F.A.Q.   (Frequently Asked Questions) for incoming Master of Urban Planning (MUP) students at Michigan

last updated: January 17, 2014

Note:  Please email me with suggestions/corrections to this FAQ.  Thanks, Scott Campbell
  

Which Orientation should I attend?
I recommend both the college/urban planning and the Rackham Graduate School orientations, scheduled late in the week before school starts.  Rackham is a wonderful (and sometimes overlooked) resource for graduate students, and it is well worth the effort to get to know Rackham (the building, the staff, the web pages, the programs and funding opportunities).

 

When should I take the required core courses? 
MUP students typically complete most of their 6 – 8 required core courses in their first year, giving them the flexibility to take mostly electives in their second year.  (Note:  if you need to take both UP503 and 510, then you have eight core courses;  if you waive out of both, you have six.)    Dual degree students:  this schedule will be different for dual degree students who take more than two years of courses at UM.

Core Course

Fall (Year 1) Winter (Year 1) Fall (Year 2) Winter (Year 2)

503 Intro to Statistics (take if you have no statistics background) 

Seymour      

504 Quantitative Planning Methods

  Grengs    

505 Fundamentals of Planning Practice

  a choice of two sections (Etienne or Hoey)    

510 Public Economics (take if you have no micro-economics background)

Bieri      

513 Legal Aspects

Norton      

540 Planning Theory

a choice of two sections (Campbell or Thomas)      

610 Fiscal Planning and Management

    Deng  

UP 631, 634, 733 or 734 (six-credit capstone)

    one section of 634 offered in fall... ...multiple sections in winter

 

So, what courses should I take my first semester?
In the fall, students generally take four courses:  mostly core courses, and sometimes an elective or two.  

Many students take the less formal, one-credit course: UP590 (Expanded Horizons: a 3-5 day field trip to a major North American city early in the fall; this year's trip is to Toronto, Sept 18-22).   In addition, if you waive out of UP503 or UP510 [see below], you will have more room for electives this fall. Course schedule for Fall 2013: http://www.ro.umich.edu/schedule/         Click on Fall 2013 Online Schedule, then navigate to Architecture and Urban Planning, then Urban Planning Schedule of Classes.

see also this "typical schedule" on the college's web page.

 

Tentative Schedule of Graduate Winter 2014 Courses (unofficial, subject to change). Download ".ics format" of the fall courses (unofficial).

 

Schedule of Graduate Fall 2013 Courses (unofficial, subject to change):

[core courses in darker yellow]

Here is a file ".ics format" of the fall courses (unofficial).

 

What is an average course load (i.e., how many credits per semester)?
Generally students take 12 credits/semester, but you can take more/less depending on your needs and workload.  (15 credits/semester is not unusual, but more would likely be an excessive load for most students.)  You need 48 credits to graduate with your M.U.P.  Most courses are three credits.
Note that if you are pursuing a joint degree (e.g., MUP/MPH) or a degree plus a certificate (e.g., MUP/Real Estate Certificate), the second credential increases both the required substantive courses and the required number of credits.  (For example, the Real Estate Certificate requires 17 credits from courses on the approved list;  8 of these credits can be double-counted for your MUP degree.  The MUP/Real Estate Certificate combination therefore requires 48+9=57 total credits.)    More information: http://taubmancollege.umich.edu/planning/programs/graduate_certificates/real_estate_development/

 

What is the "cognate" requirement?
The Rackham Graduate School requires each student to complete a minimum of “4 credit hours of cognate coursework in approved graduate-level courses with a grade of B- or better “ (i.e., courses outside the program).  In general, students are encouraged to take courses across the university, as long as 30+ credit hours are taken in graduate-level urban planning courses.  Students typically take planning courses in the fall, and begin looking around at non-planning courses in later semesters. See also this suggested list of cognates on the college web page.

 

Will I have difficulty getting into some courses?
Courses have an upper limit of students (listed as “capacity” on wolverineaccess) ranging from ca. 25 to 60+.   In many planning courses, enrollment doesn’t hit capacity and so you shouldn't have a problem enrolling.   However, some courses have restricted class sizes and excess demand, including the GIS course (UP506), and some of the real estate courses.  Also, core courses with multiple sections (UP504, 505 and 540) have enrollment limits to evenly distribute students across both sections.  If you can't get into a class, some (but not all) may have official waiting lists on wolverine access.  If you are not able to take UP506 (GIS) in your first year, you should be able to take it in your second year.  Some URP students also take GIS in the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE).  [You will find that some programs outside URP may make it harder for students not in their program to get into their courses, but persistence is often effective.]
Most classes are offered ONCE per year.  So, if you don't take it this fall, it will likely be offered next fall. (Exceptions:  the intro to GIS course, UP506, is offered both fall and winter. Both PhD theory courses, UP650 and UP660, are offered alternate years; UP523, regional planning, is also offered alternate years.)  Sometimes a course might be offered as just a one-off (e.g., a customized course taught by a visiting faculty member.)   So, if you see an interesting course and think "Oh, I may try to take that next year," ask first whether it in fact will be offered next year. 

 

Do courses have prerequisites?
Though most URP courses do NOT have prerequisites, some do.  Some examples (not a complete list, and please confirm with individual course instructor):


Course (*indicates core course)

Prerequisite

UP504 Quant. Planning Methods*

UP503 Intro to Stats.* (or equivalent)

UP610 Fiscal Planning*

UP510 Public Economics* (or equivalent)

UP507 Advanced GIS

UP506 (Intro GIS)

UP565 Real Estate Development

UP 517 Real Estate Essentials or FIN 318

UP631 Land Use and Physical Planning Studio (2nd year capstone)*

UP 518 (Physical Planning Workshop); UP519 (Theories of Urban Design); UP 516 (Planning Representation and Communication)

UP634 Integrative Field Experience (2nd year capstone)*

UP505*

UP650 Advanced Urban Theory

UP540 Planning Theory*

 

How soon do I need to finalize my fall course schedule?
You can easily ADD/DROP courses within the first three weeks.   Students "shop around" for courses during the first week or two of class, and faculty generally expect to see students coming and going during the first few sessions (even arriving late and/or leaving early to go to another class that overlaps). Students typically settle on their course schedule by the end of the second week (if not earlier).  Remember:  though you don't need to finalize your schedule until the third week of the semester (Sept 23), you do need to register by Sept. 2 and have at least one course on your schedule.  Registration deadlines: http://ro.umich.edu/calendar/fa13deadlines.php
Academic calendar: http://ro.umich.edu/calendar/

 

How do I waive out of a required course (i.e., get an exemption)?
To request to waive out of the course, complete the course waiver form (link).  Waivers are not automatic:  they require written approval by the Program Chair or the faculty member teaching the course. Waivers for fall courses should be requested upon your arrival in the fall and approved before the end of the official drop/add date for the current semester (September 23, 2013). You will need to show a record of recently taking a comparable previous course with a grade of "B" or higher (provide a transcript & a syllabus or equivalent).  If the waiver is granted, be sure to note the relevant box on your "Degree Requirements Checklist" sheet, which should be kept on file with the program administrator. (You will need to submit a completed version of this sheet during the semester you plan to graduate.)

The most frequent waivers are for UP503 and UP510: in past years, I would estimate that ca. one-third to one-half of MUP students waived out of each of these courses. Waiving out of the other core courses is far less frequent.

Here are a few comments on waiving from specific core courses:

 

What is the role of my advisor(s)?
Advisors can assist you with course selection, the selection of concentrations, answer overall questions about the program, and provide useful advice about navigating graduate school and the demands of the semester.  We try to match students and faculty based on areas of interest, but you are certainly welcome to change your advisor anytime throughout your time at Michigan.   You will also find that students tend to use many of the faculty as informal advisors.    Second-year students are also great resources of knowledge about courses, etc.

 

How soon do I need to pick my "concentration"?
To provide focus for your graduate planning studies, students are required to select one of five concentrations:  (1) land use & environmental planning;  (2) housing, community & economic development;  (3) planning in developing countries;  (4) physical planning & design;  (5) transportation planning.  (Students may also develop an alternative concentration in consultation with a faculty member.)  A concentration normally consists of at least three courses selected from a list of required and recommended courses.  Students complete a concentration declaration form during their second full semester in the program.
Students may select (or change) their concentration at any time during their course of studies.  In practice, students should finalize their concentration selection by the start of their third semester to insure that they can complete the requisite courses.  New students should therefore not worry about rushing to pick a concentration; use your first semester of studies to explore your options.  (Exception:  students interested in the physical planning & design concentration should ideally take the foundation courses, including UP516, up518 and UP519, during their first year – see section on “prerequisites” above.)  

 

What do I need to do to make sure I graduate on time?

This URP web page outlines the requirements. The essentials include:

 

Interested in the urban planning PhD degree?
Here is a link to a useful page about applying to the PhD program. MUP students interested in the PhD program typically apply by January of their second year for fall admission.

 

In what other activities do MUP students get involved?
The program, college and larger university all are very active places with many events, organizations, and opportunities. Here are just a few:

 

Michigan-Speak Glossary

          

Which Orientation should I attend?
I recommend both the college/urban planning and the Rackham Graduate School orientations, scheduled late in the week before school starts.  Rackham is a wonderful (and sometimes overlooked) resource for graduate students, and it is well worth the effort to get to know Rackham (the building, the staff, the web pages, the programs and funding opportunities).

 

When should I take the required core courses? 
MUP students typically complete most of their 6 – 8 required core courses in their first year, giving them the flexibility to take mostly electives in their second year.  (Note:  if you need to take both UP503 and 510, then you have eight core courses;  if you waive out of both, you have six.)    Dual degree students:  this schedule will be different for dual degree students who take more than two years of courses at UM.

Core Course

Fall (Year 1) Winter (Year 1) Fall (Year 2) Winter (Year 2)

503 Intro to Statistics (take if you have no statistics background) 

Seymour      

504 Quantitative Planning Methods

  Grengs    

505 Fundamentals of Planning Practice

  a choice of two sections (Etienne or Hoey)    

510 Public Economics (take if you have no micro-economics background)

Bieri      

513 Legal Aspects

Norton      

540 Planning Theory

a choice of two sections (Campbell or Thomas)      

610 Fiscal Planning and Management

    Deng  

UP 631, 634, 733 or 734 (six-credit capstone)

    one section of 634 offered in fall... ...multiple sections in winter

 

So, what courses should I take my first semester?
In the fall, students generally take four courses:  mostly core courses, and sometimes an elective or two.  

Many students take the less formal, one-credit course: UP590 (Expanded Horizons: a 3-5 day field trip to a major North American city early in the fall; this year's trip is to Toronto, Sept 18-22).   In addition, if you waive out of UP503 or UP510 [see below], you will have more room for electives this fall. Course schedule for Fall 2013: http://www.ro.umich.edu/schedule/         Click on Fall 2013 Online Schedule, then navigate to Architecture and Urban Planning, then Urban Planning Schedule of Classes.

see also this "typical schedule" on the college's web page.

 

Tentative Schedule of Graduate Winter 2014 Courses (unofficial, subject to change). Download ".ics format" of the fall courses (unofficial).

 

Schedule of Graduate Fall 2013 Courses (unofficial, subject to change):

[core courses in darker yellow]

Can I download the Fall 2013 schedule of courses into my Calendar?

Here is a file ".ics format" of the fall courses (unofficial).

 

What is an average course load (i.e., how many credits per semester)?
Generally students take 12 credits/semester, but you can take more/less depending on your needs and workload.  (15 credits/semester is not unusual, but more would likely be an excessive load for most students.)  You need 48 credits to graduate with your M.U.P.  Most courses are three credits.
Note that if you are pursuing a joint degree (e.g., MUP/MPH) or a degree plus a certificate (e.g., MUP/Real Estate Certificate), the second credential increases both the required substantive courses and the required number of credits.  (For example, the Real Estate Certificate requires 17 credits from courses on the approved list;  8 of these credits can be double-counted for your MUP degree.  The MUP/Real Estate Certificate combination therefore requires 48+9=57 total credits.)    More information: http://taubmancollege.umich.edu/planning/programs/graduate_certificates/real_estate_development/

 

What is the "cognate" requirement?
The Rackham Graduate School requires each student to complete a minimum of “4 credit hours of cognate coursework in approved graduate-level courses with a grade of B- or better “ (i.e., courses outside the program).  In general, students are encouraged to take courses across the university, as long as 30+ credit hours are taken in graduate-level urban planning courses.  Students typically take planning courses in the fall, and begin looking around at non-planning courses in later semesters. See also this suggested list of cognates on the college web page.

 

Will I have difficulty getting into some courses?
Courses have an upper limit of students (listed as “capacity” on wolverineaccess) ranging from ca. 25 to 60+.   In many planning courses, enrollment doesn’t hit capacity and so you shouldn't have a problem enrolling.   However, some courses have restricted class sizes and excess demand, including the GIS course (UP506), and some of the real estate courses.  Also, core courses with multiple sections (UP504, 505 and 540) have enrollment limits to evenly distribute students across both sections.  If you can't get into a class, some (but not all) may have official waiting lists on wolverine access.  If you are not able to take UP506 (GIS) in your first year, you should be able to take it in your second year.  Some URP students also take GIS in the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE).  [You will find that some programs outside URP may make it harder for students not in their program to get into their courses, but persistence is often effective.]
Most classes are offered ONCE per year.  So, if you don't take it this fall, it will likely be offered next fall. (Exceptions:  the intro to GIS course, UP506, is offered both fall and winter. Both PhD theory courses, UP650 and UP660, are offered alternate years; UP523, regional planning, is also offered alternate years.)  Sometimes a course might be offered as just a one-off (e.g., a customized course taught by a visiting faculty member.)   So, if you see an interesting course and think "Oh, I may try to take that next year," ask first whether it in fact will be offered next year. 

 

Do courses have prerequisites?
Though most URP courses do NOT have prerequisites, some do.  Some examples (not a complete list, and please confirm with individual course instructor):


Course (*indicates core course)

Prerequisite

UP504 Quant. Planning Methods*

UP503 Intro to Stats.* (or equivalent)

UP610 Fiscal Planning*

UP510 Public Economics* (or equivalent)

UP507 Advanced GIS

UP506 (Intro GIS)

UP565 Real Estate Development

UP 517 Real Estate Essentials or FIN 318

UP631 Land Use and Physical Planning Studio (2nd year capstone)*

UP 518 (Physical Planning Workshop); UP519 (Theories of Urban Design); UP 516 (Planning Representation and Communication)

UP634 Integrative Field Experience (2nd year capstone)*

UP505*

UP650 Advanced Urban Theory

UP540 Planning Theory*

 

How soon do I need to finalize my fall course schedule?
You can easily ADD/DROP courses within the first three weeks.   Students "shop around" for courses during the first week or two of class, and faculty generally expect to see students coming and going during the first few sessions (even arriving late and/or leaving early to go to another class that overlaps). Students typically settle on their course schedule by the end of the second week (if not earlier).  Remember:  though you don't need to finalize your schedule until the third week of the semester (Sept 23), you do need to register by Sept. 2 and have at least one course on your schedule.  Registration deadlines: http://ro.umich.edu/calendar/fa13deadlines.php
Academic calendar: http://ro.umich.edu/calendar/

 

How do I waive out of a required course (i.e., get an exemption)?
To request to waive out of the course, complete the course waiver form (link).  Waivers are not automatic:  they require written approval by the Program Chair or the faculty member teaching the course. Waivers for fall courses should be requested upon your arrival in the fall and approved before the end of the official drop/add date for the current semester (September 23, 2013). You will need to show a record of recently taking a comparable previous course with a grade of "B" or higher (provide a transcript & a syllabus or equivalent).  If the waiver is granted, be sure to note the relevant box on your "Degree Requirements Checklist" sheet, which should be kept on file with the program administrator. (You will need to submit a completed version of this sheet during the semester you plan to graduate.)

The most frequent waivers are for UP503 and UP510: in past years, I would estimate that ca. one-third to one-half of MUP students waived out of each of these courses. Waiving out of the other core courses is far less frequent.

Here are a few comments on waiving from specific core courses:

 

What is the role of my advisor(s)?
Advisors can assist you with course selection, the selection of concentrations, answer overall questions about the program, and provide useful advice about navigating graduate school and the demands of the semester.  We try to match students and faculty based on areas of interest, but you are certainly welcome to change your advisor anytime throughout your time at Michigan.   You will also find that students tend to use many of the faculty as informal advisors.    Second-year students are also great resources of knowledge about courses, etc.

 

How soon do I need to pick my "concentration"?
To provide focus for your graduate planning studies, students are required to select one of five concentrations:  (1) land use & environmental planning;  (2) housing, community & economic development;  (3) planning in developing countries;  (4) physical planning & design;  (5) transportation planning.  (Students may also develop an alternative concentration in consultation with a faculty member.)  A concentration normally consists of at least three courses selected from a list of required and recommended courses.  Students complete a concentration declaration form during their second full semester in the program.
Students may select (or change) their concentration at any time during their course of studies.  In practice, students should finalize their concentration selection by the start of their third semester to insure that they can complete the requisite courses.  New students should therefore not worry about rushing to pick a concentration; use your first semester of studies to explore your options.  (Exception:  students interested in the physical planning & design concentration should ideally take the foundation courses, including UP516, up518 and UP519, during their first year – see section on “prerequisites” above.)  

 

What do I need to do to make sure I graduate on time?

This URP web page outlines the requirements. The essentials include:

 

Interested in the urban planning PhD degree?
Here is a link to a useful page about applying to the PhD program. MUP students interested in the PhD program typically apply by January of their second year for fall admission.

 

In what other activities do MUP students get involved?
The program, college and larger university all are very active places with many events, organizations, and opportunities. Here are just a few:

 

Michigan-Speak Glossary