The MPlan program prepares future professional planners with the knowledge and skills necessary to work effectively with other professions, community members, local governments and the private sector in a wide range of roles related to solving problems and making great cities and communities that are sustainable, vibrant, healthy and equitable.

Program Philosophy

Planners are active changemakers, shaping communities and cities that are responsive to the future’s challenges and opportunities. The MPlan program teaches students how to understand and communicate the connection between policy and planning decisions and the spatial forms they create on the ground. Students learn design and graphic skills and work closely in cross-professional, interdisciplinary teams – often directly with community associations – to explore planning issues and the role of professional planners.  

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, architecture and landscape architecture share common ground in the creation of the built form and practice in the context of constructed human environments. Working together in interdisciplinary teams is a necessity for professional success and has been one of our School's core educational values since its founding.

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 built forms 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. 

Program Structure

The Master of Planning is a two-year first professional course-based graduate degree accredited by the Professional Standards Board (PSB) of the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP).

All applicants admitted to the MPlan program start in the fall term.

Planning as a Career

Professional Planning education and practice offer a wide range of opportunities and specializations that are international in scope. Professional practice expertise includes 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. 

Explore Student Work

As part of his final studio project, Patrick Aouad (centre) engages with a Bankview resident on how to improve the community's streetscapes and public spaces. Click on the image for more student work.

Student spotlights

Robyn Erhardt (MPlan'19), centre, chats with instructor Douglas Leighton at the Year-End Show 2019. She is dedicated to improving the neighbourhood for the next generation.

Neil Zeller

Lilit Houlder (MPlan'20) at the main entrance of the new City Building Design Lab beside City Hall. She envisions making cities more accessible and inclusive.

Message from the Associate Dean (Planning)

The SAPL Master of Planning is a two-year, course-based first professional graduate degree in planning. The degree is accredited by the Professional Standards Board (PSB), in accordance with the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP) curriculum requirements, and prepares graduates for provincial professional registration.

The SAPL Master of Planning is a form-based program that uses design studio pedagogy as the primary context for integrating spatial and physical planning with social, environmental and economic dimensions of planning practice and theory. The SAPL MPlan program is characterized by this form-based approach to planning and the opportunity for planning students to take interdisciplinary courses.

The studio pedagogy provides a focus for experiential learning and addressing contemporary urban and municipal issues through direct engagement with local and regional communities. We believe that our students will gain knowledge and develop valuable skills for professional practice by engaging directly and realistically with current planning issues and challenges.

It is important for professional planners, in both public and private sectors, to understand the spatial and built-form implications of policy and policy-driven decision-making. Spatial design, analysis, and visual communication are important planning skills that can help translate and communicate policy and regulatory requirements. The form of constructed environments is dynamic and reflects local and regional concerns for social equity, sustainability, economic diversification, housing affordability, transportation, climate change adaptation, and new technologies.  Urban aspirations and discourse are reflected in the forms of urban systems and have an important role in planning education.

The Planning program at the University of Calgary has a fifty-year legacy of graduates who have gone on to become planning practitioners and changemakers — internationally, nationally, and locally. Our teaching faculty provide a range of planning-related research and professional practice experience that supports students in making connections with the profession and in understanding the complexity of successful planning practice.

Enrica Dall'Ara, Associate Dean (Academic) Planning + Landscape Architecture


Enrica Dall'Ara, Associate Dean. Academic (Planning + Landscape Architecture)

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