Why Study Urban Planning and Geography at SJSU?
The Department of Urban and Regional Planning at SJSU offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in Geography and an accredited Master of Urban Planning degree - the only programs of their kind in Silicon Valley. We also offer three undergraduate minors and seven advanced graduate certificate programs. Planning and geography are multi-disciplinary fields and our world class faculty come from diverse disciplinary backgrounds including architecture, communication, economics, history, public policy, and sociology. Our programs emphasize experiential learning and career-oriented academic preparation, enhanced by our downtown location in the largest city in Northern California. The department has cultivated long-standing relationships with industry partners, government agencies, and community-based organizations. Our graduates go on to rewarding careers in Silicon Valley companies as well as government agencies and non-profit organizations throughout the Bay Area and beyond.
Geographers study the natural environment, the built environment, and the social characteristics of places to understand and explain what makes them special and unique. Geographic Information Science (GIS) uses the power of location integrated with computing technologies to analyze large volumes of data to make informed decisions. As the only Geography Masters in Silicon Valley, our program takes advantage of its location to emphasize urban and cultural geography, economic geography, and geospatial methods.
Urban planners balance visionary thinking with pragmatic problem solving - working in partnership with multiple stakeholders to address challenges related to growth and change. They work within the frameworks of formal and informal institutions to solve problems related to affordable housing, climate change, economic development, environmental protection, public health, and transportation. Urban planning began at SJSU in 1970 and offers the only accredited Master of Urban Planning degree in Silicon Valley, and one of just six in California.
The Department of Urban and Regional Planning offers advanced graduate certificate programs in Affordable Housing and Community Development Finance, Applications of Technology in Planning, Community Design and Development, Environmental Planning, Geographic Information Science (GIS), Real Estate Development, and Transportation and Land Use Planning. These professionally oriented certificates are available to SJSU graduate students and to members of the public through Open University.
In spring 2020, as schools began to close in-person instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic, California Assemblymember Robert Rivas, ’11 MPA, saw how “blatant” limited access to broadband Internet was negatively impacting families in his district—Assembly District 30, which spans from Morgan Hill to King City. The SJSU Spatial Analytics and Visualization (SAVi) Center, led by Assistant Professor of Urban Planning Ahoura Zandiatashbar, created a series of maps that depicted broadband access by demographic across District 30. Early analysis revealed that communities with a higher proportion of vulnerable households live in areas with lower broadband access fixed services.
Fourteen MUP students spent the fall 2020 semester helping CommUniverCity, Guadalupe River Park Conservancy, and SPUR to measure the impact of prioritizing our public spaces as part of the national Reimagining the Civic Commons Initiative. Richard Kos, AICP, and Jason Su, who is also executive director of the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy, led the students in this effort.
In the journal Landscape and Urban Planning, Assistant Professor Ahoura Zandiatashbar— a newly hired faculty member in SJSU’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning —published a study he co-authored with Shima Hamidi, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. They found that people visited “essential” destinations such as grocery stores 13 percent less frequently, yet they did not shy away from visiting parks and beaches.
SJSU congratulates Dr. Laxmi Ramasubramanian, professor and chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, on her election as Vice President/ President Elect of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP), the professional organization for urban planning in the academy. Dr Ramasubramanian assumes the role of Vice President for the term 2019-2021. This summer, she will advance automatically to become President of ACSP for the 2021-2023 term. Her election reflects Dr. Ramasubramanian's prominence as a leader in our field, and represents growing national recognition for urban planning at SJSU. Congratulations Laxmi!
The Department of Urban and Regional Planning, in collaboration with the SJSU Provost's Office and the Institute for Metropolitan Studies, is proud to announce an exciting initiative to launch a world-class university center focused on geographic information systems and urban spatial data science. Collecting faculty and students from around the University, the Spatial Analytics and Visualization Center (SAVI) will aim to produce impactful research and professional services for our campus and the cities, organizations, and companies that define our region.
SJSU urban planning and geography students work closely with the communities that we serve, collaborating with neighbors, local organizations, policymakers and other stakeholders throughout the Bay Area and addressing critical questions about the future of our region through participatory planning processes. Participating communities have received more than $31 million in public funds to implement projects identified in the plans. Click above to learn more about our community partnerships and view many of the local planning reports resulting from this work.
Urban Planning and Geography are among the most research-active programs at SJSU. Department faculty are nationally and internationally recognized scholars who help inform policy, shape planning practice, and contribute to the scholarly discourse. Click above to learn about recent publications, awards, and other recognition.