USC Price School of Public Policy

MPL Curriculum

The strength of the program is the connection between theory and practice.

O'CarrollSusan O’Carroll, MPL ’81, Ph.D. ’89
President / Founder, Pareto Planning and Environmental Services

MPL CurriculumThe Master of Planning program requires 48 units of graduate coursework which is typically completed in a two-year period. All students pursuing the MPL degree will complete core courses that present basic theories, techniques and methods. Many students specialize in a wide array of specific topic areas, but the curriculum is structured to support five broad concentrations:

Specialization in Social Justice

The Sol Price School of Public Policy offers a specialization in social justice that focuses on understanding the set of factors that contribute to a broad range of disparities (or inequities) and the challenges that exist when managing, planning, and policy making among diverse populations.
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MPL Core Courses

The MPL core curriculum comprises eight lecture-seminar courses:

  • Intersectoral Leadership (PPD 500)
  • Economics for Policy, Planning and Development (PPD 501a)
  • Planning Theory (PPD 524)
  • Statistics and Arguing from Data (PPD 525)
  • Comparative International Development (PPD 526)
  • The Social Context of Planning (PPD 527)
  • The Legal Environment of Planning (PPD 529)
  • Planning History and Urban Form (PPD 533)


Students select from the five available concentrations appropriate to their interests in the planning field. The concentration includes a four-unit gateway course, a four-unit methodology course, and two elective courses.


In addition to elective units within the student’s concentration, MPL students complete additional electives for a total of 16 units. These units may be taken as part of an international lab, from another concentration in planning, specialization, certificate program, or from other related fields.