Master in Urban Planning and Policy

uic with skyline in the background

The Master in Urban Planning and Policy (MUPP) program at UIC is the only professional planning program in the Chicago metropolitan area that is fully accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board. With a large and diverse faculty and student body, the MUPP program offers a comprehensive range of courses, including many specialized electives and studios. Class sizes are typically small, with multiple sections of required courses offered in both day and evening. Graduates can connect to a large network of alumni, both locally and across the region, country, and world.


Degree Requirements

A minimum of 60 hours of graduate credit is required. The program is divided into five components: core courses, specialization courses, electives, internship, and a portfolio or thesis. The overall distribution of credits is as follows:

  • 30 credits (eight courses) of core courses
  • 12 credits (three courses) within one specialization
  • 8+ credits (two or more courses) of electives*
  • 4 credits (one course) of internship
  • 2 credits (one course) of Master’s portfolio**

*Electives should be discussed with the academic advisor, must be at the 400+ level
**Thesis may be done in lieu of portfolio. Up to 16 credits of thesis research can be taken

Core Courses

All MUPP students must take the following core courses:

  • UPP 458 Introduction to Geospatial Analysis and Visualization I (2 credits)
  • UPP 461 Geographic Information Systems
  • UPP 500 History and Theory of Urban Planning
  • UPP 501 Urban Space, Place and Institutions
  • UPP 502 Planning Skills: Computers, Methods and Communication
  • UPP 505 Plan Making
  • UPP 506 Plan Making Studio
  • UPP 508 Global Urbanization Planning

Check the MUPP Handbook, linked below, for information on how to request a waiver of a required course.


Five areas of specialization are offered to students of the MUPP program. At least one specialization must be completed, but there is room in the curriculum to pursue two specializations if desired. Students may pursue a specialization set by the department (listed below) or they may develop a user-defined specialization, subject to advisor and department approval. Students wishing to pursue a specialization of their own design should consult with their academic advisor. Twelve (12) semester hours are required to complete each specialization, however each has varying course requirements.

Specializations are:

Professional Practice Requirement (Internship)

The Professional Practice Internship (UPP 590) consists of 300 hours of fieldwork. Students must have completed 12 hours of credit towards their degree and have the internship agreement form approved by the Director of Graduate Studies before the internship can begin. UPP 590 may be taken concurrently with the internship or in the semester following the internship.

Students who come to the program with professional planning experience or are already employed in a public or private agency doing planning may apply to waive the internship requirement. Contact Dr. Rachel Weber, Director of Graduate Studies, at

MUPP students have held internships at local, state, and federal government agencies, regional planning organizations, community groups, and private consulting firms and have been able to apply their skills in actual planning situations. Although most students do their internships in the Chicago area, students may also seek an internship placement in another U.S. location or even a foreign country.


Masters Portfolio or Thesis

Beginning with our Fall 2018 cohort, MUPP students will be required to prepare an Urban Planning Portfolio to fulfill the requirements of the MUPP program (replacing the former requirement of the Master’s Project). Most portfolio materials will come from excerpts and refinements of previously completed UPP coursework. In addition, the portfolio will include newly developed reflective documents, such as a professional statement, goals, and a resume. The portfolio encourages student reflexivity and self-assessment and ultimately provides graduates with a useful career tool by demonstrating knowledge, skills, and capabilities to prospective employers. Students take UPP 595 Portfolio Development Seminar (2 credits) in their final semester of the program, where they receive guidance on developing the portfolio. A completed and approved portfolio is necessary to pass UPP 595.

In lieu of the Master’s Portfolio, students have the option of writing a thesis. The thesis is a more traditional piece of academic research and differs from the portfolio with respect to content, credit hours, and advising.  The thesis frequently involves the analysis of historical materials and use of secondary sources. An exploration of planning theory or research methods would also be appropriate in a thesis. Students interested in pursuing the thesis option should consult with their faculty advisor early in their final year of the program.

Students can earn from 5 to 16 hours of credit for thesis research. Thesis proposals must be reviewed and accepted by a faculty committee constituted according to requirements of the Graduate College. Students who select the thesis must present their work to a formal thesis examination committee. The thesis committee must include three members of the UIC faculty. The chair of the committee must be a member of the UPP faculty. At least two of the committee members must be permanent members of the UIC Graduate Faculty. Most associate and full professors are members of the UIC Graduate Faculty.

MUPP Student Policies

Degree-seeking students are governed by the policies and requirements in effect during their first registered semester of the program. Official policies are detailed in the student handbooks, which are specific to each cohort.

Prospective students: Please feel free to explore the handbook to learn more about the program. Please note that program requirements and/or policies may vary in future years. Current students: Please consult only with the handbook that corresponds to the year you began the program.