The department takes an integrated approach to academic studies. It's research and service goals reflect the university's combination of scholarly and applied work. The research activities of departmental faculty are diverse. They tend to cluster around the areas of: land use planning; economic planning; natural resources and environmental planning; community development planning; and international development planning; as well as on planning process themes. Faculty members are engaged in research on planning practice; the ethics and values of planners; community development planning, evaluation of economic development and social welfare programs; tourism and natural resources planning; comparative planning and public policy issues in the international area; integrated environmental planning and management; watershed planning, social conflict over land use and environmental issues; growth management; alternative dispute resolution; social justice in urban areas; and other related areas. These interests are reflected in the curriculum structure.
For individuals who are seeking a joint degree, the department offers several special programs.
The department also offers a research degree. The Ph.D. Program is open to a limited number of qualified students. In urban and regional planning, the Ph.D. is most appropriate for those who intend to teach, or to do research in a university, in an independent research agency or in certain large planning organizations.