Graduation Requirements (MS URPL Students)

All students intending to graduate and/or present a professional project or a thesis must complete and submit the “Declaration of Intent to Graduate / Competency Requirement survey form” to the graduate coordinator by February 15 for the spring semester, October 1 for the fall semester, and July 1 for the summer semester (note: if graduating in the summer, students must enroll in a minimum of 2 credits; domestic students have the option to pay a fee instead of enrolling, though).

Master’s Degree Competency Requirement

a)  Master’s Thesis: A Master’s thesis is a significant scholarly research effort, resulting in development and defense of a thesis document. A thesis is presented and defended before a committee of three faculty members and is governed by rules established by the Graduate School. Students may take up to 6 credits of URPL 990 Research and Thesis for purposes of developing a thesis. The thesis option may be of special interest to students wanting to pursue a PhD or wanting to further develop their research skills.

Students intending to complete a thesis as their competency requirement should consult with their advisor early in their course of study (preferably in the first semester of graduate study in Urban and Regional Planning).

b)  Professional Project: For many graduate students in Urban and Regional Planning, the Master of Science degree is intended to serve as a professional degree. For students pursuing careers as practicing planners, the Professional Project option is most appropriate. Students not selecting the Master’s Thesis Option must undertake a Professional Project and develop a Professional Project Report under the supervision of their advisor. This Report is presented and defended before a faculty examination committee composed of the student’s advisor and one additional faculty member.

Students must also prepare a poster of the project that they will display and present at the Professional Project Poster Forum on the Friday before graduation weekend.

If you elect to follow the professional project requirement, you must meet with your advisor to discuss your professional project options. For most students, this is a two-semester activity and you are well-advised to meet with your advisor early in your graduate studies to develop a plan.

An examination committee of two faculty members (your advisor plus an additional faculty member) will be identified by the Chair at least one week before your presentation. You must submit one copy of your report to your advisor and one copy to the other committee member at least one week prior to the presentation. By the end of the examination period (typically this period lasts the six weeks in the middle of the semester, with exact dates released via email each semester to students indicating they are graduating), you must:

  1. set an examination date with your examination committee;
  2. complete your professional project report;
  3. notify the graduate coordinator to reserve a room for your presentation;
  4. present and defend your professional project report.

You will be informed of the results of your examination following the conclusion of the presentation. If you fail the examination, you will need to meet with your advisor to discuss corrective actions, reschedule an examination, and present and defend your professional practice report a second time.

Additional Requirements

The program requires additional documents that reflect on and critique your time at URPL and confirm you completed the competency requirement. The following documents must be completed and submitted to the graduate coordinator (the deadline will be sent out via email to students who indicate they are graduating, but typically it is 2 weeks before the degree deadline for the semester):

  • Plan of Study/Program Requirements form, signed by your advisor.
  • Evaluations of all courses taken outside URPL.
  • A subjective evaluation of your experience as a graduate student in URPL. In the past students have covered such topics as: courses they liked or did not like (and why), requirements that were or were not appropriate and helpful, program procedures and/or personnel that/who was or was not facilitative to their experience, thoughts on ways we might improve the experience of a UW–Madison Planning education for future graduate students. (This is an anonymous evaluation distributed in aggregate with all other student evaluations from the academic year to faculty and staff for review).
  • PDF of your Professional Project Report (send to the graduate coordinator via email).
  • Electronic copy (PDF or TIFF) of your Professional Project Poster (send to the graduate coordinator via email or Box–this deadline may differ to facilitate printing in time for the forum).
  • Permission Form for sharing your Professional Project Report.

Documentation of your internship experience including:

  • Internship Supervisor Evaluation Survey for Supervisors. Your internship supervisor will be asked to submit a letter during the process of filling out this survey, so they should have it prepared before completing the survey.
  • Internship Completion Survey for Students. This survey requires you to submit a brief written critique of your internship experience. This should be in the form of a 2-3 page memo, describing what you did during the internship, what you hoped to have learned and accomplish, what worked, what didn’t, and what you learned about the planning field from the internship. Have it ready before taking the survey.

You should meet with your advisor to have them review the above items. You are welcome to complete and submit these requirements much earlier than the deadline. It is strongly recommended that you complete documentation of your internship experience shortly after completing the internship. All URPL forms can be found here.

If you have any questions about any of the above information, please do not hesitate to contact your advisor.