What is planning? Planning — also called urban planning or city and regional planning — is a dynamic profession that works to improve the welfare of people and their communities by creating more convenient, equitable, healthful, efficient and attractive places for present and future generations. Planning enables civic leaders, businesses and citizens to play a meaningful role in creating communities that enrich people’s lives.
Good planning helps create communities that offer better choices for where and how people live and helps communities envision their future. It helps them find the right balance of new development and essential services, environmental protection and innovative change. Planners help create a broad vision for the community. They also research, design and develop programs; lead public processes; effect social change; perform technical analyses; manage; and educate.
Some planners focus on just some of these roles, such as transportation planning, but most will work at many kinds of planning throughout their careers. The basic element is the creation of a plan — planners develop a plan through analyzing data and identifying goals for the community or the project. Planners help the community and its various groups identify their goals and form a particular vision.
Employment: Students graduate career-ready, and over 90% are hired into the GIS or planning job markets. Employers include the U.S. Government, State of North Carolina, and urban and rural governments throughout North Carolina and across the United States.
Graduate Schools: Students who wish to pursue a graduate education may stay at App State for an extra year and receive a Master of Arts in geography.
A minor is not required. Popular minors include:
- GIS Certificate
- Sustainable Development
- Building Science
Engagement Outside the Classroom
- The Student Planners Association (SPA) and Appalachian Geographical Society are student-run, university-recognized organizations consisting of major and non-major members who are interested in fellowship, outings, fun and learning more about planning and geography.
- Gamma Theta Upsilon Honor Society is an international honorary academic society for geographers founded in 1928. To join, you must be enrolled in any of the geography majors and meet one of two GPA requirements.
- North Carolina ArcGIS Users Group is a non-profit organization that creates a forum for the exchange and distribution of knowledge, techniques, and data for people across North Carolina using associated with ESRI and GIS software.
- North Carolina Geographic Alliance - Since 1987, the North Carolina Geographic Alliance has sought to enhance geographic education in North Carolina Schools. Over the years the NCGA has produced teaching materials, provided professional development, and advocated for geography as an integral part of the curriculum.
Appalachian is committed to introducing students to different cultures and teaching them how to live and interact in a global society. There are currently faculty led trips to study planning and community development in Ecuador and Peru. Dr. Baker Perry also takes 15 students to study climate change in the Andean region each summer.
There are no admission requirements beyond admission to Appalachian State University.
- The Department of Geography and Planning has a strong sense of community — faculty and students work closely together and alumni remain networked with the department for interns and new hires.
- Undergraduate students have many opportunities to work with faculty on research projects including the dating of log cabin construction. See more research
- Students have the opportunity to pursue an undergraduate GIS certificate, which makes them even more employable in a high-demand job market.
- The Department of Geography and Planning offers a graduate certificate in planning and a Master of Arts in geography.
- Students can pursue Appalachian’s accelerated master’s program and receive their graduate certificate in planning or Master of Arts in geography in one year as opposed to two years by taking graduate coursework during their senior year.
Boone and Hickory*
*The Hickory Campus location is pending accreditation from SACSCOC for this program. Accreditation is expected in summer 2023.
- City Planner
- Town Planner
- GIS and Planning
- Non-Profit Organizations
View more career possibilities
Department of Geography and Planning
Dr. Saskia van de Gevel
Department Chair and Professor