Master of Planning (MPlan)

The MPlan program is a design- and studio-based program in which students learn how to shape the future of cities by working on real-world problems with real clients.

Message from the Associate Dean (Planning)

The Master of Planning is a two-year, course-based first professional degree program accredited by the Canadian Institute of Planners which prepares students for professional practice and registration as Professional Planners. While focused on the role of professional planners in rural and urban municipal government contexts, the skills, knowledge and knowledge the MPlan provides also enables our graduates to function effectively in the private sector in areas related to land development, community design and development, regulatory planning, and policy development.

What characterizes our MPlan degree program is our form-based approach to planning and the interdisciplinary opportunities for planning students to take courses and design studios with students from the Master of Landscape Architecture and the Master of Architecture.  This physical design/form based approach reflects the city building and constructed environment focus of our School.  It is important for professional planners in the public and private sector, elected officials, and citizens to understand the spatial and built form implications of policy and policy driven decision making. Spatial information and visual communication are valuable planning skills and just as important as understanding the policy and regulatory world in terms of understanding what gets built and why what’s on the ground is the way it is. However, they also have the added value of helping envision what could be and the nature of cities and the forms of constructed environment are ever changing over time as concerns for social equity, sustainability, economic diversification, housing affordability, transportation,  climate change adaptation, and new technologies increasing influence urban aspirations and discourse. 

The Planning program at the University of Calgary has been active for almost 50 years and our graduates have gone on to be recognized planning practitioners and change makers internationally, nationally, and locally. Our teaching faculty have a range of research expertise and professional practice experience and provide an excellent support network to help you make connections to the profession, help you understand the complexity of successful planning practice, and advise you on advanced academic research opportunities in your area of practice interest.  

If you have questions about the MPlan Program or have specific admission application questions please contact info@sapl.ucalgary.ca or admissions@sapl.ucalgary.ca. We are committed to providing you with a quality experience in our program and the ratio of 15 students to 1 instructor helps us maintain a focus on your professional and academic development.  

Mary-Ellen Tyler

Mary-Ellen Tyler Interim Associate Dean (Planning and Landscape Architecture)


Program Philosophy

The MPlan first professional degree program meets all the Canadian Institute of Planners accreditation requirements. However, in terms of our Program identity, the following 4 principles are key to our curriculum design and delivery.

DESIGN AND STUDIO-BASED: ‘Studio’ is a teaching and learning format that engages students in experiential learning through problem identification, analysis, and the design of interventions for preferred outcomes.  A traditional part of design education in Architecture and Landscape Architecture it puts students in real or simulated planning project situations where instructors engage with students in problem solving that may result in physical or spatial design outcomes or policy and land use planning outcomes.  

INTERDISCIPLINARITY: The professions of Planning, Landscape Architecture, and Planning all practice in the context of constructed human environments and have the creation of built form in common. Since the founding of our School working together in professional teams and interdisciplinary educational opportunities have been the foundation of educational culture.

SUSTAINABILITY: Constructed human environments are complex and multi-faceted systems with social, cultural, technological, ecological, and economic flows and inter-relationships. The challenge for the professions of Planning, Architecture, and Landscape Architecture is to ensure that the forms we create do not create social, economic, and ecological conflicts and trade-offs. 

REAL WORLD PROBLEM SOLVING: Professional practice means working with people within legal and governmental institutional frameworks. It is vital that professional practice education be placed in that context.  Program courses and studios incorporate the real world context of practice as part of a student’s experiential learning. 

Planning as a Career

Professional Planning practitioners work primarily in urban and rural municipal governments and in private sector companies involved in urban and rural land development and land use planning. Professional planners have a a range of professional practice expertise including social services planning, housing, recreation, transportation, policy, regulatory compliance, development finance, project management, urban design, environmental planning (water, air, biodiversity), development approval, area structure planning, urban redevelopment, and community engagement. 

Program Structure

The Master of Planning is a first professional degree at the masters level. It is a course-based degree, which means no research thesis is required. The curriculum incorporates the breadth of Canadian Institute of Planners accreditation requirements and is fully accredited. 

The two-year curriculum is expected to be completed in four (4) consecutive terms. The curriculum is structured around four (4) required core studios. These studio courses are "full" or six-unit courses and must be taken in the required sequence of one studio per term.  For this reason, all applicants admitted to the MPlan must start in the fall term.

Explore Student Work


Student spotlight:

Robyn Erhardt, centre, shares a thought with instructor Douglas Leighton at the Year-End Show 2019

Neil Zeller

Class of 2019: Planning grad dedicated to improving the 'hood for the next generation

Robyn Erhardt brings more than a little inside knowledge to capstone project


Explore other SAPL programs

If you're interested in this program, you might want to explore other SAPL programs.

Master of Architecture

Master of Landscape Architecture

Master of Environmental Design

Explore other graduate programs

The UCalgary Future Students website provides a handy tool for comparing degrees. Learn more about this program and explore related programs.

Compare on UCalgary Futures

Questions about apply to the program?

Answers to your questions about MPlan applications.

Explore MPlan Program FAQs