The MS in Urban and Regional Policy equips students with the skills to solve today’s critical urban problems through the use of policy analysis, research, and strategic action. Many of the major issues that societies face today—issues of climate change and sustainability, equity and social justice, and economic growth—have their roots in cities. Solutions to these issues require a multi-system approach that coordinates interventions in economic, environmental, socio-cultural, political, spatial, and infrastructural systems in order to maximize impact. For example, revitalizing a distressed community requires connecting it to economic opportunity through transportation and economic development interventions, providing good quality affordable housing, fostering social interaction through the creation of public space, encouraging the development of strong social institutions, and dealing with environmental concerns.
The MURP degree marries training in theories and frameworks of urban development with an understanding of urban politics, and the way in which different policy strategies evolve through the interplay between branches and levels of government. Students learn skills of policy analysis, economic analysis, quantitative and qualitative research, and oral and written communication. Moreover, students have opportunities to gain experience in the application of their knowledge and skills through internships, class projects, and a capstone research report. Students graduate and enter the workforce with a unique set of perspectives, skills, experiences, and professional connections. Many go on to careers working for state and local government, federal agencies, community development corporations and other non-profit organizations, research institutes, and private sector policy consulting.
“My time spent in the classroom at SPPUA was beneficial in building out a diverse skill set as a policy practitioner and researcher. The opportunities outside the classroom, however, took my graduate education beyond building out a skill set and made it an encompassing, enriching experience. I spent a semester studying urban planning issues in Amsterdam and learned what it is to be an impactful, global citizen operating in the urban development space. I spent two semesters conducting research for the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy and the Resilient Cities Lab at Northeastern and learned the importance of weaving a policy-forward narrative around technical data sources. Each of these experiences cultivated in me an appreciation for individuals who choose to study policy and make it their mission to remain passionate, impactful, global citizens. SPPUA is full with people working hard to make a real difference.”
—Lauren Costello, MURP ’16
The Master of Science in Urban and Regional Policy requires students to successfully complete 42 semester hours (SH). The coursework is structured around nine required core courses and an additional five elective courses focused on a particular area of interest or concentration. Full-time students can expect to complete the degree over two academic years (this includes the summer semester); part-time students typically complete the degree in three years. The curriculum is designed to offer methodological rigor, a theoretical framework, and opportunities for applied experiences. All classes are offered in the evening to accommodate working students.
Eleven core courses are required of all MURP students. These courses serve as a foundation and cover a wide array of public policy and management areas to prepare students for leadership and administrative careers in the public and nonprofit sectors. With the exception of PPUA 7673: Capstone in Urban and Regional Policy, which should be taken in the last spring semester of a student’s academic career, there is no required sequence to these courses. Each core course is offered at least once per year on campus; some courses are available online.
MURP students can choose from a wide array of electives offered by the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and by other programs in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities and elsewhere in the University. Experiential learning is a key element of the program. Students new to the field of urban and regional policy or those who plan to change careers are required to complete an internship. Student have the option to take the internship for credit. Students with relevant professional work experience can request a waiver of this requirement and may take an additional elective course in its place.
MURP students can add a Graduate Certificate to their degree to demonstrate specialized training in the Nonprofit Sector, Urban Informatics, Urban Studies, or Public Policy Analysis. Courses taken to complete a certificate also count as MURP elective credits. Students with an interest in a specific field may work with their academic adviser to identify elective courses relevant to their area of interest.
Urban Sustainability and Resilience: Constructs an interdisciplinary understanding of the environmental challenges facing cities and communities– climate change, natural hazards, and ecological degradation, among others. Faculty expertise bridges the engineering, science, and policy realms on these issues, and offers opportunities for students to gain the depth, understanding, and research skills necessary for leadership positions in these fields. Graduates are prepared to work with public, private, and non-profit organizations in policy and advocacy areas such as climate change mitigation and adaptation, sustainable land use and transportation planning, brownfield remediation, and disaster preparedness.
Urban Revitalization: Prepares students to be influential change-makers within a globalized urban context. This focus area provides foundational knowledge of the theory and practice involved with the formation of vibrant cities and growing urban economies. Students working in this area will receive hands-on experience and will engage in coursework which frames essential skills within the realities of political processes and global economic trends. Classes in this area cover topics including economic development, physical planning, urban design, and real estate development. This focus area equips students to work in a variety of settings including city and regional redevelopment agencies; urban planning offices; nonprofit economic development organizations; and private real estate development companies.
Housing and Community Development: Readies students for careers which focus on collaboration with urban communities to expand access to affordable housing, good jobs, health care, education, and other economic and social needs. Students can choose to focus on housing or community development. Students interested in housing study the roles of local, state, and national policy in creating affordable housing, and learn to use the tools of real estate development and finance to promote affordable housing. Students interested in community development focus on methods of neighborhood planning, community organizing, public participation, community analysis, and urban social policy. Graduates are prepared to work for local, state, and national government agencies, community organizations, research and consulting firms, private residential housing developers, and social service agencies.
In total, the MURP degree requires 42 semester hours. Current and prospective students should refer to the 2016-2017 Graduate Catalog for a description of the MURP curriculum.