Urban planning education is the practice of teaching and learning urban theory, studies, and professional practices. The interaction between public officials, professional planners and the public involves a continuous education on planning process. Community members often serve on a city planning commission, council or board. As a result, education outreach is effectively an ongoing cycle.
Since planning programs are usually small, they tend not to be housed in distinct “planning schools” but rather, as part of an architecture school, a design school, a geography department, or a public policy school, since these are cognate fields. Generally speaking, planning programs in architecture schools focus primarily on physical planning and design, while those in policy schools tend to focus on policy and administration.
As urban planning is such a broad and interdisciplinary field, a typical planning degree program emphasizes breadth over depth, with core coursework that provides background for all areas of planning. Core courses typically include coursework in history/theory of urban planning, urban design, statistics, land use/planning law, urban economics, and planning practice. Many planning degree programs also allow a student to “concentrate” in a specific area of interest within planning, such as land use, environmental planning, housing, community development, economic development, historic preservation, international development, urban design, transportation planning, or geographic information systems (GIS). Some programs permit a student to concentrate in real estate, however, graduate real estate education has changed giving rise to specialized real estate programs.