Master of Science in Planning and Development

Make a difference in your community with a master’s in planning

Cities and towns across the US face challenges of managing growth, ensuring sustainability, and promoting community well-being.

Do you want to develop new city planning tools that help municipalities plan for their social, economic and environment needs?  Are you interested to work with community members to identify problems, evaluate possible solutions, and make informed decisions about their future?  Do you want to advance your knowledge and enhance your skills while learning from experts in the planning field?

If so, East Carolina University’s Master’s in Planning and Development (MSPD) is your path to a more rewarding career.

ECU’s MSPD degree program is 100% online, which means convenience and flexibility. The 30 credit planning master’s offers three concentration areas so you can focus on your interests:

  • Coastal and Environmental Planning
  • Urban and Community Planning
  • Rural and Regional Planning

No matter which concentration you choose, our degree will provide you with the theoretical background and practical skills for successful career advancement in city and regional planning in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

Why pursue a MS in Planning and Development at ECU?

At East Carolina University, we are committed to delivering a planning master’s degree that combines quality and convenience.

Key features of the MS in Planning and Development

  • Earn your degree while working full-time
  • No GMAT, GRE, thesis, or internship required
  • Planning courses in the degree program may be taken in any order
  • Transfer up to 50% of academic credits from another institution

Unparalleled faculty

Courses in ECU’s MSPD are taught by a combination of world-class faculty and experienced professional planners, providing both cutting-edge theory and real-world practical experience in city planning.

Rolling application deadlines

  • Fall semester: April 15 — priority; August 1 — standard
  • Spring semester: November 15 — priority; December 15 — standard

Courses you will take in the MSPD program

ECU’s planning master’s program provides a solid foundation in planning theory, policy, and professional practice. The program is designed to be flexible, and can be tailored to one of three concentration areas: coastal and environmental, urban and community, or rural and regional.

Course Catalog

Core courses you will take to earn your planning degree will address:

  • Planning Theory
  • Research Design
  • Research Methods
  • Growth Management
  • Geographic Information Systems or Design Applications

Depending on the concentration area you select, elective courses may include:

  • Coastal Planning and Policy
  • Housing and Community Development
  • Transportation Planning and Policy

Hear from our community planning degree students

“The MS in Planning and Development at ECU will equip students with the knowledge, tools, experience, and resources needed to foster sustainability and resilience for generations to come.”

—Dwane Jones, Acting Dean, College of Agriculture at University of the District of Columbia, and ECU alumnus (’00)

“The planning profession has quickly grown into one in which [a city planning] master’s degree is preferred.”

—Stephen Penn, city planner and economic development planner, Winterville, N.C., and ECU alumnus (’07)

What can you do with your with your online Master’s in Planning and Development degree?

City and regional planning professionals work in a variety of settings and draw upon their expertise to create land use, housing and infrastructure plans, promote community development, and work to ensure sustainability.

Where are MSPD graduates working?

There is a rising demand for skilled professionals who have a planning master’s degree and can use knowledge and skills can use knowledge and skills in city and regional planning to work closely with communities to improve quality of life.

With a master’s in planning and development online degree from ECU, you’ll be prepared to secure planner roles in many settings.

  • Public-sector planner and policy adviser: Handle the day-to-day management of a municipality, such as determining local transportation policy.
  • Private-sector planning and consulting: Collaborate in the commercial sector with planning, engineering, or architectural firms.
  • Policy researcher: Work for policy think tanks to produce influential research that informs government policy.

Job outlook for MSPD degree holders

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2023) projects 4% job growth through 2032 — as fast as average growth for all occupations — for positions related to city planning, with a median pay of $79,540 nationwide.

Get started on your Master’s in Planning and Development online degree

Embark on a rewarding career that supports — and sustains — strong communities. We can answer all your questions about our MSPD degree.

Degree programs related to MSPD

Accreditation for the Master’s in Planning and Development online at ECU Not Accredited by PAB currently.

East Carolina University will pursue accreditation from the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB) for our Master of Science in Planning and Development degree. The board has granted accreditation for our Bachelor of Science in Community and Regional Planning degree.