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California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Department of City and Regional Planning

San Luis Obispo, CA


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Masters of City & Regional Planning at California Polytechnic State University

The Masters of City & Regional Planning (MCRP) at California Polytechnic State University is an essential part of the nationally-recognized College of Architecture and Environmental Design. Established in 1968, the program has more than 1,000 graduates at the bachelor's and master's level. It has accreditation from the Planning Accreditation Board.

The MCRP program builds upon broad undergraduate preparation in architecture/landscape architecture, humanities, natural sciences, or social sciences. The program's strengths include climate action planning, community sustainability, environmental planning, land use planning, transportation, and urban design. It emphasizes community-based studios that enable students to gain real-world planning experience and make a difference in California communities.

The program has partnerships with communities to create and deliver consultant-quality plans and designs. This work typically includes meeting with local governments, conducting workshops with the public, giving presentations to elected officials, and collecting and analyzing community data. Recent community partners include City of Guadalupe, City of Grover Beach, City of San Francisco, City of Ventura, King City, and San Luis Obispo County.

A nationally-recognized City & Regional Planning Department

The City & Regional Planning (CRP) Department is recognized locally and nationally for providing excellence in education. Since 2000, the American Planning Association has awarded the Outstanding Planning Award for Distinguished Leadership by a student to three CRP students. This achievement is unique among planning schools.

In addition, students regularly win awards for projects and studios from the American Planning Association. Students have won the annual Bank of America Low Cost Housing Challenge twice. Their competitors included students from Stanford University, the University of California--Berkeley, and the University of California--Davis.

According to the Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs, California Polytechnic State University has consistently ranked near the top of programs for planning for the past 10 years. Its 2017 guide ranked the MCRP program 5th among small programs and 20th in the country.

City and Regional Planning Practice

Cal Poly views city and regional planning as a means of helping people and communities manage change and growth in their economic, physical, and social environments. Planning encompasses architecture, engineering, government reform, landscape architecture, law, and social welfare. Today's planners integrate design, quantitative, and people skills to help communities and society.

Rigorous Master of City & Regional Planning Curriculum

The Master of City & Regional Planning is an applied, comprehensive, and professionally-based program. It's designed to meet the needs of students with baccalaureate degrees in a number of disciplines.

Its curriculum, which includes project-based learning, has 72 units of coursework. Core courses cover law, methods, planning theory, and development and implementation of plans and policies. The curriculum emphasizes skill building in every aspect of planning communications (verbal, visual, and written). It culminates with a community planning studio, professional project, or thesis.

The program can be completed in six quarters (two years) of study, and it generally begins in the fall quarter due to the sequencing of courses.

Student research opportunities

The culminating courses, "Community and Regional Planning Studio III," "Professional Project," and "Thesis," give students the opportunity to conduct research and gain practical and research experience. As a result, they graduate with the skills to perform these tasks:

- Critically evaluate and apply scientific research
- Gather, organize, analyze, and present planning information
- Transform information into knowledge for action

Faculty Members

MCRP students have an opportunity to form close working relationships with accomplished faculty like Hemalata C. Dandekar. Dr. Dandekar is a professor and the head of the City and Regional Planning Department, but also has practical experience as a licensed architect in state of California. Her research interests include architecture and planning methods, comparative issues of international development, housing, rural planning, urban form and design, vernacular, and women and development.

Employment opportunities

The MCRP program prepares students for careers in which they design human settlements that are in harmony with the needs of society and the natural environment. Planners work in private consulting firms and public agencies where they prepare comprehensive plans for cities, neighborhoods, projects, and entire regions. They address city planning, housing, land use, open space, public facilities, transportation, and urban development. They also develop budgets for public projects and programs and regulate private development.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, MCRP graduates enter a robust job market. In fact, it projected that employment for urban and regional planners will increase 13% (faster than average) from 2016 to 2026.

California Polytechnic State University

California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) is driven by its "Learn by Doing" philosophy that integrates academic expertise and hands-on learning. Professors teach most classes, which are small in size. This ensures that students receive high-quality education.

Cal Poly's campus is situated between rolling hills and the Pacific Ocean in San Luis Obispo, California, which is in the western region of the United States. San Luis Obispo has a charming downtown, and the city is surrounded by thousands of acres of national forests and state parks surround the city. The Pacific Ocean with its beautiful beaches is just below the city.

Degrees & Awards

Degrees Offered

Degree Concentration Sub-concentration
Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)
Master of City and Regional Planning/Master of Science (MCRP/MS)

Degrees Awarded

Degree Number Awarded
Master's Degrees 19

Earning Your Degree

Part-time study available? Yes
Evening/weekend programs available? No
Distance learning programs available? No
Terminal master's degree available? No

Degree Requirements

Degree Requirement
Master's Degrees Entrance Exam GRE
Comp Exam Required for some
Thesis Required


Acceptance Rate



Application Fee - Domestic
applications accepted?
Applications processed
on a rolling basis?

Application Deadlines

Type Domestic International Priority date
Fall deadline April 1st April 1st No

Entrance Requirements

Exam Details
Master's Degree Exam GRE

International Students

Exam Details
TOEFL: Required TOEFL IBT score: 80

Tuition & Fees

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Financial Support

Financial award applicants must submit: FAFSA
Application deadlines for financial awards March 2
Types of financial support available Institutionally-sponsored Loans
Graduate Assistantships

Student Body

Total Graduate Students
Not Reported
International Breakout (representing other countries)


Hispanic/Latino 16%
Black or African American 0%
White or Caucasian 68%
American Indian or Alaska Native 0%
Asian 8%
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 4%
Unknown 4%


Male (60%)
Female (40%)


Total faculty
Full-time - 5
Part-time - 2
Male (4)
Female (3)


Focus of faculty research: Community sustainability, climate action planning, natural hazards, small town and rural planning, subdivision site design
Externally sponsored research expenditures last year: 0

Location & Contact

Address 1 Grand Avenue
San Luis Obispo, CA  93407
United States
Contact Mr. Kelly Main
Graduate Coordinator
Phone: 805-756-2285

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California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
Update my info
Your submission to Department of City and Regional Planning has been sent.