Regional + City Planning - Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture %

Regional + City Planning

Planning the Future

The University of Oklahoma’s Division of Regional + City Planning (RCPL) prepares students to address the challenges that face the cities, towns and rural areas of Oklahoma and the US by working with communities to build local capacity. The Division seeks to become a place of belonging and personal growth for our students, faculty, alumni, and the regional professionals with which we work. RCPL students have access to a low student-faculty ratio and small classroom sizes to tailor courses of study to student interests. The Division’s focus on communication and experience prepares graduates for the collaborative work of successful planning professionals with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion of those often underrepresented in planning.

What is Planning?

Planning professionals work for various levels of government, nonprofits, as well as for profit developers and companies. Regional and City Planning is a diverse field appealing to those with interests in community development, economic development, environmental planning, public health, hazard mitigation, historic preservation, housing, parks and recreation, transportation, urban design, and others. What unites the diverse field of urban planning is the goal of working with communities, residents, and leaders to anticipate and meet the needs of a changing world. To learn more about planning check out the American Planning Association and the American Institute of Certified Planners.

Why RCPL at OU?

Affordable and Quality Education: The cost of education in Oklahoma is competitive. 

RCPL was founded in 1947 and is one of the oldest programs west of the Mississippi River. Faculty prepare students for a life of success, meaning, and positive impact by training students for planning practice in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors and by emphasizing learning by doing and interdisciplinary collaboration.

  • Alumni have an over 90% job placement rate within 6 months of graduation
  • The median starting annual salary for a professional planner is $52,000 and the median salary after 5+ years of work is $69,000 (American Planning Association)
  • Student success with state and regional internship placements
  • Nationally, one of the first planning programs to require “Planning with Diverse Communities” as part of the core curriculum
  • Sustained track record of recruiting and awarding financial support to students interested in social justice and planning with underrepresented communities

OU RCPL offers multiple funding opportunities on a competitive basis to new applicants. RCPL’s student funding packages include two-year commitments with in-state and out-of-state tuition waivers and/or graduate assistantships. The deadline for applicants to be considered for financial support for the following fall term is February 15 of each year. The GRE is not required, and admissions is on a rolling basis.

 

Additionally, RCPL has many scholarship opportunities for incoming and continuing students, including:

  • Christopher C. Gibbs Endowed Scholarship
  • Jayne and Joe Buskuhl Scholarship
  • John F. (Jack) Crowley Endowed Scholarship
  • Joseph Lee Rodgers Scholarship
  • Leonard M. Logan Founder’s Scholarship
  • Walter Kolb Community Planning Studio Endowed Scholarship
  • Dean Charles W. Graham Memorial Scholarship
  • Charles Robert Goins Award for Outstanding Achievement by a Planning Student
  • Other funding opportunities are sent to students through a division-wide newsletter.

 

All students in the College of Architecture may apply for scholarships through the Centralized Academic Scholarship Hub (CASH) at ou.edu/scholarships. Graduate scholarship applications are due April 1st. Additional information about the scholarships available to students through CASH can be found below. For questions, please contact the GCA Scholarship Coordinator at coascholarships@ou.edu.

  • Click here for more information about the curriculum and application requirements for the Master of Regional and City Planning program.
  • Click here for more information about what life is like in Norman.

Who We Are

Si Chen

Lecturer
email pending

Jim Collard

Professor of Practice
James.C.Collard-1@ou.edu

Emma Colven

Affiliate | Assistant Professor
emmacolven@ou.edu

Fernando Costa

Professor of Practice
Fernando.Costa-1@ou.edu

Laura Harjo

Affiliate |  Associate Professor
harjo@ou.edu

John Harris

Director & Graduate Liaison | Associate Professor
johncharris@ou.edu

C. Aujean Lee

Assistant Professor
aujean@ou.edu

Bryce Lowery

Associate Professor
bryce.c.lowery@ou.edu

Vanessa Morrison

Associate Director | Institute for Quality Communities
vanessa@ou.edu

Charles Warnken

Associate Professor
cwarnken@ou.edu

Mark Zitzow

Adjunct Faculty
mark@jaokc.com

News

See stories about the RCPL program on the Gibbs College of Architecture blog here.

RCPL Resources

RCPL Graduate Student Resource Guide

Helpful information for current and new students (from parking, scholarships, career services and more)

Accreditation (PDF)
As an accredited urban planning program, we are required to post data about our program annually.

Board of Visitors RCPL (PDF)
The RCPL Board of Visitors includes alumni and other professionals interested in helping support and shape the RCPL program. This document has an overview of the members of the RCPL Board of Visitors.

Strategic Plan: Contact Dr. John C. Harris at johncharris@ou.edu for information about the RCPL plan.

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REGIONAL + CITY PLANNING PROGRAM INFORMATION

International Students: The Master of Regional and City Planning (M818) degree qualifies students on an F-1 visa to work in the U.S. for up to three years following graduation. Learn more here.

Graduate Program

Our division values close and extensive contact between students and faculty; our size allows the faculty to dedicate time to each student’s success and work one-on-one to tailor individual courses of study within the curriculum’s format. The Division’s focus on communication and experience prepares graduates for the collaborative work of successful planning professionals with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion of those often underrepresented in planning. Our rich curriculum emphasizes skills development, with training in the latest computer technologies, and our well-equipped computer laboratories provide an extensive software library. Geographic information systems (ArcView, ArcMap), scanners, GPS receivers, color printers, and plotters are all found in our computer laboratories. Furthermore, our program offers many opportunities to gain practical experience by working in local agencies or with faculty on research projects.

Our Master’s program has two concentrations—Physical Planning and Community and Economic Development. Our course materials and projects are focused on relevant, real-world planning issues and events that result in our graduates’ immediate employability. Dual Master’s degree options can be arranged with other programs.

The GRE is not required for applicants, and admissions are on a rolling basis. For questions about applying and funding, contact Dr. John C. Harris (johncharris@ou.edu, Graduate Advisor).

OU RCPL also supports students through a faculty mentor match, annual holistic student performance, field trips and experiences beyond the classroom, and connections to widely available internships in the region with key professional contacts and agencies.

Prospective Students: The OU Regional and City Planning (RCPL) program accepts applications on a rolling basis, which means you can apply at any time for fall or spring admission. OU RCPL offers multiple funding opportunities on a competitive basis to new applicants. RCPL’s student funding packages include two-year commitments with in-state and out-of-state tuition waivers and/or graduate assistantships. Students interested in funding must apply annually by February 15The GRE is not required for applicants, and admissions are always accepted on a rolling basis. RCPL is dedicated to recruiting underrepresented students and has a track record of providing awards to students of one or more of the following identities:

  •  African American/Black
  •  Hispanic/Latinx/Chicanx
  •  Native/Indigenous/American Indian/Alaskan Native
  •  Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander
  • Asian American
  •  First generation students
  •  Students of LGBTQIA+ identities

These recruitment efforts are part of efforts to address issues of social justice and increasing diversity within the profession and in communities in which planners work. Students who have interests or experience in social justice and planning with diverse communities are strongly encouraged to apply.

The University of Oklahoma is in Norman, which is an affordable city that is just 30 minutes outside of Oklahoma City. The program offers small classroom sizes and tailors courses of study to fit student interests. RCPL alum have an over 90% job placement rate within 6 months of graduation.

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Regional + City Planning students participate in a mix of field work, community engagement, and classroom activities.

ADMISSIONS REQUIREMENTS

RCPL Curriculum

To view the Degree Requirement Checksheet for this degree and others, please visit the OU Degree Checksheet website.

  • Students are required to complete 44 credits for non-thesis students and 48 credits for thesis students.
  • Students will select one of the two specializations: Physical Planning or Community & Economic Development.
  • Each student should complete all three breadth courses within their selected specialization (9 hours) and select 9 hours of depth coursework within their selected specialization. One breadth course (3 credits) within the non-selected specialization is also required.
  • For more information about the class schedule, see Course Advising Template

 

Other Graduation Requirements

Non-Thesis Option:

Comprehensive Exam
Requires a minimum 44 credit hours, including 23 credits in the core curriculum, 12 credits in Breadth courses, and 9 credits in Depth Courses, and a comprehensive exam usually taken in the semester of graduation.

Learning Portfolio
Non-thesis students are required to prepare a learning portfolio of their work within the program. This is submitted prior to oral defense for the faculty committee to review. Three copies of the portfolio are required. Details on the requirements for the portfolio will be provided to the students the semester prior to graduation or upon request.

Oral Defense
The formal requirement for graduation is the oral defense. Upon successfully passing the written comprehensive exam, the Graduate Liaison will request from the Graduate College the ability for the student to sit for the oral defense. The student’s faculty committee (three faculty, at least the chair needs to be RCPL faculty) will ask similar questions to the written comprehensive exam to assess that important fundamental concepts of the planning discipline have been attained by every RCPL graduate.

Thesis Option:

Requires a minimum of 48 credit hours, including 23 credits in the core curriculum, and 4 thesis credits. A thesis is the product of individual research. It should represent an original contribution to the academic field of knowledge; and it must represent original research by the student. Students considering a thesis should discuss their ideas with faculty members sometime during their first year of study.

Admissions

The Masters of Regional and City Planning (MRCP) degree requires two-years of full-time graduate study. The degree is designed for people seeking a professional degree in urban and regional planning, community and economic development, urban design and transportation planning in the public and private sectors.

Requirements:

Prospective students must have a bachelor’s degree from a recognized college or university. A minimum of a 3.0 GPA is required for full admission.  However, conditional admission is granted for those students demonstrating ability to succeed in our program beyond simply the GPA measurement tool.  Conditional admission may require a limited load of courses, some initial preparatory courses, or language skill preparatory courses.

International students must have a minimum score of a 79 on the internet-based TOEFL (TOEFL iBT). Also, the IELTS is accepted.  The minimum score on the IELTS is a 6.5 overall band score.  For more information about the English Proficiency requirement please click here.

Admissions Process:

To be admitted to the Regional and City Planning program, a student must first be admitted to the Graduate College of the University.

Supplemental materials required for the application for our RCPL Program include:

  • 3 letters of reference
  • upload names and emails into the online application
  • references may complete the form and may upload a formal letter
  • references should be from individuals who are familiar with your academic work and/or professional work.
  • Statement of Intent or Interest in the RCPL program
  • 1-2 page applicant should prepare to describe why they wish to join the program and pursue this degree.
  • Writing Sample
  • 2-4 page essay addressing this topic: What is the top urban or community issue where you grew up or currently live?

The first step to the process is to apply online through the Graduate College. The links to the Graduate College Admissions process are below:

Supplemental Materials

The supplemental materials required for our program can be uploaded into the online applications form.  The letters of reference are also included within the online application system.

Transcripts

Please note: transcripts need to be sent to the Graduate College as part of the online application. For those who have attended undergraduate school in the United States – unofficial transcripts can be used during the admissions process (an official transcript will be required by the Graduate College before student completes first 12 credit hours).

References

If you have individuals providing letters of reference/recommenders that prefer to mail (postal or electronic) directly to our division, you may provide the following address:

Graduate Liaison
Division of Regional and City Planning
College of Architecture
University of Oklahoma
830 Van Vleet Oval, Gould Hall
Norman, OK 73019

Or email Dr. John C. Harris (johncharris@ou.edu).

Accelerated Program

The Division of Regional and City Planning offers an accelerated Master’s program in collaboration with the College of Atmospheric and Geographic Science, Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability (DGES) and the Gibbs College of Architecture Bachelors of Environmental Design (EnD). Any of the DGES or EnD undergraduate degrees can be combined with a Master of Regional and City Planning in a 4+1 year program (5 years total). Please visit the DGES website for more information on their undergraduate degree offerings. For more information about all of the accelerated programs, click here.

Scholarships

OU RCPL offers multiple funding opportunities on a competitive basis to new applicants. RCPL’s student funding packages include two-year commitments with in-state and out-of-state tuition waivers and/or graduate assistantships. The deadline for applicants to be considered for financial support for the following fall term is February 15 of each year. All undergraduate and graduate students in the College of Architecture may apply for scholarships through the Centralized Academic Scholarship Hub (CASH) at ou.edu/scholarships. Graduate scholarship applications are due April 1st. Additional information about the scholarships available to students through CASH can be found below. For questions, please contact the GCA Scholarship Coordinator at coascholarships@ou.edu.

Eddie Carol Smith Scholarship

Application Deadline: February 15

The Eddie Carol Smith Scholarship was established to honor the contributions of Dr. Eddie Carol Smith who served as Graduate Dean from 1993 until 1999, and Vice President of Research from 1995 until 1999. The Scholarship encourages research and creative activity among graduate students, and recognizes the significant contributions of these graduate students to our society. The Eddie Carol Smith Scholarship is a one-year award that will go to a graduate student whose research or capstone project either opens a new area of scholarly endeavor or significantly expands an existing area of scholarly endeavor. Applicants must be near the end of their degree requirements, as it is expected that the academic year during which the student serves as the Eddie Carol Smith Scholar is also the academic year in which the student will complete the degree.

THE AWARD

• $2,000 in professional development funds. These funds may be used to assist with the research project (i.e., archival research, data-collection, supplies & equipment, etc); to assist with the preparation of the final dissertation, thesis, or capstone project; or for travel to either present the research/project or to conduct research for the project.

• A full tuition waiver for both the fall and spring semesters of the award year

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

Any department offering a graduate degree on the Norman Campus may submit nominations for the Eddie Carol Smith Scholarship. To be eligible for nomination an applicant must:

• Be a graduate student on the Norman campus

• Carry at least a 3.60 grade point average in all coursework for the degree

• Be approaching the “last” year of the graduate degree

• Be engaged in either a doctoral dissertation, master’s thesis, or master’s capstone project

• Be recommended for the Award by the major professor

• Have the endorsement and support of the department and the budget college dean

Please note: the recipient need not hold a graduate assistantship during the year of the award

NOMINATION PROCESS

Nomination materials must include:

• A copy of the student’s completed Admission to Candidacy Form for master’s applicants or a copy of the student’s completed Advisory Conference Report for doctoral applicants

• A current copy of the applicant’s Curriculum Vitae

• A Research Statement prepared by the applicant. This statement should include a detailed description of the research / project. The statement must be readable by an interdisciplinary audience. It should be written in a grant proposal format rather than as an abstract of a work already completed. It should clearly identify the scholarly issues being addressed in the research / project. It should outline the tasks that will be performed to complete the research/project. If applicable, it should include any early conclusions or preliminary findings.

• A brief budget/financial statement indicating the proposed use of the professional development funds in conjunction to the research/project.

• A Reference Letter prepared by the applicant’s major professor. This letter should speak to the ability of the student to complete the proposed research/project and the current status of the research/project (i.e., prospectus completed, conducting research, etc.). It should also describe the scholarly significance and potential impact of the proposed research/project, as well as the expected time-frame for the applicant to complete the degree.

• An Endorsement Signature of the applicant’s graduate liaison or department chair

• An Endorsement Signature of the applicant’s budget college dean or designated representative

SELECTION PROCESS

An ad hoc committee selected from members of the Graduate Council will review the nominations immediately following the deadline and recommend a recipient to the Graduate Dean. The scholarship will begin the following fall semester.

Application Deadline: February 15

Architecture Board of Visitors Scholarship

Number given: Varies

Amount: Varies

Type: Merit/Need

Eligibility: Provides scholarships in the College of Architecture; academic performance and financial exigency will be considered in selecting recipients.

Available to: Undergraduate/Graduate

Christopher C. Gibbs Endowed Scholarship

Number given: Varies

Amount: $4,000

Type: Recruiting/Retention; Merit/Need

Eligibility: Full-time, regularly-enrolled student in CoA; Minimum 2.5 overall GPA; Demonstrated financial need. For those who meet the criteria, priority selection will be given to recruiting or retaining the highest quality, deserving student.

Deadline: February 1 UG/April 1 Grad

Available to: Undergraduate/Graduate

Flex-Ability Concepts Scholarship

Number given: Varies

Amount: Varies

Type: Merit

Eligibility: Full-time, regularly enrolled students in the College of Architecture; must maintain at least a 3.0 overall GPA; and design worthy of recognition shall be deemed to be those the selection committee agrees uses Flex-Ability Concepts products in an innovative way.

Available: Graduate

Joe and Hane Buskuhl Scholarship

Number given: Varies

Amount: Varies

Type: Merit/Need

Eligibility: An endowed fund established in the names of Joe and Jayne Buskuhl to provide scholarships in the College of Architecture.

Available to: Undergraduate/Graduate

Joseph Lee Rodgers Scholarship

Number given: Varies

Amount: Varies

Type: Merit

Eligibility: Provides scholarship support to an outstanding Regional and City Planning student in honor of Joseph Lee Rodgers for his contributions to the OU Regional and City Planning program.

Available to: Undergraduate/Graduate

Charles Robert Goins Award for Outstanding Achievements by a Planning Student

Number given: Varies

Amount: Varies

Type: Merit

Eligibility: This annual award is presented to a student planner for outstanding achievement during the respective nominee’s academic career in planning. Nominees must be in their final year of an APA-accredited undergraduate or graduate planning program in the State of Oklahoma or will graduate from such a program during the year of their nomination for this award.

Available to: Graduate

Additional Scholarships for RCPL Students

The following are additional scholarships that are also available to RCPL students. They have varying application deadlines and must be submitted to the appropriate organizations. We have tried to provide links when available. However, you will be notified of new scholarship opportunities; if you know of any additional scholarships, please let the Scholarship Coordinator know so that we can post them in this section of our website.

Judith McManus Price Scholarship

Deadline: April 30, every year

Academic Standing: Undergraduate or graduate planning students

Women and minority (African American, Hispanic American, or Native American) students enrolled in an approved Planning Accreditation Board (PAB) planning program who are citizens of the United States, intend to pursue careers as practicing planners in the public sector, and are able to demonstrate a genuine financial need are eligible to apply for this scholarship which will range between $2,000 to $4,000.

Read more about this scholarship from the American Planning Association (APA) and others on the APA website

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