Master’s Degree Program
The Master's of Science in Planning (MSP) degree is the professional degree of most planners in the United States. The graduates of our program work in more than 40 states and about 30 foreign countries, with the largest proportion working in Florida.
To find out more about the MSP program view our Measures of Student Achievement.
The MSP Degree Requirements
The principal aim of the MSP program is to train students for professional careers in planning, allowing them to function in both generalist and specialist roles. The MSP degree is normally obtained after two years of full time study, involving the completion of at least 48 semester hours of course work and 400 hours of work as a planning intern. Part-time students can also be accommodated. Course work is organized into the following curriculum components:
- Core curriculum: 12 credit hours
- Methods for policy and planning decisions: 6 credit hours
- Collaborative and participatory methods: 3 credit hours
- Specialization courses: 12-15 credit hours
- Internship: 0 credit hours
- Capstone paper/project/thesis: 3-6 credit hours
- Electives: 6-12 credit hours
Beginning in their second semester of study, students choose a planning specialization from the following list, in which they take a minimum of four additional courses. Dual specializations are possible.
- Environmental Planning and Natural Resource Management
- Land Use and Comprehensive Planning
- Housing and Community Development
- Planning for Developing Areas
- Planning for Community Health
- Transportation Planning
All students complete a zero-credit 10 week full-time (or part-time equivalent) internship in a planning or planning related agency. This may be a paid or unpaid position; in practice, however, they are usually paid. The intent of the internship is to give students a unique learning opportunity, allowing them to put many of the concepts and methods learned in the classroom into practice in a realistic professional setting. The internship also serves to help students focus their interest area and course work for the remainder of their studies, and provides a maturity gained from relevant work experience. Typically, the internship is completed during the summer between the first and second year of study. Many students, however, fulfill this requirement through part-time employment during the school year.
While securing an internship is primarily the responsibility of the student, the Department provides substantial aid in locating a position and in insuring that the work experience is relevant and appropriate to the student's program of study. The large number of public and private planning agencies within the Tallahassee area, and the strong ties that the Department maintains with these agencies, help to insure that students will locate an interesting and rewarding position. A partial list of area agencies that are likely to employ planning students is provided elsewhere in this catalog. However, students are not limited to the local area alone for a position. See a list of recent internship placements.
The capstone research paper, project, or thesis is designed to give students an opportunity to pursue a particular topic in depth and in an integrated fashion before assuming professional employment. All students are required to successfully complete and defend a group studio project, research paper, thesis, or student-initiated professional project. Registration for any one of these options is available only to students who, at a minimum, have successfully completed their first year of full time study (or its equivalent), and who have chosen a specialization and Major Professor. The intent is to insure that these options are available only to students who have completed the core and introductory specialty courses.
Studio Project: Students work in small groups on a project that relates to an important planning issue or problem. Topics vary, but all have significant practical importance and provide a substantial public service to a client.View a list of recent Studio Projects.
Research Paper: Students may elect to pursue a topic of particular interest related to their area of specialization or concentration on an individual basis. This may involve empirical or library research, and is conducted under the guidance of a faculty advisory committee.
Master's Thesis: The thesis is a more extensive research effort than the Research Paper option. Although not required to show original results, the thesis must reveal independent investigation and knowledge of the methods of scholarship.
Professional Project: The professional project is a student-initiated version of the studio project. The project involves plan production for a real or hypothetical client. The plan may include a discussion of existing conditions, an analysis component, and a policy recommendations section. A student may develop an individual professional project from his/her internship experience, although the scope of the project must extend beyond the student’s regular internship duties. Teams of students may undertake group professional projects, with the approval of their supervisory committee.
These components of the master's program can be organized into a "typical" curriculum as follows:
Fall, First Year: URP 5211 Planning Statistics (core); URP 5847 Growth and Development of Cities (core); two specialization or elective courses; URP 5930 Professional Topics(0 hours).
Spring, First Year: two policy and planning methods classes; two specialization or elective courses; URP 5930 Professional Topics (0 hours).
Fall, Second Year: URP 5101 Planning Theory and Practice (core); URP 5125 Plan Implementation (core): specialization or elective courses; capstone or specialization course.
Spring, Second Year: 3 specialization or elective courses; capstone or specialization course.
Speaker Series: Professionals and scholars active in innovative or controversial planning projects describe their work in a speaker series. M.S.P. students are encouraged to attend this series throughout their tenure at Florida State. They are required to attend for two semesters, however, and should register for URP5930: Professional Topics in Urban and Regional Planning for each of their first two semesters of study.
See How to Apply to the MSP Program for information on admission.