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%

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 74
2012-2013 68

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%

Retention Rate:

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

Year Retention Rate
2012 97.7%

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.

In June 2013, the Career Services office surveyed 2012 graduates (response rate of 63%.) One year after graduation, 93% of 2012 graduates were employed, either full or part time.

2012 Graduates
number percentage
Number of Respondents 45
Total Employed (Full Time & Part Time) 42 93%
Employed Full Time 38 84%
Employed Part Time 4 9%
Not Employed 3 7%

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 surveys indicate that 27% of 2012 graduates are working in a planning position. An additional 31% of the 2012 graduates are working in a planning-related job. Of graduates doing work outside the field of planning, their positions range from 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
Graduates employed in a Professional Planning job 27%
Graduates Employed in a Planning-related job 31%
Graduates with other employment 36%
Graduates not employed 7%

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.

Using data from the most recent time period available, 12 USC graduates from the 2007-2009 classes took the AICP exam within 3 years of earning their degrees, all of whom passed the exam.

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%

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: