Mark Hamin , Program Director
The goal of the Regional Planning Program is to stimulate creative and systematic approaches for addressing and resolving the physical, economic, and social problems of towns, cities, and larger regions. Faculty and students are committed to the attempt to anticipate and adequately prepare for the impact of growth and development on the environment and vice versa, and to resolve conflicts between development and the environment.
The program is based on combining theoretical, historical, social, political, and technical dimensions of planning practice with strong emphasis on practice through studio and service to nearby communities. The program is oriented toward both the intellectual and the professional aspects of regional planning. Our alumni can be found in all levels of government as well as in consulting practice, real estate development, private industry, and in academic and research activities. They have been involved on the frontiers of social change since the 1960s such as urban revitalization, environmental protection, advocacy planning, historic preservation, growth management, economic development and geographic information systems.
The two-year Master's degree program offers a rich educational experience in many areas of regional planning, including the underlying theories in planning, urban form, urbanization, elements of the planning and decision-making processes, policy analysis and implementation, social planning, information technology and planning tools and techniques. The main areas of concentration within the MRP program are:
- Urban and Regional Land Use Planning 
- Social, Policy and Community Planning 
- Landscape and Environmental Planning 
- Economic Development Planning 
In addition, links with the program in landscape architecture enable advanced students to work with other faculty members and students studying problems of landscape architecture and urban design.
Public Information: The Planning Accreditation Board (PAB) now requires that its accredited planning programs provide relevant public information to help prospective students to make a more informed decision among various programs. As of academic year 2013-14, through newly implemented (revised, updated, expanded) recent graduate and alumni survey procedures, the UMass MRP Program will compile even more precise annual data to provide yearly as well as longitudinal information about outcome trends relative to goals. Information provided below has been derived from a mix of data collection methods and from variable sample sizes in recent years, and so at present will be summarized in terms of more approximate percentage ranges.
1. Student achievement: While the Graduate School at UMass sets 2.75 GPA as the minimum threshold for admission, the MRP Program has set as a long-term target having at least 50% of its students at around or above a 3.5 GPA for the program, and all above 3.0 GPA. Over the past five years, we have ranged from 40-54% near target 3.5 GPA; only a small handful of students have fallen below 3.0 (probationary status) and have either improved their grades or withdrawn. We also assess trends in academic achievement by means of the number of student poster and paper competition submissions, college or university academic awards, fellowships/assistantships, etc.
2. Costs (tuition and fees) for a full-time student:
In-State Tuition and Fees:......................2012 est. $ 6,489. per semester (12-15 hours)
In-Region Tuition and Fees:...................2012 est. $10,410. per semester (12-15 hours)
Out-of-State Tuition and Fees:...............2012 est. $13,228. per semester (12-15 hours)
International Tuition and Fees:...............2012 est. $13,228. per semester (12-15 hours)
3. Student retention and graduation rates: The MRP Program (including its dual degrees) in recent years has averaged approximately c. 16 graduates annually. On average we bring c. 19-20 students into the program each year; of those, c. 14 full-time students finish within two years; c. 3-4 finish between 2+ and 4 years, and c. 2-3 may withdraw or take a leave in any given year.
4. Professional Certification: The percentage of Master’s graduates who pass the AICP exam within 3 years after graduation has been relatively modest to date (c. 15%); our target goal is to double that rate in the next two years, as part of our long-term strategic alumni outreach plan.
5. Employment in the professional field: The employment rate of our full-time MRP graduates in a professional planning or planning-related job within one year of graduation has ranged from 45% during the aftermath of the 2007 economic downturn to somewhere between 60-66% in the past two years as a slow recovery has expanded the job market. These percentages only partly reflect contract consultant, part-time, or temporary grant-funded positions rather than full-time, long-term staff positions. Within two years c. 75% of our graduates have planning-related jobs; others have continued with or returned to graduate or professional study in another academic degree program (e.g., PhD, dual degree).