Department of Geography and Planning

Department of Geography and Planning
Department of Geography and Planning

School of Urban and Regional Planning and Department of Civil Engineering Combined Degree Program


The combined degree program is intended to help engineering students who want a fast-track second professional degree in urban and regional planning. The combined degree program makes it possible for civil engineering students to finish their B.Sc. and M.PL. degrees in less time than it would take by pursuing the degrees independently.

Civil engineering and city planning have been closely related fields for a very long time. Engineers tend to focus on the design, construction and environmental impact of large projects while planners consider their location, the rationale for building them, and their contribution to social welfare. It is quite natural, therefore, to consider the integration of the two related fields. Indeed, most city planners up until the late 1960s were either civil engineers or architects. Today city and regional planning is a much broader field and people with different backgrounds are needed for the different work that is done by planners. The multi-disciplinary dimensions of city planning provide students with a breadth of options to pursue in their studies.

Having both the engineering and planning degrees offers the practical advantage of increasing professional qualifications that will broaden employment prospects. People with both degrees may pursue careers in municipal or provincial governments as well as in consulting practice. The skills gained by taking both programs will prepare graduates for work in municipal engineering, public utilities, transportation, environmental infrastructure and urban development. A number of planning graduates who have civil engineering backgrounds have found responsible and rewarding positions in municipal governments, public utilities and consulting practices across Canada.

The combined degree program allows students to finish the M.PL. degree requirements in about 15 months after receiving their engineering degree provided they take two of their engineering electives in planning and an additional two planning courses while they are still in the civil engineering program.

Academic Requirements

Eligible students from Civil Engineering can get a Master of Planning degree by extending their studies 15 months instead of the usual two years. Successful applicants to the fast-track program will be expected to have taken four Planning courses (all half-term courses) during their fourth year in Civil Engineering:

  • Two SURP courses would be taken as technical electives as part of the civil engineering program.
  • Two other SURP courses would be taken as "courses additional to program". This increase in your fourth-year workload can help you save one academic year in the Master's degree program.
  • There will be no extra fees because the number of courses per term (five as part of civil program plus one "course additional to program") is within the band prescribed for standard fees.

Candidates who are accepted into the program may need to take summer courses on campus in a related field followed by two intensive terms of coursework. Their Master's report can be an extension of their undergraduate thesis. Professors in the School of Urban and Regional Planning can help you refine your engineering thesis topic. It would be ideal to do the engineering part of the thesis for the engineering degree and then continue the work as a professional report in the School of Urban and Regional Planning.

The combined program is suited to highly-motivated students who have approximately first-class standing (A-; 80% average; 3.7 GPA) in the last year of study. The combination of planning and engineering skill will be especially useful for those hoping to work in public utilities, city or municipal engineering, transportation, environmental infrastructure and urban development.

Possible Thesis/Master's Report Topics

  • Urban development and storm runoff
  • Flood plain mapping and implications on property values
  • Lake carrying capacity for shore-line development
  • Development densities and their implications on infrastructure
  • Environmental assessments
  • Landfills and the NIMBY syndrome
  • "New Urbanism" and infrastructure needs, especially roads
  • Water pricing
  • Demand management of environmental infrastructure such as water and sewer
  • Transit-supportive land use planning in a suburban setting
  • Alternative municipal infrastructure development standards
  • Transportation planning for pedestrians / Pedestrians and urban design
  • Traffic engineering for bicycle commuting
  • Traffic engineering for New Urbanism
  • The historical evolution of Canadian suburban road standards
  • The historical evolution of CMHC site planning standards for infrastructure

Have a Question?

If you think you might be interested, please contact Professor David Gordon (533-6000 ext.77063) about the program. Making the decision early offers the advantage of letting you select a fourth-year thesis topic that can be continued in the Planning program.