Since its founding in 1948, the Department of City and Regional Planning (DCRP) has grown into one of the largest and most respected graduate city and regional planning programs in the United States.
Program Statements (Curriculum and Policy Guide)
Capstone Handbook (CR/PR/Thesis Guide)
The MCP is a two-year nationally accredited professional-degree STEM program. We aim to provide our students with:
- Lifelong analytical, research, and communication skills;
- The knowledge and skill sets to successfully practice planning in a variety of urban, metropolitan, and regional settings;
- An understanding of the history and theory of planning and of cities and urban regions;
- Expertise in various fields and sub-fields of city and regional planning;
- Sensitivity to the human impacts of planning decisions, with particular attention to equity, diversity, and social justice.
The Master of City Planning (M.C.P.) degree combines a common core curriculum with the opportunity to specialize in one or more of the following concentration areas:
- Environmental Planning and Healthy Cities
- Housing, Community, and Economic Development
- Transportation Policy and Planning
- Urban Design
To earn the M.C.P. degree, a student must complete:
- 48 units of in-residence coursework or 36 units in concurrent/dual degree programs
- Successful completion of the core curriculum
- Courses in at least one concentration area
- A capstone project consisting of either a client report, a professional report, or a master's thesis
Program Selection and Advising
Students plan their individual programs with the help of their faculty advisor. All new graduate students are paired with an advisor, whose role is to help students structure their first-semester program. First-year students set up an intial meeting with their assigned adviors during the first three weeks of the fall semester.
Students declare a concentration at the end of the first semester by completing a Concentration Declaration Form and submitting it to the Graduate Student Affairs Officer (GSAO). Advisors are chosen within the area of concentration.
All students are expected to complete a three-month internship in a planning-related position, usually between their first and second years of study unless exempted by previous work experience. Frequently, the work completed during a summer internship forms the basis for the the Professional Report, Client Report or Thesis. International students who hold an F-1 or J-1 visa must complete an internship during their two years of study.
DCRP and UC Berkeley offer multiple types of financial support to its graduate students. Details are available here.
ARCUS Social Justice Corps (ASJC) Fellowship
The ASJC is a NEW fellowship program at the College of Environmental Design that offers significant debt-relief to select graduate students (current and new) who intend to do social justice work after graduation. Details are available here.
The M.C.P. degree is an approved field of study within the U.S. government’s official STEM fields list. Practical work experience in your field of study, typically after completion of a degree for a maximum of 36 months (12 months of “regular” OPT with a 24-month extension possible). For further details regarding STEM extensions, contact the Berkeley International Office (BIO).
- Concentration in Environmental Planning and Healthy Cities
- Concentration in Housing, Community, and Economic Development
- Concentration in Transportation Policy and Planning
- Concentration in Urban Design
Charisma Acey, Stephen Collier, Jason Corburn, John Radke
The concentration in Environmental Planning and Healthy Cities (EPHC) is designed to give M.C.P. students the broad knowledge and skills necessary to analyze and plan for pressing urban environmental and health challenges, such as climate change, natural resource depletion, access to basic services and infrastructure, as well as ecologic and human health risks and mitigation, especially as they impact socially vulnerable people and communities. The concentration emphasizes the theory and practice behind the related ideas of urban sustainability, resilience, environmental justice and risk, political ecology and human health. Students will study urban and regional environmental and human health issues in a comparative perspective, with a focus on both US and international settings. The concentration introduces students to the relationships between natural, built and social environments in cities, as well as the local, regional and global impacts of urban ecosystems and the political institutions that aim to manage these environments. The emphasis on healthy cities engages in the practices of urban public health and inclusive community engagement recognizing that planners are increasingly required to work together with communities to analyze and act upon how the urban environment influences human well-being.
Joint degree programs with the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning (M.C.P. & M.L.A.) and the School of Public Health (M.C.P. and Masters in Public Health, M.P.H.) are available for interested students.
Sai Balakrishnan,Teresa Caldeira, Daniel Chatman, Carol Galante, Zachary Lamb, Ben Metcalf, Carolina Reid
The Housing, Community and Economic Development (HCED) concentration focuses on the equitable development of neighborhoods, cities and regions. From “housing as a human right” to addressing the systemic inequalities that produce segregated landscapes of poverty and wealth, this concentration is distinguished by its attention to issues of racial, social and economic justice. It seeks to expose the linkages between land use, governance, capitalism, and inequality, and explore how communities chart varied development pathways. Berkeley’s program is distinguished by two strong strands of expertise among its faculty: a theoretically informed understanding of private property and land tenure, segregation, and the right to housing, and a practice-oriented approach to housing policy, affordable housing development, and inclusionary forms of land organization, both in the context of the United States and the Global South.
Faculty in this concentration work on topics such as:
- Housing and real estate development, including access to credit, the financing and construction of affordable housing, and housing policy
- Spatial segregation and social discrimination in both the United States and the Global South
- The politics of land ownership, tenure, and property rights
- Gentrification and displacement
- Forms of political participation and resistance
- International development, including the provision of housing, water and sanitation in informal settlements
- Community development and community organizing, including programs and policies designed to address longstanding patterns of residential segregation
- Planning for sustainability, including issues related to regional governance, resilience, affordability, and the linkages between land use and climate change
Faculty within the HCED concentration draw on multidisciplinary perspectives including anthropology, economics, history, planning, and sociology, and incorporate both qualitative and quantitative methods in their research.
Graduates in the HCED concentration go on to work in a wide variety of positions, including nonprofit and public sector agencies Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmBH, Living Cities, Metropolitan Transportation Commission/MTC, PolicyLink, San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, the City of Richmond, the Association of Bay Area Governments/ABAG, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development), affordable housing developers (e.g., BRIDGE Housing, Eden Housing, Mercy Housing, and Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation/TNDC, as well as community-based organizations (e.g., East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation/EBALDC, East Bay Housing Organizations/EBHO, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. Local Initiatives Support Corporation/LISC and Mission Economic Development Agency/MEDA).
Daniel Chatman, Marta González, Daniel Rodríguez, Karen Trapenberg-Frick
The transportation planning concentration focuses on planning for urban transportation and land use systems, and interactions of transportation and land use with the built, natural, and social environments. In presenting the social, economic, and environmental implications of transportation and land use plans and policies, and promoting economic efficiency, green transport, resource conservation, and environmental protection, the courses in the concentration are focused around themes of equity, environmental justice, and social welfare. We emphasize the planning and policy challenges encountered by attempting to increase the use of environmentally sustainable travel modes such as walking, cycling and public transit, and the creation of environmentally sustainable land use patterns such as compact growth and transit-oriented development. Topics covered in the core courses include the impacts of transit and highways on urban form and economic development; the impacts of urban form, transit-oriented development and new urbanism on travel behavior; governance, finance, and implementation challenges in making sustainable transport investments; the importance of highway and transit finance, municipal finance, and development finance; the promises and pitfalls of innovative sustainability solutions such as congestion pricing, parking pricing, and master development plans; streets and pedestrian- oriented designs; transportation and land use planning in the developing world; and comparative international transportation and land use policies.
As concerns heighten over regional mobility, air quality, global climate change, energy, and equality of access, it is increasingly important that transportation and land use planners apply a multi-disciplinary approach to the field. Accordingly, students in the concentration are encouraged to augment the department’s transportation course offerings by designing a study program, in consultation with their advisor that involves course work in other fields and departments.
Students in the transportation planning concentration may seek to pursue the concurrent degree program in transportation planning and engineering (M.C.P. & M.S.). This option confers both the M.C.P. and the M.S. (with Civil and Environmental Engineering) upon students who complete 60 units of course work, normally over five semesters.
Zachary Lamb, Elizabeth Macdonald
Urban designers are concerned with how places look, how they feel, how they relate to natural processes, and how they work for the people who use them. The Urban Design concentration is structured to give M.C.P. students the knowledge necessary to design urban built form in relation to social, environmental, and economic concerns. “Design” is a key, operative word: urban designers shape built and natural environments both directly through their proposals for specific interventions and indirectly through their contributions to policies and plans that shape the actions of other city making actors. Urban design work ranges in scale from small public spaces and streets to neighborhoods, citywide systems, and regional strategies. The emphasis of much urban design work is on the public realm of cities, with central concerns being livability, identity, place-making, equity, environmental performance, the interface between the public and private realms, and the quality of everyday life. The concentration is equally concerned with conceptions of the “urban” and it draws on approaches from the disciplines of city planning, architecture, landscape architecture, as well as theories and methods from the social sciences with the intent of analyzing the urban condition and designing the urban realm. The studio experience is central to the urban design concentration. Working in teams and individually, students explore planning and design possibilities for urban places and learn to articulate and present their ideas through visual and verbal communication. Learning from local and global contexts, and how cities have been designed and inhabited in the past, students envision possibilities for the future. Graduates in urban design work for public agencies across scales, advocacy organizations, and private architectural, landscape, city planning, and community development firms whose clients are both public and private.
Students concentrating in urban design often have some prior design training or experience, typically in architecture, landscape architecture, environmental design, or urban planning with a design emphasis, but a design background is NOT required.
A three- or four-year joint degree program in urban design is available with the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, where students receive both the M.C.P. and the M.L.A. degree. A joint degree is also available with the Department of Architecture, where students receive both M.C.P. and M.Arch degrees.
- Other elements of your application that weigh significantly in the review process are:
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- Bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution
- Advanced Grade Point Average (G.P.A.) of 3.0 or B or better (on a 4-point scale) for all coursework AFTER the first two years of UNDERGRADUATE study.
- Please calculate your advanced G.P.A. using our GPA Calculator.
- For applicants whose undergraduate institution does NOT utilize a 4-point scale, the calculation of an AGPA is NOT required.
- Please enter your university’s GPA into the Other Scale GPA box.
- For all other GPA boxes (Advanced, Major, Courses Related to Field of Graduate Study), enter “N/A.”
- Evidence of English Language Proficiency
- All applicants (domestic and international) who have completed a basic degree IN a country or political entity in which the official language is NOT English are required to submit official evidence of English Language Proficiency.
- This applies to institutions in Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada).
- Applicants may email DCRP Graduate Student Services: firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm testing requirement.
- tatement of Purpose (SOP, 3 pages, double-spaced)
- Please discuss (with clarity and focus) why you want to study urban planning, why you want to study at UC Berkeley, and how our program can help you achieve your academic and professional goals.
- We encourage you to consider your responses to the questions below.
- The Present: What brought you to pursue graduate study in planning?
- The Past: What academic, employment experiences (professional work experience and/or internships) or activities (research, co-curricular activities, leadership roles, etc.) bear on your qualifications for this planning program? How do these experiences relate to your decision to study planning?
- The Future: What are your long-term career goals? In following the completion of your graduate degree in planning, what kinds of work and professional activities would you like to engage?
- Concurrent degree applicants (M.Arch, M.S., M.L.A., J.D., M.P.H.) will submit ONE comprehensive statement that addresses your interest in and fit with both programs.
- Personal History Statement (PHS, 1-2 pages, double-spaced)
- Please describe any experiences that give the faculty a sense of who you are as a unique individual and how you would contribute to the department’s mission to create a community of students with diverse perspectives, life experiences, and intellectual interests.
- If you have faced any obstacles or barriers in your education, sharing those experiences serves both for the admission recommendation process, and for your potential nomination for certain diversity-based fellowships.
- If one part of your academic record is not ideal, due to challenges you faced in that particular area, this is where you can explain that, and direct reviewers’ attention to the evidence of your promise for graduate education.
- Your statement can include any educational, familial, cultural, economic or social experiences, challenges or opportunities including:
- Evidence of how you have overcome barriers to achieve academic excellence;
- Evidence of how you have come to understand the barriers faced by others by your own life experiences and educational background;
- Evidence of your academic service to advance equitable access to higher education for women and racial minorities in fields where they are underrepresented;
- Evidence of your leadership experience among students from groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education;
- Evidence of your interests, work and/or research focusing on understanding issues of equity, diversity or sustainability in urban planning;
- Evidence of who you are as an individual and how that may impact who you would like to be as a planner
- To view additional tips please visit Writing the Personal Statement.
- Letters of Recommendation (3 Required)
- The most helpful and strongest letters are from individuals who have supervised your work in either an academic, employment (professional work experience and/or internships) or community service capacity.
- Your recommenders are encouraged to describe SPECIFIC EXAMPLES of your work that demonstrate your intellectual ability, creativity, initiative, leadership potential, and promise for graduate study in planning.
- In the Recommendations section of the application, for each individual, you will:
- Enter the recommender’s contact information
- Select your answer for the “access waiver” question
- Provide your signature
- Click “send”
- Thereafter, you should notify your recommenders that they will receive an email from UC Berkeley’s Graduate Admissions Office: email@example.com. The email’s subject line will be “Recommendation request from [Applicant Name] for the University of California, Berkeley” and the body of the email will outline the steps required to upload their letter to the application system.
- If your recommender has NOT received the email or they CANNOT upload their letter, have your recommender email their letter to DCRP Graduate Student Services: firstname.lastname@example.org and we will upload it for them.
- You may submit your application BEFORE your recommendations are in the application system.
- [M.C.P.-URBAN DESIGN CONCENTRATION, M.ARCH/M.C.P. AND M.L.A.-2D/M.C.P., M.L.A.-3D/M.C.P. ONLY]: Upload a digital portfolio to the Supporting Materials section.
- The portfolio may contain 12 pages total (8- ½”x11″ format, 2-page spread = 2 pages) of urban design related content.
- Please note that beyond 12 pages, your portfolio will NOT be reviewed.
- Title page and/or table of contents may be submitted, and will NOT count toward the 12 pages of content.
- The portfolio should showcase recent, high-quality work, and will be assessed on both content and overall design.
- Applicants to the M.C.P. – Urban Design track are NOT required to have intensive design training before admission.
- Applicants WITHOUT a design background are encouraged to submit work that:
- Shows evidence of visual creativity (studio art, photography, drawing, painting, graphic design, GIS mapping, construction/renovation, web-based projects, etc.) and demonstrates interest in and aptitude for urban design;
- Demonstrates the range of analog and digital methods and media that the applicant has worked with;
- Highlights work that is related to the scales, questions, and methods of urban design;
- Highlight how their work in visual/spatial media is related to broader questions of intellectual and social concern.
- Any material that is NOT entirely the applicant’s own work must be clearly identified (e.g. include information describing your individual contributions to a group project).
- The portfolio must be saved as a single file in PDF format.
- The file size must be no larger than 10MB.
- If your portfolio exceeds 10MB, try compressing it in Adobe Acrobat.
- The portfolio may contain 12 pages total (8- ½”x11″ format, 2-page spread = 2 pages) of urban design related content.
Prospective applicants are encouraged to set up virtual meetings with the Graduate Advisors and/or with our faculty to discuss the program. We recommend that you schedule your meetings in advance with the Graduate Advisors by email email@example.com and/or with faculty (refer to faculty directory to locate contact information). Please note that our faculty manage their own calendars so it is not possible for the Graduate Advisors to set up virtual meetings on behalf of applicants. Faculty are available for fall-semester appointments during the months of September, October and November, and for spring-semester appointments during the months of February, March and April.