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 degree requires 48 units of graduate coursework, typically completed over a two-year period. All students pursuing the MPL degree will complete core courses that cover basic theories, techniques, and methods. While many students specialize in a specific topical area, the curriculum is structured to support five broad concentrations:

Specialization in Social Justice

The Price School of Public Policy offers a Specialization in Social Justice that focuses on factors contributing to a range of social disparities and inequities, as well as challenges related to managing, planning, and policy making among diverse populations.

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 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, a specialization, a certificate program, or from other related fields.