MA in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning & MS in Environmental Policy and Planning

Our 2-year master’s programs are professional degrees that prepare students for a variety of careers in planning, policy, organizing, advocacy, and/or research. Both are nationally accredited urban planning programs that share the same core curriculum. Our degrees are distinct from many other policy and planning programs and have a strong social justice focus. Environmental and social justice, ethics of community engagement, and awareness of the interconnectedness of decisions are part of all UEP courses. Our students learn to engage and confront the social and environmental challenges in today’s world of rapid urbanization, climate change, and structural injustices. Students gain skills through academic coursework, applied projects, work experience, and individual research.

While the MA in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning is a more general degree, the MS in Environmental Policy and Planning requires a thesis or capstone that focuses on sustainability and environmental issues. Students have the option of choosing either the MA in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning or the MS in Environmental Policy and Planning.

Both the MA and the MS:

  • Can be completed in two years of full-time study. 
  • Are offered either full-time or part-time for working professionals, with some courses offered during the evenings and on weekends.
  • Have the same degree requirements including a total of twelve or thirteen courses (36-39 credits) plus a thesis or capstone exam for a minimum of 42 credits. 
  • Are eligible for tuition scholarships and financial aid opportunities. 
  • Allow you to work with faculty advisors to individually craft your course of study and design your thesis or capstone focused specifically on your interests.

Differences Between the MA and the MS: 

Master of Science in Environmental Policy and Planning Master of Arts in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning
STEM-designated program. This may allow international students longer visas for practical training upon program completion. Not a STEM-designated program.
Your thesis or capstone will focus specifically on sustainability and environmental issues. Your thesis or capstone can focus on any policy and planning field of your interest.

Note: It is possible to switch your degree program from MA to MS or vice versa after enrolling as long as you meet the criteria of the program you are switching to. 

Program Requirements and Policies

  • A total of twelve or thirteen courses (36-39 credits) are required plus a thesis or capstone exam for a minimum of 42 credits. 
  • To receive credit for a course toward their MA/MS, graduate students must attain a grade of B- or better.
  • In addition to our course offerings, students may select courses from other Tufts departments and schools, and Boston-area consortium universities. 

Course Requirements

  • Five required core courses covering theoretical foundations and professional skills:
    1. Foundations of Public Policy and Planning — A conceptual and critical overview of public policy and planning theory, process, and practice. Provides an introduction to basic elements of public policy formation and application involving a range of environmental, social policy, and planning issues. This includes methods for analyzing policy and planning decisions, strategies for developing alternatives, examination of the role of values and empirical knowledge in setting policy agendas, and implementation.
    2. Cities in Space, Place and Time — Introduces students to the history and theory of cities and metropolitan regions focusing specifically on the actions of planners and policy-makers and how these actions shape our communities, neighborhoods, cities, regions, and world. The focus will be on the US, but the course will include comparisons to other systems (e.g., UK, Western Europe, Latin America, and China). The course will examine the urban and metropolitan fabric through the lens of work, family, transport and communications, energy, environmental conditions, physical structure, economics and trade. Race, class, gender, immigration, and culture change will serve as cross-cutting themes throughout the readings, lectures, and discussions. Particular attention will be paid to institutional actors and their responses — governments, business leaders, and community leaders.
    3. Quantitative Reasoning — This course presents basic concepts of statistical analysis and research, and develops related skills that are indispensable to agency directors, policymakers, and advocates alike. Students learn to select among available data sources, measures and indicators, and statistical techniques in order to best answer questions of interest.
    4. Field Projects: Planning and Practice — Practical planning and research experience in a community or governmental setting. Students are exposed to the realities of urban and environmental planning practice by working in teams for actual clients. Focuses on the interplay of expertise, social and political values, and professional relationships.
    5. Economics for Policy and Planning Analysis — This course introduces economic concepts and tools of analysis relevant to public policy and planning. Microeconomic and macroeconomic approaches to understanding economic behavior and to generating solutions to economic problems are explored. Applications include policies related to the environment, housing, individual and family income, and community development.
  • Seven to eight elective courses or modules (20-24 credit hours) approved by student's advisor;
  • An internship in public policy or planning; and
  • master's thesis or capstone exam (may count for 3 or 6 credit hours).

Quantitative Prerequisite

Students admitted to UEP degree programs are required to show evidence of basic algebra and graphing skills prior to registering for the department's quantitative courses (UEP 251 and UEP 254). This prerequisite must be fulfilled in one of the following four ways:

  1. Score 153 or above on the quantitative section of the GRE within the five years prior to entry into the UEP program.
  2. Pass a college algebra or equivalent course (with a B- or higher) within the five years prior to entry into the UEP program.
    • The course must be at the college algebra level or above (calculus, etc.) and focused on algebra concepts. An introduction to statistics or similar ‘quantitative-leaning’ course without without significant algebra or calculus coverage in the syllabus will not count. If you are unsure, please email 
  3. Pass a UEP math screening exam with a score of 80% or above (this exam must be taken in person at UEP).
  4. Complete the non-credit semester-long math preparation course offered by UEP during the fall semester.

Students must fulfill the prerequisite before matriculation or have an approved plan submitted to the academic advisor and department chair to complete the prerequisite by the end of the first semester. Please contact the UEP office if you have questions.