skip to content

Course of Study

IDG students examine the roles planners and researchers play at various levels, ranging from working in international institutions to the national, regional, city or local levels. The faculty cover issues that range from allocating resources regionally and sectorally to examining urban, regional, and national socioeconomic impacts of major public and/or private investments; from solving the problems of squatter housing to analyzing issues of un- and under-employment, and municipal finance, metropolitan sprawl, and social disparities at a variety of scales.

All Masters’ students take the basic MCP Gateway classes. The Gateway curriculum has been designed to familiarize students with the evolution of major theories, concepts, applications and ongoing debates within the field of urban studies and planning. For doctoral students, the program of study is developed jointly with the student and the student’s advisor, under guidelines and course requirements set by the Department’s Ph.D. committee.

To view the current classes being offered this term within the IDG, click here.



Each IDG student in the Master’s program is required to take the following courses:

  • Gateway, Planning Action
  • Gateway, Planning Economics
  • Microeconomics (or test out)
  • Planning Communications and Digital Media (or test out)
  • Quantitative Reasoning and Statistical Methods (or test out)
  • Introduction to Planning and Institutional Processes in Developing Countries
  • One practicum (e.g. Mexico City Practicum, Sao Paolo Studio, etc.)

Many IDG master’s students also elect to take at least one additional economics or methods class. Ph.D. students do not normally take the MCP core, but fulfill their degree requirements with a slightly different array of required courses. Ph.D. students in IDG frequently take at least two from the intermediate economics or methods classes offered, e.g. Economic Analysis for Business Decisions Applied Macro- and International Economics.


Elective Classes

Beyond the MCP core fall within the six areas described below, which broadly reflect the specializations of the faculty. While the IDG does not require MCP students to formally commit to a sub-specialization, they are advised to select courses based on their aggregate contribution to a specific body of knowledge, of which these six are merely examples.

  1. Governance and Globalization

    To understand the way the in which globalization and late capitalism have transformed at different levels—from city, regional, national and global levels-- the exercise of political and legal authority.

    The broad focus is on the role of institutions, politics, and law at all levels in the development process. More specifically, specific attention is paid to the changing role of the state, civil society, the impact of global trade and financial regimes, the politics of international institutions (such as the Bretton Woods institutions), specific policy components such as decentralization, anticorruption, rule of law and human rights, and the appropriate design of institutions for democratic management of the global economy.

  2. Housing and Human Settlement Policies

    To analyze housing and human settlement problems and policies at national and local levels aimed at addressing them; understand their linkages with national development strategies, consider spatial arrangements required for optimal and equitable allocation of resources, and understand the role of housing as a productive investment in the development process.

    Emphasis is on the role of national urban policies, city size distribution, municipal finance, and spatial decentralization policies. Analysis is of price and subsidy policies for housing; methods of land acquisition, taxation, and delivery mobilization of housing finance at national and local levels. At the local level, city forms, land-use regulations and urban management policies, design and implementation of housing projects, revitalization of housing in the city core; and review of rent control policies are all examined.

  3. Income Distribution, Employment, and Poverty Alleviation

    To analyze problems of poverty and unemployment in Third World countries, the history of attempts to improve income distribution and alleviate poverty, and to review implementation issues regarding projects and programs in this area.

  4. Infrastructure and Transportation

    To understand the urban support systems that function in networks (including transportation, water supply, sanitation, telecommunications, etc.), which tend toward monopoly, involve operation by or substantial control by government, and are basic to the function of urban settlements.

    The planning of service systems and programming evaluation of infrastructure projects, pricing, and financing are included. Studies also encompass institutions for service delivery and choosing appropriate technologies. The broader questions of national allocation policies for infrastructure and the relationship of infrastructure to land development and economic development are covered.

  5. Institutional Approaches to Development Planning

    To demonstrate competence in applying institutional analysis to a wide range of real-world planning problems in developing countries, in understanding the economic and institutional forces shaping third-world development, and institutional analysis of bureaucracies, non-governmental organizations, and community groups.

    Topics include policy and institutional aspects of technology and industrial development, transformation of traditional agriculture, urbanization and urban economic development, regional economic development, labor and human capital, foreign aid, and public finance.

  6. Regional and Urban Economic Theory

    Emphasis is on the spatial aspects of production, consumption, and distribution of goods and services, job creation and employment processes, economic restructuring, development finance, public finance, labor, capital, and goods flows, and accounts and techniques for analyzing urban and regional development. Currently, attention is focused on local, sub-national, and international issues related to public finance, regional and urban development, employment, economic accounts, economic and environmental impact analyses, economic and social networks, regional and industrial restructuring, and intra firm, regional, and global supply chains.

back to top