Urban and Regional Planning, B.S.

A student uses surveying equipment to take measurements.

Make the world a better place to live while safeguarding the environment. 

A Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Planning from Westfield State University can put you in the position to make impactful decisions that shape resilient, equitable and economically vibrant communities. Our faculty expertise across the multi-disciplinary fields of geography, planning, and sustainability will help you to develop the tools you need to address the world’s most pressing social and environmental problems and concerns.

Our planning major is the oldest available from any public college or university in New England, and the only program of its kind available in Southern New England. In addition to exceptional course offerings, we provide extensive research, travel, and internship opportunities for you to gain practical field experience in your areas of interest.

Choose from Six Concentrations

All of our majors share a set of foundations courses to develop students’ understanding of the history and practice of planning and the ‘triple bottom-line’ of sustainability: ecology, economy and equity. These courses also involve the acquisition of skills such as computer mapping, public participation techniques, data collection and geospatial analysis. Students then select one or more of our six concentrations in order to sharpen their ability to apply theory and techniques in specific areas. These concentrations often involve internships and independent studies in the focus area.

Program Highlights

  • In-person and online classes
  • Affordable tuition
  • Field-based classes, regional travel, and internships
  • State-of-the-art geospatial technology
Cities and Social Justice

Dive into an array of urban issues such as affordable housing, adaptive reuse of city spaces, public safety, bicycle access and walkability. Learn strategies for involving the public and other stakeholders, including historically under-represented and marginalized groups, in an equitable and inclusive planning process.

Climate and Energy

Help to find innovative solutions to the climate crisis and energy transitions. Learn about the work of siting and permitting renewable energy facilities, creating more resilient buildings and transportation systems, and helping cities and towns confront heat waves, floods and storms.

Environmental Planning

Develop your familiarity with the tools and strategies for protecting biodiversity and natural systems, designing and implementing trail networks, parks, and greenways. Learn to prepare environmental impact statements and delineate wetlands while developing your understanding of the social, political, and economic contexts of environmental protection.

Food Systems

Learn how planners address issues of food insecurity and access to healthy food, promote a diversity of restaurants and eateries, support agriculture and community gardens, and explore innovative ways to turn food ‘waste’ into energy, soils, and jobs.

Real Estate and Economic Development

Learn to evaluate properties and parcels in terms of land use regulations and development potential. Study the ways that cities and towns raise money for projects and about the relationship between entrepreneurs, economic development and the goals and needs of communities.

Urban Design and Architecture

Develop a set of creative tools and techniques that will enable you to contribute to the design of urban spaces such as neighborhood blocks, streetscapes, and buildings. This concentration combines our urban planning courses with courses from the art department.

Transform your passion into meaningful change for both communities and the environment.

Are you ready to start earning your Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Planning degree?

An urban and regional planning bachelor’s degree that gives you the tools you need to make a difference.

  • Urban and Regional Planning Thesis Project

    Innovative thinking and social responsibility

    The major in urban and regional planning presents you with an array of possibilities to become more involved in technical research, laying the foundation through coursework and then building you up into roles for internships and community-based projects.

  • Multiple students observe how to use surveyor equipment.

    Real-world experience

    Through field-based classes, regional travel, and internships you will have many opportunities to take what you’ve learned in the classroom out into the real world. Engage with the local community to make a difference while gaining the valuable experience and skillset you need for planning, advocating, researching, and more.

  • Student learning how to use digital surveyor map.

    State-of-the-art geospatial technology

    Learn from experts how to use advanced technologies in geographic information systems (GIS), drones and remote sensing, and global positioning systems (GPS) that could become the cornerstone in your future career.

Program Details

Program Mission

Through coursework, internships, community-based projects, and research, the degree program prepares students to work as professional planners in public, non-profit, and private sector positions.

Additionally, students gain a spatial understanding of community issues and engage with urban and regional planning as civic activities preparing them for other diverse careers that address social, economic, and environmental sustainability goals.

Program Vision

We strive to be the premier undergraduate urban and regional planning program at a public institution in the commonwealth. This entails providing our students with the essential skills, competencies, and experiences to prepare them for work as professional planners and a wide range of other career paths in allied fields.

We seek to provide and support state-of-the-art geospatial technology education, mentoring, services, and solutions to Westfield State University and its surrounding communities. 

We seek to produce graduate students who think critically around and problem-solve current issues, including environmental change and ongoing socioeconomic and racial inequities.

Learning Outcomes

Planning Knowledge 

1. Students know and understand historical and contemporary planning, including fundamental concepts, key figures, theories, and current best practices. 

2. Students interpret case laws relevant to the field of urban and regional planning and apply established case law to realistic hypothetical situations.  

3. Students understand the history of human settlements and can identify the social, cultural, economic, and political forces that shape the built and natural environments and influence resource management. 

4. Students identify and understand the scientific theories and processes of the physical environment and the natural world. 

5. Students understand the relationships of scientific theories and concepts to human behavior and development. 

6. Students appreciate the different scales and flows of people and materials, including comprehension of global, regional, and local systems. 

Planning Skills 

 7. Students master the scientific method, including conceptualizing problems and supplying evidence to effectively develop and critically evaluate hypotheses.    

8. Students develop effective communication skills and can tailor the use of text, graphics, and oral presentations to effectively relay information to a variety of audiences.  

9. Students gain practical experience through internships, research projects, and applied fieldwork courses. 

10. Students master quantitative analysis including applying statistical and other analytic techniques, including GIS and other geospatial technologies, to the definition, understanding, and evaluation of alternatives for planning and natural resource issues.

11. Students can collaboratively problem solve, develop plans, and design implementation actions. 

12. Students can critically evaluate the quality, currency, reliability, objectivity, and usability of data and information.  

Planning Values & Ethics 

13. Students understand the ethics of professional practice and behavior, including being familiar with the AICP Code of Ethics.  

14. Students practice critical self-reflection, examining their framework for decision-making and evaluating it against professional standards. 

15. Students articulate a meaningful vision of a just society, including issues of equity within generations—across the lines of gender, race, age, class, sexuality, and ethnicity—and across generations.  

16. Students recognize the multicultural aspects of society and demonstrate an awareness of the need for inclusive decision-making in planning, especially regarding historically marginalized populations. 

17. Students critique ethical aspects of research and scientific endeavors. 

18. Students identify themselves as global citizens and articulate the reality of ecological limits and an environmental ethic that incorporates a view of just sustainability. 

I really like that the field of planning applies pieces of economics, environmental science, and civics to understand how to develop communities. I knew without a doubt Westfield State would be the perfect place for me. The community feel, walkability of campus, and the faculty could not be better. You're able to be the change you want to be here at Westfield.

Olivia Houde, ’22

What can you do with an Urban and Regional Planning degree?

Urban and regional planners draw on geographic data and trends to prepare plans for transportation networks, environmental protection, historic preservation, and economic development. They work with elected officials, community groups, field scientists, architects, and engineers in order to plan and design cities and towns guided by the triple bottom line of sustainability: ecology, economics, and equity.

Many of our graduates find work as town, city or regional planners but a degree in urban and regional planning from Westfield State University will help you develop the skills you need for a variety of career pathways, including the following:

  • Town, city, and regional planning
  • Environmental consulting
  • Geospatial data analysis
  • Housing policy
  • Transportation systems
  • Energy policy
  • Economic development
  • Green building and architecture
  • Land use law
  • Conservation, recreation, and tourism
  • Local and regional politics
  • Real estate
  • Community organizing
  • Food policy and urban agriculture
Two people look over a large map that is spread out on a table.

Ready to learn more?

Get big school features with small school advantages.  

We offer high-quality academics, unique learning opportunities, and a gorgeous campus—and we have small classes, accessible faculty, and one-on-one support. 

You'll join fellow motivated students ready to make the most of the college experience through active participation. Become part of a caring and committed community that understands and embraces the bridge between academic study and civic responsibility.

  • 15:1

    student-faculty ratio

  • 87%

    of students receive financial aid

  • 300+

    service projects

Learn from experienced faculty in small classes

Our faculty have a deep sense of pride in the work they do and are engaged in urban planning both inside and outside the classroom. Working with students, they provide research and advocacy on issues in the local community, such as developing a more bike-friendly Westfield and spearheading environmental stewardship initiatives in the Westfield River Watershed. For our faculty, urban planning is more than just an interest, it’s a life pursuit—and they instill that drive in their students.  

Faculty directory

A professor instructs students in an outdoor setting.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Westfield State University accredited? 

Westfield State University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). Our educator preparation programs are also approved by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and accredited by the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP).

Do I have to submit SAT/ACT scores or an essay when I apply?

Westfield State University does not require an application essay, SAT and/or ACT scores, or letters of recommendation (except for special program admissions).     

All first-year applicants are reviewed for admission based on their high school record. First-year applicants must meet the minimum eligibility requirements established by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) in order to qualify for admission to a state university.   

Learn more about the application process and admissions here.

How much does Westfield State University cost?

Westfield State University offers a comprehensive university experience at an affordable cost—with many options for financial aid. Visit our Cost and Aid page to learn more. 

Will I receive academic support?

We’re invested in your success. Whether you need a little help adjusting to college, study strategies, tutoring, or disability services, the team at the Academic Achievement Department is ready to help. Our mission is to provide you with the tools to explore academic opportunities as well as to plot strategies for continued growth. 

Learn more about our student support services here.

Request Information

We’re here to answer your questions and deliver the support you need along your academic journey. Please provide your contact information and area of interest, and we’ll be in touch shortly.


Urban and Regional Planning, B.S.