MUP Curriculum

  • The Master of Urban Planning (MUP) degree requires completion of 42 credit hours, typically taken over two academic years.
  • Part-time study is also possible.
  • All requirements must be completed within a seven-year period. 
  • The curriculum consists of core courses, a specialization, and electives. 
  • In addition to coursework, before graduation, students must have the chance to synthesize and demonstrate what they have learned in their degree program. 
    • This can be done through either a final exam or a thesis. 
    • The final exam option is most common in the Urban Planning Program as most graduates go on to become planning practitioners. 
    • Occasionally, students decide they would like to pursue an academic career or they would like to go deeply into one area of study and those students complete a thesis.

Core Courses

Every student must complete 24 hours of core courses. The core courses cover the essential aspects of planning theory, methods and practice, and are as follows:

  • UBPL 705 - Urban Economic Theory and Analysis
  • UBPL 785 - History and Theory of Planning
  • UBPL 741 - Foundations of Compassionate Critical Thinking
  • UBPL 742 - Applied Data & Spatial Analysis
  • UBPL 736 - Planning Law & Institutions
  • UBPL 763 - Politics & Public Management
  • UBPL 777 - Equity, Justice & American Cities
  • UBPL 780 - Climate Change & Hazard Planning

Specialization Tracks

Every student must also complete 12 hours of specialization courses. The student should declare a specialization by the third semester of the course of study. In each specialization, the student must complete one course each in theory and policy, methods, and implementation.

The specialization courses are as follows:

  • UBPL 710 - Housing Policy & Planning
  • UBPL 715 - Community & Neighborhood Revitalization
  • UBPL 716 - Neighborhood Analysis & Evaluation
  • UBPL 764 - Real Estate Development and Housing Policy
  • UBPL 720 - Sustainable Land Use Policy & Planning
  • UBPL 725 - Environmental Planning Techniques
  • UBPL 730 - City and County Planning
  • UBPL 735 - Site Planning and Design
  • UBPL 707 - Sustainability & the Future of Transportation
  • UBPL 750 - Transportation Policy & Planning
  • UBPL 756 - Data Driving Transportation
  • UBPL 758 - Transportation for Livable Cities


Besides the specialization, students will take additional elective hours outside their specialization. Master's final exam (non-thesis) students must take 6 additional credit hours of elective courses. Thesis students must take 6 credit hours of UBPL 806 - Thesis: Graduate Research. Any elective credits taken outside of Urban Planning require approval of a faculty advisor.

MUP Final Exam

The MUP final examination is the main culminating experience before students graduate. The examination provides a learning experience that encourages the student to synthesize the knowledge gained through course work and tests the student’s competence as a generalist/specialist planner. The examination consists of the student responding to a scenario or case study in which they are asked to synthesize knowledge gained in their course work and apply it within a particular context.

Thesis Option

The thesis option provides an opportunity for the student to apply individual research skills in the context of their interest. The thesis is a continuation of the student’s course of study rather than a separate academic effort. The format, medium, and focus of the thesis varies with the problem addressed. Students must enroll in a minimum of 6 credit hours of UBPL 806. A student desiring to prepare a thesis must develop, with the assistance of a faculty advisor, a thesis proposal to be submitted to the faculty thesis committee no later than the first day of classes of the semester before the semester in which the student plans to graduate. The committee’s approval is required before the student may pursue the thesis option. A final general examination on the thesis and course work is held.

Domestic Student Application Deadlines

  • Fall Admission: July 1

  • Spring Admission: December 1

  • Summer Admission: May 1

International Student Application Deadlines

  • Fall Admission: May 1

  • Spring Admission: November 1

Learn More

Questions about the MUP?

Program and admission information
Derek Bixler, Graduate Program Coordinator

Internship & professional development
Cari Ann Kreienhop, Graduate Programming Manager

Issues submitting application
KU Graduate Studies