Master of Urban Planning Overview

The mission of the MUP program is to prepare students to become leading practitioners in the planning profession. The MUP program seeks to provide students with a deep intellectual grounding in specific knowledge areas and preparation in advanced skills and techniques of planning. The program has a strong intellectual focus, which is consistent with the continuation of some students to the PhD in planning and to academic or advanced research positions.

Program Components

(requirements adopted in Spring 2011)

The Master of Urban Planning curriculum is organized into five major components:

  • A Core of six required courses covering fundamental knowledge needed for practice in the field of planning;
  • Recommended Concentrations, which are intended to help students develop specialized expertise in one or more areas of professional practice;
  • A required Capstone Project or Thesis and Capstone Seminar through which students demonstrate individual professional competence. The Capstone also provides students with an opportunity to apply what they have learned in the classroom to a real-world planning problem or issue.
  • An Internship (highly recommended, but not required) in the summer between years 1 and 2 of the program, in which students gain professional experience.
  • Electives, from among the rich offerings of the entire campus.

Basic Requirements

To qualify for the MUP degree, each student must complete all required core courses, the capstone seminar and capstone project. Students must also satisfy one of the following:

  • A total of 60 earned hours, if a zero credit internship course (UP 590) is successfully completed. At least 40 of the 60 hours must be in UP courses.
  • A total of 64 earned hours, if no internship course is completed. At least 40 of the 64 hours must be in UP courses.
  • A total of 32 earned hours, if the student was admitted to the 4+1 program while a UIUC undergraduate. At least 20 of the 32 hours must be in UP courses.
  • A total of 32 earned hours of UP courses, if the student is in the law or architecture joint degree programs.
  • A total of 40 earned hours of UP courses, if the student is individually approved for a joint degree in a field other than law or architecture.

Up to 16 hours may be waived if a student has an undergraduate professional degree in urban planning and the department approves a petition for this option (see detailed explanation under Waivers and Credit for Prior Courses). For such students, at least 30 of their total graduate hours must be completed in UP courses.

For all MUP students, at least 16 of their earned hours must be at the 500 level, and 12 of those 16 hours must be in UP courses. Note that, in all cases, 32 hours is the absolute minimum required by the Graduate College.

The MUP Core (24 Hours)

The MUP core is intended to convey the common base of knowledge required for creative and effective professional practice in the field of planning. The core introduces students to: theoretical and interpretive views of human settlement from several disciplinary perspectives; the history of the planning discipline and key theories of planning; the legal, political, and organizational context in which planning is pursued in the United States; tools and practical skills planners need to understand urban and regional trends and analyze planning problems. Most field courses in the department build on the base of knowledge provided in the core.

The following are the six core courses taken over three semesters:

Year 1 (Fall and Spring Semesters)

  • UP 503: Physical Planning (4 hours)
  • UP 504: Urban History and Theory (4 hours)
  • UP 505: Urban and Regional Analysis (4 hours)
  • UP 510: Plan Making (4 hours)
  • UP 511: Law and Planning (4 hours)

Year 2 (Fall Semester)

  • UP 501: Planning History and Theory (4 hours)


Students are strongly encouraged to develop a depth of specialized expertise in one or more subfields of planning. The concentrations are recommended sets of field courses that are designed to provide such expertise. They are essentially advising guidelines: students are not formally required to demonstrate that they have completed all courses in a given concentration. The faculty has consciously decided not to impose a specific concentration requirement, choosing instead to maintain students' flexibility to tailor a program to their specific interests, in close consultation with their faculty advisors. More about the concentrations here.

Transnational Planning Stream

The transnational planning stream is a set of courses, study abroad options, and project-based learning opportunities designed to help MUP students better understand trends in globalization; international linkages among U.S. cities, regions, and populations; and major international planning and development issues. The stream is not intended to be a separate concentration; instead, it is designed to help students design a program that joins the specialized expertise of a concentration with a rich understanding of international and transnational issues. Like the concentrations, the transnational planning stream is a set of guidelines and resources rather a set of formal requirements. More about the transnational planning stream here.


For the capstone, students may choose to complete a project (8 hours), workshop (8 hours), or thesis (8 hours). The capstone is completed in the second year. Students must also enroll in a two semester, 0-hour Capstone Seminar course (UP591) during the second year. More about the capstone here.


All students are encouraged to complete a planning internship, especially if they do not have prior professional experience in the field. The internship must be preceded and succeeded by at least one semester of course work in planning while in residence at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. More about the internship here.


Students fill out the remainder of their units, after the core courses, one or more concentrations, and capstone credit, from among other offerings in DURP and elsewhere on campus. Students should select their electives carefully in consultation with their faculty adviser.

Faculty Adviser

Each student is assigned a faculty adviser upon entry into the program. Students and/or faculty may request change in the adviser to better correspond to the student's interests once in the program. More about advising here.

Program Director

The MUP Program Director is responsible for overall direction of the program, including approval of course credits and waivers, internships, and capstone options. For questions about the program, please contact:

Professor Bumsoo Lee
MUP Program Director
Department of Urban and Regional Planning
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
111 Temple Buell Hall
611 Taft Drive, Champaign, IL 61820
Voice: 217-333-3601
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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