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FAQs

Is Portland State’s planning program ranked?

Our MURP program is currently ranked #14 nationally by Planetizen, out of around 100 programs accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board. Find more facts and figures about our program here.

Do MURP students become AICP certified?

100% of our graduates who attempted the AICP exam within 5 years of graduation passed the exam.

How flexible is the program?

All students take a set of core courses, which represent 40 of their 72 credits (quarter system). With the remaining credits, students have the opportunity to develop a customized course plan that reflects their academic and professional interests within planning. Faculty have developed a set of advising pathways to help students understand the range of career paths within planning, the skills and knowledge that are important for those careers, and how those skills and knowledge map onto courses offered through TSUSP and elsewhere at PSU.

Can I go part-time?

Yes. Each year, a portion of our MURP cohort starts the program part-time. We are on the quarter system, and many of our courses meet only once a week. Course schedules often allow students to work, either part- or full-time, including at internships.

Quarter system? How does that work?

There are three quarters in the academic year, fall, winter, and spring. Each quarter is 10 weeks, plus a finals week. Many students and faculty have strong feelings, both pro and con, about the quarter system. One advantage for us is that fall term starts at the very end of September, so we all enjoy the glories of Portland’s beautiful summers for longer. It also means that we don’t waste much time. Classes meet for ten weeks and we make them all count.

What does it cost? 

Information on tuition and fees can be found here. In 2017-18, tuition and fees per full-time academic year were $15,816 for in-State residents and $23,160 for out-of-state residents.

Residents of several western states may be able to pay in-state tuition through the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) & Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP). More information here and the application here.

Are there scholarships?

A number of Portland State scholarships and fellowships are available to students at the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning. Visit the Scholarships and Fellowships page for more information. The deadline for most PSU scholarships is February 1. Even if you are not yet accepted into the MURP program but have submitted an application, you are still eligible to apply.

Are there research assistantships?

A limited number of graduate research assistantships (GRAs) are awarded during the admissions process as part of the Portland Planning Diversity Award program (described below). However, many MURP students find GRA positions with individual faculty members, research centers that are affiliated with the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning and the College of Urban and Public Affairs, or other offices on campus. Assistantships provide 9-12 credits of tuition remission, partial fee waiver and a monthly stipend.

Are there internships?

All MURP students complete an internship before graduation. MURP student have interned in most of the public planning agencies in the region, including several bureaus within the City of Portland (Environmental Services, Housing, Planning & Sustainability, Transportation), the cities of Gresham, Beaverton, and Milwaukie (OR), Metro, TriMet, Washington County, Port of Portland, Home Forward, and the Oregon Department of Transportation. They have also gained valuable experiences with consulting firms such as Alta Planning+Design, CH2M, EcoNorthwest, Fregonese Associates, Otak, MIG Inc., Walker Macy, Mackenzie, and Nelson\Nygaard. Non-profit organizations that have had MURP interns include 1000 Friends of Oregon, Bicycle Transportation Alliance (now the StreetTrust), EcoDistricts, Housing Land Advocates, Rosewood Initiative, Sabin Community Development Corportation, Green Lents, Energy Trust of Oregon, and the Westside Transportation Alliance. Most of those internships are paid. Students receive credit towards their MURP degree through the Planning Practice Workshop, which provides support in finding an internship as well as an opportunity to reflect on the internship experience and share personal assessments with peers. 

How does the program recruit and support students from under-represented backgrounds?

The Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning (TSUSP) promotes equity and fosters an environment of cultural difference and diversity among faculty and students. These principles are fundamental to developing healthy communities and achieving academic excellence. To encourage a diverse and inclusive environment, we reaffirm our policy for equal opportunity, which ensures equal access for all according to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, or veteran status.

To help support diverse students, Portland Planning Diversity Awards (PPDA) are available for incoming MURP students on an annual basis. The purpose of these awards is to attract outstanding students from diverse backgrounds and experiences, including racial and ethnic backgrounds that are traditionally underrepresented in graduate urban planning programs. Each award is a 2-year GRA, including tuition and stipend for approximately 12 hour/week working with faculty and/or research centers, or local public agency partners, during the academic year. MURP Applicants will receive a link to the 2019 PPDA application once their full application has been received.

What kind of relationship does the program have with local government agencies and planning firms?

It’s not complicated. We engage with agencies and firms in many ways. Public agencies and non-profit organizations often serve as clients for projects in courses, including Planning Workshop and Planning Methods courses. Our faculty regularly engage with public agencies and non-profit organizations on applied research. Planners and other professionals, both public and private, come to our classes to share their experience. Our students have internships in just about every planning consulting firm in the region, as well as public agencies and non-profits.

Is the program individual or group project based?

Both. As a planner, you will often be working in teams, so many of our courses include team-based projects. This includes Planning Workshop, which is the capstone of the program. However, for many courses assignments are individual. It all depends on the learning objectives.

Are there pre-requisites?

There are no specific course or degree pre-requisites. Applicants must possess a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in all undergraduate courses or must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 in all graduate credits earned at accredited institutions. Our MURPs have undergraduate degrees in a wide range of disciplines, including Anthropology, Physics, Environmental Studies, Engineering, Architecture, Education, Political Science, Sociology, English, and more.

Where do your graduates go on to work?

  • Our employment rates one year after graduation are regularly around 90%
  • Median salaries one year out for MURP graduates are usually $50-60,000
  • About half of our graduates go into the public sector, 40% into the private sector (e.g., planning consulting firms, developers), and 10% into the non-profit sector.
  • About two-thirds of MURP graduates stay in the Portland metro region; about three-quarters stay in the Pacific Northwest.

Where can I learn more about the courses?

Most of our courses are listed here. But, each term we also offer many “special topics” courses that are not listed, such as Disaster Planning, Transit Planning, and more.

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