BA, Urban Planning & Sustainable Development

Planning Accreditation Board (PAB) three squares in the shape of an L with a cube angled across the open L

BA in Urban Planning and Sustainable Development

Department of Urban and Environmental Planning and Policy

College of the Environment | Western Washington University

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WWU's College of the Environment's BA in Urban Planning and Sustainable Development Program is nationally accredited through the Planning Accreditation Board

The Urban Planning and Sustainable Development (UPSD) major emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach to solving urban problems that face communities. The program emphasizes a concern for progressive change through the planning of equitable, healthful, livable, diverse, and sustainable communities for present and future generations. The curriculum combines urban planning, sustainable design, policy and environmental science to provide students with an understanding of the linkages between urban and the multidimensional problems in urban development. Our program aspires to serve diverse communities and we encourage students with a breadth of backgrounds and life experiences to apply.

The program prepares students with the knowledge and skills needed to make positive changes towards a socially and environmentally just world. Graduates are prepared for professional careers in planning agencies, consulting firms, and nonprofit organizations at the local, state, and federal levels of government, as well as advanced graduate study.

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A rendered outdoor plaza with a large mural on the front facing tower


The program envisions a society where individuals and groups can fully participate in the planning and development of their communities such that basic needs of safety, shelter, livelihoods, and opportunity for self-realization are met for all. Community aspirations, as understood by diverse segments of the community, are discussed freely and form the foundation of planning for a more sustainable, equitable, and just future, with special consideration for those who are most marginalized and for the ecological systems that sustain and inspire us.


The mission of the Urban Planning and Sustainable Development Program is to cultivate students to become future planning leaders who are ethical, knowledgeable, and technically capable to assist communities as they plan their futures. The Urban Planning program’s mission affirms and works within the broader mission of Western’s College of the Environment to integrate an outstanding urban planning educational program through faculty-student collaboration, applied research, and professional and community service.

The UPSD major offers Specializations in the following subfields:

  • Urban Design
  • Hazards Planning
  • Tribal and Indigenous Planning
  • Climate Action
  • Food Security
  • Business and Sustainability
  • Student/Faculty Designed Specialization or an Approved Minor
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Three students leaning over a map and marking it with a pen

How To Apply to the UPSD Major (Applications Due April 18, 2022)

Review the College of the Environment website for the Deadlines. As a nationally accredited professional planning program, admission to the urban planning and sustainable development major at Huxley College is a competitive process. The program typically accepts a junior cohort class during spring quarter. Before applying, students are encouraged to complete UPSD foundation courses.

Application Content - submit an a PDF copy of your portfolio that includes the following:

  • A statement of interest (700-1,000 words) that describes your interest in the urban planning major; your familiarity with urban planning and sustainable development problems; and your vision and affinity to work in the planning field.
  • A resume summarizing academic, curricular, extra-curricular, and volunteer activities.
  • A portfolio of work that demonstrates your skills and affinity with the major.

Suggested Portfolio Materials: include any or all of the following, or any other materials that represent your vision, skills, and experience:

  • Examples of your best academic writing;
  • An annotated list of no more than three inspirational readings;
  • Examples of creative expression, drawings, or other illustrative skills; and
  • Description of volunteer or work activities.
Applications are ranked based on the applicants’ demonstrated interests in solving urban planning problems; commitment to planning’s social and environmental justice goals; aspirations for working in the public interest; relevant skills and experiences; and academic performance. Applicant selection is also based on creating a cohort representing diverse perspectives and lived experiences.

To become familiar with the work of urban planning and our program’s curriculum, applicants should review the American Planning Association website ( as well as the program’s brochure ( are accepted at the College of the Environment Office, ES 539 for admission to the program. If you have any questions, please contact a professional advisor at the Huxley College Student Support office in ES 539, or by phone 360-650-2817, or 360-650-3748. For further information, questions, or application forms, please visit the College of the Environ-ment website at


Examples of Student Portfolio Submissions