University of Southern California
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Graduate Degrees

Master of Planning and Development Studies

The Master of Planning and Development Studies degree is designed for mid-career professionals in planning, development or related disciplines who desire to update and/or redirect their professional skills and careers. The program is very flexible, allowing students to pursue areas of expertise that they find valuable in their present or future careers. Entering students must have a minimum of five years of planning, development or related professional work experience.

Curriculum Requirements

The Master of Planning and Development Studies program requires completion of 28 units. Basic degree requirements consist of two core courses; 16 units in a concentration area approved by an advisor; and an integrative seminar course during which the student completes a written and oral comprehensive examination.

Required CoursesUnits
PPD 611Policy Issues in Planning and Development4
PPD 612Research and Analytical Techniques4
PPD 638Integrative Seminar (normally in the last semester in conjunction with the comprehensive examination)4

Concentration Area(s)
Students elect a concentration area from one of three already defined or, with prior approval by an advisor, design a concentration from School of Policy, Planning, and Development courses and USC graduate courses. A minimum of eight units must be School of Policy, Planning, and Development courses. The three defined concentration areas are:

Community Economic Development Select 16 units from the following courses: PPD 618 (4), PPD 623 (4), PPD 624 (4), PPD 625 (4), PPD 626 (4), PPD 629 (4), PPD 631 (2); RED 509 (4), RED 542 (3), RED 546 (3)

Environmental Policy and Planning Select 16 units from the following courses: PLUS 600 (4), PLUS 633 (4), PPD 531L (4), PPD 617 (4), PPD 619 (4), PPD 620 (4), PPD 621 (4), PPD 622 (4), PPD 631 (2), PPD 634 (4), PPD 712 (4)

International Planning and Development Select 16 units from the following courses: PLUS 631 (4), PLUS 632 (4), PLUS 633 (4), PLUS 635 (4), PLUS 640 (4); PPD 626 (4); RED 583 (2), RED 585 (4)

Integrative Seminar and Comprehensive Examination
Successful completion of a comprehensive examination is required of all students seeking the Master of Planning and Development Studies degree. The integrative seminar course (PPD 638) and comprehensive exam should be taken during the semester of intended graduation. During the seminar class, students identify a practice-oriented problem covering the core courses and concentration area, which ideally is sponsored by a planning and/or development office or firm. The student will: (1) prepare a professional-quality document; (2) present the solution to a faculty committee with invited sponsor guests; and (3) have an oral defense. Students who fail the examination may take it again within one year, but it may only be repeated once.

General Requirements

Residence and Course Load
The Master of Planning and Development Studies may be completed in one academic year of 12 units in the fall and spring semesters and the four-unit integrative seminar/comprehensive examination the following summer semester.

At least 18 units of graduate study must be done in residence at the University Park campus, the USC State Capital Center or at an approved off-campus study center.

Time Limit
Students in the program must complete all requirements for the Master of Planning and Development Studies within five calendar years from the beginning of the semester in which the student was admitted to the program.

Grade Point Average Requirement
While enrolled in the program, a student must maintain a grade point average of at least 3.0 (A = 4.0) for all courses taken toward the degree.

Probation and Disqualification
Any student with a cumulative grade point average below 3.0 for all courses taken in the program will be placed on academic probation. A student whose semester grade point average is below 3.0, but whose cumulative grade point average is 3.0 or higher, will be placed on warning.

A student may be disqualified to continue toward a graduate degree if the student has been on academic probation for two consecutive semesters. Whether or not on academic probation or warning, a student may be disqualified at any time from continuing in the program if the dean of the school, after consultation with the faculty, determines the student is deficient in any degree requirement.

Course Exemption and Transfer of Credits
Credit for graduate work may be transferred from approved graduate schools as determined by the USC Degree Progress Department in the Office of Academic Records and Register on recommendation of the dean of the school. Not more than four units of graduate work, with grades of B or better, can be transferred for credit toward the Master of Planning and Development Studies degree.

The following courses, or their equivalents, may not normally be transferred for unit credit from other institutions: PPD 611, PPD 612 and PPD 638. Undergraduate work may not be transferred into the degree program for unit credit.

Some applicants for admission to the school will have been engaged in work in planning, development or closely related activities. Although this experience should be beneficial to the students involved, it may not be considered equivalent to academic education.