Master of Science in Planning


Program Description

The restructured Master of Science in Planning is a thesis-based research program of study, which is differentiated from SCARP's accredited, professionally oriented Master of Community and Regional Planning (MCRP) and is intended to provide learning opportunities for:

  • practicing professionals who want to strengthen their research skills;
  • those with undergraduate planning degrees from accredited programs;
  • and students (with or without a master's degree) interested in eventually doing doctoral research;

to undertake graduate-level study leading to a non-accredited, research-based master's degree.

Quick Facts

  • Degree: Master of Science (Planning)
  • Subject: Specialty
  • Mode of delivery: On campus
  • Specialization: Planning
  • Program Components: Coursework + Options
  • Faculty: Faculty of Applied Science
  • School: School of Community and Regional Planning

This degree program is designed to provide a stimulating opportunity for students who have an interest in planning as a career, and who seek a strong and robust graduate educational experience as a platform for high-level planning and public policy work. Specifically, our program will appeal to students desiring a richer theoretical understanding of complex issues in city and community planning, environmental planning, and international development planning, as well as intensive study of instructive case studies.

The program may also be of particular interest to students with a possible interest in doctoral studies.

Successful applicants will work closely with a faculty supervisor, who should be identified in your application. We strongly advise communicating with a prospective supervisor in advance of making a formal application for entry.

The program is designed to be completed within eighteen months, incorporating a selection of coursework (including a theory course and thesis workshop), and a thesis prepared with the guidance of a supervisor and second reader.

Applicants should note that the research masters* degree programs are not formally accredited by the Canadian or American boards. Those seeking an accredited degree are encouraged to apply to the School’s MCRP program.

*Upon graduation students in the research masters area receive a Master of Arts in Planning (MAP) if they entered the program with a Bachelor of Arts degree or a Master of Science in Planning (MScP) if they entered the program with a Bachelor of Science degree.

Program Requirements

The research masters degree program total credit requirement is 34 credits, 10 of which consist of required courses in theory for planning research; research design; developing and writing a thesis; and research methods. Each student is required to complete a concentration comprising a set of at least 12 credits that is being tailored to the student’s interests in careful consultation with an advisor, and a 12-credit thesis. Students must spend the first year-in-residence taking required and elective courses.

Students will be required to take a qualitative methods course as part of the above requirements.


  • PLAN 558: The Role of Theory in Planning Research
  • PLAN 559: Design of Planning- and Policy-oriented Research
  • PLAN 560: Master's Thesis Workshop
  • Research Methods


  • 12 credits of approved courses chosen in consultation with student's advisor.


  • Master's Thesis


Research Focus

Community Development and Social Planning, Comparative Development Planning, Disaster and Risk Management Planning, Ecological and Natural Resources Planning, Transportation Planning, Urban Development Planning.

Research Supervisors

This list shows faculty members with full supervisory privileges who are affiliated with this program. It is not a comprehensive list of all potential supervisors as faculty from other programs or faculty members without full supervisory privileges can request approvals to supervise graduate students in this program.

  • Angeles, Leonora (Gender analysis, gender mainstreaming and other gender planning related tools, including feminist critiques and perspectives on the integration of gender and other social axes of difference and diversity in community planning and international development work)
  • Bigazzi, Alexander York (Motor vehicle emissions,)
  • Chang, Stephanie (Community vulnerability and resilience to natural disasters)
  • Frank, Lawrence (health and environmental impacts of transportation and urban planning (land use) decisions. transportation, transit, public health, sustainability, sprawl, neighbourhood walkability, physical activity, urban planning, Sustainable transportation)
  • Gurstein, Penelope (Housing)
  • Honey-Roses, Jordi (environmental planning, water resource management, and impact evaluation)
  • Hutton, Thomas (theoretical and normative issues of urban and regional change among advanced and transitional societies)
  • Leaf, Michael (urbanization and social change in Third World countries, particularly southeast Asia and China, Analysis and planning for societies in the midsts of their urban transitions, with particular attention to cases in Asia, Infrastructure and urban environments in developing countries)
  • McDaniels, Timothy (risk management; decision research, ecological risk; value tradeoffs; risk perceptions; biodiversity; wilderness benefits; global change; infrastructure; policy analysis; natural and manmade disasters, Risk management, decision research, ecological risk, value tradeoffs, risk perceptions, biodiversity, wilderness benefits, global change, infrastructure, policy analysis, natural and man-made disasters)
  • Sandercock, Leonie (multiculturalism and cities, urban policy, integration of immigrants, cross-cultural planning, First Nations collaborative community planning)
  • Senbel, Maged (Urban design, environmental planning, climate change planning, public engagement, urban agriculture, multi-media, social media and youth engagement)
  • Stevens, Mark (evaluating the effectiveness of local and regional government land use planning efforts, with a goal of producing new knowledge that can help communities anticipate and adapt to changes according to the principles of sustainable development; plan-making and implementation, growth management, natural hazard mitigation, and legal issues in planning; (1) a study of municipal climate change planning in BC, (2) a meta-analysis of environmental policy adoption, (3) a plan evaluation study of award-winning plans, and (4) a study on the content and delivery of quantitative methods courses in urban planning programs)
  • Tran, Martino (systems science, predictive modelling and simulation for understanding and tackling societal challenges in energy and sustainability)




  • ibT Reading 22
  • ibT Writing 21
  • ibT Listening 22
  • ibT Speaking 21



  • IELTS Reading 6.5
  • IELTS Writing 6.5
  • IELTS Listening 6.5
  • IELTS Speaking 6.5



Last updated Dec 2018

About the School

The Faculty of Applied Science oversees administrative procedures for the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, the School of Community and Regional Planning, the School of Nursing, and a ... Read More

The Faculty of Applied Science oversees administrative procedures for the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, the School of Community and Regional Planning, the School of Nursing, and all engineering activities at the Vancouver campus and the School of Engineering at the Okanagan campus. Read less