Our world is a complex ever-changing system. Societies face major social, ecological, and economic challenges, and make crucial policy and practice decisions at the local to the global scale every day.

At the University of Iowa School of Planning and Public Affairs (SPPA), we are future-oriented. We look for creative solutions, offer outstanding professional education, and prepare students to enact change in the world. Our faculty research and curriculum focus on sustainability, addressing climate change, social justice and inclusion, and economic opportunity.

I am honored and delighted to be our school’s director. Our students, faculty and staff are outstanding. The last few years demonstrated everyone’s resilience, our genuine commitment to students’ well-being and success, and the strengths and flexibility of our programs. We currently seek to better serve the needs of working students, and offer an increasing number of courses in the late afternoon and evening.

If you are interested in making the world a better place by improving places, societies, economies, and the environment, SPPA is for you. We have:

  • Almost 60 years of experience, 1000 alumni, students who find meaningful internship and jobs, and graduates with impactful professional careers in planning and public affairs
  • A accredited Master of Urban and Regional Planning – with specializations in transportation, housing & community development, environmental & land use planning, economic development, and GIS
  •  A Master of Public Affairs on the path to accreditation– with specializations in public & non-profit management and in public policy, e.g., health, education, housing, transportation, criminal justice, economic, environmental policy
  • The Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities –  which engages all SPPA students in real-world projects e.g., on affordable housing, land use, growth management, renewable energies, watershed management, bike/pedestrian infrastructure, economic and workforce development, local and regional policies
  • Undergraduate-to-Graduate (U2G) degrees that allows students to complete their bachelor's and master’s in planning or public affairs in five years, combined degrees with Law, Public Health, Social Work, Civil & Environmental Engineering, and the ability to set up ad hoc combined degrees.
  • Faculty recognized for their impactful scholarship and excellent teaching
  • A culture of mutual support and student input – our student organization, SPPASA, provides plenty of opportunities for collaboration and social events
  • Funding opportunities including assistantships, fellowships and scholarships.
  • Dedicated career assistance services that build on a large network of alumni and employers, identify internships and jobs, and enhance students’ resume/application, interviewing, and networking skills.

The University of Iowa has state-of-the-art medical, music and art facilities available to all students. We are in downtown Iowa City, a UNESCO City of Literature ranked among the best places to live in the nation, with great restaurants, breweries, festivals, independent bookstores, cinema, and music venues.

If you would like more information, please contact me (lucie-laurian@uiowa.edu). For admissions related questions, contact Janet Bell (janet-bell@uiowa.edu or Calendly) to schedule a time to chat or a visit.

Dr. Lucie Laurian

Professor and Director