Urban Planning refers to the academic and professional field of planning, design, regulation of the use of space, and the social impacts of the activities within that specific environment. The past, present, and future are scrutinized through interrelated disciplines and factors.

Universities all over the world are offering the course through their undergraduate and graduate programs. This article has compiled the best schools in the world for future urban planners.

Top Urban Planning Schools in the World

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

It is a private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is known as one of the top universities, not only in the United States but in the world as it has played an important role in the development of science and modern technology.

With MIT being one of the best urban planning schools in the world, its Urban Planning Department offers undergraduate and graduate programs for students. For the undergraduate degree, MIT offers a Bachelor of Science in Planning. The program focuses on laying a foundation for students to know about political science, economics, policy analysis, and urban design to help develop and solve the social and environmental problems in the world.

MIT offers more graduate programs that include a Master in City Planning, a Master of Science, and a Ph.D. Here is what each specialization aims for:

  • Master in City Planning – This two-year program aids the students to master the tools that are necessary for practice once they go on a career path in the public or private sectors. It is focused on developing the skills for institutional intervention and policy analysis.
  • Master of Science in Urban Studies and Planning – This program is intended for those professionals who already have experience but are seeking a one-year Master of Science degree.
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Studies and Planning – This program is focused on building a solid foundation for those who want to pursue further research or teach in the areas of applied social research and planning.

2. University College London (UCL)

The University College London is one of the most prestigious public research universities in the world and is recognized for its excellent academic standards and massive impact on the world stage.

UCL created The Barlette School of Planning and it has become one of the leading research-led schools in Europe. Barlette offers undergraduate and graduate programs in Urban Planning and all its programs are accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors or the Royal Town Planning Institute.

The Barlette School has three Bachelor of Science programs that focus on the expansion of knowledge regarding urban change and challenges, pro-active engagement through live project work, and many more. While its graduate programs, consisting of 13 Masters and a Ph.D., are focused on further developing the knowledge of students regarding panning and its disciplines as well as preparing for a career in teaching or research.

3. The University of California, Berkeley (UC)

UC Berkeley is the first campus in the University of California system and it is ranked as the top public school in the United States and fourth-best overall in the world. It’s known for its excellent academic standards and the amazing opportunities it can provide the students.

The university has undergraduate and graduate programs under its City and Regional Planning department. A Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Urban Studies is offered to students of this top-notch urban planning school to develop their knowledge about liberal arts in connection with urban planning. The course offers a deep understanding of cultural imagination and economic development.

UC Berkely also offers a Master of City Planning which is a two-year program that focuses on enhancing the students’ analytical and research skills. A Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning is a very competitive program that aims to provide students the training in advanced research, the practice of planning, and urban and planning theory.

4. ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology

It is a public research university founded by the Swiss Federal Government in 1854. The focus of the university is to develop knowledge regarding mathematics, engineering, science, and technology.

Undergraduate and graduate degrees are offered through the Institute for Spatial and Landscape Development. The university has a Bachelor of Science focused on seven courses such as Environmental Planning and Site Management. The Master’s program has more subjects to learn from such as Regional Economics and Project Development. All programs are subjected to be finished with a thesis to prove that students can create a scientifically structured work.

5. Harvard University

Harvard University is an Ivy League school and is one of the most, if not the most, known universities in the world. It’s known for its excellent academic programs and the prestige it gives its students.

The university only offers Master’s degrees at the moment, however, Harvard University is still considered a top urban planning university. The graduate programs are as follows:

  • Master in Urban Planning – This is a two-year program that aims to develop and enhance the built environment and the factors that affect it.
  • Master of Architecture in Urban Design/Master of Landscape Architecture in Land Design – This is for students who have a strong desire to engage with the practice and theory of contemporary urbanism.

6. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

It is the oldest public university in the United States and is globally recognized for its innovative teaching. It is considered a Public Ivy since it offers academic standards and environments that are similar to Ivy League universities.

Through its Department of City and Regional Planning, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill is known for being one of the best urban planning universities in the world. It offers a minor in urban studies to students enrolled in an undergraduate program in the university. It helps in providing a strong foundation for students who wish to get a graduate degree in planning or related fields.

The university also has graduate programs to offer namely a Masters of City and Regional Planning with four courses and four specializations. The Ph.D. program is divided into three phases to further enhance the skills and knowledge of the students to prepare them for their chosen careers.

7. Politecnico di Milano

It is the oldest university in Milan and the largest technical university in Italy. It aims to provide world-class and excellent standards in education through its research and innovative programs.

Being an excellent urban planning institution, Politecnico di Milano, through its School of Urban Planning, offers Laurea Programmes (Bachelor’s), Laurea Magistrale Programmes (Master’s), and a Ph.D. program. Students can also have the option to choose Internal Double Degrees, Specializing Masters, and other courses.


I hope this article on the world’s best urban planning schools was helpful. Make sure to also check out the Available Programs for International Students!