College of Social Sciences
Saunders Hall 107
2424 Maile Way
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-7381
Fax: (808) 956-6870


*Graduate Faculty

*P. Das, PhD (Chair)—water governance, urban environmental services, urbanization in the Global South, design and planning of the built environment
*M. Coffman, PhD—greenhouse gas reduction strategies, renewable energy planning and policy, low-carbon transportation
*A. Das, PhD—community participation and empowerment, slum upgrading, decentralization and local governance, role of civil society in development
*P. Flachsbart, PhD—planning methods and models, environmental planning, energy, land use planning, and urban transportation planning
*P. Garboden, PhD—affordable housing, domestic housing policy with a particular focus on housing vouchers, neighborhood change, revitalization, and redevelopment
*K. E. Kim, PhD—planning theory, planning methods, infrastructure planning, disaster management and humanitarian assistance, and alternative tourism planning
*D. Milz, PhD—environmental planning, dispute resolution, facilitation, community engagement, participatory/collaborative planning, and resilience
*S. Raj, PhD—environmental planning, climate change adaptation and food systems planning, disaster management, community engaged research, research methods
*S. Shen, PhD—geographical information systems; climate change adaptation and transportation planning

Cooperating Graduate Faculty

D. L. Callies, JD—land use management and control, intergovernmental relations
W. Chapman, PhD—historic preservation
J. Darrah-Okike, PhD—urban and political sociology, race and ethnicity, international migration
D. Eversole, BS—coastal hazard mitigation and climate adaptation
K. Freitas, PhD—indigenous planning
M. Glick, MS—eenergy policy and innovation
M. Hamnett, PhD—ocean and coastal resource management, disaster preparedness and mitigation
B. Houghton, PhD—volcanology, hazards, and society
A. Kaufman, PhD—fundamentals of landscape design and planting design
D. Lerner, PhD—environmental physiology of fishes, environmental contaminants’ affect on fish growth, physiology, and behavior
D. McGregor, PhD—Hawaiian history, social movements in Hawai‘i and the Pacific
K. Suryanata, PhD—political ecology, agriculture, rural development in Asia
B. Szuster, PhD—coastal land conservation, impact of human development activities
S. Yamada, PhD—disaster management and humanitarian assistance

Affiliate Graduate Faculty

L. Bui, PhD—disaster risk reduction and humanitarian assistance
M. Fisher, PhD—political ecology, conservation, social forestry, Indonesia/Southeast Asia
D. Foley, PhD—strategies of citizen participation, collaboration, nonprofit planning and management, community building, and community-based planning
V. Keener, PhD—applied interdisciplinary hodrology & climatology; climate adaptation & policy in Pacific Islands
L. Kong, PhD—tsunami warning & mitigation systems
P. Pant, PhD—transportation planning, economics, safety, & resilience
M. Parke, PhD—social anthropology, Korean studies
K. Tibbetts, PhD—evaluation design & implementation
K. Umemoto, PhD—community planning, theory, social theory & policy
R. Uyeno, PhD—tourism, disaster and crisis planning

Emeritus Faculty

T. Dinell, MPA—planning theory, citizen participation, social policy, professional practice, and conflict resolution
C. Douglass, PhD—urbanization in Asia, rural-urban linkages, spatial planning theory, and community-level planning
L. Minerbi, DottArch—community development, planning with indigenous people, and Pacific Island planning

Degree and Certificates Offered: MURP, PhD, Certificate in Planning Studies, Professional Certificate in Urban and Regional Planning and Graduate Certificate in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance

The Academic Program

Urban and regional planning is a dynamic field that requires innovative solutions from committed and thoughtful individuals. Historically, it emerged out of the convergence of two concerns: (1) the provision of urban infrastructure; and (2) the initiation of social reform. Today the underlying focus on community well-being continues, and urban and regional planning has broadened to include the development, implementation, and evaluation of a wide range of policies.

Specifically, urban and regional planners are concerned with:

  1. The use of land in the city, suburbs, and rural areas; particularly with the transition from one use to another
  2. potentially adverse impacts of human activities on a limited physical environment and the possible mitigation of those impacts;
  3. the design of the city and the surrounding region to facilitate the engagement in the activities that people need and desire;
  4. settlement systems and the location of human activities in urban and regional space;
  5. identification of social needs and the design and provision of services and facilities to meet those needs;
  6.  the distribution of resources, benefits and costs among people;
  7. the anticipation of change and its impact on how people do and can live;
  8. the participation of citizens in planning processes which affect their future;
  9. the way that choices are made, decisions implemented and actions evaluated, and the means by which those processes can be improved in urban and regional areas.

The Department of Urban and Regional Planning (DURP):

  1. takes a multidisciplinary approach to planning education recognizing in particular the important contributions to planning that can be made by the social and natural sciences and by the architectural, public health, social work, and civil engineering professions;
  2. emphasizes extensive community involvement;
  3. engages in research that focuses on the application of planning methodologies and implementation of planning endeavors;
  4. recognizes the close relationship between urban and regional planning and politics;
  5. acknowledges the difficulty of resolving the value differences that lie at the heart of most planning problems;
  6. appreciates both the importance and the elusiveness of critical concepts, such as “the public interest” to urban and regional planning.

UH Mānoa Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) graduates, of whom there are about 563, hold planning and related positions in a variety of public agencies, academic institutions, nonprofit organizations, and private firms in Hawai‘i, on the continental U.S., and in the Asia Pacific region.


The department is accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board.

4+1 BAM BS Global Environmental Science and MURP

Combined Bachelor’s & Master’s Degree (BAM) Pathways afford a way for highly motivated students to efficiently complete a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in a shorter time frame by double-counting course work (3 courses) at the undergraduate tuition rate. In most cases, pathway students graduate with the Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree within 5 years (total).

4+1 BAM BA Hawaiian Studies and MURP

Combined Bachelor’s & Master’s Degree (BAM) Pathways afford a way for highly motivated students to efficiently complete a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in a shorter time frame by double-counting course work (3 courses) at the undergraduate tuition rate. In most cases, pathway students graduate with the Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree within 5 years (total).

Graduate Study

The department offers a multidisciplinary approach to planning education. Students are provided with an opportunity to develop an individualized but integrated course of study drawing on this department and other departments and professional schools in UH Mānoa. Faculty and students engage in both funded and non-funded research and community service. The graduate curriculum focuses on theory, methodology, and practice in the following areas: community planning; environmental planning and sustainability; international development planning; land use, transportation and infrastructure planning; and disaster management and humanitarian assistance (DMHA). Planning in the developing countries of Asia is emphasized.

For further information regarding the master’s degree or certificate programs, students should write to the department.

Master’s Degree

Students enter the MURP program from a variety of fields, usually the social sciences, architecture, engineering, public health, social work, and, increasingly, the natural sciences, but also from such diverse fields as philosophy, human development, and history. Students coming into the program are required to have an adequate background in descriptive and inferential statistics or to acquire this background prior to enrollment in PLAN 601.

Native speakers of English are required to take the GRE General Test. Others will be expected to have achieved adequate preparation in English as evaluated by the TOEFL. Each applicant should provide two letters of reference, preferably from individuals acquainted with the applicant academically or professionally. In addition, applicants must complete an Express information form (available from the department). An interview with a member of the faculty, if feasible, is highly recommended. The deadline for application for admission is February 1 for the fall semester and September 1 for the spring semester.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the MURP degree, students should be able to:

  1. Explain major planning paradigms and their applications;
  2. Articulate processes leading to urbanization and rationales for planned interventions;
  3. Apply planning methods to organize, analyze, interpret and present information;
  4. Critically and creatively develop planning inquires or processes to foster solutions-orientated decision-making;
  5. Effectively collaborate as a planning team to work with a and/or stakeholder to assess and address a relevant planning problem to create a plan or professional report;
  6. Effectively present oral and written work (as a plan, professional report, or research paper) in a coherent, persuasive and professional manner;
  7. Reflect upon the ethical implications of the choices planners make as professionals.

MURP graduates hold a variety of planning and related positions in public agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private firms. In Hawai‘i, these include the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism; Department of Health; Land Use Commission; Legislative auditor; Department of Hawaiian Home Lands; House Majority Research Office; Hawai‘i Community Development Authority; Housing Finance and Development Corporation; Department of Public Safety; Department of Land and Natural Resources; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Honolulu City and County Departments of Planning and Permitting, Land Utilization, Housing and Community Development, and Parks and Recreation, Office of the Managing Director, Office of Council Services; Planning Departments of the counties of Hawai‘i, Kaua‘i, and Maui; Mediation Center of the Pacific; banks and trust companies; consulting firms; development corporations; real estate firms; university research and extension organizations; and community colleges.

On the continental U.S., graduates are city and county planners, program analysts in federal agencies (e.g., Office of Ocean and Coastal Management and Office of Management and Budget), and planning consultants. Other graduates include a planner for a nonprofit housing corporation, a lawyer-planner, and a law professor. Overseas positions include planners with regional planning, housing redevelopment and environmental agencies, the United Nations, private development and consulting firms, as well as faculty in university programs. Several MURP graduates are pursuing doctoral degrees in planning, geography, political science, and economics, while others are seeking law degrees.


The MURP degree is a two-year professional program that requires a minimum of 42 credit hours. It is designed to equip students to fill professional planning and policy analysis roles in public agencies, private firms, and community groups, particularly in but not limited to Hawai‘i, Asia, and the Pacific Basin. All students complete the core sequence: public policy and planning theory, planning methods, urban economics, environmental planning and policy, land use policies and programs, site planning, and a six-credit hour practicum. The remainder of the academic program, including additional methods courses, is individually designed with concentration in a specialized area of the student’s own choosing (with the consent of his or her advisor). Grades of B or better are required in PLAN 600, 601, 603, 620, 640, 678, and an overall average of B or better must be maintained toward the MURP degree. MURP students receiving a grade lower than a B will be allowed one additional opportunity to achieve a B or better in each core course.

Both Plan A (thesis) and Plan B (capstone paper) programs are available. All students are required to pass a final, which includes a successful defense of the thesis or capstone paper on the selected area of concentration, and meet the program standards for graduation.

Doctoral Degree

The doctoral program provides training in advanced research in urban and regional planning. Graduates are expected to pursue academic appointments at institutions of higher education and to achieve higher levels of professional practice in the public and private sectors.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the PhD program requires a master’s degree in planning. In exceptional circumstances candidates with either an advanced research background or exceptional professional experience, but who do not have an MA degree may be admit- ted. Admission may be granted with the understanding that some background courses or examinations may be required. Consideration for admission requires a GPA of at least a 3.5 in previous graduate work. Applicants are also required to submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores for verbal, math, and analytic sections. Non-native speakers of English are also required to submit the TOEFL; a minimum score of 600 is required. Applicants are also expected to submit evidence of advanced work such as a sole-authored research report or plan.

Degree Requirements

Each PhD degree student is required to complete at least 21 credits in advanced courses (in addition to any remedial courses designated at the time of admission)

  • Research Methods (6 credits)
  • Advanced Planning Theory (3 credits)

In addition to these two courses, PhD candidates are required to take 9 credits in an allied field (to be selected in consultation with the student’s advisor). Students are also required to take at least one three-credit course in research design or proposal writing.

Prior to starting the dissertation, PhD candidates will sit for a comprehensive examination in planning theory and planning methods. Students will be required to form a PhD committee drawn primarily, although not exclusively from the department, to guide the student through the qualifying examination and the dissertation research. Under the direction of its chair, the committee will devise a qualifying examination covering both core topics in urban and regional planning and the student’s substantive area of research. Upon successful completion of the qualifying examination, students will be required to present their dissertation proposal to a department colloquium. When the student has successfully completed the examinations and presented the dissertation proposal the student will advance to candidacy. Each student is required to conduct original research and write and present a defense of a doctoral dissertation based on the dissertation proposal. The dissertation research will be guided by the student’s committee. Upon completion, the student will defend the dissertation before the committee. If successful, the candidate will be recommended for award of the PhD in Urban and Regional Planning by UH Mānoa.

Professional Certificate in Urban and Regional Planning

The Professional Certificate in Urban and Regional Planning is designed for planning practitioners and working professionals in public policy, economic development, environmental conservation and many other fields related to planning. It is open to those currently working in the public, private, or voluntary sector who do not have a planning degree but are interested in formal education in urban and regional planning and any of its sub-fields. The program allows professionals to continue working full-time by offering a selection of evening as well as daytime courses. Certificate students may attend classes or make arrangements with the instructor to take courses through real-time distance learning when available.

The Professional Certificate requires completion of 5 courses (15 credits) comprised of one required (PLAN 600: Public Policy and Planning Theory) and four elective courses. Each course carries three credits. A public capstone presentation of a course project or paper is also required.

Applicants for the professional certificate program should apply to the Graduate Division as special non-degree students. Two letters of reference should be sent to the department from people who are familiar with the applicant’s academic or professional record. Applicants must have earned a BA, BS, or a professional degree; have maintained a minimum GPA of 3.0 in the four semesters prior to admission; and have had at least two years of professional practice in planning, policy, or a related field prior to admission.

Certificate in Planning Studies

The Certificate in Planning Studies allows students pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree in another area to become acquainted with planning skills and activities. Students enrolled in graduate programs in architecture, economics, engineering, geography, political science, public health, social work, and sociology are among those eligible. Students are encouraged to use the certificate program to increase their competence in planning as it relates to their major area of study.

Certificate students are required to take five courses offered by the department and complete the requirements for a master’s degree in their area of study. The required courses are PLAN 600, 601 or 605, and 751. The remaining two courses are to be selected from among the following courses by the certificate student in consultation with the faculty member responsible for directing the planning studies certificate program: PLAN 601 or 605 (whichever was not taken as a required method course); 602 or 603; and one of 610, 620, 630, or 640, or one elective course.

Successful completion of the program leads to a graduate degree in the student’s chosen field and a Certificate in Planning Studies. Consideration for admission to the certificate program requires filing of an application form available from the department.

Graduate Certificate in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (DMHA)

UH Mānoa provides a logical location for an Asia Pacific disaster risk reduction research and institutional capacity-building program. The program responds to the compelling need to improve hazard and disaster mitigation and response in the face of increasingly frequent and severe disaster events. The Asia Pacific region suffers the greatest impact of disaster events worldwide, and Hawai‘i shares many of these same vulnerabilities. By interacting with hazard and disaster researchers at UH Mānoa and Hawai‘i’s existing dynamic community of disaster management organizations, students learn how to help build disaster resilient communities.

The Graduate Certificate Program in DMHA is housed in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning and is open to all graduate students. Our interdisciplinary students come from the physical and natural sciences, engineering, geography, public administration, social work, political science, and other disciplines. Some are pursuing professional degrees in law, medicine, architecture, or public health. Our students tend to be highly motivated to apply their respective disciplinary backgrounds to the problems of reducing the impacts of disaster on people and communities.

Graduate students are required to take at least three of the DMHA core courses for a base of nine units. Additional six units are selected with advisement from courses related to hazards and disaster management and response. A one unit capstone completes the requirement. Many departments offer courses which can complement the core course sequence in a coherent, rigorous, and pedagogically valid way. Contact the program director or program coordinator for more information.