M.R.P. Curriculum and Requirements

The Master of Regional Planning (M.R.P.) core curriculum provides each student with a foundation in planning and spatial theory, economics, and the tools of planning analysis — both qualitative and quantitative. The core devotes particular consideration to voice, participation, and politics. It includes subjects in law and international institutions, as well as workshops that test theory in practice.

M.R.P. students participate in intensive collaborative workshops; summer internships with government agencies, research institutions, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the U.S. and abroad; and internships in Europe with international institutions affiliated with the Cornell in Rome program.

Students have access to the whole of Cornell University. AAP and departments throughout the university provide a rich array of electives. Students can further tailor their course of study through the second-year independent exit project. Faculty mentoring, through one-on-one advising and instruction, enhances the experience.

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.
  • Have an exit project minor advisor on file by October 15th of your second year.
  • Complete the independent writing requirement by submitting an acceptable thesis, professional report or research paper (two bound copies submitted to the academic programs coordinator)

Please visit the Courses of Study website for a full list of rules and requirements for the M.R.P.

Required classes include:

List of required classes and credits.
Class Credit Hours
CRP 5130 Introduction to Planning Practice and HistoryIntroductory graduate seminar on the theory and history of planning, administration, and related public intervention in urban affairs. Topics are analyzed from the perspective of the political economy of the growth and development of cities. Students improve their understanding of the planning process and of the urban application of the social sciences, get practice in writing, and explore one research topic in depth. 4 credits
CRP 5190 Urban TheoryWe live in an urban majority world, with diverse patterns of urbanization and types of urban places. Cities are not just nodes on transaction networks, or physical collections of build form specific to a context and global movements, or diverse places that represent a mix of cultures over time. They are political assemblages in which formal and informal institutions of governance are forged and continue to be shaped as policies change and morph over time. Various processes impacting societies shape the cities where we live, work, and play: ranging from climate change, shifting migration patterns, and large-scale population movements to changes in geo-political power and the technologies of infrastructure, communication, and manufacturing. But what constitutes the city? What concepts allow us to understand how cities grow, shrink, or expand, and shivel or thrive? This course seeks to introduce you to the broad contours of an interdisciplinary body of work that aims to theorize the city. Using a format of readings, lectures, and discussions, we seek to become familiar with core perspectives of well-established traditions in urban theory that emerges from perspectives on city economy, spatial development, environment, infrastructure, social life, cultural experience, urban politics, and interventions. 4 credits
CRP 5250 Introductory Methods of Planning AnalysisThis course provides an introduction to methods for developing and evaluating (for the most part) quantitative information in support of planning. The methods considered are widely used by planning practitioners and policy analysts and embody modalities of thinking that often structure the ways that issues are framed for public discussions and policy decisions. CRP 5250 is a four-credit-hour course; hence, by university expectations, it is assumed that students will spend up to eight hours per week on readings and assignments or in attending recitation sessions outside of class. 4 credits
Two semesters of CRP 7850 City and Regional Futures: Planning Practice, Policy and DesignThis colloquium brings domestic and international experts to Cornell to talk about research and practice aimed at shaping the future of communities and regions. It includes an array of topics that span urban policy, planning practice and research, design, and applied research on technology and society. Course can be repeated for credit. 1 credit each semester, 2 credits total *

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.

Demonstrated competence in economics, or successful completion of an economics class at Cornell:

List of economics classes and credits.
Class Credit Hours
CRP 5120 Public and Spatial Economics for Planners (recommended)Covers basic microeconomic theory in a manner that lets students understand the many applications of economics presented in subsequent courses in city and regional planning. Topics covered include the logic of markets and gains from trade; public goods and commons problems; externalities; and the economic approach to equity.  3 credits
CRP 5040 Urban Economics (requires an intro micro prerequisite)This course introduces the concepts and methods used by economists to study not only cities, regions and their relationships with each other, but, more generally, the spatial aspects and outcomes of decision-making by households and firms. Areas examined include determinants of urban growth and decline, land and housing markets, transportation issues, segregation and poverty, and the allocation and distribution of urban public services.  3 credits

Demonstrated competence in statistics, or successful completion of a statistics class at Cornell. Choices include, but are not limited to, the following:

List of statistics classes and credits.
Class Credit Hours
CRP 5450 Inferential Statistics for Planning and Public Policy (recommended)This course is an introduction to the inferential statistical methods and econometrics/regression analysis needed to understand empirical public policy and planning research and to do basic applied policy analysis. The statistical concepts are illustrated using data and examples primarily from the fields of public policy and planning. 3 credits
BTRY 6010 Statistical Methods I (also ILRST 6100) 4 credits
ILRST 5110 Statistical Methods for the Social Sciences II 3 credits
ILRST 6100 Statistical Methods I (also BTRY 6010) 4 credits

Successful completion of an additional methods class. Choices include, but are not limited to, the following:

List of methods classes and credits.
Class Credit Hours
CRP 5080 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS)This course is designed to provide students with a conceptual understanding of geographic information systems (GIS) and sciences, practical hands on experience with GIS software, and understanding of how GIS can be applied to planning practice and research. Students will be introduced to the basic concepts, structures, and functions of GIS as well as their applications and limitations.  By the end of this course students should be familiar with a range of available tools and methods to address planning related problems and issues, and be able to conceive of and manage a GIS project. This involves a) identifying a planning analysis/research problem that requires GIS data and spatial analysis to address/analyze the problem; and b) collecting, processing, and analyzing spatial data to interpret the findings. 4 credits
CRP 5460 Introduction to Community and Environmental Dispute ResolutionExplores the theories and techniques of dispute resolution as they apply to community, environmental, and related public-policy disputes. Analysis complements skill-building. Issues of power, participation, and strategy are central to our examinations of negotiation and mediation practice. 3 credits
CRP 5530 Land Use Planning MethodsThis course provides an introduction to land use planning methods, especially those that are used in comprehensive planning by local governments and regional framework plans. The course surveys analytical and participatory methods to shape land use and urban form and to guide infrastructure provision in order to achieve more sustainable urban systems. Land use planning concepts and methods are included at other scales as well, including statewide frameworks for Smart Growth and small area plans. Other skills include the application of planning support tools and geodesign methods, drafting and applying land use regulations such as zoning and Smart Codes; creation of natural resource inventories, conservation areas, and green infrastructure plans, and planning at the nexus of transportation and land use. Includes methods of participation in land use planning processes. 3 credits
CRP 5820 Principles of Site Planning and Urban DesignPhysical planning involves planning the physical dimensions of the built environment at the site, district, city, and metropolitan scale: where buildings are constructed, infrastructure is placed, and land use allocated. This course provides a broad overview of physical planning. 3 credits
CRP 6201 Research Design and Qualitative MethodsThe course explores theoretical and practical dimensions of research design and qualitative methods, particularly as they apply to city and regional planning. It critically analyzes how different paradigms of knowledge construction have shaped planning research and practice. Students learn elements of research design, data collection methods, and data analysis procedures, as well as how to evaluate research for its rigor, generalizability, and validity. The course also reviews questions related to research ethics and respect for human subjects. 3 credits
CRP 6210 Introduction to Quantitative Methods for the Analysis of Public PolicyThis course introduces students to the principles of quantitative policy analysis. We consider core modeling tools used by planners and policy analysts to identify optimal choices in the face of interdependent alternatives, limited resources, and uncertainties. The models to be discussed are of the analytical, quantitative category, including decision trees, difference equations, linear programming, and benefit-cost analysis. Effectiveness in structuring complex problems and in reducing the complexity of a problem is the unifying theme in this wide array of tools. The course emphasizes the application to planning and public policy decision making. To that end, the lectures balance theoretical concepts, real-world applications, and computer simulations. 4 credits
CRP 6270 Regional Economic Impact AnalysisThis course defines the context of a regional economy, taking a systems approach to sustainable development planning. Students will be introduced to the techniques of input-output analysis and will learn how to use social accounting models to evaluate social and environmental impacts. We will use international datasets and will also learn IMPLAN, a software and database designed to quantify the impact of exogenous forces on U.S. regions. Examples of exogenous forces include out-migration of population, natural disasters, financial flows, or the introduction of new activities. The course methods enable practicing professionals to integrate environmental and social dimensions of planning into the framework of economic impact analysis. 3 credits
CRP 6290 Advanced Topics in GISThis course is designed to engage graduate level planning students in some more advanced topics using GIS methodology. Topics may vary from year to year, but in the past, the course has included an introduction to spatial statistics. Topics addressed include exploratory spatial data analysis, spatial autocorrelation, point pattern analysis, spatial interpolation techniques, spatial regression (including geographically weighted regression), and both spatial lag and spatial error models.  3 credits
CRP 6320 Methods of Regional Science and Planning IIntroduction to some of the major methods and models used in regional science and planning. Topics related to the structure and assumptions of the models, model development, and their applications in regional science and planning are discussed. Where appropriate, computer implementation emphasizing statistical, econometric models is considered. 1-4 credits
CRP 6330 Methods of Regional Science and Planning IIIs the world flat and "distance is dead"? Despite recent claims, geographic proximity in social interactions has never been more important. How do we introduce space into our models for planning analysis? Why are things as they are? How do we evaluate plans/policies when spatial interactions matter? The course addresses these questions drawing on recent advances in spatial modeling. The methods to be discussed include the framework of inter-regional input-output (IRIO), structural path analysis (SPA), computable general equilibrium (CGE), and agent-based modeling (ABM). We will begin with the top-down IMPLAN analyses, which are appropriate for static, short-term planning challenges, but less so for regions and cities that change continuously. Regions and cities are adaptive, self-organizing systems of individuals whose interdependent actions create urban forms and produce spatial patterns. To explore how macro-patterns emerge from micro-behavior, we will discuss the bottom-up framework of agent-based modeling. The models to be discussed are analytically intractable: results can only be derived using numerical simulations. The analysis therefore requires computer packages, including IMPLAN, Excel, GAMS, and NetLogo.  4 credits
CRP 8010 Advanced Seminar in Urban and Regional Theory IIThis course surveys traditional and more recent explanations of the location, aggregation, and fragmentation of economic activities in space under different assumptions about the mobility of factors, transportation (or more generally, transaction) costs, economies of scale, and the competitiveness of markets. The relationship between theories of trade and location will be considered, as will the effects on spatial economies of policy interventions. 3 credits
CEE 5900 Project Management 4 credits
DSOC 6190 Quantitative Research Methods 4 credits
LA 7010 Urban Systems Studio 5 credits
PLSCS 6200 Spatial Modeling and Analysis 3 credits

Successful completion of a law or international institutions class. Choices include, but are not limited to, the following:

List of law/international institutions classes and credits.
Class Credit Hours
CRP 5440 Resource Management and Environmental LawIntroduces the application of legal concepts and processes to the management of natural resources and natural-resource areas. Explores the role of the common law, statutory law, administrative regulations, and judicial decisions in managing these resources. Particular focus is given to the management of wildlife, wetlands, and critical resources on public lands, and to the conflicts inherent in government attempts to regulate important natural resources on private lands. 4 credits
CRP 5590 Legal Aspects of Land Use Planning (recommended, domestic studies)Survey of leading cases and legal concepts in land-use planning, with particular attention to zoning, subdivision control, condemnation, and growth-control issues. 3 credits
CRP 6630 Historic Preservation LawOverview of American legal system and the sources of law used to protect historic resources. The course considers the primary tools for preservation, including historic district and landmark designation, the use of the police power, taxation, and eminent domain. Instructors will also review recent developments in state and federal historic preservation. 3 credits
CRP 6720 International Institutions (recommended, international studies)The course introduces students to the theory and practice of international development planning from an institutional perspective. It begins with an introduction to the field and provides a historical, institutional and theoretical overview. The course examines the main actors involved in the practice of international development planning: the public sector, civil society and NGOs, community-based organizations and the private sector. It critically analyzes some of the large international institutions engaged in planning, policy and global governance. These institutions are analyzed in the context of an issue that is central to their core mission. The last section of the course critically examines new configurations, forces for change and challenges to how we conceptualize as well as practice international development planning, including migration, transnationalism, social movements, post-democracy and anarchism.  3 credits
HADM 6870 Real Estate Law 3 credits
ILRLR 5010 Labor and Employment Law 3 credits

Successful completion of a workshop that is offered in land use, community and economic development, international, historic preservation planning, real estate, or design. Offerings vary each year and can include:

List of workshop classes and credits.
Class Credit Hours
CRP 5071 City and Regional Planning WorkshopCity and Regional Planning workshop courses focus on planning issues and problems that combine several of the topics undertaken in the various workshop categories. Topics may include public policy issues regarding land use, transportation, public space, municipal services, environmental impact, housing and economic development, and public participation. 4 credits
CRP 5072 Land Use, Environmental Planning, and Urban Design WorkshopLand Use and Environmental Planning workshop courses focus on the forces and actions that directly affect the physical character, transformation, rehabilitation, and preservation of natural landscapes, cities, and regions. Participants provide technical assistance to communities, and have the opportunity to work with communities in resolving critical planning issues. Topics may include development of land use and natural conservation plans, community redevelopment plans, design and analysis of public spaces, and strategies for making communities more environmentally and economically sustainable. 4 credits
CRP 5073 Historic Preservation Planning WorkshopHistoric Preservation Planning workshop courses take students into the field to engage in a range of problems, from conducting a historic resources survey working in a city, town, or village in the region, to developing a scheme for revitalization of an entire neighborhood, to a site-specific economic analysis for the renovation of a surplus school. 4 credits
CRP 5074 Economic and Community Development WorkshopEconomic and Community Development workshop courses focus on the economics of neighborhoods, cities, and regions with the intent of producing more informed and effective economic development policy. Topics of study include, among others, the application of analytical tools needed to produce first-rate economic development plans, the special needs of excluded, poor and segregated communities, use of quantitative and qualitative methods to address social inequalities, the politics of planning, relationships between economic development and community development. 4 credits
CRP 5076 International Planning and Development WorkshopThe workshop exposes students to the complexity as well as the nuances of planning with poor communities in the Global South. It places a strong emphasis on an engaged model of learning, research and planning practice. An important part of the workshop is building effective working relationships across cultures, disciplinary perspectives and professional orientations. The workshop emphasizes the use of diverse sources of data and information, and effective communication of deliverables. Because the workshop responds to the needs of international collaborators and stakeholders, the substantive focus of the workshop and the deliverables changes from one year to the next. In recent years the workshop has focused on issues related to poverty, water, shelter and participatory planning. 4 credits
CRP 5172 NYC Workshop: Land Use, Environmental Planning, and DesignThis workshop examines the evolving structure of New York City and the way large-scale developments have influenced its form, patterns of growth, opportunities for economic development, value creation, and investment. The coursework and related tours examine the historical forces that have influenced New York City, including models of urban analysis, contemporary theories of urban design, environmental impact analysis, and implementation strategies used in redevelopment projects. Other American and international cities will be used as comparisons. 6 credits
CRP 5610 Historic Preservation Planning Workshop: Surveys and AnalysesCovers techniques for the preparation of surveys of historic structures and districts; identification of American architectural styles, focusing on local historical resources, state and federal historic preservation guidance. Lectures and training sessions emphasize cross cultural training with individuals and community organizations. 4 credits
CRP 5650 Fieldwork or Workshop in History and PreservationWork on applied problems in history and preservation planning in a field or laboratory setting or both. 4 credits
CRP 6580 Residential and Commercial DevelopmentExplores the residential and commercial-development process from site acquisition through delivery of the finished product. Topics include market feasibility, land planning and acquisition, product selection and design, project financing and feasibility, schedule and budgetary controls, contracting and construction, marketing, and sales activities. Composition of the development project team is discussed. Classes are supplemented by visiting professionals. The course includes a semester-long project based on an actual property and market opportunity. 4 credits

Successful completion of an exit project. Options include the following:

  • A research paper: CRP 8901 (1 credit) and CRP 8902 (3 credits), or
  • A professional report: CRP 8903 (2 credits) and CRP 8904 (2–8 credits), or
  • A thesis: CRP 8905 (2 credits) and CRP 8906 (4–8 credits)
  • Two bound copies must be submitted to the academic programs coordinator.
  • Learn more about M.R.P. exit project options.
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