Learn and thrive in a living lab: Top locations for planning and urban studies
Source: University of New Orleans

“A city is not gauged by its length and width, but by the broadness of its vision and the height of its dreams.” – Herb Caen

As populations grow, new cities and thriving civic settlements are being built at every turn to accommodate them. In Asia and Africa for example, hundreds of new pins are sprouting up on Google Maps, with names like Putrajaya, Naypyidaw, Nanhui, Kangbashi, Dompak and Khorgos being given life since the year 2000.

The global landscape is changing at rates we’ve never seen before, so what’s the meaning and relevance of urban studies in the 21st century world?

On September 25, 2015, the 193 nations of the UN Sustainable Development Summit drafted the 2030 Development Agenda. In their pledge to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for every global citizen, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outlined 17 primary goals.

Among these sit Number 11: to make cities and urban settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Urban planning and development is the most reliable means for achieving such a feat. It allows city leaders to incite positive change; informing us about balancing demands, services investment and infrastructure, while driving growth that benefits the global economy and environment at large.

Detailed outlines of cities and structures allow us to prepare. It means our leaders can use today to face the challenges of tomorrow, managing risks, implementing short-term actions and constructing a long-term vision that keeps them ahead of the game.

On top of this, Hunter UAP states that delivery of improvement is the main reason why local leaders are elected.

“Successful cities undertake priority projects to build momentum,” the publication explains. “It is easy to identify the pressing issues and available resources with proper planning.”

But the biggest perk of city planning lies in its potential for economic lift. Great cities, after all, attract great investment. Urban plans and strategies grapple complex issues like accessibility, employment, housing and safety; factors that drive financial growth and improve quality of life for all.

Source: University of New Orleans

Whichever way you look at it, urbanization is the future. And with the UN predicting that two-thirds of the global population will reside in cities by 2050, graduates of elite urban planning educators will feed tomorrow’s urban world.

Here are 4 schools in top locations for planning and urban studies…


Named one of the nation’s best colleges by The Princeton Review, Forbes and US News & World Report, UNO is a reputable choice for any prospective student.

Set against the largest urban backdrop in the state of Louisiana, in the dynamic world city of New Orleans, the Department of Planning and Urban Studies is a playground for the aspiring city planner. Iconic as it is historic, New Orleans is ideal for the study of historic preservation and restoration.

The department offers urban disciplines at varying levels of study. With BS Urban Studies and Planning, MS Urban Studies, MS Transportation, MURP and PhD Urban Studies completing its comprehensive study catalogue, students grow into confident city specialists and leaders of their field.

Also housed here are the UNO Transportation Institute (UNOTI) and the Center for Hazards Assessment, Response & Technology (CHART); facilities that harness knowledge and experience to address important urban issues, all while highlighting UNO’s commitment to sustainable city development.

“We envision a world where engaged citizens and government work together to improve their communities, where leaders adopt social innovations to look beyond conventional remedies to solve urban problems…and where nations work from a foundation of equity and opportunity to resolve global issues,” department faculty note.

Dedicated students, world-class faculty, and community engagement combine to help solve important problems and improve people’s quality of life.


Built on a foundation of first-class teaching, research and community relations, the University of Helsinki has a longstanding reputation of achievement in the Times Higher Education (THE) and QS Top Universities surveys.

Source: University of Helsinki

The Master’s in Urban Studies & Planning instils students with a professional understanding of this crucial sector. Serving to address urban developmental challenges, graduates of this programme are prepped and primed to build a sustainable new world.

The curriculum adopts a pedagogical, interdisciplinary approach that covers the breadth and depth of knowledge, skill and practice. Professors derive from various subject backgrounds, with expertise in urban phenomena like urban economies, liveable cities, design, urban sustainability and urban ecology.

The programme itself dips into three rigorous and relevant topics: Urban Planning and Design; Urban Life, Economy and Cultures; and Urban Ecologies and Systems.

Core elements in the programme include innovative studios that cross disciplinary lines to address urban challenge themes. These themes relate to current and urgent contemporary issues evidenced not only in Finland but on the European and global scale, including controversies fundamental to the concept of urbanization.

Credit requirement for the Master’s in Urban Studies & Planning is 120 ECTS credits, which can be completed in two years of study.


The University of Sheffield is a world top 100 university, renowned for outstanding teaching and high-impact research.

Sheffield is globally prominent in the urban studies discipline, known as a centre of excellence for the study and planning of all things real estate. Whether you’re a prospective student, policy maker, researcher or professional specialising in the built environment, the department provides a wealth of opportunities to elevate and refine your expertise.

Here, you’ll join a top-rated UK RTPI Planning School; a platform that consistently receives enviable results in the National Student Satisfaction Survey. These scores place the school among the region’s leading urban educators, cementing its unending efforts to become globally elite.

Source: University of New Orleans

Initially established in 1965, the school has more than 50 years’ experience in building better places.

Since 2009, the institution has taken part in in a behaviour change strategy, striving for a 43 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020, standing as a driving force behind the UK’s Green Impact efforts.

“There are a growing range of exciting careers available to our graduates,” says Malcolm Tait, Head of the Department.

“Varied and flexible courses are designed to equip our students with the core knowledge and skills they need to be successful across a diverse range of professions in the field.”


Nestled in Montréal – the largest city in Canada’s Québec province – Concordia University is set in an urban space named the world’s best student city.

Home to a culturally-rich community of faculty, staff and students, this Department presents a platform that empowers graduate success in the built environment realm.

The BA Urban Studies & Urban Planning programme at Concordia is designed to introduce the processes of planned change within city environments. Students take part in a range of field studies and planning projects through which they acquire technical skills, creating knowledgeable graduates who are masters of their field.

A transfer into BA Urban Planning (Specialization) from another program requires a cumulative GPA of at least 2.7 on a 4.3 scale.

These programmes provide a sound foundation for further studies in planning or related subjects, as well as training for work in the planning, real estate and social service sectors.

Also offering an MSc and PhD in Geography, Urban & Environmental Studies, students here can advance their skill to the top professional level.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International

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