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Bioregional Planning

M.S. Bioregional Planning and Graduate Certificate

» Building Sustainable Communities Initiative     » College of College of Graduate Studies

Scenic Overview

Defined by a truly interdisciplinary approach that brings together experience and expertise from nine academic departments in eight colleges, the relatively new bioregional planning program at the University of Idaho is quickly gaining momentum and recognition as a top program. The program is driven by faculty, students, and community members who are committed to sustainable community development, and planning and design in the Intermountain West and beyond.

The program offers the following: 

  • Master of Science in Bioregional Planning and Community Design: Includes specializations in land use planning; environmental planning; economic development planning; transportation planning; public land planning; and housing, social and community development planning.
  • Graduate certificate: Designed for those who want to incorporate sustainable planning principles and concepts into a related professional discipline, such as transportation engineering, environmental and natural resource management, architecture, landscape architecture, and public administration.

The program features a diverse group of faculty members with expertise ranging from architecture and design to conservation and political science. Through our innovative Learning & Practice Collaborative (LPC), you'll partner with students and professors on real-life projects to help Idaho communities fulfill visions for sustainable growth. You'll develop solid research and problem-solving skills, as well as the ability to implement systematic conservation planning and management strategies to positively shape communities for generations to come.

You'll graduate with the hands-on experience to make an immediate impact on your chosen career, whether you become a city planner or a consultant that works with engineering and architectural firms to implement sustainable design concepts across multiple project types in a cost-effective manner.

Roadway overview

Prepare for Success

Many of our students want to enhance their career opportunities with expertise and credentials in tactical community planning. A professional career in community planning requires a specific technical skill set, including the ability to think in terms of spatial relationships and to visualize the effects of plans and designs. You must also have strong written and oral communication skills, with the ability to reconcile varying viewpoints and to make constructive policy or strategic management recommendations.

Your First Year

Requirements for our master's degree vary, based on your area of specialization. In addition to general course requirements (42 credits required), you’ll complete studio credits, a community-based project and a professional paper. Core courses include:

  • Bioregional Planning and Practice
  • Planning History and Theory

Our 16-credit graduate certificate program provides the skills to effectively integrate planning concepts and principles into your related discipline. In addition to studio credits focused in your area of study, your courses will explore:
  • Bioregional theory and practice
  • Geographic information systems (GIS) 
  • Policy/law/public administration

Workers removing soil

What You Can Do

With an undergraduate degree in a related field and a Master of Science (M.S.) in Bioregional Planning and Community Development, you may become a:

  • City planner
  • Community planner
  • Planning consultant for construction, engineering and architectural firms
  • Transportation engineer
  • Geographer
  • Surveyor
  • Cartographer
  • Architect
  • City manager
  • Environmental consultant


With an advanced degree in planning and design, you'll be positioned for a career in local or state government, housing agencies, and transportation or environmental organizations. You also will have opportunities in private industry at companies involved with architectural, engineering, management, scientific, and technical consulting services.

As a graduate of our program, you'll be prepared to provide valuable expertise in the counseling of local governments on the prime locations for roads and schools, or to make recommendations based on LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) principles for the development of a mixed-use development project.

Experience with computer and software programs, particularly geographic information systems (GIS) software, will greatly enhance your career options.

The median annual salary of urban and regional planners was $56,630 in May 2006, while the middle 50 percent earned between $44,480 and $71,390. The highest earners tend to work in management for engineering services firms or related organizations.

Urban street with houses


The University of Idaho is involved with the Center for Effective Planning and Governance (CEPG), an organization that is working to enhance the leadership and decision-making abilities of officials faced with tackling sustainable community planning issues. As a student in our program, you’ll contribute to this process. Working with faculty, you will help shape educational materials and workshops that give community leaders and professionals the knowledge to guide Idaho’s surging population growth, which between 1990 and 2005 climbed an astounding 41 percent.

Hands-On Experience

Through the Learning & Practice Collaborative, you'll gain valuable hands-on experience working with fellow students and faculty to help Idaho communities fulfill visions for sustainable growth.

Online & Outreach

We make it easy to get involved and to participate in discussions involving real sustainable development issues. Last year the University of Idaho hosted multiple seminars and workshops to introduce the Building Sustainable Communities Initiative to citizens. These meetings addressed three critical areas: the bioregional planning and community design academic program, the Learning and Practice Collaboratives, and the Center for Effective Planning and Governance.

Michael Lowry
Michael Lowry, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Research Interests: Land use and transportation planning, Travel demand management, Traffic calming and street design, Bicycle and pedestrian planning, Project evaluation and finance, and Public participation
» View Michael Lowry's profile.