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Areas of Specialization

Each student, in consultation with their advisor, must identify an area of planning where they develop in-depth skills and knowledge. The area of specialization is commonly used by graduates of the UW-Madison program to communicate areas of special expertise to potential employers and allows the student to concentrate on planning issues of most importance to them. The area of specialization often draws on courses taught by the Department, but often also draws on courses taught in other leading departments available to students at the UW-Madison.

One unique thing about URPL is that each student and their advisor develop areas of specialization individually.  Although it is up to the student to choose an appropriate area of specialization based on their interests, often areas of interest fall into broader categories, including:

  • Community Development
  • Urban Design
  • Housing
  • Historic Preservation
  • Food Systems Planning
  • Natural Resource Development and Planning
  • Social Justice and Environmental Equity
  • Ecological Planning
  • International Planning
  • Economic Development Planning
  • Transportation Planning and Policy
  • Land Use Planning and Policy
  • Downtown Revitalization
  • Energy Planning
  • Environmental Planning
  • Sustainable and Smart Growth Planning
  • GIS Applications and Utilization
  • Parks and Open Space Planning


Each student consults with their advisor in identification of their chosen area of specialization and in selecting the courses that will be used to fulfill the Area of Specialization requirement. This process normally starts during the first semester of study and must be completed by the last semester of study.  Recent graduates’ areas of specialization are listed below:

  • Community Development
  • Land Use & Transportation
  • Community Development & Disaster Planning
  • Land Use Planning & Urban Design
  • Economic & Community Development
  • Markets and Food Systems
  • Environment & Transportation
  • Social Justice & Environmental Equity
  • Environmental & Energy Planning
  • Sustainable Community Development
  • Environmental & Open Space Planning
  • Sustainable Land Use & Development
  • Environmental Policy
  • Transportation & Economic Development
  • Housing & Community Development
  • Transportation Planning & Policy
  • International Sustainable Community & Economic Development
  • Urban Land Use Development & Law

Typical Course Sequence