Mar 03, 2024  
2019-2020 Graduate Catalog (As of 06-27-19) 
2019-2020 Graduate Catalog (As of 06-27-19) [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Community Planning, Policy, and Design, M.A.

R. Grant Gilmore III, Program Director

Office: 843.953.3888

Mission Statement

The Community Planning, Policy, and Design (CPAD) program is designed to directly serve our institution’s core academic and public missions, particularly in the interrelated realms of public service, sustainability, and socio-political diversity. The program is consistent with the College of Charleston’s broader vision and focus upon sustainability as a bridge to addressing 21st century problems.  Sustainability is a crucial area not only of academic but also of public discourse that is intrinsically inseparable from community planning, policy, and design.

The College of Charleston’s Community Planning, Policy, and Design program is designed to help meet the rising demand for effective placemakers.

  1. The Community Planning, Policy, and Design program stands out by combining historically engaged urban design with economic and transportation planning and public policy courses, thereby offering not only an artistic but also a practical education. 

  2. It offers what we call a “progressive traditional” design curriculum.  This approach to design enthusiastically embraces architectural and urban traditions, the aesthetic and functional virtues of which are so evident in Charleston, where they contribute to its success as a global tourist destination as well as the community of choice for a growing number of permanent residents. 

  3. CPAD encourages students to not only explore North American and European traditions, but also includes deep studies of the great traditions of West Africa, the Caribbean, Mesoamerica, East Asia, and other places, ensuring that the traditional design methods and forms that our students develop are broadly humanistic and pluralistic, empowering them to draw upon the global wealth of aesthetic and functional achievements as they serve the world’s increasingly diverse communities. 

  4. While our students do become well-versed in the advantages of traditional design, we also promote the exploration of modern and emerging technologies in an open-minded and open-ended quest to build more beautifully, affordably, and sustainably.  As community planners, they will have to work with many different architects and developers, and need to be flexible and adaptable as markets, technologies, and cultures develop.

  5. Our students are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to serve private real estate development in such a way that economic growth is harnessed to larger issues of placemaking, enhancing social and political justice in tangible, meaningful ways that do not undermine, but rather build upon, the financial wellbeing of diverse communities.

Program Description

The Master of Arts in Community Planning, Policy, and Design (CPAD) teaches multiple dimensions of community building, including urban design, public policy, economics, transportation, and land-use planning, with a focus on the growing intersection of these disciplines in today’s vibrant but increasingly complex development environment.  It is offered exclusively at the historic main campus of the College of Charleston, with the exception of the Summer Independent Field Study course that meets online but is held at a place of the students’ choosing in a city outside of Charleston.  CPAD accepts students who aspire to be practical community builders and effective “placemakers”-to serve city governments, development companies, architecture/urban design firms, and others by combining what we call “progressive traditional” design skills with a knowledge of public policy, real estate economics, and practical transportation and land-use planning.  The courses in the program are delivered through traditional campus-based face-to-face lecture/seminar and studio classes. 

Admission Requirements and Application Deadlines

Institutional Requirements

  • A completed application form with a nonrefundable application fee of $50.
  • Official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate coursework. An earned bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university is required.
  • International applicants should refer to the International Students area within the “Admissions Information”  section of the catalog for information on providing appropriate documentation with the application.

Program Requirements

Degree-Seeking Students

A student seeking admission into the CPAD program should submit the following:

  • Minimum grade point average of 2.500 (on a 4.000 scale) is preferred.
  • Two letters of recommendation from persons familiar with your academic record References should address your academic ability and motivation to successfully complete a graduate degree. If a prospective student has been out of college for a number of years, it is appropriate to provide letters from work-related individuals.
  • A statement of purpose outlining your reasons for applying to the program, areas of interest, and career objectives.
  • Proof of proficiency in Computer Aided Design (CAD) software - if you are not proficient in CAD you must provide proof of having successfully passed a CAD course either at the College of Charleston, at another accredited institution or online before being admitted to the program.

Application Deadlines

  • Fall: March 1, Priority; July 1, Final
  • Spring: No Spring Admission
  • Summer: No Summer Admission


Transfer Credit Policy

No program specific guidelines. Please refer to the Graduate School’s transfer credit policy .


Program Requirements
Student Learning Outcomes