Undergraduate Study in Urban and Regional Studies
Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
The program in Urban and Regional Studies (URS) is a four-year academic program aimed at understanding human communities and the urban built environment. URS courses ask how a vast spectrum of social and economic forces have changed cities; what these changes mean for people in their daily lives; and how citizens, community groups, and planners can work together to make productive, sustainable, safe, lively, and livable places. Graduates from the program receive a bachelor of science degree.
Core classes in the major focus on cities and regions — their history, governments, economies, and sociology; students elect other classes from the department and throughout the university.
First-year and transfer students begin with two introductory classes, one on American cities and one on cities throughout the world. In the second year of the program, students take core classes on urban politics, policy, and planning. Please consult the CRP class listings for a complete listing of URS classes.
URS requirements for graduation include:
- Eight semesters of residence
- 120 academic credits
- Two First-Year Writing Seminars
- Distribution requirements (nine classes)
- Required core classes for the major (seven classes)
- Additional required CRP classes at the 3000-level or higher (five classes)
- Free electives selected in consultation with a faculty advisor or from a course list organized by planning interest areas
- Completion of the university physical education and swim test requirements
a. First-Year Writing Seminars: Two Courses
URS students must successfully complete two First-Year Writing Seminars. Information regarding the First-Year Writing Seminar can be found on the Knight Institute website. Advanced Placement (AP) credit can be applied toward a maximum of one First-Year Writing Seminar. Students earning a score of 5 on one English literature and English language exam will receive 3 credits which will be applied toward one First-Year Writing Seminar. Students earning a score of 5 on both English literature and English language exams will receive 3 credits toward one First-Year Writing Seminar and 3 credits toward the free elective requirement.
b. Distribution Requirements: Nine Classes outside of CRP
Students must successfully complete nine classes outside of the Department of City and Regional Planning for the distribution requirement. A total of four classes must be completed in the categories of physical and biological sciences (PBS, BIO, and PHS) and mathematics and quantitative reasoning (MQR, SDS, and SMR). Of those four classes, at least two must be classified as Physical and/or Biological Sciences and at least one class must be classified as Mathematics and Quantitative Reasoning. The fourth class can be classified as either.
The remaining five courses must be courses identified by any college at Cornell in the humanities and social sciences categories of arts, literature, and culture (ALC), ethics and the mind (ETM), global citizenship (GLC), historical analysis (HST), social difference (SCD), social sciences (SSC). These five courses must be selected from at least four of these six categories (i.e., ALC, ETM, GLC, HST, SCD, and SSC). No more than three of these five courses can be taken in any one department.
Notes about AAP classes:
2. Required Core Classes for the Major: Seven Classes
One course from the following list of microeconomics courses
One course from the following list of statistics courses
3. Additional Required CRP Classes: Five CRP Classes
The program requires that students take five additional CRP classes at the 3000-level or higher, for a minimum of 3 credits each. Independent study courses (CRP 4900-4970 ) cannot be applied toward this requirement and will be automatically applied toward the free elective requirements area. CRP 3348/5348 - Design Connect , if completed for 3 or more credits, can be applied toward a maximum of one required CRP class; additional enrollments will be applied as free elective credit. Students are encouraged to select courses in consultation with their faculty advisor or from the list of recommended courses organized by planning interest area . Required CRP courses must be completed at Cornell University.
4. Free Electives
Central to the liberal arts philosophy of the URS program is the opportunity to take a large number of elective courses in a variety of subjects. URS students are free to take classes in any academic department on campus. For those interested in focusing specifically in areas relevant to the urban planning profession, we have provided the following roadmap:
Rules Governing the URS Program
URS students are expected to complete all URS degree requirements and comply with college and program rules. Any deviation must be petitioned prior to the act. Failure to comply with department rules may result in review by the college Academic Review Committee.
URS Class Requirements
- Students may not use any one class to meet more than one specific requirement (i.e., if a student takes a statistics class to meet the Mathematics and Quantitative Reasoning distribution requirement, that same statistics class may not be used to meet the statistics requirement).
- For classes that satisfy any specific requirement (i.e., distribution requirements, core requirements for the major, and CRP required courses), the class must be successfully completed with a letter grade, unless a particular class is offered exclusively under the satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading basis (SX/UX).
- Students may not satisfy any distribution requirement, core requirement for the major, or required CRP class requirement with a class completed for fewer than 3 credits.
- The required core classes for the major and the five required CRP classes at the 3000-level must be completed at Cornell.
Advanced Placement Credit
The general college advanced placement credit policies apply, in addition to the URS-specific policy below:
For URS students, AP credit is applied as free elective credit only, with the exception of up to one First-Year Writing Seminar. URS students may not apply AP credit to core major requirements or distribution requirements.
Please refer to the AP section of this catalog for additional university guidelines regarding AP credit.
The general college transfer credit policies apply to all transfer coursework, in addition to the URS-specific processes and policies below:
Additional Information for Transfer Students
To ensure a timely transfer of credit, incoming transfer students are required to submit final transcripts immediately upon acceptance. Students should also meet with the director of undergraduate studies and the AAP Office of Admissions and Academic Services during orientation to review how their credits are applied toward the Cornell degree and for course enrollment planning.
Students who transfer into the URS program must successfully complete:
- A minimum of four semesters in residence
- A minimum of 60 academic credits at Cornell
- 30 of the 60 credits must include the five required CRP courses for the major (CRP 1100, CRP 1101, CRP 2000, CRP 2010, and CRP 3210) and the five required CRP courses.
Deviating from Curriculum, Policies, or Procedures
Students wishing to deviate from degree requirements or any college or department policy must petition the department for permission. Petition forms are found online on the AAP Academic Forms page. Petitions must be submitted prior to the act. Further, students wishing to take more than the standard number of credit hours should have a cumulative grade point average of 3.000 or better. Petitions should be submitted only if there are clearly extraordinary circumstances that merit special consideration. In order for a petition to be approved, circumstances must be extenuating. Once submitted and acted upon, petitions can only be reversed by subsequent petition.
Appeals: A student has ten days from the time of the petitions decision to appeal the decision in writing. Appeal forms are found online on the AAP Academic Forms page. Appeals should be submitted directly to the Department of City and Regional Planning for review and vote by the full tenure/tenure-track faculty. The faculty decision on the appeal is final. No further appeals will be considered.
Global Study Opportunities
In addition to on-campus studies in Ithaca, URS students are encouraged to take advantage of the university’s resources for international research and education. Many URS students choose to participate in AAP’s semester-long Cornell in Rome program, usually during the spring semester of junior year. Other URS students participate in semester-long Cornell Abroad and/or Cornell in Washington programs. A semester-long URS New York City program, based at the AAP NYC studio in Lower Manhattan, is currently available to a limited number of students through a competitive application process.
Cornell in Rome
The urban studies component of Cornell in Rome is generally offered during the spring semester for students interested in the economic, political, cultural, and social life of contemporary European cities and regions. While there, students take classes in art, architecture, and urban planning, all emphasizing the convergence of artistic, cultural, and architectural ideas unique to Rome.
URS students in their third or fourth year of study are eligible to participate in Cornell in Rome. To be eligible for Cornell in Rome, URS students are required to have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.000 or better, and to have successfully completed CRP 1100 , CRP 1101 , CRP 2000 , CRP 2010 , and the FWS, economics, statistics, and physical education requirements prior to the Rome semester. Students are admitted by application and review of their record. Application is made by December 1 of the preceding year to the AAP Office of Admissions and Student Services. For additional information, visit the Cornell in Rome website.
Students are required to enroll in CRP 4160 - Rome Workshop , a 6-credit field research course that defines the semester. It requires students to spend about 20 hours per week in assigned peripheral neighborhoods exploring such issues as public space, urban design, social housing, infrastructure services, immigrant integration, tourism, historic preservation, and economic development challenges. Additionally, students typically enroll in courses in art history, architecture history, studio art, and Italian, along with architecture, art, and visiting students.
URS students may fulfill in-department electives, distribution requirements, and free electives in Rome.
URS offers seniors with a superior record of academic accomplishment the opportunity to write an honors thesis. To be eligible for the honors program, students must at least have completed the junior year, completed four semesters registered in URS, have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.500, have a minimum GPA of 3.700 in the major (including the microeconomics and statistics requirements), and have completed at least 10 of the 12 courses in the major. Once admitted, an honors student selects a faculty advisor and develops and writes a thesis with close guidance. The thesis must be 75 or fewer pages.
M.R.P. Option for B.S. URS Seniors
URS seniors may apply to earn an accelerated Master of Regional Planning (M.R.P.) degree. If admitted to this highly selective program, all two-year M.R.P. requirements apply. Therefore, acceleration is not guaranteed for all URS students who are admitted to the M.R.P. program. The accelerated degree option will allow URS student to complete the M.R.P degree in three semesters if enough graduate level credits were completed during their URS program. These credits must be above and beyond the required 120 credits and those additional courses must not have been used to fulfill any requirements for the degree. Because acceleration requires careful planning, interested students should meet with their advisor and develop an academic plan that includes graduate level CRP courses during the last two years of the URS program. The accelerated M.R.P. option remains available to URS student who choose to work for a few years before returning to study. In fact, URS students are encouraged to work for a year or two before returning for the accelerated M.R.P. program.
For detailed M.R.P. degree requirements, refer to the M.R.P. program information that follows in this catalog. For information on admissions requirements and how to apply, contact the Department of City and Regional Planning office.
Urban Studies Minor (non-URS majors)
The Urban and Regional Studies (URS) minor has been formulated specifically for out-of-department undergraduate students who are interested in complementing their current academic program with an introduction to various facets of urban studies (domestic, environmental, international, professional, or urban affairs).
To complete the URS minor, students must take at least six courses (minimum total of 18 credits) in the Department of City and Regional Planning (CRP). Courses must be completed with letter grade of C or better.
Specific Course Requirements for the Minor
1. 9 credits of required core courses:
2. 9 credits of elective CRP courses at the 3000-level or higher.
Upon completion of course requirements, students complete a URS minor application form, and submit it to the Department of City and Regional Planning Office, 106 West Sibley Hall. The URS minor application form is found online on the AAP Academic Forms page. The URS minor will be recorded on the student’s transcript at the time of degree completion.
Graduate Study in City and Regional Planning
The Department of City and Regional Planning (CRP) offers several options for graduate work in city and regional planning, historic preservation planning, regional science, and real estate.
Planning degrees include a Master of Regional Planning (M.R.P.); dual master’s degrees in planning and landscape architecture, and planning and real estate (Baker Program in Real Estate); and a Ph.D. in city and regional planning. The M.R.P. is accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB).
AAP offers a M.A., M.S., and a Ph.D. in regional science, a discipline largely developed here at Cornell.
Cornell was one of the first institutions in the country to offer preservation courses, and is internationally recognized as a leader in the field. AAP offers a M.A. in historic preservation planning.
For more information regarding the graduate programs in the city and regional planning department, please refer to the department website.
Master of Regional Planning (M.R.P.)
The Master of Regional Planning (M.R.P.) core curriculum provides each student with a foundation in planning history and practice, urban theory, and the tools of planning analysis — both qualitative and quantitative. It includes requirements such as law or international institutions, microeconomics, statistics, and workshops that examine theory in practice. In addition, an independent writing project is required.
M.R.P. Degree Requirements
To complete the M.R.P. degree, a student must:
- Complete 60 credits; at least 30 of these credits must be obtained within the Department of City and Regional Planning, including credits earned in fulfilling and completing the thesis, professional report, or research paper, and the M.R.P. core requirements.
- Be in attendance for four full-time semesters of study.
- Have an Exit Project Advisor on file by the end of the first year. Failure to meet this deadline may result in an enrollment and/or registration hold on your record until the Exit Project Advisor is officially recorded.
- Have an Exit Project Minor Advisor on file by October 15th of your second year. Failure to meet this deadline may result in an enrollment and/or registration hold on your record until the Exit Project Minor Advisor is officially recorded.
- Complete the Exit Project requirement by submitting an acceptable research paper, professional report, or thesis paper (two bound copies submitted to the graduate field coordinator).
M.R.P. - Core Course Curriculum
Following are the lists of courses required to complete a typical two-year M.R.P. degree. M.R.P. students should consult with a department advisor for a complete list of courses that can be applied toward requirements three through seven below. All courses must be taken for a letter grade and a grade of C or better must be obtained.
1. Required Courses for M.R.P.:
Students will be automatically pre-enrolled in CRP 7850 during each semester in residence. Due to the varied and wide array of topics covered each semester, students are encouraged to remain enrolled in CRP 7850 each semester.
* Enrollment in one fall and one spring semester is strongly encouraged.
2. Demonstrated competence in economics, or successful completion of an approved economics course at Cornell
3. Demonstrated competence in statistics, or successful completion of an approved statistics course at Cornell
4. Successful completion of an approved additional methods course
- Approved courses offered in CRP:
- Additional approved courses offered outside of CRP:
5. Successful completion of an approved law or international institutions course
6. Successful completion of a workshop that is offered in land use, community and economic development, international planning, historic preservation planning, real estate, and urban design.
Offerings vary each year and may include:
7. Successful completion of an exit project (credits vary based on option)
- A research paper: CRP 8901 and CRP 8902 (The combined credits must equal 4 credits in total.)
- A professional report: CRP 8901 and CRP 8904 (The combined credits must equal at least 4 credits but no more than 10 credits in total.)
- A thesis: CRP 8901 and CRP 8906 (The combined credits must equal at least 6 credits but no more than 10 credits in total.)
Two bound copies must be submitted to the academic programs coordinator before the exit project degree deadline. See the academic programs coordinator in 106 West Sibley Hall for full instructions regarding formatting and binding guidelines.
Beyond the core curriculum, the department offers four concentrations. The first three, Land Use and Environmental Planning, Economic Development Planning, and Designing the City, are thematic, while the fourth, International Studies in Planning (ISP), is for students wishing to work outside the U.S. It is common for students in ISP to also work in the other three concentrations.
Additional rules governing the M.R.P. Program:
All courses used to fulfill the MRP core, must be taken for a letter grade. No grade below the C level will meet a core requirement.
- No grade below C– is acceptable for meeting the 60-credit-hour requirement.
- No more than six hours of grades of C–, C, or C+ will be accepted for meeting the 60-credit-hour requirement. Partial credit from a course could be used in calculating this six-hour maximum; e.g., if a student received C in two, 4-credit courses, only 6 of the 8 credits may count toward the degree.
- A cumulative grade point average of B (3.000) is required for graduation.
- Nonacademic courses, courses not related in some way to the student’s degree, and undergraduate (1000-4000 level) courses will not be counted in the 60 credits. Please refer to the college policy regarding nonacademic credit for additional information. Examples of courses not related to the degree may include HADM 4300 - Introduction to Wines or WRIT 1011 - Academic Writing .
- Incomplete coursework must be completed by the beginning of that semester one year hence, unless an earlier deadline has been set by the course instructor.
- Failure to have an Exit Project Advisor on file by the end of the first year of study (May 31) may result in an enrollment and/or registration hold until an advisor has been identified.
- Failure to have an Exit Project Minor Advisor on file by October 15th of the third semester of study may result in an enrollment and/or registration hold until an advisor has been identified.
- The M.R.P. degree is a two-year program of study. Students have a maximum of four year from the time of matriculation to complete all degree requirements. After four years, students may be withdrawn from the program.
- No more than 18 credits may be taken in any semester without a special department petition.
Criteria for Good Academic Standing:
To be in good academic standing, an M.R.P. student must:
- Successfully complete a minimum of 12 academic credits* each semester; and
- Earn a minimum semester grade point average (GPA) of 3.000; and
- Comply with all M.R.P. curriculum and rules.
At the end of each semester, the graduate field reviews the record of each student who is not in good academic standing and decides on an appropriate action from the following: warning, required leave of absence, and required withdrawal from the M.R.P. program.
*Please refer to the college policy regarding nonacademic credit.
Leave of Absence
1. Leaves will be granted at the discretion of the field, and the effective dates are approved by the Office of the University Registrar. Leaves will be granted for a minimum of one-year in length. At the end of the leave, the student must either request to return from leave or request to renew the leave. A leave of absence may be renewed up to two times. After three years, a leave will convert to a withdrawal from the program. Once withdrawn, a student wishing to return to study must re-apply for admission.
2. Return from a voluntary leave of absence is at the discretion of the graduate field and funding is not guaranteed. Requests for spring-semester return must be made by October 1, and requests for fall-semester return must be made by March 1. Failure to return from leave or renew a leave at the end of the one-year term will result in withdrawal from the program. Once withdrawn, a student wishing to return to study must reapply for admission. Students wishing to return to the program must complete a Request to Return from a Leave of Absence form, which is found online on the AAP Academic Forms page.
Dual Degree Options
M.R.P. dual degree programs are offered with landscape architecture and the Baker Program in Real Estate.
Dual Master’s Degree in Regional Planning and Landscape Architecture
The dual master’s degree in regional planning (M.R.P.) and landscape architecture (M.L.A.) is a professionally accredited degree intended for students with an interest in both planning and design issues.
Landscape architecture (LA) students interested in the social, political, and economic context in which design occurs, or planning students who want to establish a deeper concentration in physical design and planning than the existing planning curriculum can provide, are ideal candidates for the dual degree program.
The dual degree prepares students for work in areas such as physical planning, environmental analysis, community development, and urban design — skills which are highly sought after in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.
Students apply for admission to the dual degree generally after already being accepted to either the CRP or L.A. program, but need to be admitted to both programs separately. Typically, a student will apply to the complementary program during their first year at Cornell.
Visit the department website for additional information on the dual master’s degree in regional planning and landscape architecture.
Dual Master’s in Regional Planning and Real Estate
Students interested in the intersection of land use and urban development can pursue a dual master of real estate (M.P.S. RE) and master of regional planning (M.R.P.) degree. The roles of planners and real estate developers are frequently intertwined. By providing skills and knowledge in both fields, the three-year M.P.S. RE/M.R.P. degree program enables practitioners to pursue professional opportunities that require a sophisticated understanding of the real estate development process in the context of city and regional planning.
Visit the department website for additional information on the dual master’s in regional planning and real estate.
Graduate City and Regional Planning Minor
Masters students from any discipline at Cornell (with the exception of students pursuing the M.R.P. degree) are eligible to pursue the Graduate Minor in City and Regional Planning. The minor gives graduate students across the university the opportunity to take advantage of the wide variety of city and regional planning courses offered by the Department of City and Regional Planning.
Upon successful completion of the required classes, the Graduate Minor in City and Regional Planning will appear on the students’ official Cornell transcript.
Interested students are required to take one of the following two theory courses:
Students select three additional city and regional planning classes at the 5000 level or higher, subject to approval. The director of graduate studies must approve all students’ programs of study and can disqualify any class or accept other classes as electives. Class availability changes each semester. Students may not use independent study credit to satisfy this requirement.
Students interested in pursuing the Minor in City and Regional Planning should contact the academic programs coordinator in the Department of City and Regional Planning, 106 Sibley Hall, at email@example.com or (607) 255-6848.
Graduate Minor in Historic Preservation Planning
Graduate students from any discipline at Cornell (with the exception of students pursuing the M.A. degree in Historic Preservation Planning) are eligible to pursue the Graduate Minor in Historic Preservation Planning. The minor gives students across the university the opportunity to take advantage of the wide variety of historic preservation planning courses offered by the Department of City and Regional Planning.
Upon successful completion of the required classes, the Graduate Minor in Historic Preservation Planning will appear on the students’ official Cornell transcript.
- The minor is fulfilled with a minimum of four courses, totaling a minimum of 13 credit hours.
- Students take three required classes and one elective (at the 5000-level or higher).
- A minimum 3.0 GPA is required in the coursework completed for the minor.
- Students must have a member from the Graduate Field of City and Regional Planning faculty appointed as a minor member of their committee.
One additional approved historic preservation course offered (3 credit minimum) at the 5000-level or higher. The director of historic preservation approves all students’ programs of study, can disqualify any class, and accept other classes as electives.
Course availability changes each semester.
Students interested in pursuing the Minor in Historic Preservation Planning should contact the academic programs coordinator in the Department of the City and Regional Planning office, 106 Sibley Hall, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (607) 255-6848.