VCU Bulletins

Urban and Regional Planning, Master of (M.U.R.P.)

Program accreditation
Planning Accreditation Board

Graduate program director
I-Shian (Ivan) Suen, Ph.D.
Associate professor and program chair
(804) 828-2721

Additional contact
Richard F. Huff, Ph.D.
Director of graduate studies, Wilder School
(804) 828-6837

Program website:

Refer to the program search function of the online VCU Bulletins for a complete listing of all programs, concentrations and related curricular options.

Urban and Regional Planning, Master of (M.U.R.P.)/Juris Doctor (J.D.) with the University of Richmond [combined]
Urban and Regional Planning, Master of (M.U.R.P.) with a concentration in community revitalization
Urban and Regional Planning, Master of (M.U.R.P.) with a concentration in environmental planning
Urban and Regional Planning, Master of (M.U.R.P.) with a concentration in metropolitan planning
Urban and Regional Planning, Master of (M.U.R.P.) with a concentration in planning management

Apply online at

Admission requirements

Urban and Regional Planning, Master of (M.U.R.P.)

Semester(s) of entry:


Apr 1 (Mar 1 for assistantship consideration or financial aid)

Oct 1
Test requirements:
Special requirements:
These deadlines are designed to allow sufficient time for application review and admission processing. Applications may be submitted after the deadline; however, there is no guarantee of sufficient time for processing. Any application submitted too late for current semester processing will be considered for the following semester.

In addition to the general admission requirements of the VCU Graduate School, the following specifications apply:

  1. Students must have a minimum 2.7 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) in their last 60 semester hours of undergraduate work. In addition, a minimum GPA of 3.0 must have been maintained in their undergraduate majors. Finally, applicants are expected to receive satisfactory scores on each of the categories in the GRE, LSAT, GMAT or MAT examinations.
  2. Students not meeting these requirements may be admitted to the program on a provisional basis. The provisional period shall consist of the first nine to 12 hours of designated graduate work in which all grades must be no less than B. Provisional admission does not constitute a waiver of the requirement related to a standardized test.
  3. Generally, at least two of the three letters of reference should come from former faculty.

All courses in the post-baccalaureate graduate Certificate in Urban Revitalization and the post-baccalaureate graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems may be applied to meet the requirement of the Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree. However, successful completion of either certificate does not guarantee admission into the M.U.R.P. degree program.

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university.  These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

General academic regulations for
all graduate students in all graduate programs at VCU

Program goals

The Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree program envisions a better future by enhancing the quality of life in mature communities and regions, particularly in Virginia, but also elsewhere in the United States and abroad, through strong planning education, high-quality scholarship and professional planning practices. The goals for the program are to:

  1. Create a diverse learning environment that cultivates engagement of diverse participants — both students and faculty — in the program.
  2. Prepare students to be effective practitioners in a variety of planning-related organizations, especially in mature communities and regions, with competence in the preparation, presentation and implementation of professional plans and in doing planning-related work.
  3. Produce scholarship that increases knowledge and understanding of sustainability and planning support systems as well as the development of innovative methodological approaches and solutions to address issues related to sustainable community development.
  4. Provide useful planning services to mature communities and regions, in cooperation with private and public planners, as appropriate.

Student learning outcomes

  1. Students should display evidence of having developed a multidisciplinary understanding of urban life.
  2. Students will display an understanding of the theory and practice of planning for cities and regions.
  3. Students will display the skills necessary to work effectively and competently as planners in a variety of settings.
  4. Students will demonstrate an understanding of, and a willingness to act in accordance with, the ethics and values of the professional planner, as well as the social and environmental responsibilities of planners.

Degree requirements

In addition to general VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, students in the M.U.R.P. degree program must:

  1. Complete a minimum of 48 graduate credit hours plus an internship (not for credit). A core of required courses accounts for 27 of these credit hours; the remaining 21 are electives. A minimum overall GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) is required for receipt of the M.U.R.P. degree. In addition, students must receive a minimum grade of B for all core courses.
  2. Complete either a six-credit thesis (URSP 764) or prepare a six-credit professional plan project through the professional plan course (URSP 762). Program administrators request permission to utilize the grade of PR, in addition to normal letter grades (A, B, C, D or F) in URSP 762 Professional Plan. This will allow students the ability to work on their plans over a more extended period of time, if necessary.

In selecting their elective courses, students may (1) opt for exposure to a wide array of planning-related subject matter (the generalist or comprehensive approach), (2) select one of the areas of specialization defined by the department’s faculty (see the list that follows) or (3) develop an individualized program, focusing on one or more self-defined topics. Regardless of the approach selected, students are expected to meet regularly with their faculty advisers for discussion of their courses of study in relation to their career plans.

The following faculty-defined areas of specialization are offered by the department:

  1. Community revitalization
  2. Environmental planning
  3. Metropolitan planning
  4. Planning management

Curriculum requirements

Courses Credit hours
Required courses 27
IDES 500 Art and Design Methods Workshop or elective 3
URSP 622 Community Socioeconomic Analysis Using GIS 3
URSP/GVPA/PADM/URSP 623 Research Methods for Government and Public Affairs 3
URSP/GVPA 632 Planning Theory and Processes 3
URSP 635 Legal and Legislative Foundations of Planning 3
URSP 662 Foundations for Development Planning 3
URSP 761 Planning Studio I 3
URSP 762 Professional Plan or URSP 764 Thesis or Projects 6
Electives 21
Select seven electives (21 credit hours) from the following:  
URSP 502 Global Economic Change and Geography  
URSP 517 Historic Preservation in Planning  
URSP 520 Park Planning  
URSP/GEOG/ENVS 521 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems  
URSP 525 Site Planning and Graphics  
URSP 541 Urban Public Policy-making Processes  
URSP 567 The American Suburb  
URSP 605 Urban Planning History  
URSP 611 Principles of Urban Design  
URSP 621 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems  
URSP 625 Spatial Database Management and GIS Modeling  
URSP 626 Transportation Analytics and Modeling  
URSP 627 GIS Applications in Urban Design  
URSP 628 Land Use Planning  
URSP/PADM 630 Strategic Planning and Management in the Public Sector  
URSP 637 Sustainable Community Development  
URSP 641 Citizen Participation and Negotiation  
URSP 643 Housing Policy  
URSP 645 Sustainable Energy Planning and Policy  
URSP 647 Adaptive Reuse of Buildings  
URSP 650 Natural Resources and Environmental Planning  
URSP 651 Transportation Policy and Planning  
URSP 652 Environmental Analysis  
URSP 653 Transportation Projects  
URSP/ENVS/BIOL 654 Environmental Remote Sensing  
URSP 655 Environmental Policy and Planning  
URSP 658 Transportation Finance  
URSP 659 Transportation Project Development and Evaluation  
URSP 664 Urban Economic Development Policy  
URSP 666 Urban Commercial Revitalization  
URSP 672 Food Systems, Rural Development and Landscape Conservation  
URSP 681 International Urban Policy and Planning  
URSP 691 Topics in Urban and Regional Planning  
URSP 794 Planning Practicum Seminar  
URSP 797 Directed Research  
With the approval of the program chair, other appropriate graduate courses may be applied as electives.  
Total graduate credit hours required (minimum) 48


If a student chooses to pursue a specific concentration, the concentration courses and corresponding credit hours will take the place of electives in the above list. Refer to the program search function of the online VCU Bulletins for a complete description of concentration requirements.

Sample plan of study

Courses Credit hours
First year, first semester  
URSP 610 Introduction to Planning 3
URSP 622 Community Socioeconomic Analysis using GIS 3
URSP 662 Foundations for Development Planning 3
Elective 3
First year, second semester  
URSP/GVPA/PADM/URSP 623 Research Methods in Government and Public Affairs 3
URSP/GVPA 632 Planning Theory and Processes 3
URSP 635 Legal and Legislative Foundations of Planning 3
Elective 3
Second year, first semester  
URSP 761 Planning Studio I 3
Elective 9
Second year, second semester  
URSP 762 Professional Plan or URSP 764 Thesis or Projects 6
Elective 6
Total graduate credit hours required (minimum) 48


The internship is designed to give students practical experience in planning-related activities in an institutional context. Normally, the internship is taken during the summer between the first and second year or during the second year. Many opportunities for internship positions, as well as part- and full-time jobs in planning at all levels of government, exist within the Richmond area. Upon request, the internship requirement may be waived for students with substantial planning-related professional experience.

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Degree candidacy requirements

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Graduation requirements



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