substantive knowledge, analytical skills, and general political and economic understanding.

The breadth of the policy planning function means that there are many acceptable paths to preparation for it. Students choosing this PC work closely with faculty members in the Department of Government. In addition to the five required core courses, the Policy Planning PC requires courses in methods and analysis, policy-making processes, and substantive planning. A large number of courses from throughout the University, in addition to those in Planning and Government are available for consideration.

Special PCs   Although the four PCs described above permit a substantial degree of flexibility for individual students, students are also free to develop planning specialities outside these categories. Students might wish to develop specializations in urban design, preservation, transportation planning, or social program planning. Required coursework depends on previous background.

Internship   The internship is an approved assignment in an agency, firm or organization engaged in planning activities during ten weeks of the summer between the first and second years of study for which no course credit is given and no tuition is charged.

Two-Year Program Summary
A typical two-year program leading to the Master of Planning degree would follow this general pattern:

First Year
First Semester
PLAN 601 Planning Information and Analysis 4
PLAN 607 Urban Theory & Public Policy 3
PLANConcentration Course 3
PLANElective 3
Total 13
Second Semester
PLAN 604 Legal Aspects of Planning3
PLAN 605 Quantitative Planning Analysis 4
PLANConcentration Course 3
PLANElective 3
Total 13
Summer Session
Internship in a Planning Agency (no credit)
Second Year
First Semester
PLAN 609 Planning Theory and Practice 3
PLAC Applications Course 3
PLANConcentration Course 3
PLANElective 3
Total 12
Second Semester
PLAC Applications Course in Planning Concentration 3
PLANConcentration Course 3
PLANConcentration Course 3
PLANElective 3
Total 12
Total Credits50

Program policy permits as many as six hours of credit to be gained by independent study for work on approved projects, or in work experience which is judged appropriate for credit. These hours will be granted only when the work or subject has been approved in advance by the faculty. Normally, these credit hours will include periodic faculty review, appropriate readings, and a final report which may be an analytical paper or a case study.

Students are encouraged to take courses within their PCs from throughout the University. The Law School, the Engineering School, the Business School, several departments within the College of Arts and Sciences, and other academic departments within the University offer a variety of courses appropriate for degree requirements.

Other Opportunities
Advanced Standing   Graduates of accredited undergraduate planning programs will be considered for advanced standing in special cases. A minimum of 30 graduate credits in addition to the undergraduate degree must be completed at the University of Virginia. This must be constructed so that combined with the undergraduate program, each of the requirements for the Master of Planning degree is met, including the core courses, planning application courses, planning concentration, and internship. The advanced standing opportunity is intended for students with strong undergraduate records and at least a 3.5 GPA in planning courses.

Joint Degrees   Joint degree programs are available with the departments in the School of Architecture as well as various departments of the College, including government and environmental science. Joint degree programs are also possible with the Law School, the Graduate School of Business Administration, and the School of Graduate Engineering and Applied Science. The joint programs depend upon admission to each program under the appropriate requirements. Joint degrees permit the joint use of credit to shorten the requirements for attaining both degrees.

Off-Grounds Degree Program   The Master of Planning Degree also is offered in the Northern Virginia area through the Division of Continuing Education, Northern Virginia, for qualified students in that area who are unable to attend the Charlottesville program on a full-time basis. After admission at either location, students may transfer between Charlottesville and Northern Virginia. All full-time faculty in Charlottesville also teach in the Northern Virginia Program. Students at either location may take courses at the other location in any semester. Some courses are at times offered on weekends in Northern Virginia to facilitate access for students based in Charlottesville.

Programs Abroad   Planning students may, with approval, spend a fall semester in one of the Programs Abroad.

Environmental Negotiation   Negotiation, mediation, and other interactive and consultative problem solving approaches are being relied on with increasing frequency and effectiveness in land use and environmental planning and policy making, and in the resolution of development controversies. The Institute for Environmental Negotiation, affiliated with the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning, is a major resource for the provision of these conflict resolution skills. The Institute sponsors visiting mediation practitioners, offers a course in negotiation skills, and provides training opportunities through graduate research assistantships. The Mediator, newsletter of the Institute, is available upon request. No degree in negotiation or mediation is offered independent of the School's regular degree offerings.

Historic Preservation Program   Students wishing to enter the Historic Preservation Program must first be admitted to one of the four graduate departments in the School of Architecture. In order to insure proper academic advising and program coordination, students interested in the Historic Preservation Program should file a letter of intention with the Director of Historic Preservation. Students who complete the required 24 credits of preservation course work receive a Certificate in Historic Preservation in addition to their department's master's degree. Students are normally able to complete the course work during the same period required for completion of their departmental program.

Students may undertake the preservation option within the context of the Urban Development PC. With the approval of the planning department chair, one of the two planning application course requirements may be satisfied by an appropriate preservation course -- AR H 594 Community Planning and Public History Seminar is required for the certificate program as a planning application course.

Accreditation   The Graduate Program in Urban and Environmental Planning is accredited. The Planning Accreditation Board is sponsored jointly by the American Institute of Certified Planners and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning.


Continue to: Master of Architectural History
Return to: Chapter 6 Index