University of Virginia: School of Architecture

Urban and Environmental Planning

Chair: Timothy Beatley

Message from the Chair

Dear Incoming (and Returning) Students:

I hope this message finds you well and that your summer is turning out to be both productive and restful.

We are looking forward to your arrival in August, and before we know it, the fall semester will arrive and we will be starting a new academic year.  I wanted to send you a quick message to let you know about some of the exciting events we are planning and visitors we will be hosting in the upcoming year, as well as some of our accomplishments this past academic year. I also want to tell you a little about very impressive work our faculty is doing this summer, and some of the ways you might be able to follow and learn more about their work.

It has indeed been an extremely hectic academic year and one in which we accomplished much. In the fall semester we completed the re-accreditation process, and received the full seven years of accreditation by the PAB (Planning Accreditation Board). We also completed a highly successful search for a new faculty member in environmental planning, hiring Barbara Brown Wilson, from the University of Texas at Austin. Wilson, who has co-directed the UT Center for Sustainable Development for several years, will be starting at UVA this fall, teaching her first UVA classes in the spring semester, 2015.

During the past academic year the Department hosting several distinguished visiting faculty, including Professor Ann Forsyth from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, a major expert in health and planning, and Randall Arendt, author of Growing Greener, and a major authority on conservation development and design.

The department also took the lead in organizing several major conferences and exhibitions in the School. In October, we held a major international conference on biophilic cities and launched our new global Biophilic Cities Network. In March, we organized a major conference “Healthy Environments, Healing Spaces,” with one outcome being a remarkable set of papers that will (we hope) be published as a book (likely by UVA Press).     

We Have an Equally Busy and Stimulating Year Ahead of Us!

Here are a few highlights of activities and functions to look forward to in fall and spring:

Lucy Symposium.  In honor of recently-retired professor William Lucy, we are organizing a one day symposium celebrating and extending the main themes and foci of Lucy’s work. This will take place in late-October, and will include UVA faculty as well as distinguished researchers from outside the university.

Lillian K. Stone Lecture. A new annual endowed lectureship has been created by the Stone family in honor of Lillian K. Stone, a long-time employee of the US Department of the Interior and early advocate for environmental impact assessment. The lecture is shared between Department of Urban and Environmental Planning and the School of Law, and was held on Ocotober 20 of this year.  Please click HERE to view a video about the establishment of the lectureship and the inaugural speaker, Kathryn Fuller, the Executive Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

All-School Design Charrette, or simply “The Vortex”: While we are still deciding as a School, what will be the focus this year, the so-called “Vortex” will happen again this January. This is a chance for Planning students to work together on interdisciplinary teams, developing creative design solutions, focused on an important community issue or problem.  Two years ago, 30 teams tackled the question of how to reconnect City and County residents to a segment of the Rivanna River, and last year the focus was on Highway 29N.

Symposium /Exhibition:  The Potential of Bamboo. Planning faculty member Suzanne Moomaw, along with faculty in the Architecture Department, will be organizing a symposium and exhibition exploring the potential role of bamboo as a new manufacturing sector and source of economic development.

We Are an Extremely Productive Faculty! Here’s a Bit of What Faculty Are Doing…

As usual, the faculty in Planning have been extremely productive this year, and have ambitious plans for this summer and fall. Here are just a few tidbits about faculty work planned or underway:

Ellen Bassett:  This summer Ellen Bassett will be returning to Kenya for the month of June to continue her Fulbright-sponsored research on planning in Kenya and how it is being impacted by the country's new constitution and devolved local government system.  After that, she will returning to her summer home in Portland, Oregon for a few weeks and staying in a small house (known in planner-speak as an ADU--accessory dwelling unit) in her backyard that she and her husband planned and built last year.  ADUs are part of the City of Portland's effort to provide affordable housing and promote densification of the existing city fabric.  (Anyone interested in this housing policy and its embrace by homeowners should check out this website:  The Klepinger-Bassett house was on the first citywide ADU tour.)  She is really looking forward to returning to Charlottesville in the fall!

Tim Beatley:  Much of Tim’s time of late has been spent working with my UVA to advance our Biophilic Cities Project and to continue to nurture a new global Biophilic Cities Network, which was launched in October. He has also just published a new book Blue Urbanism, for Island Press, and continues writing several blogs and my regular Ever Green column for Planning Magazine.  Follow Tim if you’d like on Twitter: @TimBeatley.

Tanya Denckla Cobb:  Associate Director of the Institute for Environmental Negotiation (IEN), Tanya Denckla Cobb has kicked off the summer, with planning graduate student and Fulbright Scholar Tatiana Marquez, with a new project that will develop a national Ten-year Action Plan for Urban and Community Forestry. Working with partners at the University of Washington, University of Maryland, our own Mark White at UVa, and guided by a seven-member nationally representative Advisory Team, she will lead this 18-month project in conducting an assessment of urban forestry resources, programs, activities that will lead to the identification of gaps, needs and then to goals and actions. This project touches on everything from climate change and green infrastructure to the nature deficit disorder and other social benefits of urban forests. She is also working with Frank Dukes to organize the 4th Civil Dialogue on Tobacco, Nicotine and Alternative Product Harm Reduction that will take place in October and will attract participants from the U.S., Canada and Europe. Two other projects are being wrapped up in June - one involving recommendations for reducing conflict on the 45-mile W&OD multi-use trail, and a second involving case studies on lessons learned from four innovative stormwater management projects in Virginia and West Virginia that were concluded in the past nine months. An ongoing effort to building knowledge about Virginia Food Heritage and streamlining the Food Heritage Map will continue through the summer, as well as an effort to work with the UVa Food Collaborative steering committee to plan the films that will be shown in the coming academic year Food Film & Discussion Series.

Frank Dukes. Frank Dukes, director of the Institute for Environmental  Negotiation (IEN) begins this summer with a trip to Columbia, where he is helping train representatives from a half-dozen Latin American countries in environmental conflict resolution. Along with senior associate Kelly Wilder, he continues his work this summer with what is called the free bridge area congestion relief project, facilitating a local diverse stakeholder group convened by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission to look at transportation needs for the Rt. 250 East entrance into Charlottesville and to suggest creative options including transit, biking and pedestrian improvements. He and Kelly also begin a new project assisting the Virginia Department of Health with revisions to their entire drinking water regulations. Frank continues his term as a visiting scholar at the conflict resolution and public participation center of expertise at the Institute for Water Resources, Corps of Engineers. He also will participate as faculty for the new initiative sponsored by the US State Department, called the young African leaders initiative.

Guoping Huang:  Guoping is finishing up the James River viewshed study project in Richmond with ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects) Virginia Chapter.  He is also beginning work on the Global Urban Dynamics program pilot study in Atlantic City with two architecture faculty members Matthew Jull and Manuel Bailo. This is an interdisciplinary research program which will focus on visualizing trends and developing strategies to help local communities respond to new challenges coming from fast urbanization and climate change. We are hoping to host a workshop in the fall to showcase our work and apply for a larger grant. His Agro-Forestry Village project in Mozambique is finished recently. But a new potential opportunity is coming up to expand the research to cover the coastal areas, including the Isle de Mozambique, the colonial capital of Mozambique.  Gouping will also be working on a manuscript and one book chapter on GeoDesign, as well as a paper for the ACSP (Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning) conference in the fall.

Andrew Mondschein:  Andrew will be focused on a couple of projects over the summer.  He'll be starting a new project looking at travel behavior and attitudes around Tysons Corner as the area is poised to become more transit-oriented and walkable.  He's also continuing to work on ReProgramming Mobility, a project looking at how information and communication technologies are reshaping transportation planning.  Beyond those two projects, he'll be writing papers on perceptions of the transportation system and sustainable approaches to coping with congestion and working on shaping his new class for the fall - Transportation and the Environment."

Suzanne Moomaw: Suzanne Moomaw’s plans for the summer are focused on writing, research, and teaching Sustainable Europe in Switzerland. On the writing front, she plans to complete three article drafts: one on planning and public participation based on my research on deliberative democracy; a second on new experiments in design studios and applications course highlighting work in southwest Virginia and the collaboration with Architecture faculty member, Jeana Ripple, on advanced manufacturing and design; and a third, on the post-industrialization process in Cuba. All of this work will help inform the development of the new center that she now directs, Community Design Research Center (CDRC). This research process began the first week in June when the CDRC co-hosted a meeting with the Kettering Foundation in Washington, DC, Design, Civic Engagement and the Challenge of Wicked Problems. Based in part on that conversation, she will be building out the programs of the Center this summer. Finally, working with Jeana and recent UEP graduate student, Cameron Langille, Suzanne will be part of the team designing an exhibit and symposium in the fall on ways that bamboo can be used to build a new manufacturing sector. That will be November 6 & 7 so put it on your calendars!

Daphne Spain:  This summer Professor Spain is preparing the keynote address for genderSTE, a network of European researchers and policy makers supported by the European Commission, who are sponsoring a conference 'Engendering Cities: Designing Sustainable and Inclusive Urban Environments' on the 25th and 26th September 2014 in Rome, Italy. She is also finishing the final editing on Constructive Feminism, and preparing for her spring classes on Semester-at-Sea.

Barbara Brown Wilson.  Barbara Wilson is finishing up some projects in Texas this summer, and beyond excited to join the UVa faculty this year!  She just coordinated the 2nd annual 5-day student leadership development workshop in Public Interest Design called Design Futures with 66 students from 16 universities across the globe in New Orleans, and hopes to wrangle a set of students from UVa to join her for the 3rd Design Futures next year in Kansas.  Otherwise, in addition to teaching a Community Engagement Methods class for the UT Public Interest Design Program this summer, she is finishing up four research projects including 1) a HUD funded study on approaches to sustainable retrofitting/preservation of unsubsidized affordable housing; 2) the  Green Alley Project with the City of Austin; 3) the creation of a mobile sustainability education and community design tool to be housed in Austin's new Ecodistrict; and 4) a study to develop a platform for leadership diversity within the subfield of Public Interest Design.  But her most important current project is a baby boy she will birth in early September.  This will keep her from teaching in the fall, but she is incredibly eager to begin teaching at UVa this next spring.  Follow her on Twitter @bbwilson3

As you can tell, our faculty are energetic and tackling important research and policy questions. You will learn more about this work when you’re here, and will have the chance to be directly involved in many of these projects and initiatives. Should something sound interesting, don’t hesitate to reach out to a faculty member.

We look forward to your active participation in the life of the Department and School, and what looks to be an unusually stimulating and fruitful academic year!


Tim Beatley

Degrees Offered

The Department currently offers two degrees. In addition to a four-year Bachelor’s and a two-year Master’s of Urban and Environmental Planning, the Department offers a Minor for students throughout the University and a certificate in Historic Preservation. There are also a number of dual degree opportunities within the Master’s program.

We also have an intedisciplinary Ph.D. in the Constructed Environment...Click HERE to learn more

Dual Degree Programs

These programs are available with the other departments in the School of Architecture and various departments throughout the University. Common dual degree arrangements are with law, business and engineering. These dual degree programs permit the joint use of credit to satisfy some of the requirements of each degree and shorten the time required for attaining both degrees. Interested students should consult the department chair and see Dual Degree Programs for more information.

Study Abroad

Planning students may, with approval, spend a semester in one of the programs abroad when offered. Please see the International Studies page for further details.

Student Life

Planning students are very active in the UVA and Charlottesville communities. A number of organizations are composed primarily of planners, although students from a number of disciplines add to the dynamism of these groups. Planning organizations include: Student Planning Association, Green Grounds, Developers Anonymous, and the UVA–Community Garden.

Every year the Student Planning Association (SPA) hosts a Department–wide Thanksgiving dinner in November, where planning students, faculty, family, friends come together to celebrate the department as community. Since 2006, this annual dinner has been a “100–mile Thanksgiving dinner” at which all dishes were to be prepared from foods grown within a 100–mile radius of Charlottesville. The idea was first proposed by Professor Tim Beatley to generate awareness of the importance of local food systems.

The Department also sends a number of students to a variety of professional conferences, including the American Planning Association’s national convention and the Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association’s (VAPA) annual conference. Recently approximately twenty students traveled to Philadelphia for APA’s convention to attend three days of seminars, lectures, and social gatherings of planners from around the nation.

Urban + Environmental Planning Undergraduate Student Handbook 2012-2013

DUEP Accreditation Information and PAB Standards

Accreditation and Performance Information for the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning

There are several ways we assess the quality and effectiveness of our work educating the next generation of Urban and Environmental Planners. These include formal accreditation review (which the department has recently completed), reputation surveys, a self-assessment knowledge survey administered to all Planning students, and the success of our graduates in passing the AICP professional exam. Each of these assessment means is briefly discussed below.

Urban Planning programs in the U.S. are accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB), and required to go through an extensive re-accreditation process every 5 to 7 years. The two programs at UVA have recently gone through the accreditation process, with a PAB Site Visit Team (SVT) visiting UVA and producing a detailed assessment report in the spring of 2013. In November of 2013 the PAB issued its decision and final assessment report. The PAB report was complimentary of UVA’s program and awarded us the complete 7-year accreditation period (many programs found to be deficient in one or more areas are awarded only 5 years or less). 

Through this period of re-accreditation the faculty of Planning undertook an exhaustive self-assessment and self-study. As a part of this re-accreditation process the Department was required to compile and present extensive data, and to prepare a detailed self-study report (this is available on request). In addition, and as a way to better understand the Department’s current strengths and performance, as well as to explore future opportunities and directions, the Department prepared an extensive reflective essay.

The PAB re-accreditation review process has been extensive. The Department hosted a three-person Site Visit Team during a four day period in March, 2013. This site visit review was in-depth and included extensive meetings with alumni, employers, current graduate and undergraduate students, and current full time and adjunct faculty. The SVT also reviewed student work, and toured offices and classrooms.

The picture that emerged from the final report of the SVT is of a very strong department and the report is quite complimentary indeed. The final report calls the UVA Planning department a “long-established, distinguished planning department with excellent undergraduate and graduate programs.” The Second full paragraph of the report’s “Overall Assessment” section is worth quoting here:

“The Department’s faculty members are nationally known for their scholarship and contributions to the profession.  There is real programmatic faculty leadership that supports the Department’s ability to establish working relationships inside and outside the University. The School of Architecture innovatively blends the skills and resources of faculty and students in the four major disciplines in the School (landscape architecture, architecture, architectural history and urban and environmental planning) through common classes, school-wide charrettes, and emerging institutes. Students from the Department work effectively and harmoniously with students from other disciplines. The cooperation between the Departments within the School to achieve common objectives is commendable and creates the synergy that allows students to access many courses and faculty internal to the School.  In the opinion of the Site Visit Team (SVT), this is rare and meritorious.”

There are approximately 100 specific sub-criteria that the Department must meet for each academic program (bachelors and masters), and against which the SVT evaluates and makes its recommendation. For each criteria it judges whether it has been “met,” “not met”, or “partially met”.  Here again the SVT report is quite positive. No criteria or sub-criteria, for either undergraduate or graduate programs, were found by the SVT to be “not met,” and the vast majority (some 97) are found to be “met.” Only two were judged` to be “partially met,” and these are: 1) lack of student diversity in the graduate program (under the criteria “progress”);  2) techniques for the adoption and implementation of plans (for both degree programs); and 3) recruitment and composition (graduate only; and essentially repeating the findings of #1). These are fair and legitimate concerns and the Department in taking appropriate steps to address them, including plans for more active minority recruitment, and reorganizing the sequence and content of the core classes to better emphasis a capstone applied experience around plan adoption and implementation.

While the recent accreditation process and site visit report represent the most exhaustive assessment of the quality of these UVA programs, there are other ways that quality and performance can be evaluated. One additional indicator is national reputation.   In 2012, the organization PLANETIZEN released its national assessment of graduate urban planning programs. One part of this semi-annual national ranking study presents national reputation, and here the UVA does very well.  Out of about 100 planning programs nationally, the survey of planning educators placed UVA as number 7. The reputation of the UVA program was also highly ranked for the specialty of environmental planning and sustainability.

PAB Requirement for Public Information About Performance

The new PAB standards, approved in April 14, 2012, contain a new criterion 7D, Public Information which states the following:

The (UVA Department of Urban and Environmental Planning) program shall routinely provide reliable information to the public on its performance. Such information shall appear in easily accessible locations including program websites. Information shall include, but not be limited to:

1. Student achievement as determined by the program:

Bachelor of Urban and Environmental Planning (BUEP)

Students typically take courses in the social and natural sciences, the humanities, and in design fields that complement professional courses in planning practice and theory. Graduates either begin work in the public or private sectors or go on to graduate professional studies in a number of fields including Business, Law, and Public Administration.

The scope of the planner’s work encompasses present and future urban and environmental concerns, including such diverse issues as environmental impact, quality of life, and the public and private costs of development. Public sector planners work for all levels of government, formulating plans to redevelop or rehabilitate downtowns and neighborhoods, develop land aesthetically and profitably, and regulate private development to protect public interests. Although planners frame long-range designs, anticipating futures five to fifteen years away, they are also deeply involved in choosing among current projects. Private sector planners employed with land developers, utilities, banks, property management firms, industries, and other major corporations do similar work according to the particular concerns of each business. Many of these concerns are integrated with the department’s focus on sustainable community development.

Students must have a minimum of 122 credits, or 40 courses, with at least a 2.0 average in order to graduate with a Bachelor of Urban & Environmental Planning degree. Required planning courses make up 8 of these, with an additional 4 courses in professional electives and one planning application course elective. These core planning courses are supported by general skill and knowledge courses taken outside of the Department including statistics, economics, and other social sciences. The remainder of the courses are liberal arts courses, some of which are social or natural sciences and others of which are open electives. Electives provide frequent opportunity for interdisciplinary exchange with students in other programs and with graduate students in planning.

Master of Urban & Environmental Planning (MUEP)

The Master of Urban and Environmental Planning program prepares students to become responsible practitioners in a variety of public, private, and non-profit settings. Graduates are eligible for certification by the American Institute of Certified Planners after two years of professional practice.

The degree requires 50 credits: 23 in the core generalist courses, 15 in a special concentration, 6 in planning application courses (one of these courses must be in the area of concentration), and 6 in open electives. Courses are selected from those in the department and in other departments in the School and University. Students earning dual degrees or who have transferred from other planning programs may warrant advanced standing and be able to complete the planning program in less than two years. Students may take more than the minimum 50 credits if their schedules allow it.

A distinctive feature of our program is our commitment to community sustainability. Sustainability is addressed in specific courses with that title, but sustainability also provides the underlying framework for virtually all of the department’s courses. The title of our department is Urban and Environmental Planning. We believe it is necessary to consider both the urban and environmental aspects of a setting to address its issues, problems, and opportunities. We are as much concerned with the economy and issues of equity as we are with the environment and find it more useful to emphasize linkages than distinctions. We hope to inspire our students to share our enthusiasm for addressing the planning needs of sustainable communities.

2. The cost (tuition and fees) for a full-time student for 2015/16 academic year:

Tuition & Fees      //Undergraduate   //    Per Academic Year


                                              Tuition          Comprehensive Fees         Student Activity Fee     School Fee          Total


Virginian/Returning      $10,982                 $2526                              $50                                  $66                    $13,534


Virginian/Entering        $11,892                 $2526                              $50                                  $66                    $14,534


Non-Virginian                $40,506                 $3208                             $50                                  $66                    $43,830

Tuition & Fees     //Graduate (Credit Hours)    //      Per Academic Year

                                              Tuition   Comprehensive Fees       Student Activity Fee          School Fee           Total


Virginian                                      $15,224                   $2526                             $50                          $66                          $17,866


Non-Virginian                              $25,174                   $3208                             $50                          $66                          $24,498

3. Student retention and graduation rates, including the number of degrees produced each year, the percentage of master’s students graduating within four years.

Retention & Graduation Rates

Percentage of Master’s Students graduating within four years:                        98%

Number of degrees produced annually from 2007-present:

                                    Undergraduate                       Graduate                     Total

2007                                        13                                20                                33

2008                                        17                                29                                46

2009                                        19                                18                                37

2010                                        20                                20                                40

2011                                        23                                26                                49

2012                                        13                                32                                45

2013                                        13                                14                                27

2014                                        22                                25                                 47

4. AICP Exam Passage Rates

Yet another assessment tool is the passage rate for the AICP professional exam (AICP, or the American Institute of Certified Planners, is the main certification body for professional planners in the US).

The most recent data available from AICP (for the period 2004-2014) shows a relatively high passage rate for graduates of the UVA program. During that period, 114 UVA graduates took the AICP exam, and 95 passed, for a passage rate of approximately 83%. This compares favorably to the national mean passage rate of 76%, though there is also room for considerable improvement.

The full listing of PAB accredited planning schools and their AICP passage rates can be found here:

5. Student Knowledge Assessment

In addition, The Planning Department implements its own student knowledge assessment, which entails a knowledge questionnaire administered in the first semester of study, and a similar assessment administered as students are about to evaluate.  The most recent results of this final-semester knowledge assessment suggest that, for the most part, graduating students feel confident in the key knowledge areas established by the Department.

Graduating Planning students are asked to self-assess their knowledge of 10 key areas:

  1. The link between urban and environmental dimensions of planning
  2. The concept of sustainability
  3. Approaches to citizen engagement;
  4. The implications of global climate change
  5. Affordable housing
  6. Ethical dimensions of planning
  7. Tools such as the comprehensive plan and zoning
  8. Skills for planning practice
  9. Sources of planning data
  10. The integration of theory and practice

For undergraduate students in 2013 and 2014 (combining responses for these two years), self-assessed knowledge ranged from 68% to 95% percent (respondents indicating they were either “knowledgeable” or “quite knowledgeable” about the topic or knowledge area).  For half of the ten topic areas this rate of self-knowledge exceeded 80%.  For graduates (again combining 2013 and 2014 responses), the results were similar, with self-assessment of knowledge ranging from 62% to 95% (“quite knowledgeable” and “knowledgeable”), on these questions, and with both BUEP and MUEP graduates very few respondents indicated that they were “minimally Informed” or “uninformed”. These self-assessment scores could be higher, and undoubtedly there is more we could be doing to effectively strengthen knowledge in these key areas. But the majority of our Planning graduates do seem to indicate confidence in the knowledge they possess.

The self-assessment for students graduating in 2015 will be conducted in late-May, and the results posted soon thereafter.  

In future years we will consider expanding the assessment techniques we employ. At one time we conducted exit interviews with many graduating planners and we will consider re-instituting this practice. We have also begun to survey and communicate with our graduates more frequently, and this could be an excellent source of insight about how well we are preparing our graduate for the kinds of planning jobs and environments they find themselves in.

Employment in Planning

An important category of information PAB requires us to post is the percentage of Planning graduates who are employed in the field of Planning one-year following graduation The latest survey indicates good news. 

For those who responded to our survey, 82.61% are working full time. 11.59% are working part-time, and only 5.8% were currently not working.

Of those working full time, 33.85% are working in the public sector (federal, state or local government), 52.31% are working in the private sector, 10.77% in the non-profit sector, and 3.08% are listed as self-employed.

19.18% report having taken the AICP exam; of those who took the exam, 86.67% passed the exam on the first try. 45.45% rate the AICP exam as being very or somewhat important to their career.

36% report having pursued further education.

Responses received to ‘experience in the program’:

“My planning education at UVA was an excellent experience. I graduated four years agol, and for three years worked as a preservation planner at a mid-size firm in NY/PA. I am now self-employed. MUEP program prepared me well for both of these roles.”

“Overall, I enjoyed it very much and am glad with my choice of planning as a profession.”

“I would be happy to serve as a point of contact/mentor for students considering a planning career in the federal government or visit/internship in the DC area”


See Fellowships page


Associated Faculty