Graduate Bulletin

DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY AND PLANNING

The Department offers two Master's Degree Programs; the 30-credit MA in Geography, and the 48-credit MRP in Urban and Regional Planning. For outstanding undergraduate students at Albany, there is also a combined BA/MA Program in Geography. The Department also offers the 15-credit Graduate Certificate Program in Geographic Information Systems and Spatial Analysis (GISSA), and it coordinates the 16-18 credit Graduate Certificate Program in Urban Policy. Students may work towards a single graduate degree, or, with faculty approval, they may elect to work on two degrees simultaneously. The Department accepts both full and part-time students, and degree programs may be started in Fall, Spring or Summer.

There are close ties between academic geography and the profession of urban and regional planning, and the two disciplines share a common focus on environment, land-use, landscape, location and distribution. Both disciplines have benefited enormously in recent years from the rapid growth of policy application and career opportunities in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The Department has a well-equipped GIS and Remote Sensing Laboratory, and a specially designed Planning Studio. It is a participant in the UTRC/AITE Transportation Planning Scholarship Program. The Capital Region offers many opportunities for paid internships and professional GIS and planning careers in government, business and non-profit organizations.

Master of Arts Program in Geography

The unifying idea of modern geography is the study of spatial patterns in the cultural and physical features of the earth's surface. Faculty strengths in the department include: urban, social, cultural and economic geography; climate and environmental systems; geographic information systems, remote sensing, cartography, computer applications and spatial analysis. Faculty have regional interests in Europe, Latin America, North America, Africa, and East Asia.

Program of Study
The Department offers two options within the M.A. in Geography: a thesis track for students who intend to pursue further academic study, and a non-thesis track for those interested in obtaining a terminal degree in pursuit of career goals.

Thesis Track (30 credits, minimum)

1. At least 24 units with Gog prefix (or cross-listed courses), including: Gog 500 Introduction to Graduate Study in Geography (3); and Gog 502 Statistical Methods (3); and Gog 596 Geographic Information Systems, or an approved equivalent. No more than 9 credits may be taken in Gog 694, 695, and 697 combined.
2. A master's thesis (Gog 699, 6 credits).
3. 3 courses in an area of specialization from: Human Geography, Physical Geography, or Geographical Information Systems, as advised.
4. Supporting courses in cognate fields (up to 6 credits).
5. Satisfactory completion of oral and written comprehensive examinations.

Non-Thesis Track (36 Credits)

1. At least 24 units with Gog prefix (or cross-listed courses), including: Gog 500 Introduction to Graduate Study in Geography (3); and Gog 502 Statistical Methods (3); and Gog 596 Geographic Information Systems, or an approved equivalent. No more than 9 credits may be taken in Gog 694, 695, and 697 combined.
2. 3 courses in an area of specialization from: Human Geography, Physical Geography, or Geographical Information Systems, as advised.
3. Supporting courses in cognate fields (up to 6 credits).
4. Satisfactory completion of a written comprehensive examination.

Combined B.A.-M.A.

Qualified undergraduates may apply for admission to the M.A. program and, if accepted, simultaneously work toward completion of the requirements for both undergraduate and graduate degrees. See Combined Baccalaureate- Master's Degree Programs for details.

Requirements for Admission to M.A. Program

The Department welcomes applicants with undergraduate majors in geography or any cognate field. Applicants are recommended to submit official Graduate Record Examination scores. Students with deficiencies in their education within geography may be required to complete courses in addition to those required for the M.A., at the discretion of their advisors and the director of the graduate program.

Specialization Tracks

The three broad specialization tracks correspond to major emphases in the field. They are intended not to constrain students' work, but to provide guidance, in the context of individual advisement. Students are required to complete three courses (or 9 credits) in one of the following tracks (all courses in these lists have the Gog- prefix):

Human Geography: 521, 526, 532, 540, 542, 547, 580, 620, and, when on appropriate subjects, 530, 555, 697;

Physical Geography: 504, 519, 532, 585, 593, 685, and when on appropriate subjects, 530, 555, 697;

Geographic Information Systems: 555, 584, 585, 590, 593, 595, 596, 597, 598, 599, 685, and when on appropriate subjects, 530, 697.

Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems and Spatial Analysis

The purpose of the graduate certificate program is to provide graduate students in various disciplines, and continuing students working in government and private agencies, with professional and technical training in Geographic Information Systems and in associated techniques of spatial analysis. A Geographic Information System is a computer-based system for handling spatially structured information, with facilities for processing, retrieval and display (including maps, imagery and other graphics). The disciplines of automated cartography, remote sensing and computer graphics are closely linked in the study of GIS. Various quantitative techniques of spatial analysis are used in bringing GIS products to bear on a wide range of problems, which include analysis of satellite imagery for applications in resource management, agriculture, forestry, and urban planning; land use mapping; computer map analysis and graphics; market area analysis; display of socio-economic data; and a host of other applications ranging from archeology to the analysis of acid rain.

The program requires 15 credit hours of graduate coursework. There is leeway for students to pursue their own professional and academic interests, under advisement.

Requirements for Admission to the Certificate Program

The general University requirements for admission to graduate study apply. In addition, students should demonstrate through their academic or professional records some background or interest in one of the substantive areas in which GIS are applied. Such fields include most social and environmental sciences, business, and urban and regional planning. Some experience with computers is highly desirable.

Required Courses (15 credits)

Master of Regional Planning Program (M.R.P.) in Urban and Regional Planning

The M.R.P. in Urban and Regional Planning is a 48-credit program designed to prepare students for professional planning careers with government agencies, consultancy firms, developers, and nonprofit groups. Students may opt to take the degree full- or part-time, and they may begin graduate study in Fall, Spring or Summer. Full-time students can complete the degree within two years.

Students must complete a series of core courses. These provide a broad-based introduction to planning (Pln 501 through 506). They also include a group planning studio project (Pln 681), a planning internship (Pln 684) and a Master's Research Paper on a topic of the student's choice (Pln 683). The requirement for specific core courses may be waived if a student obtains approval of transfer credit for equivalent graduate courses, or, in the case of Pln 503 and 504, if the student can demonstrate equivalent computational and statistical proficiency. The requirement for a planning internship is normally waived for students who have six months or more of paid, professional work experience in a planning-related job.

To demonstrate focus and expertise in a specific field of planning, students must complete at least three courses totaling nine or more credits in one of four alternative specializations:
• Environmental and Land-Use Planning
• Housing, Local Economic Development, and Community Planning
• Transportation Planning
• Urban and Regional Information Systems.

To complete the minimum requirement of 48 graduate credits, students may take other planning courses as electives. Alternatively, with the approval of their advisor, they may take planning-related graduate courses in other University at Albany graduate programs, or at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) or the Albany Law School.

Program of Study
The student, in consultation with the faculty advisor, develops a program of study using the following distribution of credits and courses.

1. Core Courses:

Pln 50l/Gog 521 Planning History and Philosophy (4);
Pln 502/Gog 526 Urban and Metropolitan Structure and Functions (3);
Pln 503/Gog 555 Computer Applications in Planning (3);
Pln 504/Gog 502 Statistical Methods (3);
Pln 505 Comprehensive Planning Process (4);
Pln 506 Planning Law (3);
Pln 681 Planning Studio (4);

One of the following topics within Pln 683 Master's Research Paper in Planning (4):

Environmental & Land-Use Planning
Housing, Local Economic Development, & Community Planning
Transportation Planning
Urban and Regional Information Systems

And one of the following topics within Pln 684 Planning Internship (3 S/U):

Environmental & Land-Use Planning
Housing, Local Economic Development & Community Planning
Transportation Planning
Urban and Regional Information Systems Internship

2. Specialization Courses: At least three courses in one field of specialization.

Environmental and Land-Use Planning

Pln 530/Gog 532 Environmental Planning (3)
Pln 531 Environmental Impact Assessment (2)
Pln 532 Parks, Preservation and Heritage Planning (3)
Pln 535/Pub 535 Environmental Restoration & Brownfields Redevelopment (3-4)
Pln 536 Landscape Planning (3)
Pln 545 Transportation Corridor Planning & Management (3)
Pln 549 Bicycle & Pedestrian Transportation Planning (3)
Pln 562 Infrastructure Finance & Privatization (3-4)
Pln 573/Pub 573 Metropolitan Governance & Planning (3-4)
Pln 574 Site Planning (3)
Pln 575 Urban Design (3)
Pln 697 Independent Study in Environmental & Land-Use Planning (1-4)

Housing, Local Economic Development, and Community Planning

Pln 523/Pub 523/Pos 523 Urban Community Development (3-4)
Pln 528/Pos 528/Pub 528 United States Housing Policy (3-4)
Pln 529/Pub 531/Lcs 529 Planning for Jobs, Housing and Community Services in Third World Cities (3-4)
Pln 532 Parks, Preservation and Heritage Planning (3)
Pln 535/Pub 535 Environmental Restoration & Brownfields Redevelopment (3-4)
Pln 540/Pos 540/Pub 540/Soc 540 Urban Policy in the United States (4)
Pln 560/Pub 560 Local Economic Development Strategies and Technologies (3-4)
Pln 562 Infrastructure Finance & Privatization (3-4)
Pln 697 Independent Study in Housing, Local Economic Development, & Community Planning (1-4)

Transportation Planning

Pln 543 Transportation Planning (3)
Pln 544 Transportation Planning Practicum (3)
Pln 545 Transportation and Corridor Planning & Management (3)
Pln 549 Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Planning (3)
Pln 697 Independent Study in Transportation Planning (1-4)

Urban and Regional Information Systems

Pln 551/Gog 584 Graduate Introduction to Remote Sensing of Environment (2)
Pln 552 CAD in Planning (2)
Pln 555/Gog 595 Introductory MapInfo (1)
Pln 556/Gog 596 Geographic Information Systems (3)
Pln 557/Gog 597 ARC/INFO Practicum (3)
Pln 559/Gog 599 Geographic Information Systems Applications (3)
Pln 656/Gog 692 Seminar in Geographic Information Systems (3)
Pln 697 Independent Study in Urban & Regional Information Systems (1-4)

3. Elective Courses:

Pln 585 Topics in Planning (1-4)
Pln 682 Studio Report and Implementation (1-4)
Pln 697 Independent Study in Planning (1-4)
Pln 699 Master's Thesis in Planning (4-6 S/U)

Comprehensive Examination

In order to receive the M.R.P. Degree, all students must take and pass a written and an oral comprehensive exam. These exams are normally taken during the final year of graduate study, and each part may be retaken once if performance is not deemed satisfactory by the examiners. The written comprehensive is designed to test the student's knowledge of selected core areas of the planning curriculum, while the oral comprehensive tests expertise on a specific planning topic of the student's choice.

Combined Joint Master of Regional Planning and Doctor of Law (MRP/JD)

Given the significance of legal issues in planning, and the importance of land-use, housing, transportation, environmental and other planning issues in law, in 2001 the State University at Albany and the Albany Law School received approval for a jointly registered MRP/JD program, constructed from the two institutions’ existing Master of Regional Planning (MRP) and Juris Doctorate (JD) programs. The MRP program at the University at Albany is a 48-credit graduate program, ordinarily completed over two years. The JD at the Albany Law School is an 87-credit program, ordinarily completed over three years.

Students matriculated into the joint program normally do the first year at the Albany Law School, and then spend the next three years completing both degrees. At least five full-time semesters must be completed at Albany Law School to fulfill residency requirements of the American Bar Association. To complete the joint program at least 39 graduate credits for the MRP (none of which are earned at the Albany Law School) and 75 credits for the JD degree (all of which are earned at Albany Law School or approved by Albany Law School as transfer credits from another law school) must be completed. Thus, the joint program requires a minimum of 114 graduate credits, 21 fewer than would be required if the two degrees were done completely independently. The course reduction for the MRP results from the elimination of the formal specialization requirement. Students must simply take all the course courses and electives to reach a total of 39 credits. The course reduction for the JD results from the elimination of 12 elective credits.

The joint program requires independent admission for each program. University at Albany registrations should be at the University at Albany, paying University at Albany tuition and fees. Albany Law School registrations should be at Albany Law School, paying Albany Law School tuition and fees. Students who are already matriculated as candidates for the MRP degree may apply for admission to the JD program at Albany Law School, and thus to the joint program, providing they have not registered for more than 24 credits towards the MRP degree by the time that they begin the JD program. Albany Law School applications require the LSAT.

Graduate Certificate in Urban Policy

The Certificate in Urban Policy is a graduate-level program designed both for students currently enrolled in graduate programs in social science, and for public officials who wish to improve their knowledge of urban policy. The program provides students with an overview of basic concepts and strategies in urban policy analysis, with a focus on both domestic and international realms. It offers opportunities for specialization in specific fields of urban research and policy, drawing on one or more social science disciplines.

Program of Study

The Certificate in Urban Policy is a self-standing program of 16-19 credit hours. However, it may also be taken in conjunction with master's or doctoral programs. The requirements for the certificate are as follows:

  1. Two core courses (7-8 credits): Pln 540 (Pos540/Pub 540/Soc 540) Urban Policy in the United States (4); Pln 573 (Pub 506/Lcs 573) Comparative Metropolitan Planning (3-4);
  2. Three elective courses (9-12 credits) from: Aas 510; Ant 664; Eco 541, 581, 781; Gog 580, 620; Pad 643, 648, 674, 684; Pln 501/Gog 521; Pln 502/Gog 526; Pln 505/Gog 525; Pln 506, Pln 523/Pub 523/Pos 523b, Pln 528/Pos 528/Pub 528, Pln 529/Pub 530/Lcs 529, Pln 532, Pln 543/Gog 563, Pln 545, Pln 549, Pln 560/Pub 560, Pln 575, Pln 675; Pos 624; Soc 550, 627, 673; or other graduate urban policy courses which are deemed appropriate.