Making smarter and more liveable cities requires new skills that integrate land use and transportation. The Master's Programme in Spatial Planning and Transportation Engineering offers the skills you need to design and develop urban and regional systems.
While urbanisation is attracting more people to live in cities, fighting the climate crisis requires making decisions that sustainably transform urban spaces and transportation systems. To answer the intriguing technical and social questions arising from these pressing challenges, the Master’s Programme in Spatial Planning and Transportation Engineering educates future leaders with technical yet human-centred mindsets and toolboxes. It’s one of the world’s first programmes combining the closely interlinked fields of spatial planning and transportation engineering – something that the field’s leading practitioners have been suggesting for years. Thanks to this future-facing and unique approach, Aalto University graduates will leap to the forefront of modern practice and shape how people live and move in the modern world.
Upon graduating from the Master’s Programme in Spatial Planning and Transportation Engineering, graduates will have:
Human-centred yet technical mindset. Graduates understand both the social and technical aspects of spatial planning and transportation engineering.
Extensive theoretical understanding. Graduates possess a strong scientific background for answering systemic questions from everyday mobility to large-scale strategies.
Strong skills in urban planning and engineering. Graduates are able to work for smarter and more liveable cities as well as other human-built environments and transportation systems.
Mastery of multiple planning and analysis methods. Graduates know how to use scientific methods as well as the latest technology and tools in the field.
An in-built sustainable approach to their profession. Graduates see planetary health, society and people as the starting point for successful spatial planning and transportation engineering.
Language of instruction
In the Master’s Programme in Spatial Planning and Transportation Engineering, the language of instruction is English.
The tuition fee is €15 000 for non-EU/EEA students per academic year. More information on Scholarships and Tuition Fees page (aalto.fi).
Content of the studies
The programme structure enables students to align their curricula with their interests. The first year is reserved for common and advanced major studies that give a broad overview of spatial planning and transportation engineering. In the second year, students obtain broader expertise in integrating both fields by completing their Master’s theses and elective courses.
The freedom of choosing elective studies gives students the opportunity to spend an exchange semester abroad, deepen their expertise with more advanced courses, or broaden their expertise by choosing courses from Aalto University's other master's programmes or from different universities. Forming a unique set of knowledge and skills is encouraged because it’s not only more motivating for students themselves, but also highly valued by leading employers in the field.
Although usually understood in an urban planning context, the field of spatial planning and transportation engineering varies on a very large scale from blocks and cities to nations and global systems. For example, smart cities, urban mobility and sustainable development as well as land use, regional planning and transportation systems are overarching themes for the programme. To give concrete examples of the topics covered, here are some courses picked from the programme’s extensive curriculum:
Land Use Planning Systems (5 ECTS)
Transport Planning and Policy (5 ECTS)
Systems Thinking for Sustainable Living Environment (5 ECTS)
Smart and Liveable City Studio (10 ECTS)
Participatory Planning (5 ECTS)
The programme follows a transdisciplinary approach emphasising teamwork, communication and negotiation skills, engagement with the practice world, and advanced project management skills. The interactive learning methods used within the programme form a dynamic combination of theory and practice, preparing students for the constantly changing environments and the emergence of new technologies.
A concrete example of where strategy-level thinking meets hands-on work are the various studio courses where students receive briefs from cities and companies, conduct stakeholder interviews, host and attend workshops, exercise systemic thinking, solve problems creatively and ethically, and discuss the end results in close collaboration with professors and stakeholders. Teaching methods don’t only mimic real-life scenarios but actually introduce students to projects with real problems and viable solutions.
Other methods include lectures by professors and visiting experts, individual assignments, group exercises as well as introductions to professional software and tools. All courses use some or all of these methods combined, resulting in a motivating environment and active peer learning.
Overall, the Master’s Programme in Spatial Planning and Transportation Engineering comprises a total of 120 ECTS credits. The two-year programme consists of:
Common studies (40 ECTS)
Advanced studies (20 ECTS)
Elective studies (30 ECTS)
Master’s thesis (30 ECTS)
Personal Study Plan (PSP)
The Personal Study Plan (PSP) is a practical tool to define a student’s own study path, compiling an optimal selection of courses that are aligned with the student's interests and programme requirements. The PSP is also a useful tool for students to keep track of their studies. At best, it shows where students are with their studies and sets concrete milestones for them to follow.
In the Master’s Programme in Spatial Planning and Transportation Engineering, the topics and themes are universal and global, although always applied locally. As a consequence, understanding different cultures and local systems is essential for an international career in the field, and students are highly encouraged to study a semester abroad. As one of the pioneering programmes worldwide, international standards are easily met and exceeded, resulting in a high number of exchange students coming over to Aalto University as well.
Aalto University is international by nature, welcoming thousands of degree and exchange students from abroad every year. These students join the diverse Aalto community not only through their studies but also through multiple free time events, celebrations and extracurricular activities around the campus. Active tutoring programs and support services work hard to help international students integrate to the Nordic culture and feel at home in Finland.
The Master’s Programme in Spatial Planning and Transportation Engineering is both human-centred and technical. This multifaceted approach draws students and professors from different backgrounds together, creating a highly multidisciplinary community around the shared topic. Students are also encouraged to take on very unique and personalised study paths, enabled by the large variety of elective courses available.
Overall, Aalto University is well-known for bridging disciplines of business, arts, technology and science. The lively campus and freedom of choosing elective courses across the university bring students from different fields under one roof. This spontaneous multidisciplinarity environment sparks new ideas, gathers enthusiasts around them and gives birth to friendships, networks, and every so often, startups.
Collaboration with cities, companies and other stakeholders within the Master’s Programme in Spatial Planning and Transportation Engineering is highly active during studies. The interactive studio courses are often visited and hosted by cities and leading companies in the field, and many of them also provide thesis work opportunities.
As the field of spatial planning and transportation engineering is in constant motion, graduates often get to define completely new roles in organisations. Novel titles and responsibilities emerge in all the major career paths that can be divided into three main categories:
Working in the public sector, mostly in strategic and leadership positions regarding, for example, urban planning, green and green cities
Working in the private sector as consultants, analysts, planners and specialists
Following an academic path and becoming a researcher in the field
Aalto University has well-established career services to support students’ employment in Finland and abroad. Thanks to the flexible curriculum, many Aalto students work already during their studies and guarantee themselves entry positions before graduation. There is also a very active entrepreneurship community at Aalto, working as a springboard for founding a company.
Postgraduate study options
The Master's Programme in Spatial Planning and Transportation Engineering at Aalto is considered as a great foundation for doctoral studies and post-doc positions.
Our research teams perform high-quality research across themes like:
Everyday human behaviour and values in the living environment
New planning and policy-making methods and processes
Development and governance of urban technologies and services
Programme-specific Admission Requirements
Aalto University's student selection process is competitive and paper-based. Applications that pass the eligibility check (administrative evaluation) conducted by Aalto University Admissions Services proceed to the school's programme-specific academic evaluation.
The following are used as criteria for an academic evaluation in 2021:
What is evaluated: Grades of the previous degree/CGPA
Admission requirements: Grades need to mainly very good to excellent
Evaluated documents: Transcript of records
Relevance of previous studies
What is evaluated: Content and quantity in relation to the applied study-option-specific requirements
What we look for in an applicant: Content suit very well or excellently to the study option
Evaluated documents: Transcript(s) of records, degree certificate(s)
Recognition and quality of an institution
What is evaluated: Recognition and quality of the applicant's previous institution
Admission requirements: Recognized for a high quality of education and research
Method of demonstrating competence: International and national rankings of higher education institutions
Criticality: Not critical
What is evaluated: Applicant’s further applicability to the study option, motivation, and commitment for studies
What we look for in an applicant: Applicant's expertise is clearly connected to the study option.
Evaluated documents: Motivation letter (mandatory)
Other areas of competence
What is evaluated: Work experience and other acquired expertise as well as other relevant achievements such as publications and non-formal education
What we look for in an applicant: The applicant’s curriculum vitae is evaluated if documented in the application:
work experience in a field related to the study option
publications or posters
competitions in a field related to the study option
voluntary work in a field related to the study option
Evaluated documents: Curriculum vitae, other possible relevant documents
Criticality: Not critical
Your study background can be in urban and land use planning or transportation engineering but also a variety of studies in other fields related to planning and transportation engineering could prepare you for the programme. These studies can include, for example, architecture, geoinformatics, environmental studies, social studies, economics and geography.