The School of Planning is the hub of planning education in Atlantic Canada. The School offers two graduate degree programs in planning: the Master of Planning (MPlan), a first professional degree accredited by the Professional Standards Board for the planning profession in Canada and recognized by the Canadian Institute of Planners, and the research-focused, non-accredited Master of Planning Studies (MPS).
The Master of Planning (MPLAN) program prepares students to become professional planners. Many graduates will work for private firms, for government, or in non-governmental organizations. Others will find that the education provides a solid foundation for careers in multidisciplinary spheres such as environmental protection, transportation planning, community development or urban design. Planning provides knowledge, a skill set, and a way of thinking with broad application. Applicants seeking a first-professional graduate degree in planning should consider the Master of Planning degree program.
The Master of Planning Studies (MPS) is a research-focused graduate degree that provides opportunities for graduate students to conduct advanced research in planning, contribute to the development of knowledge in the field, and complete sophisticated supervised research in the specialized field of study. The MPS program will appeal to highly qualified candidates who would like to pursue graduate thesis research in planning, and obtain specific training in a specialized area within the discipline (e.g. transportation planning, climate change and adaptation planning, urban design, etc.). Applicants must demonstrate capacity for advanced research and present a compelling research topic that matches the research expertise and interests of a faculty member in the School of Planning as part of their application. The Master of Planning Studies is not an accredited professional degree: it does not provide a direct route to the Planning profession for those without professional planning designation.
Planners are involved in activities that shape the future of communities, the quality of the environment, and the character of daily life. In their work for government, planners engage and motivate the public, help to develop a wide range of policies affecting the character and potential of communities, and act as guardians of the environment and of our built heritage. Working as consultants in the private sector, planners undertake a wide variety of tasks ranging from physical design and transportation planning, to creating strategies for sustainable or “smart” development. Planners work throughout the world, from the heart of Canada's towns and cities to the fields and villages of the developing countries.
The School of Planning encourages initiative, resourcefulness, and creative questioning of received doctrine. The curriculum of the School emphasizes: (a) specialized knowledge of theory and practice of planning; (b) up-to-date skills; (c) a sound appreciation of the environmental, social, and economic processes that shape the form and character of communities; (d) the active contribution of students in confronting and resolving contemporary planning problems in local communities; and (e) the development of personal capabilities suited to the leadership roles that planners assume.
Through environmental and community-centered learning, teaching, research and practice, faculty members and students in the School engage in the planning and design of settlements in various scales and contexts. Central to the professional planning program are studio courses (where learning is gained through working on real projects based in the community). Studio course content is delivered in a way that meets academic objectives within the practice of dealing with community planning issues. Thus the studio integrates theory and practice. Students also have opportunities to participate in field trips within the region and to international cities to learn about planning outside of Halifax.