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Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP)

Be a leader in planning, policy & practice

UAP students present a project

UAP students present a project

Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) prepares students to explore the intersections of planning, policy and practice at the metropolitan, community, and neighborhood scales and in the diverse contexts of rural and urban, poor and affluent, fast growing and declining communities. We engage issues affecting where people live, work and play; where they shop and receive medical attention; how they get from place to place; what communities look like; how communities work and how we use our resources. This is exciting and challenging work.

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The United Nations reports that by 2050, another 2.5 billion people will be added to urban areas around the globe. 

Impact change.

Managing this growth and change requires an understanding of several inter-connected systems, to preserve and enhance community life, protect the environment, and promote equity.

Real-life experience with community clients. We emphasize a practical, hands-on approach that reaches across disciplinary and professional boundaries. Our students learn how to understand "place" and policy at a range of scales — from neighborhoods to mega-regions, in the U.S. and around the world.

Many of our alumni work in local and regional governments, consulting,   and for non-profits. Thus, by entering the UAP community, students join an extensive network for launching careers in these fields.


Our core curriculum includes theory, law, economics, methods, and project-based studios along with such topics as sustainability, real estate development, urban design, community engagement, transport, technology, and planning.

Each semester UAP offers studios, in which student teams working for public, private, and nonprofit clients tackle real world planning, policy, development, or design problems. Several studios have won awards from the Virginia American Planning Association.

Research Spotlight: 
Improving air quality in urban areas with UAP Prof. Steve Hankey

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MURP’s Dual Masters degrees, also known as simultaneous degrees, exist between the Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) and Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA), Master of Public Administration (MPA), and Master of Natural Resources (MNR) degrees. Dual degrees provide students with the opportunity to master core material in more than one field, allowing them to acquire the flexibility to engage in a wide range of activities within multiple fields and become bridge-builders between them; in fact, many rise to leadership positions because of their multi-disciplinary perspective. If you are interested in this program in Blacksburg, please contact Kelly Crist ( If you are interested in this program in Arlington, please contact Elia Amegashie (

The Combined B.A. Architecture/Masters in Urban and Regional Planning degree provides students with the option of earning a professionally-accredited Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree along with the professionally accredited Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) degree. Graduates of the combined degree program are at the nexus of planning and architectural design, crafting solutions to community issues that respond to social, political, economic and spatial challenges.

Located in Arlington, the Washington Semester is an eleven-week summer program that provides students the opportunity to acquire professional experience in a governmental agency or other relevant enterprise in the private or nonprofit sector.

What’s UP?

Through UAP's original video series, we are getting the word out about urban planning. Check out interviews with students, alumni, faculty and planning professionals who let us know “What’s UP?”

Our Community

UAP has an excellent faculty-student ratio. Most of the classes are relatively small with excellent opportunities to interact with the faculty and fellow classmates.

UAP faculty have earned national reputations as experts in sustainability, urban regeneration, international development, transportation, housing, disaster management, and community and economic development. Our faculty have degrees from the finest planning schools and conduct cutting-edge research.

UAP faculty in Blacksburg and Arlington often collaborate with colleagues in the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA), Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and several Virginia Tech research centers.

  • Bio Item
    David Bieri
    David Bieri , bio

    Associate Professor, Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) | Affiliated Faculty of The Department of Economics and The Blackwood Department of Real Estate | Office: Architecture Annex, Room 213, Blacksburg | Email: | Phone: (540)-231-3831

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    Jim Bohland in a blue dress shirt
    James R. Bohland , bio

    Professor Emeritus, Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) | Email:

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    Ralph Buehler
    Ralph Buehler , bio

    Professor, Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) | Office: Arlington, Room 6-012 | Email: |

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    Margaret Cowell
    Maggie Cowell , bio

    Associate Professor, Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) | Office: Arlington, Room 6-018 | Email: |

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    Ralph Hall
    Ralph Hall , bio

    Professor, Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP); Director, Undergraduate Studies, School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA); Associate Director, Center for the Future of Work Places and Practices; Affiliated Faculty, VT Honors College | Office: Architecture Annex, Room 201, Blacksburg | Email: | Phone: (540)-231-7332

  • Bio Item
    Steve Hankey
    Steve Hankey , bio

    Associate Professor, Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) | Office: Architecture Annex, Room 208, Blacksburg | Email: | Phone: (540)-231-7508

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    Theodore Lim
    Theodore Lim , bio

    Assistant Professor, Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) | Office: Architecture Annex, Room 212, Blacksburg | Email: | Phone: (540)-232-8710

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    Shelley Mastran
    Shelley Mastran , bio

    Professor of Practice, Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) | Office: Arlington, Room 5-040 | Email: |

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    Shalini Misra
    Shalini Misra , bio

    Associate Professor, Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) | Office: Arlington, Room 5-182 | Email: |

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    John Provo
    John Provo , bio

    Adjunct Professor, Urban Affairs & Policy (UAP) | Office: Blacksburg | Email: | Phone: (540)-231-4004

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    John Randolph
    John Randolph , bio

    Professor Emeritus, Urban Policy and Planning (UAP) | Office: Blacksburg | Email: | Phone: (540)-231-7714

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    Todd Schenk
    Todd Schenk , bio

    Chair of Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) | Associate Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) | Director of Science, Technology & Engineering in Policy (STEP) Program | Affiliated Faculty, Global Change Center (GCC), Fralin Life Sciences Institute, and Center for Coastal Studies | Office: Blacksburg | Email: | Phone: (540)-231-1803

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    Max Stephenson
    Max Stephenson , bio

    Professor, Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) Director, Institute for Policy and Governance (IPG) | Office: Blacksburg | Email: | Phone: (540)-231-6775

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    Paroma Wagle
    Paroma Wagle , bio

    Assistant Professor, Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) | Office: Architecture Annex, Room 201, Blacksburg | Email:

  • Bio Item
    Kris Wernstedt
    Kris Wernstedt , bio

    Professor Emeritus, Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) | Email:

  • Bio Item
    Diane Zahm
    Diane Zahm , bio

    Associate Professor, Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) | Office: Architecture Annex, Room 206, Blacksburg | Email:

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    Yang Zhang
    Yang Zhang , bio

    Associate Professor, Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) | Office: Architecture Annex, Room 214, Blacksburg | Email: | Phone: (540)-231-1128

UAP students share their experience on various aspects of their educational experience:

Andrew DeLuca: I work 32 hours a week and take 9 credit hours of classes. This program has accommodated my schedule and the flexibility to take some online classes has allowed me to make the most of the program.

Lynda Ramirez-Blust: I am a full-time student pursuing a degree in landscape architecture and urban planning. Because my landscape architecture classes are during the day and the MURP classes are late afternoon and evening classes, I can fit them into my schedule easily. It makes for a couple of long days but its workable.

Ariel Goldring: I work full time outside of school and am a part-time student. The evening schedules make it possible for me to enroll in the program while continuing to work.

Emma Martin: I am a full-time student and graduate assistant. The program has enough flexibility for me to have a job outside of school, it’s just not something that I need to do at this point.

Randy Cole: The staff and school have access to many real-world and local opportunities to participate in Urban Planning – affordable housing, economic development, active transportation, parks & open space, historic preservation, mass transit and urban analytics. There are not many schools nationwide that have access to this variety of learning opportunities.

Madeline Youngren: The program has many connected professors who have provided individuals to speak to regarding my interests. The program also sends out many internship and job opportunities.

Emma Martin: The program has revealed the many specialty fields there are within planning. Since we have so many elective hours, I can take courses that fit my interests, including urban design, creative placemaking and public art, sustainable transportation, and site planning.

Randy Cole: I like the economics courses and the mapping courses. The economics courses gave me an insight into the fundamental reasons and theories why cities exist and how they can sustain themselves. The mapping courses taught me about the tools, data and analytical processes needed to make a map tell a story.

James Mill: Topics in Transport Policy class was my favorite class. Not only did it help reinforce my interests in transportation planning, but we learned a lot about new and developing trends in transportation

Owain James: The best classes in the MURP program are the studios where we get to apply our knowledge to real problems facing communities today. Instead of just writing a paper about safer streets, this semester I am studying real intersections in Alexandria and looking at ways the city can make them safer.

Ariel Goldring: I particularly enjoy the modules, in which professionals who work “in the field” provide us special insight into complex planning issues.

Andrew DeLuca: My undergraduate program was Geography and it mainly focused on describing the world as it is and some of the (mostly natural) processes that shape it. I wanted to know how and why the man-made processes come about, and i want to be a part of those projects.

Lynda Ramirez-Blust: I’m transitioning from a career working with nonprofit organizations. Through that work my awareness of inequities of the city has become more acute and so too my desire to do something about it. I see planning as an opportunity to level the playing field for the have nots.

Ariel Goldring: I was attracted to urban planning to better understand the strategies available to tackle housing issues plaguing rural and urban communities alike.

Jose Delcid: My interest in urban planning ties in to my background with architecture. I’m really fascinated with urban design and placemaking, something that shows the creativity behind the planner.

Madeline Youngren: I am interested in housing planning as well as sustainable and environmental planning. I come from an environmental policy background, so I was exposed to the planning realm early in my education. 

Zach Johnson: Since dropping out of the architecture program to pursue planning, I have grown to especially love economic and rural development. I hope to increase and bolster the sustainability and resiliency of rural communities facing economic and demographic challenges

Jose Delcid: All the professors and adjunct faculty are well-respected. One thing about the NCR campus is that professors are willing to chat with all students. 

Emma Martin: Each one of my professors is intelligent and passionate about their work and teaching. We are lucky to have such an engaged, supportive, and genuine group of professors in our program. They are always accessible and always willing to go out of their way to offer help.

Zach Johnson: All my professors have been engaging, approachable, and accessible. Additionally, each of them is well-respected in their respective fields. 

Randy Cole: I was considering several schools in the DC area. Virginia Tech was close, but when I learned that Dr Buehler – a national and global authority in urban biking – taught here, I stopped looking elsewhere.

Owain James: I decided to apply to Tech after attending an open house and sitting in on a class. The environment was so much fun and everyone was extremely welcoming. It really gave me a good sense of not just the curriculum, but also the academic culture.

Madeline Youngren: I applied to VA tech because I went to undergrad there and knew the planning program was strong. I was most attracted to the satellite campus in Alexandria, VA, because I thought it would prove to provide more connections and better applicable study in the Northern Capital Region. Staff was very supportive in the process and I liked that I was notified of my acceptance in a timely manner.

The Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) program has active student body groups, including four student-run organizations from the undergraduate to the doctoral level.

The Urban Affairs and Planning Student Association (UAPSA) serves as the organization for students majoring in Public and Urban Affairs (PUA) or Environmental Planning and Policy (EPP). UAPSA provides a forum for discussion on issues related to planning, policy, and administration; sponsors, coordinates, or participates in community service projects; and develops and disseminates information on employment and career opportunities in planning, policy, and administration. All students interested PUA, EPP, Geography, International Studies, Architecture, etc. are welcome to join Urban Affairs and Planning Student Association’s Facebook page.

The Capital Area Student Planning Association (CASPA) serves as the student organization for the Urban Affairs and Planning program at Virginia Tech’s Arlington campus. CASPA aims to provide a creative and professional forum for the program’s graduate students to facilitate dialogue and friendship, while also providing resources and support from the university, faculty, and the public and private sectors to help students reach their academic and professional goals. Social and professional activities are held on campus or in the D.C. Metropolitan area. More information about the Capital Area Student Planning Association and upcoming events can be found on Facebook.

The Graduate Urban Affairs and Planning Association (GUAPA) serves as the student organization for the Urban Affairs and Planning program at Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus. GUAPA provides a creative and professional environment for graduate students to collaborate with peers, faculty, other departments, and the public and private sectors throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. GUAPA provides the resources and support necessary for members to achieve their academic and professional goals while at Virginia Tech. The organization harnesses student engagement at the Graduate level through regional and national conference participation (such as the APA Conference and City Works Expo), guest speaker lectures, academic research development, as well as social and professional networking opportunities.

The Planning, Governance, and Globalization Student Association (PGGSA) serves as the organization for students in the Planning, Governance, and Globalization (PGG) doctoral degree program. PGGSA serves students in both tracks of PGG: Urban and Environmental Design and Planning, and Governance and Globalization. PGGSA seeks to provide resources and support necessary for students across these two tracks to achieve their academic and professional goals while at Virginia Tech. PGGSA regularly hosts a PGG Seminar that provides doctoral students with advice and guidance relating to their professional development as future scholars and enables students to engage in a dialogue on some of the most critical contemporary issues facing society.

Join the LinkedIn group for Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) alumni from both Blacksburg and Arlington. The purpose is to create connections between and among UAP alumni and students.

Membership is open to UAP students, alumni, faculty and staff. If you would like to join, please submit a request and have your UAP experience somewhere in your profile.

This LinkedIn group serves to promote connections and facilitate discussion between Virginia Tech’s current and former students and faculty within the Urban Affairs and Planning program. 


The VA Urban Planning Virtual Career Fair provides a space for recent urban planning graduates and employers to connect to each other via LinkedIn. Employers, post job announcements here. Graduates, under “Discussions,” post links to your resumes, and/or information about your interests, skills, and the types of jobs you seek. Please invite your VA Urban Planning connections! This page is managed by members of the Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association Student Representatives Committee.

UAP News