The Price School’s Master of Urban Planning (MUP) degree program prepares future leaders to improve the quality of life for urban residents and their communities worldwide.
Our degree is unlike any other. USC Price has consistently been ranked in the top echelons of national rankings, including #2 for urban policy, and our dedicated alumni serve as leaders in the public, private and non-profit sectors. Our community provides a lifetime network that is local, statewide, national and global in scope. As a student, you will learn from USC Price’s award-winning faculty who are paving the way to critically leverage new data and visualization to make cities more just, liveable, and sustainable. With your success in mind, the USC Price MUP faculty and staff will encourage you to think and act bigger than ever before.
Half of humanity now lives in urban areas. As challenges of sustainability, economic development, human health, and democratic governance play out in cities and mega-cities across the globe, urban planners will have an increasingly critical role to play.
Distinctive Focus on Social Justice and Data Innovation
We equip our students with an education shaped by our values. The MUP program is guided by two cross-cutting values throughout our core curriculum and concentrations: social justice and spatial data visualization innovation. These intrinsic values build upon USC Price’s legacy of rigorous analysis and professional training in sectors such as transportation, housing and real estate, economic development, arts and culture, and environmental sustainability.
Why data innovation? Because urban planning is being reshaped by an explosion of data and platforms. Traditional forms of understanding and communicating are insufficient in our increasingly digital and social media infused landscapes of governance and living.
Why social justice? Because we are united by the conviction that the next generation of urban planning and policy-makers must be a part of the solution instead of perpetuating problems. Too often, smart cities and big data can run the risk of exacerbating enduring patterns of inequality. That’s why the USC Price MUP core curriculum centers social justice with an interdisciplinary approach to analysis and collaborative action, aiming to change both our pedagogy and ultimately professional practice.
Customize and Specialize Your Degree
Overall, the MUP offers six areas of concentration: arts and culture, design and the built environment, economic development, environmental planning and analysis, housing and real estate development, and mobility and transportation planning.
You might also pursue one of 11 dual degrees in fields like architecture, landscape architecture, public health, public administration, public policy and real estate development, among others. Or maybe you will earn one of several graduate certificates in conjunction with your MUP, or focus your work on international themes.
Put Your Knowledge to the Test
As an MUP student, you will work with clients and produce planning reports on real-world problems. Examples include planning studios where students created a business model for truck transportation, repurposed a community clinic site, researched affordable housing, and redeveloped the Los Angeles’ Civic Center. International labs also offer opportunities for hands-on experiences, such as working on ecotourism in Costa Rica, historic preservation in India, air quality planning in Beijing and more.
“I have always believed that there is a huge need for urban planning professionals in civic leadership. As an urban planner, I have always chosen to serve in communities that I believed were up and coming and where I could make the largest impact.”
Aja Brown, MPL ’05
Mayor, City of Compton, California 2016 John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award recipient
Employment After Graduation
Our recent graduates are succeeding in multiple fields and sectors.
Launch Your Career
The Department of Urban Planning and Spatial Analysis hosts professional development panel discussions for students. Each panel feature practice leaders who will describe their career path and introduce students to career opportunities.
Urban Data Lab uses computational data science and spatial analysis to explore urban transportation patterns around the world, critically interrogate how big data reshapes housing affordability, and leverage technology platforms for more just, collaborative city planning.
METRANS’ mission is to solve transportation problems of large metropolitan regions through interdisciplinary research, education and outreach. With three key objectives – to foster independent, high quality research to solve the nation’s transportation problems; train the next generation transportation workforce; and disseminate information, best practices, and technology to the professional community – this partnership between USC and CSULB brings together two large urban universities with complementary strengths.
The Population Dynamics Research Group uncovers demographic trends that drive major changes in society, providing insights that lead to effective policies. These population patterns underlie areas as diverse as housing, immigration, education, health, labor, transportation, the environment, and urban growth. The Popdynamics team monitors the future using multiple data sources including the decennial U.S. Census, the American Community Survey, and our own carefully crafted Demographic Futures projections which incorporate layers of demographic analysis and include greater detail than the census provides.
The Center for Sustainability Solutions develops policy, technological, and behavioral solutions to the most pressing sustainability problems of the Southern California region and the world. It brings together scholars and stakeholders from sustainability organizations around the world to collaborate on basic and applied research aimed at making a real-world impact
Committed to expanding the visualization of public policy and urban planning, the USC Price School launched its Spatial Analysis Lab for research. SLAB’s research experiments with developing alternative cartographies to bring attention to overlooked urban spaces and people. It also critically studies how our visual narratives interface with social institutions and public discourse.
The Sol Price Center for Social Innovation was established with the recent gift to name the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. This new center aims to advance ideas, strategies, and practices that enhance the quality of life for people in urban communities. The center will provide opportunities for direct student engagement across all of the Price School’s primary disciplines.