DUSP Program Groups

The Department of Urban Studies and Planning comprises four program groups. While the groups reflect distinct cultures of practice and research, there is considerable overlap among them and many students associate with more than one group. Below is an overview of the academic and research emphasis of each group, plus suggested course programs for Master's students. PhD, undergraduate and non-degree students should contact the program group or their advisors for guidance on course selection and research.

City Design and Development

The Joint Program in City Design and Development (CDD) is an academic and research program concerned with shaping and designing the built and natural environment of cities and suburban territories.

CDD is a collaboration of the MIT Departments of Urban Studies and Planning and Architecture, as well as the Center for Advanced Urbanism, Center for Real Estate and the Media Lab. As such, it joins key actors and disciplines that are shaping cities and metropolitan territories. together, we seek to better understand complexities of urban environments to inform their future changes through innovations including: new visualization and modeling, new architectural forms, thoughtfully improved public policies, sustainable development protocols and products, and myriad technologies that will improve the quality of urban life.

The program is led by scholars and practitioners who are committed to interdisciplinary research as well as action in the field, developing new modes of professional intervention. Our extensive course offerings and projects allow advanced students to develop specialized skills, while enabling those new to the field to achieve professional competence in city design.

The program addresses both cities and urban regions. It examines ways that they have been designed, planned, and developed in the past, while proposing new visions for the future. It is also international in scope, with studios and research projects in the US and worldwide. In all of these venues the faculty brings a commitment to reflective practice, to involving those who will be affected by city design decisions, to sustaining the natural setting and local culture, and to promoting a long range perspective on the consequences of actions that shape the urban fabric.

Students in CDD come from many countries with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Some have prior professional degrees in architecture, landscape architecture, and planning; others come from varied academic fields in the sciences and arts. Faculty advisors help students to tailor the program's extensive subject offerings and research opportunities into individualized areas of study, supported by the unparalleled information and technology resources of MIT.

The City Design and Development group is located in Room 10-485. Stop by to see announcements of new course offerings, seminars, forums, and research projects. The Director of the CDD group is Professor Brent Ryan; the coordinator for the group is Jordan Pettis.

CDD Faculty

See for a complete list of CDD faculty.

CDD Curriculum

Students concentrating in City Design and Development are required to take 11.301J/4.242J, Introduction to Urban Design and Development. (An undergraduate version of this course is also available, as 11.001J.) Students with no prior design background who are planning on taking CDD studios or workshops are required to take 11.328J, Urban Design Skills: Observing, Interpreting, and Representing the City. Building on this introduction, students are encouraged to take subjects in all of the following categories:

Note that for students with no prior design background—defined as a prior degree in architecture, landscape architecture, or urban design –11.328J is a prerequisite for Urban Design Studios and is required for the Urban Design Certificate.

For additional information about course offerings, see

Urban Design Certificate

The Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the Department of Architecture collaborate through the Joint Program in City Design and Development, to offer a course of study in urban design. Students who successfully complete the program receive an Urban Design Certificate from MIT at graduation. The purpose of the urban design program is to provide the fundamental knowledge and special skills required to design urban and regional environments. For more information on this option, see sec:urban-design-cert.

Environmental Policy and Planning

The Environmental Policy and Planning group (EPP) focuses on the decision-making tools by which society conserves and manages natural resources and ensures sustainable development. Areas of concern include toxic and hazardous waste management, environmental technology, water and air quality, global climate change, facility siting, environmental justice and brownfield development.

The Environmental Policy and Planning (EPP) group invites talented undergraduate and graduate students with a passion for solving environmental problems to study in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) at MIT. EPP includes a diverse set of faculty and students who share a commitment to sustainable development, environmental justice, and a thoughtful integration of science and values in environmental policymaking and planning.

EPP draws on the expertise of its world-renowned faculty, as well as the extraordinary resources of DUSP and MIT, to train aspiring leaders in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Faculty research and teaching address a range of pressing environmental issues including urban sustainability, pollution prevention, climate mitigation and adaptation, energy efficiency, environmental justice, and conflict-resolution. In addition, EPP faculty members have been directly involved in environmental planning and policymaking at the local, national, and international levels.

In addition to working closely with faculty on research and planning projects, EPP students sample from the array of courses and resources available at MIT and other Boston-area universities. Many also play critical roles in environmental and sustainability initiatives within the department, across the MIT campus, and in Cambridge, Boston, or other nearby cities. In the process, they gain a deep understanding the scientific, political, and social complexities they will face over the course of their careers

EPP Faculty

See for a complete list of EPP faculty.

EPP Curriculum

Students who wish to specialize in this area are required to take 11.601, Environmental Policy and Planning, in the fall term. This class is intended to introduce students to theories of regulation.

For additional information about course offerings, see

Environmental Planning Certificate

Any student in DUSP who meet the requirements will be eligible to receive an of Environmental Planning Certificate when he or she graduates. The requirements are completion of (1) 11.601 (the graduate Introduction to Environmental Policy and Planning; (2) an environmental management practicum such as 11.360 or 11.362; and (3) six subjects, at least one from each of five listed sub-areas: Science, Health and Political Decision-making; Land Use, Growth Management and Restoration; Ecology and Landscape; Facility Siting, Infrastructure and Sustainable Development; and Methods of Environmental Planning and Analysis. The goal is to give graduates of DUSP seeking jobs in the environmental planning field a competitive edge by acknowledging the specialized competence and skills they have acquired. For more information on these requirements, see the “EPP Certificate Requirements” at (under “For Students”).

Housing, Community, and Economic Development

HCED focuses on the equitable development of American communities at the neighborhood, city and regional levels.

For decades the group's faculty and students have helped shape policy, practice and research in housing, economic, workforce and comprehensive community development. Teaching students to practice and research in these substantive areas has been driven by a deep faculty commitment to expanding opportunity and improving quality of life for historically disadvantaged groups.

In addition to serving MIT undergraduates, we provide courses and advising as one of four specializations within the Master in City Planning (MCP) program offered by the department, and we supervise students in the Ph.D. program as well. See 'Program.'

We sustain comparative and cross-disciplinary connections to other parts of the department and MIT. A number of our faculty are affiliated with other groups or centers, extending our expertise and reach in energy and environmental sustainability, international development and globalization, smart cities and planning technologies, city design and development, real estate, and other areas. See 'People.'

A defining feature of HCED is our sustained local partnerships within and beyond the greater Boston region. These partnerships enrich our teaching and research. But they also seek to directly improve the quality of life in communities confronting complex economic restructuring, rapid technological change, the special challenges and opportunities that follow natural disasters, and more. See 'Projects.'

HCED Faculty

See for a complete list of HCED faculty.

HCED Curriculum

Students concentrating in HCED are required to take 11.401, Introduction to Housing and Community Development. The class provides a framework for looking at the field in terms of its historic evolution and the current policy and programmatic context within which HCED planners must operate. The subject also gives students a basis for deciding whether to choose a specialization in one of the two major HCED specializations: housing policy (including public and private housing) or economic development (including both local and regional issues in the private and non-profit sector).

Students in HCED are also encouraged to take offerings in other program groups which are relevant to their educational goals. For example, HCED students focusing on housing policy can enroll in physical design courses within the City Design and Development group. There is a rich array of opportunities for expanding the HCED umbrella, in the broader MIT community, and at Harvard.

Community Partnerships

A central part of HCED's curriculum, research and engagement in the planning field is through long-term partnerships with local organization and cities. These partnerships enhance the resources and capacity of organizations in low-income communities, provide community-level learning opportunities for students, and cultivate innovation by exploring new approaches to urban community development. Students may participate in partnerships through enrolling in practicum courses, interns with partner organizations and research assistance positions for a variety of projects.

International Development Group

The International Development group (IDG) focuses on development and implementation challenges across different scales — communities, cities, regions, and the globe — and asks how `just' development can be pursued in an increasingly unequal and violent world, but which has also seen the rise of formerly poor and weak countries.

The program consists of leading experts in development — both academics and practitioners — who have vast interdisciplinary experience working in diverse regions of the world. The diversity of our faculty (and strong links to other parts of the Institute) provides students with an integrated view of the legal/institutional, economic, physical and socio-political factors necessary for effective planning in today's world.

The courses aim to prepare students who develop a deep sensibility towards the practice and knowledge of development, with an ability to learn across diverse fields, while focusing on specific locales. The courses cover areas such as land and housing, legal dimensions of property rights and reform, water and sanitation, public finance, the use of diverse forms of technology, displacement and the impact on communities, cities and regions, human rights and development, reform of public institutions and governance, globalization and sustainability, public policy implementation including through the courts, and transportation, land use and urban change.

In addition to the faculty, classes, and seminars available within DUSP, IDG students draw upon the rich resources and facilities throughout MIT and at other universities in the Boston area. Students commonly take elective classes and seminars in other MIT departments, such as the Departments of Economics, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Anthropology, Architecture, Political Science, and the Sloan School of Management. IDG students may also take graduate-level electives outside of MIT where cross-registration is available.

The Center for International Studies (CIS), IDG, and the Department of Political Science jointly host a fellowship list, which is posted on:

The head of the group is Professor Balakrishnan Rajagopal (

IDG Faculty

See for a complete list of IDG faculty.

IDG Curriculum

In addition to the courses required as part of the MCP core, each IDG student in the Master's program is required to take 11.701, “Introduction to International Development.” For additional information about course offerings, see

Cross Cutting Areas

The Department of Urban Studies and Planning also offers courses in the areas of Urban Information Systems, Transportation Policy and Planning, and Regional Planning.

Urban Information Systems (UIS)

This is a cross-cutting area of doctoral study that focuses on the use of information technologies to understand the relationships underlying urban spatial structure and on the use of technology to facilitate broader and deeper participation in the planning of urban futures. Each of the four program groups has faculty with particular interests in applying computing technology. Faculty and student interests go beyond specific computing technologies or techniques in order to understand the ripple effects of computing, communications, and digital spatial information on urban and regional planning processes and on the methods for shaping and nurturing metropolitan areas. Some of this work is conducted through the SENSEable City Laboratory (

Transportation Policy and Planning

Although we do not have a separate program group dedicated to issues of transportation, many DUSP students informally choose this as an area of focus. In addition to departmental classes that investigate smart growth and the history, policy and politics of urban transportation, many students affiliate with MIT's world-renowned Center for Transportation and Logistics (CTL) and some choose to complete a dual degree. More information on this center is available at:

Regional Planning

We recognize that the problems facing today's planners are at the scale where the old categories of urban, suburban and rural no longer suffice. All program groups, therefore, operate at the scale of the city-region, while also acknowledging the important role of global, national and local forces. More information on the Department's activities relating to regional planning can be found at