USC Price School of Public Policy

Achievement Measurements

We are proud of our MPL students’ achievements, measured by their success in the program, job placement rates, and pass rates for the AICP exam, the first step in becoming a certified planner.

Comprehensive Exam Pass Rates:

Pass rates for the USC MPL Comprehensive Exam, a requirement to graduate in the program, have been high over the past few years, as our students are well prepared to produce a professional level analysis under time constraints dictated by a five day exam format.

Year # of Students Registered for the Exam # of Students Passed # of Students Failed Pass Rate
2010 41 39 2 95%
2011 67 65 2 97%
2012 80 76 4 95%
2013 64 59 5 92%
2014 83 82 1 99%

Graduation Rates & Statistics

As our program has continued to grow and develop over the past few years, the number of graduates has increased considerably since 2009-10:

Year # of Students Graduated
2009-2010 34
2010-2011 66
2011-2012 76
2012-2013 69
2013-2014 78
2014-2015 78

One measure of success dictated by the Planning Accreditation Board is the graduation rate of students within four years of matriculating into the program:

Admit Year # of Enrolled Students Percent Graduated within 4 Years
Fall 2008 35 90%
Fall 2009 64 94%
Fall 2010 78 95%
Fall 2011 68 96%

Retention Rate:

The retention rate is the percentage of first-year students who return the next academic year.

Year Retention Rate
2012 97.83%
2013 98.51%
2014 97.20%

Job Placement:

The MPL program stays in touch with our graduates and is proud of the work they are doing in the planning field, some as planners, others in planning-related jobs, and some in other industries utilizing the skills and experiences developed through the Price MPL program.

All graduates of the MPL program are surveyed for their job placement information. The job placement information is based on the total number of respondents of the Annual Job Placement Survey.

2012 Graduates 2013 Graduates
percentage percentage
Total Employed (Full Time & Part Time) 93%  91%
Employed Full Time 84%  85%
Employed Part Time 9%  6%
Not Employed 7%  6%

*2012 survey results based on a 63% response rate
2013 survey results based on a 50% response rate

A Master in Urban Planning prepares graduates to work within and across all kinds of fields and sectors. Our alumni job placement data reflect this diversity of job opportunities. Our survey results indicate that graduates are working in a diversity of positions. Our students work in the planning field, planning-related jobs, outside of planning such as nonprofit work in mental health services and housing, to private sector jobs in business management, real estate, strategic consulting and public policy. The diversity of positions is a reflection of the versatility of a planning degree and the interdisciplinary nature of the Price School.

2012 Graduates 2013 Graduates
percentage percentage
Graduates Employed in a Professional Planning job 27%  38%
Graduates Employed in a Planning-related job 31%  44%
Graduates with Other Employment 36%  12%
Graduates not Employed 7%  6%

American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) Exam:

AICP is the American Planning Association’s professional institute and taking the AICP exam is the first step to becoming a certified planner. To become a certified planner, one must be an APA member meeting certain education and experience requirements and pass a written examination that is given twice a year. AICP provides APA member schools with data related to pass rates. In examination of the data, based on the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB) standards, the pass rate data are categorized by graduates who attempt the exam within 3 years or less after graduation.

AICP Exam Within 3 Years or Less of Graduating

Year # of Alumni Who Attempted the AICP Exam # of Alumni Who Passed % of Alumni Who Passed
2007-2008 8 7 87.5%
2008-2009 4 4 100%
2009-2010 0 n/a n/a
2010-2011 2 1 50.0%
2011-2012 2 0 0.0%
2012-2013 1 1 100.0%
2013-2014 6 4 67%

Leadership Development:

The mission of the Master of Planning (MPL) program is to educate students to become leaders in the planning issues and the comprehensive urban development processes of the 21st Century. In June 2013, we surveyed alumni (graduating years 2008-2013, 28% response rate) and asked respondents to rate how well the MPL Program developed their leadership potential. Of the surveyed alumni, 89.3% said that the USC Price MPL degree prepared them for leadership roles in the profession.

Tuition Information:

More information on the cost of attendance can be found at:

USC Price offers a competitive scholarship program to qualified master’s applicants. Information on the scholarship programs and financial aid can be found at the links below.

Price School Scholarship Programs information:

USC Financial Aid Website: