Urban Planning & Sustainable Development, BA

Western's College of the Environment’s BA degree in Urban Planning and its predecessor planning degrees have continuously been offered at WWU for over 50 years. The BA planning degree has been granted to well over 800 students, most who have entered professional careers in planning.

In 2016, Western Washington University (WWU) received its first national accreditation of its BA in Urban Planning and Sustainable Development (UPSD) major, granted by the national Planning Accreditation Board (PAB). The degree is one of only 16 accredited undergraduate programs in the nation, and one of only two accredited undergraduate planning degree in Washington State. Accreditation requires the program to adhere to strict curricular and program self-governance standards and the preparation of self-study reports in order to maintain accreditation.

We are proud to offer this highly competitive professional degree to our students and to continue our program’s strong community partnerships where students apply their learning to assist our local communities plan for their sustainable futures.

Vision & Mission

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.

About the Program

WWU's College of the Environment's B.A. in Urban Planning and Sustainable Development (UPSD) Program is nationally accredited through the Planning Accreditation Board. The Urban Planning and Sustainable Development 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.

Watch the "I'm a Planner Because..." video by the American Planning Association to learn why others chose this profession.

3d rendering of a conceptual neighborhood from above. Multiple buildings shown in color span several blocks, surrounded by smaller buildings shown in white.
A sketched view of a tree-lined street with tall buildings surrounding it.
Rendering showing a street surrounded by apartment buildings, with trees, grass and a bike path lining one side of the street.

Planning's Commitment to Justice

We are committed to social change towards a more just and equitable society and to engage in anti-discriminatory work that is needed to bring about the changes we seek. As urban planners, we are especially aware of the role that the planning profession and allied fields have played in oppressing and exploiting marginalized communities. Our goal is to confront this legacy and to use the skills and tools of planning, and the power of education and scholarship, to carry forward the goals of justice and equity within our program, in our classrooms, our university, our profession, and the communities we serve.

Jobs in Planning

Sample Careers

  • Urban Planner
  • Regional Planner
  • Sustainable Development Consultant
  • Planning Consultant
  • County Planner
  • Environmental Planner
  • Natural Resources Manager
  • Non-Profit Organizations

Choosing the Planning Profession

Discover what it means to be a planner and what it takes to become a professional planner.