Children ride bikes down a city street.

"Make no little plans, they have no magic." (Chicago Planner, Daniel Burnham, 1846-1912)

Why Become a Planner?

Planners use critical thinking, strong written and oral communication, technical skills, and community engagement to help create livable cities and towns and to promote environmentally healthy communities across the rural-urban spectrum. Specialty areas include affordable housing, vibrant public spaces, transportation and land use, and equitable access to community services.

Planning at the University of Vermont

Recent graduates of Geography, Environmental Sciences, and other disciplines have gone into Planning jobs and Master’s programs in the field. Careful course selection from the areas identified below, and taking advantage of internship and study abroad opportunities, will provide UVM students with a robust Planning curriculum. Faculty support and advising is available through the Geography department. 

Urban & Regional Planning

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everyday, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” – Jane Jacobs

Cities and towns are complex centers of cultural exchange and critical hubs for innovation and advancement. Urban and regional planning plays a vital role in the social and economic prosperity of a city/town/region and overall quality of life. As growth continues to be concentrated around urban cores, new challenges arise. Dense urban development tends to be energy-efficient and inspires city planners to develop sustainable cities of the future. Planning is a multidisciplinary field that encompasses a wide range of positions.

Regional Planning in Rural Vermont: A Unique Perspective

Vermont’s natural beauty, resources, and rural characteristics make it a unique place to work as a planner. There are eleven Regional Planning Commissions (RPCs) that provide assistance and planning expertise for the municipalities they serve. They are considered political subdivisions, and each is governed by a locally appointed board. Although some are specialists in a particular field, most regional planners work on a wide variety of projects in various disciplines. Working under a regional plan, Vermont RPCs assist municipalities with the following planning tasks:

  • Transportation Planning
  • Land Use
  • Water Quality Improvements
  • Hazard Mitigation & Preparedness
  • Housing
  • Energy Planning
  • Economic Development
  • Brownfield Assessment & Remediation

Related majors/minors: Geography, Environmental Studies, Community Development and Applied Economics (CDAE), GeoSpatial Technologies (GST), Political Science, Civil Engineering (CEE), and many more!

Planning Resources

  • Take planning-related courses at UVM – here's a list of suggestions.
  • Consider planning-related opportunities while doing study abroad
  • Explore Internships in Planning
  • Learn more about what city and town Planning Departments across the country are looking for in entry-level hiring.
  • Check out the resources of professional organizations, such as the American Planning Association’s (APA) Knowledge Center.
  • Consider creating your own Individually Designed Minor in Urban and Regional Planning
  • Interested in Sustainable Transportation? Visit the STVT Blog! And also check out UVM MOVE, a student-led club that explores transportation systems and a space to learn about the transportation field from local professionals.

Current Students

Maisie Melican

Maisie, a current senior in the Geography Department, landed an internship with the Northwest Regional Planning Commission for summer 2023 and continued her work into the fall. Additionally, she has rejoined UVM’s Transportation Research Center as an undergraduate research assistant for Dr. Dana Rowangould’s study on flood resilience in Northeast Kingdom Vermont. Courses in Qualitative Research Methods (GEOG 2550) and Rural Geography (GEOG 2760) have been helpful in guiding Maisie’s work in these positions.

Hattie Tetzlaff, a current senior at UVM majoring in Geography and double minoring in Health and Society and Global Studies. She recently took an internship opportunity at the Charlotte, VT Zoning and Planning Administration where she works with the town planner and zoning administrators of the locality. Taking courses in Urban Geography (GEOG2790) and Qualitative Research Methods (GEOG2550) at UVM, as well as Sustainable Transportation (CAS2920), has helped guide Hattie in endeavors of work outside of the classroom.


Stories of Student Success

Andrew Plumb

Andrew graduated from UVM in 2022 with a BA in Political Science and a minor in Geography and has been the Planning Technician in the Williston, VT Planning & Zoning office for just over a year. As the first point of contact for the office, he experiences the wide variety of topics and issues planners address, learning something new every day. The staff’s professionalism and dedication to Williston’s community has truly inspired Andrew. Their commitment to his personal growth has pushed him to build upon his experience at UVM as he pursues a career in planning.

Gillian Tilley

Gillian graduated from the University of Vermont in 2019 with majors in Geography and Political Sciences. From her studies, she gained a deep interest in the intersection of people and place, leading her to pursue a Master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of Pennsylvania where she specialized in data analysis, community engagement, and equitable transportation. Gillian currently works in Philadelphia as a Senior Analyst at U3 Advisors, an urban planning consulting firm that helps universities meet their strategic goals. In this role, she leverages the data analysis and mixed-methods research skillsets she gained at UVM to both uncover and empower the stories of institutions and their surrounding communities. Seeing cities as deeply personal and full of meaning, Gillian brings a people-centered approach to her role at U3. Her work is guided by values of equity, inclusion, and collaboration—meaning she is dedicated to bringing as many voices to the table as possible throughout the planning and development processes.


Planning Resources

Email Professor Meghan Cope (Geography) for more information on the planning field and to discuss possible planning careers.

Learn more about what Planning Departments across the country are looking for.