How Planetizen Ranks Schools

The ranking system for the Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs, 6th Edition is based on a combination of statistical data collected from the programs themselves and opinion data gathered from planning educators.

Statistical Data

Planetizen sent surveys to 97 schools with master’s programs in planning, requesting data on such measures as incoming student GPA, faculty publications, and financial aid. Eighty programs responded to our survey for the 6th Edition of the Guide. Schools that did not respond to the survey were not included in the Planetizen rankings. Rankings were generated from survey data collected during the winter and spring of 2019.

Opinion Data

Planetizen attempted to survey the entire population of planning faculty, collecting contact information via publicly available information on the ACSP website and school websites. In addition, Planetizen promoted the opinion survey by notifying an email listserv and a social media group catering specifically to planning educators. The sample size was 1,160 educators. Twenty-nine percent (333) of educators responded to the online opinion survey. Educators were asked to provide their relationship to the program (if they are currently employed by the university, served on a program review committee, etc.). The opinions of educators about a college or university where the educator was currently employed were not included in the ranking. Additionally, other relationships between educators and the program being rated were weighted to account for bias. Planetizen also surveyed current and recently graduated planning students about their opinion of their graduate planning program. These data, however, were not included in the rankings; they were used solely to help determine which factors were most important to students in choosing a program.


In response to consultation with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning's Institutional Data Task Force, Planetizen has continued to refine our methodology. We kept changes to a minimum between the 5th and 6th editions of the Guide for consistency. To formulate the program rankings, Planetizen considered 29 indicators across four main criteria areas (categories listed in the table below). For each indicator other than the opinion data, an octile system was used (the median value is determined, then values are divided into 8 equal sections and each program is assigned a rating from 1-8, with 8 being the best score).

For each major category, completeness of responses were accounted for. Schools that did not answer all questions were assigned a weighted average rating based on the completeness of their responses across all relevant questions comprising that category. The final weighted scores for each category were then aggregated to arrive at the final ranking for each program based on the proportions shown in the list below.

Opinion of Planning Educators: 30%

Program Characteristics: 30%
Indicators include median course enrollment, merit and need-based financial aid, accreditation status, student/faculty ratio, student retention, and number of graduates over the past ten years.

Faculty Characteristics: 20%
Indicators include number of faculty, faculty publications, percentage of faculty with AICP/FAICP, and gender/ethnic diversity of faculty members.

Student Characteristics: 20%
Indicators include the number of students, average GPA and GRE scores of incoming students, acceptance rate, the percentage of accepted students who matriculate, and the gender/ethnic diversity of the student body, student employment rates after graduation, and the percent of graduates who seek and achieve AICP certification.

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