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

Culture, technology, environment and how people experience cities and spaces are continually changing. Professional Planners are actively involved in shaping the future of communities and cities and dealing with the day to day challenges of managing the social and physical aspects of complex urban systems at different scales.

The MPlan program is characterized by form-based planning, involving design and graphic skills that enable SAPL MPLan students to understand and communicate the connection between policy and planning decisions and the spatial forms they create on the ground. Students work closely in cross-professional, interdisciplinary teams and often directly with community associations to explore planning issues and the role of professional planners.

The MPlan first professional degree program meets all the Canadian Institute of Planners accreditation requirements. The following four 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 has 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. 

Program Structure

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

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

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. 

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, shares a thought with instructor Douglas Leighton at the Year-End Show 2019. She is dedicated to improving the 'hood 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 Master of Planning is a two-year, course-based, first professional degree program. The MPlan is accredited by the Professional Standards Board for the planning profession in Canada which prepares students for professional practice. While focused on the role of professional planners in rural and urban municipal government contexts, the skills and knowledge gained from the program also enable 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 two-fold:

  1. Our form-based approach to planning and the interdisciplinary opportunities for planning students to take courses and,
  2. Design studios with students from the Master of Landscape Architecture and the Master of Architecture.

The physical design/form-based approach reflects SAPL's city-building and constructed-environment focus. 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 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. The forms of constructed environment are ever-changing,  as concerns for social equity, sustainability, economic diversification, housing affordability, transportation, climate change adaptation, and new technologies increasingly influence urban aspirations and discourse. 

The Planning program at the University of Calgary has been active for almost 50 years. Graduates have gone on to be recognized planning practitioners and changemakers — internationally, nationally, and locally. Our teaching faculty have a range of research expertise and professional practice experience, providing 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 We are committed to providing you with a quality experience in our program and the ratio of 15 students to one instructor helps maintain a focus on your professional and academic development.  

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

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

Questions about apply to the program?

Answers to your questions about MPlan applications.

Explore MPlan Program FAQs