Urban Planning + Design

We produce innovators who address the challenges of an urbanizing world. We build partnerships with neighborhoods, communities and municipalities in the Kansas City region and beyond to engage in applied research and give students experience in their chosen field of study.




Bachelor of Arts in Urban Planning + Design

The only accredited degree (PDF) in urban planning in the Kansas City area, the program puts an emphasis on physical planning and urban design with community-based projects assigned over the course of the six-semester studio sequence. In the first year, students learn how to see the built environment through methods of design and graphic communication. In the second year, planning students develop their analytic skills through exercises in comparative urbanisms, typologies of urban fabric, site planning, planning program design and development. Students spend the last year of studio on planning for actual clients on real planning issues. The full range of planning knowledge, skills and values are taught in the variety of studio and lecture classes.

Download the B.A. major map (PDF)

Urban studies minor

We are the only public research university in the Kansas City region that offers a minor for undergradute students in Urban Studies. We prepare students for careers in community development and housing, community organizing and social services and urban policy and urban affairs.

This minor leads to a bachelor's degree grounded in urban social science. Students study the city, processes of urbanization and how cities are changing. The Kansas City metropolitan region serves as a living laboratory for our classes and curriculum.

Students choose one of three areas of emphasis in the program depending on career goals.

  • Community development and housing
  • Community organization and social services
  • Urban policy

The program draws upon faculty from across the university who have expertise in urban-focused research. This faculty includes experts in their field of social science who also focus on cities and urban-related research.

Students may also be accepted into the graduate program in Urban Affairs at the Bloch School of Management to earn a graduate degree combined with the Urban Studies undergraduate major. 

Graduate certificate in historic preservation

This certificate program was designed in accordance with the standards from the National Council for Preservation Education, the highest standard for historic preservation education.

Design Discovery Summer Program

A non-credit, two-day course modeled after a collegiate architectural design seminar where students learn about design fields through simple design projects, slideshows and discussions, as well as tour important design sites near campus.

Research Areas

  • Aging
  • Asset-based community development
  • Community and neighborhood planning
  • Equity planning and racial justice
  • Geographic information systems (GIS)
  • Historic preservation and urban design
  • Music cities
  • Statistical modeling
  • Traffic safety
  • Travel behavior
  • Urban transportation

Learn more about our research

Center for Neighborhoods

The Center for Neighborhoods was established in partnership with the State of Missouri and community members to address the challenges facing neighborhoods in Kansas City, Missouri. The center serves as a catalyst for neighborhood planning activities, linking our research, education and service activities directly to the issues facing neighborhood organizations in our region. We leverage the expertise of UMKC faculty and the creativity of students to address the pressing challenges of neighborhoods in the city.

Visit Center for Neighborhoods

Meet Our Faculty

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Advisory Board

The Architecture and Urban Planning programs enjoy the support of a dedicated advisory board that assists in furthering the goals of the programs, engage the university leadership, support and participate in various academic functions and provide financial assistance.

  • William L. Bruning J.D., MBA
  • Scott Francis, MFA, Francor LLC and permanent board member, Francis Family Foundation
  • Shannon Jaax, AICP,  Founder JAAX Street Partners, LLC
  • Steve Karbank, Karbank Real Estate Company
  • Kathy Kelly, Chairperson and Founder, Folkus
  • Anthony Luca, Gastinger Walker
  • David F. Oliver, J.D., partner, Berkowitz Oliver LLP
  • Richard Sanchez, Lead Planner, Kansas City Parks & Recreation
  • David Sosland, owner, Sosland Photography
  • Joy Swallow, FAIA
  • David A. Warm, MPA, executive director, Mid-America Regional Council
  • Jeffrey Williams, AICP, director of city planning and development, City Of Kansas City, Missouri