New UNT urban planning degree will meet needs of growing workforce

The degree will prepare students for an influx of jobs in DFW – the fastest growing region in the United States.

DENTON (UNT), Texas – The North Central Texas Council of Governments projects an additional four million people will be moving to North Texas by 2030 – which is more than the population of the entire state of Oklahoma.

“City officials are aware that this growth is coming and are becoming proactive to better plan for the next 20-30 years,” said Doug McDonald, president of the American Planning Association Texas Chapter.

With a projected 13 percent increase in demand for urban and regional planners over the next 10 years, the University of North Texas College of Health and Public Service’s new bachelors of arts degree in urban policy and planning is addressing the need for skilled workers.

“This will be the first degree of its kind in the DFW region,” said Jennifer Evans-Cowley, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, who also is a professor in the Department of Public Administration. “The North Texas region is booming and professional city planners are needed to work in the region’s cities and for planning consulting firms to keep pace with the growth.”

The degree, which is offered in the Department of Public Administration, will concentrate on the study of urban development, the history of cities and the impact of urban space on communities. It will include a combination of face-to-face and online courses that accommodate students’ busy schedules, as well as allow for a seamless transfer for incoming students. Students also will receive practical planning experience through a required urban planning studio.

“Student’s graduating with this degree will be career ready for a pursuit of professional opportunities in the public and private sectors,” said Laura Keyes, public administration lecturer and undergraduate program coordinator. “A major strength of the program is its close affiliation with city governments and planning consulting firms within the Dallas-Fort Worth region.”

Students may begin taking courses for the degree in spring 2019. Dean Neale Chumbler is ready to expand on the award-winning programs in HPS.

“I am thrilled that the college will be adding this novel academic program to the list of many high-achieving, cutting-edge offerings for our students. In fact, I am excited that the students who graduate from this program will bolster the workforce needs of DFW,” Chumbler said.

Ken Schmidt, lead planner for the City of Plano, echoes the importance of UNT training the urban planners of tomorrow.

“The urban policy and planning program will be a tremendous asset for the region,” Schmidt said. “The research and practitioners produced by this new endeavor will have a long-lasting impact, contributing to a more sustainable and vibrant future for our communities.”