Master of Urban Planning: Specialization in Managing Metropolitan Growth

The specialization in growth management provides students with some of the tools necessary to deal with the land use challenges facing rapidly growing and changing areas. Students with this specialization are often to be employed in regional development agencies (government and private); state, local and county government, and with private developers. Growth management students should have an interest in metropolitan planning issues and intergovernmental relations.

In addition to the core courses required of all planning students, specialists in this area are required to become adept in general land use planning and at least one of the following areas: transportation policy and planning or environmental policy and planning.

Land use and growth management have become increasingly prominent issues across the nation and, especially, in Michigan. The spread of urban development creates opportunities but also presents significant challenges for planners: to assure the quality of the built environment, safeguard the quality of the natural environment, and provide equitable access to both new and existing resources and opportunities. These issues are just as critical in mature urban core areas as they are at the urban fringe, although the strategies for addressing them may differ. Since both the built environment and the natural environment are systems, how these issues are addressed in one part of the region has implications throughout the metropolitan area.

Department faculty are engaged in a variety of research projects that address growth management issues, including analyses of the attitudes of Michigan residents toward urban spread and land management policies, developers' responses to growth management regulations, alternative sites for a new Detroit River crossing, and how low-income Detroit residents who do not own cars meet their transportation needs.


Students in this concentration must take two courses from tier one and one course from tier two.

Tier one

Students are required to take UP 6260 and either UP 6470 or UP 6520 (three credits each):

  • UP 6260 Land Use Policy and Planning: Introduces students to the basic methods of land use planning, including zoning, master plans, site planning and basic environmental assessment. A major emphasis in the course will be methods of citizen involvement in land use planning and the legislative requirements in various jurisdictions.
  • UP 6470 Environmental Policy and Planning: Introduces students to methods and techniques in environmental impact and evaluation, methods of dealing with site contamination, the concept of brownfields, interregional issues in environmental management and state and national legislation.
  • UP 6520 Transportation Policy and Planning: Introduces students to the role of transportation in land use planning. Students will understand basic models in transportation, the ethics of transportation choices, the effect of transportation systems on regional development, funding mechanisms for transportation and government structure of transportation agencies.

Tier two

Tier two includes those courses from which students pick their third course. It includes whichever of the tier courses were not chosen to fulfill the tier one requirement (i.e., students who want to can elect to do all three of the tier one courses), plus the following:

  • UP 6310 Real Estate Development
  • UP 6700 Geographic Information Systems

Students may substitute other courses for the pre-approved electives if they are included in an approved plan of work. These other courses may come from another department or college.

See courses offered by semester

Course sequencing

Students are strongly advised to begin their coursework in the concentration with UP 6260. This course is best taken after UP 5110 Urban Planning Process.