Fifty years ago or so, pioneering planning educator Harvey Perloff recommended that students with a planning degree be educated to be “generalists with a specialization.” In that tradition, Iowa seeks to balance the generalist perspective of its core courses with a choice of specializations—what we call concentrations.
Planning students select on or more area(s) of concentration (usually in their second semester). The purpose of the area of concentration requirement is to ensure that the student develops depth in a particular substantive area of planning by mastering a set of elective courses that together constitute a coherent program of study in that area.
Planning offers five areas of concentration:
- Economic development
- Geographical information systems (GIS)
- Housing and community development
- Land use and environmental planning
- Transportation planning
Since the GIS concentration is skills- more than content-driven, students electing a concentration in GIS must also fulfill the requirements of another area of concentration. The course offerings and requirements for each area of concentration are described in the links above. Note that not all of the courses listed are offered every year.
Students may design alternative areas of concentration, subject to faculty approval, or combine two areas. For example, students can design a concentration in health services planning with appropriate coursework in the departments of Health Management and Policy or Occupational and Environmental Health, or in human services planning with courses in the School of Social Work. An area of concentration must be in a substantive field of planning. A concentration in a skill, research method, or in law, is not permitted. However, coursework in a particular method may be an appropriate component of the student's concentration. Students interested in alternative concentrations should consult with their advisor. Plans for a specifically designed area of concentration must be presented by the advisor to the faculty in a faculty meeting and approved by the faculty, before the alternative is allowed to be in force.