UAP

           URBAN AFFAIRS AND PLANNING
Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP)
  • Real-life experiences with community clients

  • Graduate program in Blacksburg & Arlington

The United Nations reports that in 2050, another 2.5 billion people will be added to urban areas around the globe. Managing this growth and change requires an understanding of several inter-connected systems, to preserve and enhance community life, protect the environment, and promote equity. UAP’s degrees explore the intersections of planning, policy and practice at the metropolitan, community, and neighborhood scales and in the diverse contexts of rural and urban, poor and affluent, fast growing and declining communities. We engage issues affecting where people live, work and play; where they shop and receive medical attention; how they get from place to place; what communities look like; how communities work and how we use our resources. This is exciting and challenging work. Our core curriculum includes theory, law, economics, methods, and project-based studios along with such topics as sustainability, real estate development, urban design, community engagement, technology and planning.

The Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) program at Virginia Tech has a rich tradition of bachelors, masters, and doctoral level education. We emphasize a practical, hands-on approach that reaches across disciplinary and professional boundaries. Our students learn how to understand ‘places’ and policy at a range of scales – from neighborhoods to mega-regions, in the U.S. and around the world. Our program is well connected throughout the region with many of our alumni working for local governments–thus, giving students an extensive network for launching careers in local public service. UAP has an excellent faculty-student ratio at each location, which means most of the classes are relatively small with excellent opportunities to interact with the faculty. Each semester UAP offers studios, in which student teams working for public, private and nonprofit clients tackle real world planning, policy, development or design problems—several studios have won awards from the Virginia American Planning Association.

UAP faculty have earned national reputations as experts in sustainability, urban regeneration, international development, transportation, housing, disaster management, and community and economic development. Our faculty have degrees from the finest planning schools and conduct cutting-edge research. UAP faculty in Blacksburg and Arlington often collaborate with colleagues in the School of Public and International Affairs, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and several Virginia Tech research centers.

UAP Academic Programs

Master’s Degrees

The Masters in Urban and Regional Planning degree has a dual objective of training graduates for their first planning job, and more importantly instilling conceptual and critical thinking necessary for lifelong learning and career development. Graduates are able to assume professional responsibilities in a wide variety of positions in public service or in the private sector.
MURP’s Dual Masters degrees, also known as simultaneous degrees, exist between the Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) and Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA), Master of Public Administration (MPA), and Master of Natural Resources degrees (MNR). Dual degrees provide students with the opportunity to master core material in more than one field, allowing them to acquire the flexibility to engage in a wide range of activities within multiple fields and become bridge-builders between them; in fact, many rise to leadership positions because of their multi-disciplinary perspective. If you are interested in this program in Blacksburg, please contact uapvt@vt.edu. If you are interested in this program in Arlington, please contact Georgeta Pourchot, georgeta@vt.edu.
The Department of Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) and the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) offers an accelerated program that enables students to earn credit toward a Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) degree while they are completing the requirements for their Bachelor of Arts in Public and Urban Affairs with a major in Smart and Sustainable Cities (SSC) and/or Environmental Policy and Planning (EPP). This (4+1) five-year program provides qualified students with a unique opportunity to advance in the field of urban and regional planning.

Doctoral Degree

The PhD in Planning, Governance, and Globalization (PGG) draws insights from the social sciences and humanities into the multidimensional study of governance processes in all levels of society and international affairs.

The Urban and Environmental Design and Planning track of the PGG degree (PGG-UEDP) is supported by faculty in Urban Affairs and Planning.  The faculty and students work jointly to cultivate their experience, knowledge, and skill with regard to the governance practices, political institutions, social dynamics, cultural values, workplace conditions, spatial formations, historical trends, and ethical conflicts that intersect in the workings of government, business, and not-for-profit organizations. Program graduates work in a range of nonprofit/NGO, public and private organizations at national and international levels.

Certificates

Urban and regional planners need to know how they can develop their economies. The challenge for policymakers, economic developers and urban planners nowadays is to design appropriate local and regional economic development policies and programs to respond to challenges resulting from globalization, technological development, demographic changes, urban decline, sprawl, and social inequities. Virginia Tech’s Graduate Certificate in Economic Development is designed for those who are interested in acquiring a basic understanding of urban and regional economic development dynamics and the role of policy in influencing them.
Geospatial Information Technology (GIT) includes collection and analysis of remotely sensed data, digital spatial and attribute data used by geographic information systems (GIS), and the application of related technologies such as the Global Positioning System (GPS). Geographic Information Science is one of the leading careers in the United States today. As depth of knowledge is important to careers in the industry, this certificate requires 12 hours of geospatial coursework. Coursework is taken from three categories, beginning with introductory topics, and continuing through more advanced and specialized topics as best fits the student’s background and future goals.
The Graduate Certificate in Global Planning and International Development Studies builds on Virginia Tech’s internationally recognized, 30-year specialization in international development planning and an innovative partnership between faculty in programs such as Urban Affairs and Planning, Public Health, Geography, and Building Construction. The certificate seeks to prepare graduate students in multiple disciplines to engage in meaningful global professional leadership and academic positions to systematically tackle and resolve these global planning and development issues.
The Graduate Certificate in Metropolitan Studies is designed for those who are interested in acquiring a basic understanding of metropolitan development dynamics and the role of policy in influencing them. The certificate is part of the Urban Affairs and Planning program’s overall mission to teach students how to understand, analyze, and influence the forces that shape the metropolitan built environment.
The management of water resources is a critical issue facing governmental agencies, as well as the private/industrial sector and citizens. The Watershed Management Certificate provides an excellent opportunity for future water and land managers to develop the interdisciplinary skills necessary for meeting these challenges in the field of water resources. This certificate integrates existing programs and courses from five colleges and ten departments at Virginia Tech to provide an interdisciplinary and substantive understanding of watershed science, policy, and decision-making.

Special Programs

The Combined B.A. Architecture/Masters in Urban and Regional Planning degree provides students with the option of earning a professionally-accredited Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree along with the professionally accredited Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) degree. Graduates of the combined degree program are at the nexus of planning and architectural design, crafting solutions to community issues that respond to social, political, economic and spatial challenges.
Located in Arlington, the Washington Semester is an eleven-week summer program that provides students the opportunity to acquire professional experience in a governmental agency or other relevant enterprise in the private or nonprofit sector.
UAP Faculty
Meet our Students

Pursuing MURP at VT: Students’ Perspectives

Learn about the program from the first-hand experience of our Master in Urban and Regional Planning students.

Program Flexibility

Andrew DeLuca: I work 32 hours a week and take 9 credit hours of classes. This program has accommodated my schedule and the flexibility to take some online classes has allowed me to make the most of the program.

Lynda Ramirez-Blust: I am a full-time student pursuing a degree in landscape architecture and urban planning. Because my landscape architecture classes are during the day and the MURP classes are late afternoon and evening classes, I can fit them into my schedule easily. It makes for a couple of long days but its workable.

Ariel GoldringI work full time outside of school and am a part-time student. The evening schedules make it possible for me to enroll in the program while continuing to work.

Emma Martin: I am a full-time student and graduate assistant. The program has enough flexibility for me to have a job outside of school, it’s just not something that I need to do at this point.

Job Placement and Professional Networking

Randy Cole: The staff and school have access to many real-world and local opportunities to participate in Urban Planning – affordable housing, economic development, active transportation, parks & open space, historic preservation, mass transit and urban analytics. There are not many schools nationwide that have access to this variety of learning opportunities.

Madeline Youngren: The program has many connected professors who have provided individuals to speak to regarding my interests. The program also sends out many internship and job opportunities.

Emma Martin: The program has revealed the many specialty fields there are within planning. Since we have so many elective hours, I can take courses that fit my interests, including urban design, creative placemaking and public art, sustainable transportation, and site planning.

Academics

Randy Cole: I like the economics courses and the mapping courses. The economics courses gave me an insight into the fundamental reasons and theories why cities exist and how they can sustain themselves. The mapping courses taught me about the tools, data and analytical processes needed to make a map tell a story.

James Mill: Topics in Transport Policy class was my favorite class. Not only did it help reinforce my interests in transportation planning, but we learned a lot about new and developing trends in transportation

Owain James: The best classes in the MURP program are the studios where we get to apply our knowledge to real problems facing communities today. Instead of just writing a paper about safer streets, this semester I am studying real intersections in Alexandria and looking at ways the city can make them safer.

Ariel Goldring: I particularly enjoy the modules, in which professionals who work “in the field” provide us special insight into complex planning issues.

Interest in Urban Planning

Andrew DeLuca: My undergraduate program was Geography and it mainly focused on describing the world as it is and some of the (mostly natural) processes that shape it. I wanted to know how and why the man-made processes come about, and i want to be a part of those projects.

Lynda Ramirez-Blust: I’m transitioning from a career working with nonprofit organizations. Through that work my awareness of inequities of the city has become more acute and so too my desire to do something about it. I see planning as an opportunity to level the playing field for the have nots.

Ariel Goldring: I was attracted to urban planning to better understand the strategies available to tackle housing issues plaguing rural and urban communities alike.

Jose Delcid: My interest in urban planning ties in to my background with architecture. I’m really fascinated with urban design and placemaking, something that shows the creativity behind the planner.

Madeline Youngren: I am interested in housing planning as well as sustainable and environmental planning. I come from an environmental policy background, so I was exposed to the planning realm early in my education. 

Zach Johnson: Since dropping out of the architecture program to pursue planning, I have grown to especially love economic and rural development. I hope to increase and bolster the sustainability and resiliency of rural communities facing economic and demographic challenges

Engaging and Supportive Faculty

Jose Delcid: All the professors and adjunct faculty are well-respected. One thing about the NCR campus is that professors are willing to chat with all students. 

Emma Martin: Each one of my professors is intelligent and passionate about their work and teaching. We are lucky to have such an engaged, supportive, and genuine group of professors in our program. They are always accessible and always willing to go out of their way to offer help.

Zach Johnson: All my professors have been engaging, approachable, and accessible. Additionally, each of them is well-respected in their respective fields. 

Application Process

Randy Cole: I was considering several schools in the DC area. Virginia Tech was close, but when I learned that Dr Buehler – a national and global authority in urban biking – taught here, I stopped looking elsewhere.

Owain James: I decided to apply to Tech after attending an open house and sitting in on a class. The environment was so much fun and everyone was extremely welcoming. It really gave me a good sense of not just the curriculum, but also the academic culture.

Madeline Youngren: I applied to VA tech because I went to undergrad there and knew the planning program was strong. I was most attracted to the satellite campus in Alexandria, VA, because I thought it would prove to provide more connections and better applicable study in the Northern Capital Region. Staff was very supportive in the process and I liked that I was notified of my acceptance in a timely manner.

 

 

 

Student Organizations
The Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) program has active student body groups including four student-run organizations from the undergraduate to the doctoral level.
UAPSA // Urban Affairs and Planning Student Association

The Urban Affairs and Planning Student Association (UAPSA) serves as the organization for students majoring in Public and Urban Affairs (PUA) or Environmental Planning and Policy (EPP). UAPSA provides a forum for discussion on issues related to planning, policy, and administration; sponsors, coordinates, or participates in community service projects; and develops and disseminates information on employment and career opportunities in planning, policy, and administration. All students interested PUA, EPP, Geography, International Studies, Architecture, etc. are welcome to join Urban Affairs and Planning Student Association’s Facebook page.

CASPA // Capital Area Student Planning Association 

The Capital Area Student Planning Association (CASPA) serves as the student organization for the Urban Affairs and Planning program at Virginia Tech’s Arlington campus. CASPA aims to provide a creative and professional forum for the program’s graduate students to facilitate dialogue and friendship, while also providing resources and support from the university, faculty, and the public and private sectors to help students reach their academic and professional goals. Social and professional activities are held on campus or in the D.C. Metropolitan area. More information about the Capital Area Student Planning Association and upcoming events can be found on Facebook.

GUAPA // Graduate Urban Affairs and Planning Association

The Graduate Urban Affairs and Planning Association (GUAPA) serves as the student organization for the Urban Affairs and Planning program at Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus. GUAPA provides a creative and professional environment for graduate students to collaborate with peers, faculty, other departments, and the public and private sectors throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. GUAPA provides the resources and support necessary for members to achieve their academic and professional goals while at Virginia Tech. The organization harnesses student engagement at the Graduate level through regional and national conference participation (such as the APA Conference and City Works Expo), guest speaker lectures, academic research development, as well as social and professional networking opportunities.

The Planning, Governance, and Globalization Student Association (PGGSA) serves as the organization for students in the Planning, Governance, and Globalization (PGG) doctoral degree program. PGGSA serves students in both tracks of PGG: Urban and Environmental Design and Planning, and Governance and Globalization. PGGSA seeks to provide resources and support necessary for students across these two tracks to achieve their academic and professional goals while at Virginia Tech. PGGSA regularly hosts a PGG Seminar that provides doctoral students with advice and guidance relating to their professional development as future scholars and enables students to engage in a dialogue on some of the most critical contemporary issues facing society.
This is the LinkedIn Group for alumni from Virginia Tech’s Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) Program in Blacksburg and Arlington, Virginia. The purpose is to create connections between and among UAP alumni and students.

Membership is open to UAP students, alumni, faculty and staff. If you would like to join please submit a request and have your UAP experience somewhere in your profile. https://www.linkedin.com/groups/3391187

This group serves to promote connections and facilitate discussion between Virginia Tech’s current and former students and faculty within the Urban Affairs and Planning program. https://www.linkedin.com/groups/7026177
The VA Urban Planning Virtual Career Fair provides a space for recent urban planning graduates and employers to connect to each other. Employers, post job announcements here. Graduates, under “Discussions,” post links to your resumes, and/or information about your interests, skills, and the types of jobs you seek. Please invite your VA Urban Planning connections! This page is managed by members of the Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association Student Representatives Committee. https://www.linkedin.com/groups/7036612
Recent Placements from the Masters of Urban and Regional Planning
ANDREW McCRAYHousing Specialist, Planning Department City of Pittsburgh, PA
Master of Urban and Regional Planning (M.U.R.P.)

PRACTICUM: “Assessment of the Jones Act Waiver Process on Freight Transportation Networks Experiencing Disruption”

KELLEY DAVISSenior Planner, Planning Department City of Manassas, VA
Master of Urban and Regional Planning (M.U.R.P.)

PRACTICUM: “Commercial Revitalization: Implementing the Mathis Avenue Sector Plan”

CECILE NEWCOMBPlanning Department Roanoke County, VA
Master of Urban and Regional Planning (M.U.R.P.)

PRACTICUM: “Imagine Blacksburg: Using Immersive 3D Models to Explore Density”

MICHAEL STAPORPlanning Department Loudoun County, VA
Master of Urban and Regional Planning (M.U.R.P.)

PRACTICUM: “Campus Planning for the Human Scale”

ALEXANDER BERRYMANPlanner and Zoning Administrator New Market, VA
Master of Urban and Regional Planning (M.U.R.P.)

MAJOR PAPER: “Making Ends Meet: Payday Lending Differences Between Rural and Urban Communities”

NATALIE PATTERSONLoan Analyst, National Housing Trust Washington D.C.
Master of Urban and Regional Planning (M.U.R.P.)

THESIS: “Creating Participatory Space through Partnership: Exploring the Relationship between a Faith-Based Day Programming Organization and a Cohousing Community for Individuals with and without Disabilities”

MELIHA ALJABARProgram Manager, Climate-Smart Cities, The Trust for Public Land Boston, MA
Master of Urban and Regional Planning (M.U.R.P.)

MAJOR PAPER: “Seeing Green: Urban Climate Resiliency Planning in an Era of Ecological Urbanism”

CARLIN TRACEYDesigner, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. New York City, NY
Master of Urban and Regional Planning (M.U.R.P.)

PRACTICUM: “Planning for a Future Historic Garden: The Haupt Garden.” A Recommendation Memorandum to the Smithsonian Institution.

SARAH STELLERResearch Policy Fellow, Economic Innovation Group Washington D.C.
Master of Urban and Regional Planning (M.U.R.P.)

MAJOR PAPER: “Understanding Impact of Creative Placemaking in Rural Communities”

What’s UP?
What’s UP? Great question!

“What’s UP?” is our new campaign to get the word out about Urban Planning. Through a video series of brief interviews, we hope to delineate what Urban Planning as a field of study is all about. We will be talking to students, alumni, faculty, and planning professionals to ask them “What’s UP?”

Connect with us on our social media platforms and stay tuned for the next episode on What’s UP?

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