Subject offerings in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning are listed under four program groups or specializations. Fellows share the task of choosing subjects with the approximately 120 master's and 45 doctoral students who form the department student body each year. In designing his or her course of study, a SPURS Fellow may choose subjects offered by the following groups:

International Development Group (IDG)

The International Development Group (IDG) program provides students with an integrated view of the institutional, economic, technical and socio-political factors necessary for effective planning in today's world. SPURS Fellows join over 40 Master's and 10 Ph.D. students who choose the IDG specialization each year. Subject offerings within this program group cover urban and regional economic theory, institutional approaches to economic development, housing and human settlement policies, infrastructure and transportation, income distribution, employment, and poverty alleviation.

Environmental Policy and Planning (EPP)

The Environmental Policy and Planning (EPP) program group emphasizes the institutional, analytical, and decision-making tools by which society conserves and manages its natural resources and ensures sustainable development.

City Design and Development (CDD)

The City Design and Development (CDD) program group is concerned with the planning, design, project implementation, and institutional responsibilities to the spatial environment of cities.

Housing, Community and Economic Development (HCED)

The Housing, Community and Economic Development (HCED) program group focuses on methods for improving the economic and social life of cities.

There are also two crosscutting areas of study: Transportation, Regional Planning, and Urban Information Systems (UIS).


The subject areas in which SPURS Fellows concentrate include:

  • Community development and targeting the poor
  • Environmental policy and management
  • Housing and land use policy
  • Infrastructure planning and development
  • Information systems
  • Institutional analysis
  • Municipal reform and decentralization
  • Property and human rights
  • Public sector management and finance
  • Public policy
  • Poverty alleviation
  • Urban and regional economics
  • Urban design

Selected Subjects

Selected subject offerings available to SPURS Fellows:

  • A Workshop on Geographic Information Systems | J. Ferreira Jr.
  • Global Actors and Institutions in Development | B. Rajagopal
  • Governance and Law in Developing Countries | B. Rajagopal
  • Labor and Politics | R. Locke
  • Negotiation and Dispute Resolution in the Public Sector | L. Susskind
  • Planning Institutions and Process in Developing Countries | B. Sanyal
  • Public Finance in Developing Countries | A. Kim
  • Regional Socioeconomic Impact Analyses and Modeling | K.R.Polenske
  • Structuring Low-Income Housing Projects in Developing Countries | R. Goethert
  • Urban Transportation Planning | F. Salvucci

Please visit the IDGDUSP website for additional subject offerings.

“SPURS not only opened our minds to how the world worked. But Inspired us to think big and make a difference in our own countries. The connections I made largely shaped my work after MIT.”

Illac Diaz, Philippines
2005-2006 Entrepreneur