MURP Strategic Plan 2018-2022

Revised November 2020

The Urban & Regional Planning (URP) Program revised its strategic plan in fall 2017 to align with new College of Social Science priorities. This document presents the goals and priorities of the Program for the coming five years.

Program Vision

Creating sustainable cities and communities through leadership, entrepreneurial creativity, social responsibility, and environmentally sustainable planning and policy.

Program Values

Quality: We hold ourselves to the highest standards to achieve lasting influence.

Inclusiveness: We foster a culture in which all individuals are valued, respected and engaged so that diverse voices can enrich our work.

Engagement: We link with campus and external communities to leverage our strengths and collectively realize our shared goals.

Integrity and Ethics: We are honest, transparent and courageous in our discovery and dissemination of knowledge.

Creativity: We imagine innovative approaches to understand and improve the world.

Advocacy and Empowerment: We equip individuals and communities with the knowledge to make informed and just decisions.  

Graduate Program Mission

The mission of the Urban & Regional Planning Program is to prepare students to become leaders, innovative thinkers and policy makers in the planning profession. This is addressed through three broad themes:

Teaching: To provide future leaders the knowledge, skills, and values to enable them to become effective planners and policy makers, and have a lasting influence in improving the quality of urban places and regions;

Research: To conduct and disseminate innovative research on emerging dimensions that improve the world and influence decision-making to plan for more equitable and sustainable communities; and

Outreach: To address community problems by linking knowledge and practice and lead individuals and communities to make informed and just decisions.

Goal 1

Prepare students to be professional planners through an advanced curriculum emphasizing core planning knowledge and leadership that contributes to advancing theory and practice.






1.1 Continue to meet Planning Accreditation Board (PAB) standards on core curriculum requirements for knowledge, skills and values.

Faculty review process for PAB core requirements.


Curriculum meeting PAB expectations for the Masters of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) degree.

Monitor changes in PAB standards. 

Annual review of curriculum, with appropriate changes implemented.

1.2 Conduct ongoing gap analysis to improve curriculum and course offerings.

Curriculum and courses serve PAB expectations for knowledge, skills and values.


Courses meet PAB content guidelines.

Evaluate results from student learning outcomes, alumni surveys and exit surveys. 

Use outcome data to modify courses to meet and enhance expected results. 

Supplement courses with increased information about workshops and training modules delivered by the Alumni Network or Michigan Association of Planning (MAP). Use extra credit to encourage use of these resources.

1.3 Explore new thematic areas and provide electives based on emerging trends and applications in urban planning.

Identify emerging needs of the profession. 

Seek faculty positions to meet emerging knowledge and skill requirements.


Curriculum serves current and future needs of the profession.



Explore opportunities to bring new expertise to the Program. 

Consider creation of new electives, shared courses with other units, or training modules, actively promote opportunities for summer electives and programs. 

Increasing SPDC cross-disciplinary course offerings, research projects, or workshops.

1.4 Provide added opportunities for scholarship, leadership and engagement in the field

Engagement measures include conference presentations, publications, instances of leadership and students taking American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) exam.


MURP graduates have the skills and tools necessary to be leaders in the profession.

Promote scholarship including theses, publications and presentations at professional meetings. 

Promote opportunities for student funding and scholarships. 

Implement brownbag workshops to support student scholarship and build research connections among students and faculty. 

MURP students take on leadership and editor roles for Practicum. 

MURP students participate in the “Emerging Professionals” network sponsored by the MAP. 

Provide a refresher module on AICP through the Alumni Network or MAP.

Goal 2

Enhance the curriculum so that students acquire advanced communication and analytical skills to excel in the planning job market, with more opportunities for engaged and experiential learning.






2.1 Assess standards and input received regarding curriculum needs.

Identify curriculum needs and gaps in current content. 

Track communications skillsets by course.



Updated curriculum that updates communication and analytical skills.

Alumni survey on professional skill needs. 

Student survey on interests and needs. 

Faculty review of curriculum. 

Start in 2020-21. 

2.2 Expose students to opportunities for professional development beyond the required curriculum.

Participation in professional planning conferences and events. 

Students engaged in graduate research opportunities and internships.


Each URP student has experience participating in MAP, Student MAP (SMAP) and American Planning Association (APA) conferences. 

Encourage research presentations at conferences. 

More than ½ of students will have an internship. 

Students will have applied research experience.

Ensure funding for students attending MAP/APA conferences. 

Link employers with students, especially through the alumni network. 

Provide financial support and faculty mentoring for student research.

2.3 Provide students with the knowledge and experience of global trends and practice in urban planning.

Global planning presence in the curriculum. 

Students participating in study abroad programs. 

Guest lecture by faculties in foreign universities (online or in-person). 

Consider international planning course?


Global perspectives incorporated into curriculum and through student study abroad experience.

Offer annual study abroad programs. 

Provide funding for students on study abroad programs. 

Collaboration with our global partners.

Goal 3

Attract and retain a large and diverse MURP student population.                                                                     






3.1 Achieve a reasonable program size and diversity.

Number and diversity of MURP student body.


Increase the number of students from historically underrepresented groups by 25%.

Recruitment strategy that specifically targets graduates from HBCUs, tribal colleges, and predominantly Latinx universities. 

Development of promotional materials. 

Seek graduate student funding. 

3.2 Improve student recruitment program.

Promotion efforts to increase student applications.


Maintain an enrollment of at least 15 students.

Provide competitive funding for half of students at time of admission.


Recruitment strategy that targets in-state professional planners or local government officials without a MURP degree. 

Coordinate recruitment efforts with ongoing work by the SPDC Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) committee. 

Promote the 4+1 program. 

Restart the Master of International Planning Studies (MIPS) program. 

Promote program at planning conferences and events. 

Development of promotional materials. 

Seek graduate student funding, including TA and RAships.

Goal 4

Promote MURP faculty-student partnered research to advance planning for more equitable & sustainable communities






4.1 Assess student involvement in faculty sponsored research.

Number of,  or percentage of Students involved with grants, contracts, publications, reports, presentations and other scholarly endeavors)/total number of students in cohort. 

Number of research assistantships funded.


Students have research experience and understand research driven planning.

Emphasis on student productivity at annual evaluation and promotion/tenure and protecting time of untenured faculty.

Apply for grant funds to support students on assistantships or hourly payroll to work on funded research projects.

4.2 Promote advanced research skills.

Number of faculty/student partnered research initiatives. 

Each student in the program gains at least 1 experience partnering with faculty on research.


Students are offered the opportunity to engage in research and field work.

Seek resources for applied research and outreach.

Identify/seek resources for student research such as short courses, software purchase, research expenses. 

4.3 Define specific research themes that leverage assets to position Michigan domestically and globally.

Instances of involvement with cross-unit and cross-university collaboration on applied research, grants and contracts.

Frequency of diverse electives being offered.


Increased/rotate electives courses and faculty in environmental sustainability, diversity and inclusion, transportation, and economic development.

Identify emerging fields and faculty expertise. 

Use visiting practitioners to offer courses in emerging topics, particularly DEI. 

Integrating DEI in core class curriculum.

4.4 Encourage student-partnered research through internships and employment opportunities for current and graduating students.

Increase the pipeline for employment.

Instances of students to presenting research at state/national conferences and research fairs. 


Student employment with agencies/ companies and contribution in school sponsored research and initiatives. 

Coordinate opportunities through faculty and student services. 

Students to present research at state/national conferences and research fairs. 

Goal 5

Foster a sense of community and inclusion within the School and among URP students, alumni and faculty.         






5.1 Work to enhance the diversity of our student body through efforts to create an environment of inclusion and respect.

Increased student diversity. 

Create and promote events related to equity and inclusion.


A student body reflective of our profession and geographic area.

Establish a diversity and inclusion taskforce.

Targeted recruitment of underrepresented groups in Michigan and nationally.

Emphasize diversity and inclusion as a core Program value. 

5.2 Work to enhance the diversity of our faculty through efforts to create an environment of inclusion and respect.

Increased range of voices heard by students from URP faculty and guest speakers.


Create an open and engaging environment for faculty and students from diverse backgrounds.

Organize events that recognize the significance of diversity and inclusion in planning. 

Invite speakers to represent  different perspectives on planning. 

5.3 Foster an inclusive and active URP student organization.

Increase participation in Urban & Regional Planning Student Association (URPSA).

Increase in URPSA sponsored activities.


Better connected and in-tune faculty and student relationship.

Articulate the value of URPSA and membership.

Have a dedicated faculty liaison to URPSA.

5.4 Effectively utilize alumni network and MAP to provide professional development opportunities for internships, job shadowing, interview skills and networking with MAP professionals.

Increased alumni sponsored activities.

Increased support for social and professional events organized by the student association and the Alumni Group. 


Cultivate a strong local alumni group and local Chapter for student faculty and alumni networking and professional development. 

Better connections to MAP.

Encourage students to participate in MAP activities such as MAP student conference, Young Professionals Network and other opportunities.

Invite alumni to give guest lectures, keynote addresses, and participate in regular curricular activities.