USC Price School of Public Policy

MPL Program Learning Objectives

26483421046_e38d0431d4_zThe mission of the USC Price Master of Planning (MPL) program is to educate students to become leaders in planning issues and the comprehensive urban development processes of the 21st century. We achieve that mission through a master of planning education that links theory and practice, emphasizing analytical and communication skills, critical thinking, creative design, community engagement, collaborative decision-making, and democratic governance in a globalizing world.

The Planning Accreditation Board requires specific learning elements, which fall into three general areas:

  1. General Planning Knowledge
  2. Planning Skills
  3. Values and Ethics

Our Master of Planning curriculum is fully compliant with and fully accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board.

Learning objectives for the Master of Planning Degree:

  1. Provide students with foundational knowledge of the historical development of the field of urban planning and the theoretical underpinnings of planning practice. This includes perspective from both the social sciences and the design fields that relate to planning as an endeavor which comprehensively examines the intersection of persons, places, and the built environment.
  2. Provide students with a general set of planning skills that includes visual, oral, and written communication techniques, methodological approaches to gather and critically analyze data, and a general understanding of market economies, governmental processes, and issues of social inclusion in diverse societies.
  3. Allow students to deepen their knowledge in a concentration area. Learning objectives for each of our five concentrations are listed separately, below.
  4. Expose students to international learning both in the classroom and through opportunities for study or internships outside of the U.S.
  5. Build leadership skills among students through a curriculum grounded in the theoretical underpinnings of planning, while requiring exposure to the practice of planning through internships and practice-based learning.

Concentration Learning Objectives

Economic Development Concentration

  • Students will learn the theories that inform the fundamentals of city economies, city growth and economic development, and land (or real estate) development.
  • Students will learn skills that allow analysis of economic development projects.
  • Students will understand the relationship of economic development to questions of economic and social justice, and perspectives and debates on that topic.

Preservation and Design of the Built Environment Concentration

  • Students will learn elements of design theory, allowing them to think critically about urban design and design ideas.
  • Students will learn methods of visual communication, context and site analysis, and the use of precedent and analog in design.
  • Students will learn to approach urban design as a communal and community activity.

Social and Community Planning Concentration

  • Students will learn theories of capacity-building in communities and intellectual perspectives on diversity as it relates to community outreach and planning in communities.
  • Students will learn communication skills that support cultural literacy, participatory methods, and methods of fieldwork and community analysis.
  • Students will appreciate current perspectives and debates on ethical issues in community development.

Sustainable Land Use Planning Concentration

  • Students will learn theories of land use planning and the current practices of land use regulation, the dynamics of metropolitan growth, and the theoretical underpinning to Smart Growth approaches to planning.
  • Students will learn methods of land use analysis, environmental impact assessment, and environmental analysis.

Transportation and Infrastructure Concentration

  • Students will learn theories of spatial development of cities and travel behavior as well as how those theories inform transportation planning.
  • Students will become familiar with the transportation planning and policy process.
  • Students will learn methods of traffic impact analysis and travel forecasting.