Courses of Study 2023-2024 
    Jun 16, 2024  
Courses of Study 2023-2024 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


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.

The M.R.P. program at Cornell is accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB). In addition, the M.R.P. program is now designated as a STEM program making international M.R.P. graduates eligible to extend their F-1 visas for up to three years in order to work in the United States.

  • Instruction mode: In person
  • Program location: Ithaca, New York
  • Length of program: 4 semesters; 60 academic credits; full-time study

M.R.P. Degree Requirements

Required Courses for M.R.P (4 courses)

Demonstrated Competence in Economics (1 course)

Demonstrated Competence in Statistics (1 course)

Successful Completion of a Law or International Institutions Course (1 course)

Successful Completion of a Workshop Course (1 course)

Workshop course offerings vary each year and may include topics in: Land Use, Community and Economic Development, International Planning, Historic Preservation Planning, Real Estate, and Urban Design.

Successful Completion of an Exit Project

Credits vary by option and include:

  • 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)

MRP Students are required to submit the exit project to eCommons – Cornell University Library’s online repository for dissertations and theses before the exit project degree deadline.

Total Minimum Credits: 60

M.R.P. students complete a minimum of 60 total 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 exit project and the M.R.P. core requirements.

M.R.P. Concentrations

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.

Land Use and Environmental Planning

The land use and environmental planning concentration focuses on how planners help guide the physical and ecological shape of cities and regions through state and local policy intervention into land-use patterns and environmental protection. Students are engaged in a variety of scales, from local zoning codes to regional housing policy to state-level growth management programs that affect the form and function of urban environments. Graduates with this concentration find positions as local or regional land-use planners, urban designers, environmental analysts with state and national agencies and nongovernmental organizations, or infrastructure and comprehensive development planners in the private sector.

Students study a range of topics including sustainable development, land use and urban design plans, “smart growth” policies, state growth management, public spaces in cities, strategies for increasing housing opportunities, land-use regulation including zoning and site development plans, and the redevelopment and preservation of urban neighborhoods.

Listed below are suggestions for the concentration. These are only suggestions, as the hallmark of Cornell University’s graduate program is individual flexibility where each student develops his/her own program of study in consultation with his/her faculty committee.

Economic Development Planning: Communities and Regions

Graduates with a concentration in economic development planning find positions in economic development policymaking, analysis, and program evaluation. They may work in city, regional, or state government, policy research organizations, private sector development firms, or public-private partnerships such as business improvement districts. Those interested in community development become specialists with nonprofit community development corporations and project managers for infrastructure and community development finance programs.

Economic development planning students acquire the analytical tools and practical skills to enable them to produce effective economic development policies and plans. They also gain perspective on sources of social inequalities, the politics of municipal finance and urban redevelopment, and the ability to model different economic development approaches. Finally, they learn about how community and regional assets, such as those in social services as well as in the arts and culture, can build healthy sustainable economies.

Students completing this concentration may wish to select classes from the following list:

Designing the City

This concentration allows students to focus on the physical design of communities through coursework on urban morphology, the built environment, real estate development, historic preservation, graphic communications, and urban design. This concentration enables students to better understand the forces that shape urban land-use and the physical form of cities and provides students with a rich understanding of the context for contemporary urban-development projects. Students will also learn design-related visual presentation skills to enable them to present plans for contemporary cities and to work in interdisciplinary teams on site plans and design competitions.

Students interested in land use and urban design may be interested in participating in the ULI Hines competition. A preparatory class is held during the winter break. In addition, students may also be interested in offerings from the Cornell Baker Program in Real Estate, Department of Design and Environmental Analysis, and Department of Landscape Architecture. Depending on their interest and career goals, some students may be interested in pursuing a dual degree with either the landscape architecture or Baker Program in Real Estate. Students should discuss some of these options with their advisor.

International Studies in Planning

International studies in planning (ISP) is both a curricular concentration within the department and a program of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies at Cornell. Most students in ISP also do class work within the other two departmental concentrations. In addition, Cornell’s preeminent global position in international development work allows students to draw on a huge range of faculty and classes across the university. Graduates find positions as policy analysts and project managers in national and international development agencies, government foreign assistance programs, nonprofit organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and as planners both in the private and public sector in various countries around the world.

Students study urbanization, informality, and development processes and their implications for the lives and livelihoods of people in diverse international contexts. Students learn to critically assess international development policies and analyze the design and implementation of programs that reflect a commitment to environmental sustainability, economic vitality, and social justice.

Students completing the ISP concentration may wish to select classes from the following lists:

Dual Degree Options

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 after already being accepted to either the M.R.P. or M.L.A. program, but need to be admitted to both programs separately. Typically, a student will apply to the complementary program during their first semester at Cornell.


Each student forms an advisory committee of two members, with one member from CRP and one from LA. The advisory committee assists the student in all aspects of the program, from class selection to completing a final exit project or thesis.

Students must fulfill the class requirements as specified in the core curriculum for each program. This includes the required minimum credit hours in LA and CRP.

For candidates in the first professional degree program in Landscape Architecture, a minimum of 120 total credit hours is required for the dual degree. In most instances, it is expected that four years will constitute the normal period at Cornell.

General Information


  • 90 required in LA
  • 30 required in CRP
  • 120 total for dual degrees

Semesters Required

  • Five semesters in LA
  • Three semesters in CRP
  • Eight semesters total for dual degrees


For the M.L.A., the student and faculty advisor are required to construct a concentration with classes totaling at least 10 credits.

Sequence alterations: Any student wishing to alter this sequence must petition the Graduate Committee of the appropriate major.

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.

M.R.P. graduate students who pursue a dual degree in the M.P.S. RE program should anticipate three semesters of residence to complete the core requirements of the real estate program. Likewise, real estate graduate students who pursue a dual degree with an M.R.P. should anticipate three semesters of residence completing 30 required course credits in the M.R.P. curriculum with enough elective credits to total 90 credits in all. In either case, it is important to apply to the second field early to provide an appropriate amount of time for admissions review. 

Visit the department website for additional information on the dual master’s in regional planning and real estate.

M.R.P. Learning Outcomes

General Planning Knowledge

  • Purpose and Meaning of Planning
  • Planning Theory
  • Planning Law
  • Human Settlements and History of Planning
  • The Future (Emerging Trends)
  • Global Dimensions of Planning

Planning Skills

  • Research
  • Written, Oral and Graphic Communication
  • Quantitative and Qualitative Methods
  • Plan Creation and Implementation
  • Planning Process Methods (Collaboration, Negotiation, Mediation)
  • Leadership

Values and Ethics

  • Professional Ethics and Responsibility
  • Equity, Diversity and Social Justice 
  • Governance and Participation 
  • Sustainability and Environmental Quality
  • Growth and Development (Economic Growth, Efficiency and Equity)
  • Health and Built Environment

M.R.P. Policies

Students are expected to follow all university, college , and program policies. Failure to comply with any policy or petition decision may result in review by the program committee.

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
  • Follow the prescribed program curriculum and comply with all university, college, and program policies including any grade requirements for core courses.


All courses used to fulfill the MRP core curriculum, must be taken for a letter grade when offered. No grade below the C level will meet a core requirement.

  • No grade below C– is acceptable for meeting the 60 credit requirement.
  • No more than six hours of grades of C–, C, or C+ will be accepted for meeting the 60 credit 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • No more than 18 credits may be taken in any semester without a special department petition.

  • Nonacademic courses will not be counted in the minimum 60 total credits. Please refer to the college policy regarding nonacademic credit for additional information.  

  • A cumulative grade point average of B (3.000) is required for graduation.

Residency Requirement

  • M.R.P. students must be in attendance for four full-time semesters of study.
  • Students must enroll in a minimum of 12 academic credits per semester.
  • Students have a maximum of four years from the time of matriculation to complete all degree requirements. After four years, students may be withdrawn from the program.

Transfer Credit/Advanced Standing

At the discretion of the petition committee, up to one semester and 15 credits may be granted, by petition after matriculation, for graduate level work done elsewhere, where a degree was not earned and is above and beyond undergrad level work.

Exit Project Requirements

M.R.P. students can prepare a research paper, professional report, or master’s thesis as their Exit Project.

M.R.P. students must:

  • Have an Exit Project Advisor on file by the end of the first year and an Exit Project Minor Advisor on file by October 15th of the second year.  Failure to meet these deadlines may result in an enrollment and/or registration hold on the student’s record until the Exit Project Advisor or Minor Advisor is officially recorded.
  • Register for exit project credits. All three options must include CRP 8901, a variable credit research course for 1-4 credits.  In addition, each option must also include a specific variable credit writing course: CRP 8902 for a research paper; CRP 8904 for a professional report and CRP 8906 for a master’s thesis.  A student may not earn any credit connected to the exit project beyond that awarded for completion of CRP 8901 and CRP 8902; CRP 8904 or CRP 8906.
  • Pass a final oral examination given by their exit project committee. The student’s written document should essentially be complete before the oral examination is scheduled.
  • Complete the Exit Project requirement by submitting an acceptable research paper, professional report, or thesis paper. MRP students are required to submit your exit project to eCommons – Cornell University Library’s online repository for dissertations and theses.

Students should work closely with their exit project committee regarding the scope, content, and organization of the submitted document and the nature of the final examination. A student’s exit project committee must consist of at least two members of the graduate faculty or other faculty members approved by the graduate school. Both committee members must attend the final oral examination and sign the appropriate forms. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure the independent writing requirements are satisfied.

All exit project papers must meet the format requirements. M.R.P. students should consult the Academic Programs Coordinator regarding these requirements. When approved by the student’s graduate committee, a copy of the final document must be submitted to eCommons – Cornell University Library’s online repository for dissertations and theses.