Policy and Planning Competencies

The Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning Competencies will help guide your studies. These are the competencies we expect our graduates, or practical visionaries, to develop over their career in the Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning field of study. Some students use this list to describe their abilities on their resumes.


  • The history, structure and function of urban and metropolitan settlements
  • Economic influences on policy and planning (e.g. 'market' and 'polis' relationships)
  • Environmental, social and cultural influences on policy and planning
  • The different roles of government, governance and citizenship in policy and planning
  • The history, theory and processes of both policy making and planning together with implementation procedures and practices
  • Evaluation of policy and planning
  • The administrative, legal and political aspects of policy and plan-making
  • Areas of specific policy or planning content-based knowledge related to your professional interest(s) and an in-depth knowledge of one policy or planning domain through thesis or other terminal project


  • Critical Thinking Skills
    • Individual problem identification and documentation of the extent of the problem as well as the political, social, environmental and spatial context
    • Identifying possible analysis strategies and their implications
    • Identifying criteria for proposing and selecting solutions
    • Evaluating the development and results of policies and plans
  • Research Skills
    • Research design
    • Literature collection and analysis
    • Identifying and assessing data sources and limitations
    • Development of data collection instruments and tools
  • Data Analysis Skills
    • Interpreting and synthesizing data
    • Drawing inferences from specific observations to make more generalizable findings
    • Comparative and longitudinal analysis
    • Recognizing and accounting for limitations to findings
  • Qualitative Skills
    • Direct observation and analysis of primary and secondary qualitative data
  • Quantitative Skills
    • Descriptive and inferential statistics
    • Basic forecasting
    • Use of spreadsheets and statistical software
  • Spatial Analysis Skills
    • Ability to identify spatial problems and frame spatial questions for analysis and research
    • Use of Geographic Information System for basic spatial analysis and mapping
  • Communication Skills
    • Written, oral and graphic communication
    • Presentation strategies and methods

Policy and Planning in Practice

  • At least 150 hours, supervised, in an organization relevant to your interests
  • Demonstrate through the Internship Agreement and Learning Assessment that your Internship gave opportunity for significant learning in a field relevant to your interests and meets at least one of your career goals
  • Reflections on the role of ethics in professional policy and planning processes, practices and behavior
  • Synthesis and application of policy and planning content-based knowledge from theory into practice
  • Collaborative group management, problem solving, negotiation and mediation
  • Organizational management including decision making and strategic problem solving, human resource development, and financial management and resource development
  • Political and economic power mapping