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About Urban and Regional Planning at the UW - Madison

Welcome from the Chair

Three Core Missions

The Department of Urban and Regional Planning has three core missions of teaching, research, and outreach.  First, we actively prepare qualified graduate students to become competent, creative and effective practicing planners.  Second, we contribute to knowledge in the field of planning through scholarly and applied research.  Third, we undertake professional planning activities and provide service in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin - Extension, a variety of public agencies, planning consulting firms and other private and non-profit sector organizations. 


Urban and regional planning as an academic pursuit has a long history at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. The present program began officially in 1962. Over the years Department faculty have experimented with the curriculum and debated basic issues such as the degree of specialization appropriate for planning education and the relationship between research and service in a professional program.

Overall, the program has evolved through six rather distinct phases, each with its own administrative and curricular structure.  To learn about how the past shaped the mission and goals of URPL today, read The History of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning.


The Department of Urban and Regional Planning is located in historic Old Music Hall (see above) deep within the heart of Madison, the State Capital of Wisconsin.  We are amidst a host of cultural, historic, and natural amenities (and many of the heartland's best examples of planning, architecture, and natural resources).  URPL is only:

  • 1 minute walk to Lake Mendota and The Memorial Union Terrace
  • 10 minute walk to the State of Wisconsin Capitol Building and other State, County and City offices
  • 1 mile to the Monona Terrace Convention Facility designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (and 1 hour to Taliesin)
  • surrounded by some of the finest agricultural lands in North America
  • 1.25 hours to Milwaukee and 1.5 hours to Greendale, one of 3 Greenbelt communities in America
  • 2 hours to the Kickapoo River and its tributaries in Southwest Wisconsin (some of the finest trout angling in the Midwest)
  • 2.5 hours to Chicago and 4 hours to Minneapolis
  • about 3 hours to the Wisconsin Northwoods (defined as north of State Highway 8)