Accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board and open to students with an undergraduate degree, the two-year professional Master in Urban Planning (MUP) degree program emphasizes planning to develop, preserve, and enhance the built environment.

Students learn how to understand, analyze, and influence the variety of forces-social, economic, cultural, legal, political, ecological, and aesthetic, among others-shaping the built environment.

A two-year enrollment of roughly 80 students and a core, interdisciplinary faculty of scholars and practitioners generate an intimate, engaged educational atmosphere in which students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for leadership positions in their future professional careers. Graduates of the program work in local city planning departments, state and national agencies, private consulting firms, not-for-profit organizations, development companies, and other public and private institutions in the United States and internationally.

The GSD’s urban planning program has strengths in four overlapping areas: sustainable development, international planning, social/critical concerns and urban design. Drawing on the strength of the department, school and university, GSD planning students can engage with critical issues facing cities and regions in coming decades.

See our profile series for views from current students on why they chose to study planning at the GSD, and from alumni on how they have used their planning studies in their careers.

Connections within Harvard, Cambridge, and Beyond

The planning program shares two professorships with the Harvard Kennedy School and administers joint degree programs with the Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School. Planning students often cross-register in courses offered by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Kennedy School, the Business School, the Law School, and the School of Public Health. Students also cross-register in courses offered by the neighboring Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Students in the MUP program take courses offered by the GSD’s other degree programs in urban design, landscape architecture and architecture.

The Department of Urban Planning and Design also hosts a number of affiliated faculty representing critical and theoretical voices from across Harvard. The Loeb Fellowship program is a terrific resource for students bringing mid-career professionals, many of them in planning and related areas, to the GSD for a year.

Studio, thesis and class projects link students to communities in the Boston area and beyond. The school’s Community Service Fellowship Program (CSFP), provides both summer internships in the U.S. and small overseas travel grants. Various Harvard units provide summer and winter opportunities relevant to MUP students including the Public Policy Summer Fellowship, Edward M. Gramlich Fellowship in Community and Economic Development, and Presidential Public Service Fellowships. There is also funding for research travel (e.g. thesis data collection) or independent internships in Latin America, and in South Asia.

Cost Effectiveness

In 2015-2016, 97% of MUP students received some form of financial aid. MUPs received $3 million in total, including $1 million in loans and the rest in other forms such as grants, fellowships, work study, and assistantships. Harvard provides grants to international students as well as U.S. students, though funds available for international students are more limited. Grant funds are awarded on a two-tier system based on need. The Tier 1 grant is based solely on the student’s financial information. In order to be considered for more substantial Tier 2 grant, students must provide parental information (submitting information for Tier 2 funding will not adversely affect the amount granted through Tier 1).

In addition MUPs can take advantage of a number of other fellowships, work study allocations, and student assistant jobs both for semester-time and summer activities. In the past this has included multiple recipients of funds from the Presidential Scholars Program for students in public service areas. More information about funding is available in the Financial Aid section.