Degree Requirements & Core Curriculum

Please consult the MScPl Degree Requirements and Planning Core Curriculum below. 

Note: For information about qualifications for admission, English language requirements, application instructions, and frequently asked questions, please consult the Applications and Admission web page.


MScPl Degree Requirements 

MSc in Planning

The Planning Program offers a fully accredited Master’s degree to suit the needs of students intent on working as planners or pursuing doctoral studies in planning or related fields. The structure of this curriculum consists of a required set of Core Courses and a broad range of elective courses covering six areas of Concentration in Planning:

  • Urban Planning and Development
  • Social Planning and Policy
  • Economic Development Planning
  • Environmental Planning
  • Urban Design
  • Transportation Planning and Infrastructure

While the purpose of the Core Curriculum is to provide students with the kinds of knowledge considered essential to the education of a planner (history, theory, criticism, methods, skills), the six areas of Concentration in Planning offer everyone the opportunity for more in-depth study related to their future work.

The Planning curriculum consists of 16 half-courses (8 credits, that is, .5 credits per one-semester half-course), which full time students complete within two academic years (four semesters) by taking four-half courses per semester, along with a Summer Internship between the two years. The Program also admits part-time students, who are expected to fulfill all requirements for the degree within 6 years of first enrolment.

Out of the 16 half-courses (8 credits), the Core Curriculum accounts for 8 half-courses (6 half-courses and one full-course, the Current Issues Paper), that is, 4.0 credits-as explained below. The Concentration in Planning requires a further 5 half-courses or 3.0 credits. These requirements leave students with space for free electives-2 half-courses or 1.0 credits-that may be taken from any Graduate Unit in the University.

The Program also requires that students demonstrate a B (or higher) average in their first-year grades and submit a Plan of Study upon the completion of a Summer Internship before admission into the second year of course work.

Admission and Degree Requirements

Students are admitted under the general regulations of the School of Graduate Studies at the University of Toronto. The requirements include:

  • Bachelor’s degree, or its equivalent, with high academic standing
  • Degree in planning, geography or social science, or a closely related field is acceptable
  • Degrees in the life sciences, humanities, or professional programs, provided this preparation includes significant coursework in the social sciences prior to entry (normally equivalent to at least five courses)

We view professional planning or related experience favourably during the admissions process and encourage applications from those belonging to groups that are currently underrepresented in the academic and professional worlds of planning. The application process includes submission of a statement of intent, transcripts, three confidential reference letters (at least two from university instructors), samples of the applicant’s written work (where appropriate), and a curriculum vitae.

Academic Achievement

  • Minimum academic standing as indicated
  • Due to limited enrolment capacity, meeting minimum standards does not guarantee admission
  • Minimum requirement is a B+ average in the final year (3.3 on a 4.0 grade point scale) of a Bachelor’s  Degree
     

Planning Core Curriculum

The MSc. Pl Program offers a fully accredited Master’s degree to suit the needs of students intent on working as planners or pursuing doctoral studies in planning or related fields. The structure of this curriculum consists of a required set of core courses and a broad range of elective courses; students may elect from among five Concentrations in Planning, or a generalist option that established a breadth of planning knowledge:

  • Economic Development Planning 
  • Environmental Planning 
  • Social Planning and Policy
  • Transportation Planning and Infrastructure 
  • Urban Design and Spatial Planning
  • No Concentration/Breadth requirement option

While the purpose of the core curriculum is to provide students with the kinds of knowledge considered essential to the education of a planner (history, theory, criticism, methods, skills), the six areas of concentrations offer the opportunity for more in-depth study related to their future work. 

Core Curriculum Courses

The Planning curriculum consists of 16 half-courses (8 credits), which full-time students complete within two academic years (four semesters), usually by taking four-half courses per semester, along with a Summer Internship between the two years. The Program also admits part-time students, who are expected to fulfill all requirements for the degree within 6 years of first enrollment. 

Out of the 16 half-courses (8 credits), the core curriculum accounts for 8 half-courses (6 half-courses and one full-course, the Current Issues Paper), that is, 1.0 credits – as explained below. The Concentration in Planning requires further 4 half-courses. These requirements leave students with space for four more electives –  4 half-courses or 1 full course + two half-course – that may be taken from any Graduate Unit in the University. 

The Core Curriculum, which is required of all students, is anchored in PLA1101H Planning History, Thought and Practice, a critical examination of the historical legacy, philosophical underpinnings and normative questions that shape contemporary planning practice.

PLA 1103H Legal Basis of Planning will provide students with an overview of planning law as it is constituted by different levels of government, administrative tribunals and the courts; the course also addresses planning law in action, including understanding how legal issues affect the day-to-day life of planners, as well as current issues in planning such as indigenous-municipal planning relationships and affordable housing innovations.

PLA 1102H Planning Methods I and PLA 1105H Planning Methods II introduce students to a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods of research and evaluation frequently employed in planning practice.

Taken together, these four first-year core courses, while covering knowledge essential to all kinds of planning practice, also provide students with a foundation for work in their Concentrations in Planning and second-year Core Courses: PLA 1106H Workshop in Planning Practice and PLA 1107Y Current Issues Paper.

The Workshop enables students to apply the fruits of their education in year one to a range of exemplary planning problems and projects in the real world, in the form of semester-long planning projects conducted by student groups on behalf of public and community-based planning clients. The Current Issues Paper, which is likewise focused on the practice of planning via consultation with an outside, professional advisor (under the supervision of two faculty, at least one of whom must be appointed in the Department of Geography and Planning), allows students to undertake original research in their particular area of interest – often with a view to preparing for future professional work.

There is an additional year 1 core course that may be taken in either Fall or Winter semester of year 1 (depending when it is being offered) or year 2 (for those enrolled during the 2021-2022 academic year).

PLA 1108, Communication in the Face of Power, surveys a range of skills that planners must develop in order to promote progressive planning objectives in the face of power (racial capitalism, sexism, ableism, colonialism, and so on), including community engagement, community-based research, participatory action research, participatory planning, facilitation, negotiation, conflict resolution, working with indigenous rights holders, and creative communications strategies.

Program Structure

The basic structure of the Planning Program consisting of core courses and electives (which fulfill the requirements of Concentrations in Planning as explained below) is as follows:

First Semester (fall)

PLA 1101H Planning History, Thought and Practice
PLA1105H Planning Methods II

Elective
Elective

Second Semester (spring)

PLA 1102H Planning Methods I

PLA1103H Legal Basis of Planning

PLA 1108H
Elective

[Summer Internship and Plan of Study]

Third Semester (fall)

PLA 1106H Workshop in Planning Practice
PLA 1107Y Current Issues Paper
Elective
Elective

Fourth Semester (spring)

PLA 1107Y Current Issues Paper
Elective
Elective

Almost all of the courses in the Planning Program are half courses (H), which last one term and are worth 0.5 credits—with a significant exception. PLA 1107Y Current Issues Paper is a full course (Y) that continues through both terms from September to April; this is also a core course required for all students.

For course descriptions and schedules, please consult the department’s course information and timetables.