Master in Urban Planning and Policy

uic with skyline in the background

The MUPP degree 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. Yet class sizes are typically small, with multiple section sof required courses offered in both day and evening. Graduates can connect to a large network of alumni, both locally and around 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 thesis or project. The overall distribution of credits is as follows:

20 credits (five courses) of core courses
12 credits (three courses) within one specialization
8-20 credits* (two to five courses) of approved electives
4 credits (one course) of approved internship
4-16 credits** (one to four courses) of masters project

*Electives should be discussed with the academic advisor, must be at the 400+ level.
**Masters project can only be four credits; up to 16 credits can be taken for thesis.

Degree Seeking Students

Degree-seeking students are governed by the policies in effect in their first semester registered in the program. Official policies are detailed in the student handbooks.


Core Courses

Unless a waiver is granted, the following courses are required:

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
Note: UPP 505 and UPP 506 must be taken concurrently.

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. In addition to the standard specializations, students have the opportunity to develop a user-defined specialization subject to advisor and department approval. Twelve (12) semester hours are required to complete each specialization, however each has varying course requirements.

Students wishing to pursue a specialization of their own design should consult with their academic advisor about approval.

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 Dr. Rachel Weber, Director of Graduate Studies, before the internship can begin.

Credit may be taken concurrently with the internship or the semester after the internship, so long as the internship was approved before it began.

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,

Over the years, students have been actively involved with governments at the city, county, state, and federal levels; with regional planning organizations; with community groups; and with private consulting firms, using their individual and collective skills in actual planning situations. Although most students do their internships in the Chicago region, students may also seek an internship placement in another U.S. location, or occasionally, a foreign country.

Masters Project/Thesis

The masters project or thesis is the final requirement of the MUPP program. The purpose of this requirement is to give the student experience in the conceptualization of a research or planning problem, the development of a methodology for addressing the problem, and the preparation of a document which carries out the analysis and communicates the results and conclusions reached. The thesis and project differ with respect to content, credit hours, and advising requirements.

A project is usually an exercise in applied research directed toward an actual planning problem. The project may focus on the definition of the problem, the context of the problem, and the analysis of alternative solutions or issues in implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. The primary focus in the project is the substance and the context of the planning application. A project is often developed in the context of a student’s professional job experience or internship. When this applies, it should be clear that the student has direct and personal responsibility for any work product submitted as a masters project. Any questions on this point should be discussed with the faculty advisor.

Masters projects carry 4 hours of credit. Students are required to write and secure approval of a masters project proposal prior to registering for masters project hours. The project proposal can be reviewed and approved by any UPP faculty member.

A thesis is a more traditional piece of academic research, which 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 can earn from 8 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.