Planning at Iowa is a two-year master's degree program oriented toward educating professional planners. Planning schools generally approach urban and regional planning in one of two ways: from the perspective of physical design, or from that of policy planning, employing social science tools and techniques. The first perspective emphasizes how planners can shape the built environment; the second focuses on how planners can influence decisions, policies, and actions that affect the quality of life in cities and regions. Prior to 1974 Iowa’s Program offered a physical-design-based curriculum. In 1974-75, the Program shifted primarily to a policy perspective based on the social sciences, although urban design is an interest of several of our faculty.
The field of planning serves a variety of constituencies concerned with improving transportation systems, housing, employment opportunities, air and water quality, and other aspects of life in our nation's cities and regions. By its curriculum design and faculty activities, the School falls squarely within the Sustainability institutional focus of the University of Iowa.
The Planning Program's mission has five elements: