The University of Florida’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning has earned the first-ever Certificate of Accreditation issued to an online program by the Planning Accreditation Board, or PAB.
In sharing its decision to accredit the ground-breaking online degree offering, the PAB said it was “impressed by the innovation of an online degree program and the seamless integration of this modality with the campus-based program.”
Kristin Larsen, the director of the School of Landscape Architecture and Planning and head of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, said “the innovations we have developed for the virtual classroom have also benefitted our on-campus students. The high standards that all of our students bring to their studies reflects the strength of our Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree program. The PAB’s decision to accredit the online delivery of our master’s degree in planning affirms our early decision to invest in creating an online program.”
The university founded the planning department in 1975 and first earned accreditation for its planning degree in 1978. In the successive years, the program has graduated 719 students with master’s degrees. Program alumni have become leaders in the planning profession in Florida, the United States and the world.
In 2012, the university expanded its graduate planning education to make it available to students entirely online. The online delivery of the program uses technology to leverage the expertise of UF’s planning faculty to students who are not located in Gainesville, Florida. As a result, one in ten students enrolled in the online program is international and more than half are within the United States outside of the state of Florida.
The PAB accredits university programs in North America leading to a bachelor’s degree or to a master’s degree in planning. The American Planning Association, the American Institute of Certified Planners and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning sponsor the PAB and contribute to its standards development.
Throughout 2019, the PAB reviewed the department’s program as part of a seven-year reaccreditation review. This was the first opportunity to include the online master’s degree as part of the program’s review.
At the review’s conclusion, the PAB renewed UF’s accreditation for seven years, the longest term available. The PAB acknowledged UF’s “exemplary record” in planning education and stated that it found “strong research by faculty; an on-campus program that addresses the critical concerns of the state; and a high-quality online degree program.”
Chimay Anumba, dean of the College of Design, Construction and Planning, responded to the PAB’s decision saying “The University of Florida has long provided the best available training in the professional practice of urban and regional planning. Our graduates are making their communities better places using the skills they have learned at UF. With our online degree offering, we are able to leverage our resources to make this exceptional education available to students, no matter where they are located.”
The University of Florida is a top-10 public, comprehensive, land-grant, research university. UF is Florida’s oldest university and has an enrollment of some 54,000 students annually. The university’s College of Design, Construction and Planning contributes to improving the quality of the built and natural environments through offering exceptional educational and professional programs that address the planning, design, construction, and preservation of the built and natural environments. The Department of Urban and Regional Planning and the School of Landscape Architecture and Planning are housed within the college.