Measures of Student Achievement in the Master of Science in URPL Degree

The following represents our good faith attempt to present information on student acheivement using data that we collect on current M.S. program students and our alumni. It reflects summaries of campus data, our own survey efforts, and the reporting by external oversight institutions. These outside institutions include our accrediting body, the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB), and the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). These institutions are collaborative efforts between the American Planning Association (APA) and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP).


Student Achievement

Last year, the average undergraduate GPA of incoming master's students to the program was 3.36. The average GPA of current enrolled master's students in our program is 3.65, with 100% of the current cohort of students above a 3.0. None of our current students are on academic probation. Twenty-three percent of our current cohort are completing dual, double, or joint-degree programs, in effect doing two master's degrees simultaneously.


Average GRE scores for incoming students are difficult to calculate due to the differing test types, but the average percentile rank for the verbal section was 67.9%; the average percentile rank for the quantitative section was 56.2%, and the average percentile rank for the analytical writing section was 45.4%. These percentages represent the individuals' proportional placement rank placement among all test-takers (100% = top score).


Further, our current students are active participants in the Wisconsin Student Planning Association (WSPA) and the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA). This is in addition to the variety of extramural activities available on-campus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Specific direct metrics of student achievement with planning knowledge, skills, and values are difficult to develop. We have been actively surveying program graduates upon graduation (year 0) and at years 2, 5, and 10 years post-graduation and response rates are improving. This has been done in a replicable manner for 2013 and 2014 with the 2015 survey to be done sometime this summer. Results of our annual survey from 2013 can be found here with 2014 results in the process of being compiled.


Cost (Tuition and Fees)

Tuition and fees are calculated for one full regular (Spring or Fall) semester and are for a full-time graduate student (8+ credits; we consider a full semester credit load to be 12 credits). The rates listed below are for Spring 2015 and include segregated fees (detail found on the website listed below):


  • Wisconsin Resident = $5,932.20
  • Non-resident = $12,595.64
  • Minnesota Resident = $8,297.48 (note this reflects our state reciprocity agreement with Minnesota)


The most up-to-date description of tuition and fees for graduate study in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Wisconsin-Madison can be found here


Student Retention & Graduate Rates

URPL awarded 18 master's degrees in the 2014-2015 school year. For more information about past graduation rates, please see the Graduate School Program Profile for Urban & Regional Planning. To date, we have 1,113 master's program alumni since our inception in 1962.


The vast majority (above 90 percent) of our professional M.S. students graduate within 2 years. Students who opt to do a dual, double, or joint degree may take three years to graduate, but the URPL program is carefully designed to be finished in exactly two years.



An important metric that reflects student achievement with partricular reference to planning knowledge, skills, and values is the comprehensive examination administered by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). To become a certified planner, members of the American Planning Association (APA) must meet certain education and experience requirements and pass the AICP Exam. Recent information from the AICP has identified the following pass rate for UW-Madison URPL graduates:


Graduation Years Ending







Master’s program graduates who take the exam within 3 years of graduation

# who take exam






% of takers who pass the exam







Click here to see results for each of the past ten years


Comparatively, our curriculum is well-suited to prepare alumni for this examination. See the most recent comparative national rankings here. Note that UW-Madison is ranked #1 in the 2nd Quartile (based on number of exam takers) above our competition that includes Cornell, University of California-Berkeley, UCLA, and Harvard. Further, note that our pass rate is higher than all of Quartiles 1 and 3.


Employment Rate of Fulltime Graduates

The employment rate of fulltime graduates in professional planning or planning-related job within one year of graduation is a difficult statistic to identify and changes year-to-year. Our most recent survey efforts indicate a 50% employment rate for students past two months of their graduate date, with a 100% employment rate for students two years past their graduation date. Of these, 88% were successful in attaining fulltime professional planning or planning-related employment. 


We have an ongoing effort to survey our graduates at the 1-, 2- and 5-year post-graduation periods.


The Master of Science in Urban and Regional Planning was first established at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1944. Since 1955, this program has been recognized by the American Planning Association. We are fully accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board through 2016. This most recent accreditation review was based on a 2008 self-study and a 2009 site visit. Our accreditation planning for the 2016 round of the PAB has begun.