MCPD in Community Planning & Development

Career Options

Graduates hold leadership positions in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors at local, state, and national levels, shaping communities in large cities and small towns in Maine and across the country. Graduates hold positions as local and regional planners, work for land trusts, and serve as environmental research fellows, elected officials, and independent consultants. CPD graduates primarily work in Maine and northern New England, but can be found in all parts of the United States from the northeast to the Pacific coast.

Read about Greg Williams, CPD graduate and founder of Resurgam Zero Food Waste.

The Community Planning & Development (CPD) program is for individuals who want to shape the environment and economy of cities and towns, and gain the necessary skills and knowledge for successful careers in planning and economic development. The CPD program provides the skills and knowledge to help communities diverse in size, structure, and composition to better balance economic growth, environmental quality and human welfare.

Click on the Learn More tab below to explore the real-world experiences available to our students; learn about our flexible course schedule and distance education options; and discover ways in which the CPD program is at the forefront of information technologies in planning.



For More Information

To learn more about the Community Planning and Development program, please contact Professor Charles Colgan, csc@usm.maine.edu or (207) 780-4008.

The MCPD degree program requires 48 total credits. A required core of 30 credits (including the capstone and field experience) combines skills such as geographic information systems and conflict resolution with basic courses in planning - including theory and practice, economics, and methods of analysis.

 Core Curriculum (30 credits)

Research Methods

Select three credits from the following list:

 Students select a track from the following list:

  • Land Use and Environment,
  • Community and Economic Development, and
  • Sustainability Planning.

Completion of each of these tracks requires twelve credits of coursework focused around the tracks’ themes. A joint-degree option with the University of Maine School of Law is available.

Land Use and Environment Track

Select three credits from the following list:

 Select three credits from the following list:

 Select six credits from the following list: 

 Community and Economic Development Track

Required Course:

Select three credits from the following list:

Select nine credits from the following list:

 Sustainability Planning Track

Select twelve credits from the following list:

CPD students may also take any GEO-prefix course numbered 500 and above.  Students taking such courses should consult their advisor prior to registration in order to determine whether and how such courses fit their academic needs.

Please see the USM Graduate Admissions website for information on the admissions process.

Students will set their own course schedule depending on their circumstances, but all students are asked to complete CPD 601, CPD 615, CPD 605, and CPD 603 in their first two semesters of attendance. 

Gain Real-World Experience.

Our students work one-on-one with faculty members who are at the top of their field in understanding how to meet the unique challenges and opportunities facing communities in northern New England and beyond.

Students regularly engage in community projects that provide valuable professional experience. Five centers affiliated with the School provide ample opportunities for student research and assistantships:

Accessible Classes

  • Full and part-time study
  • Late afternoon and evening courses
  • Distance education at campuses or at your computer

CPD classes are offered in a variety of formats to meet student needs. Classes are held in the late afternoon and evening for those who work, and an increasing number of classes are offered through online and "blended" formats. Online classes allow students to take a course at their own pace, while blended courses utilize technology such as Adobe Connect and video conferencing to other campuses to attend live classes. These courses may also involve some classes in Portland on weekends or other times.

Try Before You Buy

Many classes are open to qualified individuals without enrollment in the degree program, allowing prospective students to become familiar with the Muskie School and CPD program before applying. Non-degree students may take courses as a part of a certificate program, or may take individual courses. Up to 12 credits of courses taken as a non-degree student may be transferred into the degree program if students elect to enroll in the degree.