Master of Science in Community and Regional Planning

The proposed program draws upon the resources of the two curricula with a view to developing professionals capable of dealing with both the legal and planning aspects of urban and regional policy problems. The dual degree program is designed to prepare for a variety of professional roles in which knowledge of planning methodology and process, coupled with the analytic skills and professional expertise of lawyers, are essential. These may include private practitioners in law and planning; administrators and staff of public agencies and consulting firms in the fields of planning, housing, environmental protection; research analysts; staff members of governmental commissions and agencies; and executive assistants to elected and appointed officials.

The University of Texas at Austin is well positioned to offer a high quality program of this nature. The School of Law has long been considered to have one of the best faculties in the nation. It has distinguished professors interested in Environmental Law, Property, Constitutional Law, Alternative Dispute Resolution and other topics relevant to urban and regional policy issues. Professors in the Graduate Program in Community and Regional Planning faculty are recognized nationwide for their scholarship and teaching. Students will have access to extraordinary library resources. The Tarlton Law Library is the fifth largest academic library in the United States and has strong government, land use and environmental law holdings. The Public Affairs, Perry-Castaneda, and Architecture and Planning Libraries provide strong coverage for all aspects of community and regional planning. The Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution provides a forum for faculty from both academic units to collaborate in the study and resolution of conflict at community and regional levels.

Program Structure

A student admitted to the dual degree program must begin in the Fall Semester and complete the normal first-year course work at the School of Law during the first year of the program. This must be done before taking any courses relating to the dual degree program. Both degrees are awarded simultaneously upon completion of all requirements of the dual degree program. Therefore, students should arrange their course schedules so that both degree requirements are completed in the same semester.

A minimum of 116 credit hours must be completed to receive both degrees; 86 credit hours for the JD and at least 30 credit hours completed in Planning. Six of the 86 credit hours for the law degree shall be comprised of community and regional planning courses (beyond the basic 30 Planning credit hours).

In addition to the core course and elective requirements, students in the dual degree program must complete a thesis in the final year of study that makes full use of the combined degree education. Ideally, this would culminate in a manuscript suitable for publication in a planning related law review. The thesis must be read and approved by a supervising professor and at least one reader. The supervising professor must be a member of the CRP Graduate Studies Committee and the second reader will be a member of the School of Law faculty. Except as set forth above, all degree requirements applicable to students of the Community and Regional Planning degree program apply to students in the dual degree program.

School of Law

The Law School's first-year curriculum includes six one-semester four-unit substantive law courses: Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law I, Contracts, Criminal Law, Property, and Torts. One of these six courses will include a writing component, which adds a unit of credit to the course. The rest of the first-year curriculum includes Legal Analysis and Communication (3 units) in the fall, Persuasive Writing and Advocacy (2 units) in the spring, and an optional elective course of 2-3 units in the spring semester. The first year program in the law school usually totals 30 units of credit.

The upper-class curriculum includes the following requirements: Professional Responsibility, Constitutional Law II, a writing seminar, and a Professional Skills course.

The JD degree normally requires 86 total units. For dual degree students in the JD/MSCRP program, however, six of the 86 total credit hours for the award of the JD degree shall be completed in Community and Regional Planning.

Community and Regional Planning

Students must complete all core course requirements with the exception of the course CRP 381 (Planning Law) for a total of 21 core course credit hours. An additional 3 credit hours of Planning-related electives must be completed either within the graduate Planning curriculum or, if outside of the School of Architecture, with approval from the Dual Degree Program Coordinator and CRP Graduate Advisor. For more information, see the Community and Regional Planning website.

Example Course of Study

First Year:

Law offerings [30 hours, all required 1st year courses]

  • Civil Procedure, one semester (4 or 5 hours*)
  • Constitutional Law I, one semester (4 or 5 hours*)
  • Contracts, one semester (4 or 5 hours*)
  • Criminal Law, one semester (4 or 5 hours*)
  • Legal Analysis and Communication (3 hours)
  • Persuasive Writing and Advocacy (2 hours)
  • Property, one semester (4 or 5 hours*)
  • Torts, one semester (4 or 5 hours*)
  • Optional elective, spring semester (2-3 hours)

*5 hour courses contain a writing component

Second Year:

Planning offerings [9 hours]

  • Planning History, Theory and Ethics, one semester (3 hours)
  • Data Sources and Analysis, one semester (3 hours)
  • Quantitative Methods I, one semester (3 hours)

Law offerings [21 hours]

  • Constitutional Law II, one semester (3 hours)
  • Professional Responsibility, one semester (3 hours)
  • Electives, including a Professional Skills course (15 hours)

Third Year:

Planning offerings [15 hours]

  • Quantitative Methods II, one semester (3 hours)
  • Financing Public Services, one semester (3 hours)
  • Planning Methods, one semester (3 hours)
  • Urban and Regional Analysis, one semester (3 hours)
  • Elective (3 hours)

Law offerings [15 hours]

  • Writing Seminar, one semester (3 hours)
  • Electives (12 hours)

Fourth Year:

Planning offerings [12 hours]

  • Thesis, two semesters (3 hours each semester)
  • Electives (6 hours)

Law offerings [20 hours]

  • Electives (20 hours)

How to Apply

To enter this program, students must apply separately to both the School of Law and the Graduate Program in Community and Regional Planning, and must be accepted independently by both. Students must plan ahead and have completed the GRE test so that test scores are available by the respective admission deadlines of each school. After spending the first year in Law, students will divide their course load between the two programs as needed to complete the dual degree program requirements within eight semesters.

A prospective dual degree program may apply in two ways. First, the candidate can apply to the JD program and the dual degree program simultaneously. As noted previously, however, the candidate must defer any course work relating to the MSCRP degree for one year. Alternatively, during the student's first year of law school (and prior to applicable deadlines), the student can apply for admission to the dual-degree program.