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Ten reasons to Love KU Urban Planning

James Naismith statue with planning maps

The inventor of basketball, James Naismith, knew a thing or two about good game plans and writing policies and rules.  Visit the DeBruce Center on the KU campus to see Naismith’s original 13 rules of basketball.


1) Over 40 years dedicated to master’s degree students.  

We granted our first master’s of urban planning degree in 1975. A master’s degree is what you need to get your first planning job and advance in a career. We do not offer undergraduate degrees or doctoral degrees.  This means we concentrate on you the master’s degree student and preparing you for a rewarding career and life as a Jayhawk planner.


2) Emphasis is on real-world experiences and graduating with a job.

We prepare Jayhawk planners for that first planning job and beyond. We are tireless in our pursuit of paid internships for our students. Class work includes projects with actual clients such as the Mid-America Regional Council, Kansas Department of Transportation, and Douglas County Office of Sustainability. Before entering academia, three of our five full-time faculty were practicing planners for cities, counties, states, and non-profits. We know planning practice AND cutting edge research.


3) Your undergraduate degree really did prepare you for a career. 

Almost any undergraduate degree is suitable preparation for a Graduate Degree in Urban Planning. So you studied philosophy, film studies, political science, sociology, geography, architecture, Latin American studies, English, French Literature, journalism, communications – any of those and more, and that’s great because you can now get your master’s degree in urban planning. If you have an imagination and like to solve problems, Urban Planning is right for you!


4) Our program is accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board.

We have been continuously accredited since 1983. Accreditation means you are getting a quality planning degree. High standards keep our content and teaching state-of-the-art.  A master’s degree from an accredited school allows you to complete the requirements sooner to become a certified planner through the American Institute of Certified Planners.


5) Be a generalist or a specialist.

Our program allows students to not only gain a general understanding of Urban Planning but also to specialize in: Housing and Development, Transportation, or Sustainable Land Use Planning.  You can know a little about a lot or a lot about a specialized area, whichever you want. Our curriculum results in graduates who are versatile and sought after by employers.

Please see this page for further information about the specializations offered.


6) Our award winning faculty are accessible and engaged.

They are acknowledged leaders in their fields. The faculty present at conferences the world over, are prolific producers of peer-reviewed articles, and are actively involved in community organizations. For further information, please see the faculty research interests and the faculty profiles for a detailed list of their achievements.


7) You can complete two degrees at once with a reduced time commitment.

Our planning degree can be combined with other graduate degrees such as American studies, geography, law, architecture, and public administration. An Accelerated Master’s program in Environmental Studies and Urban Planning is also offered. Click here for more information.


8) Lasting networks.

Small class sizes, dedicated lab space, a mix of domestic and international students, involvement with local chapters of professional organizations (Kansas Chapter of the American Planning Association, Urban Land Institute, and Women’s Transportation Seminar-KC), alumni connections, and strong student organization (the Kansas Association of Planning Students, KAPS) means you can establish lasting networks with professionals, classmates, and other Jayhawk planners.


9) Living and studying in Lawrence has its benefits.

Lawrence is advantageously located between the state capital of Topeka and the major metropolitan area of Kansas City. Living expenses are low and Lawrence has a thriving downtown. Massachusetts Street in Downtown Lawrence is winner of a ‘Great Street’ award by the American Planning Association. KU is a beautiful campus. The 1904 KU master plan is by George Kessler and Henry Wright, two giants in early U.S. planning history.


10) You can have a healthy work/life balance.

Flexible schedules allow many students to take classes two days a week giving time for paid internships or other work and enjoying the activities that KU and Lawrence have to offer.


KU Today
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times