USC Price School of Public Policy

Urban Planning and Infrastructure Management


This specialization prepares professionals for management and leadership positions in government agencies that design, monitor, regulate, plan or pay for urban infrastructure. Courses combine analytical and management concepts with technical skills and practical applications in urban design, planning and resource allocation at the central, provincial or district levels.

Graduates take on leadership roles in places such as departments in the Ministry of Public Works or Home Affairs, NGO’s, and private sector organizations such as housing or transportation authorities.

» Courses
» Organizations for Site Visits and Internships


Courses cover the increasing decentralization of resource allocation and management decisions to provincial and district planning and development agencies. Applications are drawn from current policy issues including:

  • Design and management of human settlements
  • Urban infrastructure design
  • Urban infrastructure project planning
  • Management of urban systems

Developing country databases are used in applied analyses for coursework, preparation of policy briefs, and preparation of the master’s project. Sample courses for this specialization include:

  • Local Economic Development
  • Property Rights and the Environment
  • Political Foundations for Planning & Development
  • The Urban Economy
  • Comparative International Development
  • Transportation Planning
  • Physical Planning and Sustainable Development
  • Housing and Community Development
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • National Urban Policy in Developing Countries

Organizations for Site Visits and Internships

As a major urban center and economic market, Southern California has a diverse mix of public and private sector agencies involved in the design and oversight of systems that facilitate urban living for millions of people. Los Angeles has urban planning organizations that focus on major concepts such as:

  • economic development
  • land use planning
  • housing
  • transportation
  • water
  • waste management
  • environment
  • coastal resource protection
  • other urban infrastructure services

The region has been at the forefront of establishing public/private partnerships to solve urban problems. The willingness to innovate in public policy creates an exciting environment in which to study planning issues. The Los Angeles region is home to:

  • 88 cities, each with its own planning and economic development agencies;
  • numerous regional authorities responsible for governance of infrastructure services;
  • 25 local economic development agencies;
  • hundreds of private consulting firms, civil and structural engineering firms, design firms, infrastructure specialists, and GIS firms
  • 300+ NGOs and nonprofit community development organizations
  • the largest regional airport system in the U.S.
  • the third busiest port complex in the world (behind only Singapore and Hong Kong)

IPPAM has working relationships with many of these organizations, which serve as part of our program’s professional network for arranging site visits and student internships. Some of the organizations include:

  • Southern California Area Governments (SCAG)
  • CalTrans — California Transportation Agency
  • MTA — Metropolitan Transit Authority
  • City planning agencies (e.g. Los Angeles, Pasadena, Rancho Palos Verdes)
  • Long Beach and Los Angeles Port Authorities
  • South Coast Air Quality Management District
  • California Coastal Commission
  • Parsons Engineering and Environmental Services