Introduction – Urban Planning (Town Planning) in India
India is one of the fastest developing nations with around 8,000 cities and towns, 600 districts besides over 4,00,000 villages. According to a report of Expert committee which was set up by Ministry of Human Resource Development, in 2011, India would need around 3 lacs town and country planners by 2031 while we had hardly 5 thousand town planners in the year 2019 in the country. Hence, we do not have the sufficient number of town planners even if one qualified town planner is to be deployed in these towns and cities. Moreover, currently the job is being done by other professionals whose area of expertise are in fields associated to planning instead of professional planners or simply non-qualified planners which further adds up to the problem. Those who study urban planning are known as “Urban Planners”. While Urban Planning is the umbrella term used to classify people who study about urban areas and are responsible for the planned growth of cities, there are various other terms as well, these include town planning, city planning, town and country planning, urban and regional planning etc. and those practicing it are known as town planners, city planners, town and country planners, urban and regional planners respectively.
Who is a Town Planner/ Urban Planner?
Town Planners serve as a bridge between the desires of general public or the needs of the town or area for which they are responsible and public officials or authorities. Planners undertake complex assessments and analyze the variables involved with developing land and its resources. Following this, they determine and propose the best use for the land, also known as land use.
In other words, a planner is a professional who is responsible for judiciously planning resources in order to develop communities, accommodate population growth and provide them with their needs including physical and social infrastructure.
How to become a Town Planner/ Urban Planner?
To become a town planner in India, one can go for graduation in Urban Planning after 10 + 2 from any stream with Maths as a mandatory subject and later on pursue post-graduation in the field of Planning. There is a wide variety of options available to select from for the purpose of Master’s programme such as Environmental Planning, Housing, Regional Planning, Urban Planning and Transport Planning.
Another way to enter Planning field after completing 10 + 2 is to purse bachelor’s in Architecture or Civil Engineering or a masters degree in Geography, Economics, Sociology and other such fields which makes you eligible for Masters degree in Urban Planning. An important thing to note is that apart from Maths being a mandatory subject, students should score a minimum of 50% marks in 10 + 2 exams. Also, there is an option of pursuing PhD after post-graduation.
Another option is to pursue M.Plan (Master in Planning) after your bachelor degree in Planning, Architecture, Geography, Sociology or Law depending on the eligible courses for admission to M.Plan. For more information please refer to our Guide to M.Planning (opens in new tab) or refer to the admission details for some widely known colleges below:
- B.Plan Admissions at School of Planning & Architecture (SPA), Delhi 
- M.Plan Admissions at School of Planning & Architecture (SPA), Delhi 
- Post Graduate Diploma in Urban Planning and Development from IGNOU
Depending on the highest level of education and the specialisation one does, a person can also become an Urban Planner with a 2 year specialisation in Urban Planning, Environmental Planning, Transportation Planning, Urban & Regional Planning, Regional Planning etc. On successful completion, you will be awarded a M. Plan degree. It is often referred as M. Plan (with specialisation in your respective area of specialisation). The undergraduate course is of 4 year and on successful completion, students are awarded a degree of B. Planning (Bachelor in Planning) or a B. Tech (in Planning) depending on the university. Both the degrees hold equal value and makes you an urban planner. Those possessing an undergraduate degree in planning are often referred as B. Planners, physical planners or simply planners in India.
Additionally a person with an undergrad in Architecture and Civil Engineering or Master’s degree in Sociology, Geography or Economics can directly opt for M.Plan i.e. specialisation and need not undertake B.Planning degree as per the current rules. A person with a B. Plan degree is too eligible to take M. Planning via similar means. Thus Urban Planning can be pursued by either School Students (10+2 with Mathematics as compulsory subject) or a person with an undergraduate/ master degree in aforementioned fields. Selection for Master degree is based on the criteria set in place by the concerned educational institution.
Three ways by which you can become an Urban Planner in India
As mentioned above, you can become an urban planner or town planner by doing an undergraduate degree in B.Planning or B. Tech (Planning) right after your school i.e. 10+2 (with math) or you can do post graduate degree in M. Planning if you have a B. Arch, B. Civil, LLB, MA (Sociology/ Geography/ Economics).
- Option 1 – Complete 10+2 and then do a B. Planning degree [12th with math → B. Planning]
- Option 2 – Complete 10+2 and then do B. Planning then do M. Planning [12th with Math → B. Planning → M. Planning]
- Option 3 – Complete B. Arch/ B. Tech (Civil)/ LLB/ MA (Sociology/ Geography/ Economics) and then do M. Planning [Undergrad/ Masters in aforementioned →M. Planning]
Read our detailed article on:
- Urban Planning in India | Lack of Planners & Educational Institutions
- Is Urban Planning meant for you?
- Indian Urban Planners – Top 5B.Plan Admissions at School of Planning & Architecture (SPA), Delhi 
Things to keep in mind if you want to become an urban planner in India:
The lack of information pertaining to the profession is one of the biggest contributor to the misinformation being spread about the profession. Thus we are highlighting all the important things which you must know before taking a decision.
- Architecture & Planning are two entirely different courses. This is valid for what you study and practice, both the professions impart different skillsets which are suitable for different roles these professionals play. You will come across numerous cases of where Architects are working as planners, however the job profile of a planner and an architect differs. The lack of qualified planning professionals and lack of awareness about the profession results in non planning professionals being hired for the post of planner.
- B.Planning degree alone is sufficient to secure a job. While you will get a job with undergraduate degree, the options will be limited. If you want to keep multiple options open, you will be required to undertake specialisation i.e. M.Plan degree as well. This is required because a lot of government departments and even private companies require a M.Plan degree with a combination of b. Plan and/or a non planning undergrad. Again, this can be attributed to lack of information and long prevailing practice within the industry.
- There are very limited areas of working for a planner or planners work only in government departments. Planning is a multidisciplinary profession with its own set of challenges and awards. Being diverse in nature, at times it can be difficult to narrow down the exact working areas for planners. Government roles are some of the promising and key roles where planners are required however based on the skills you acquire and certifications/ specialisations you have, you might be fit to fill in various other positions related to Real Estate, Transportation, Policy Makers, GIS etc. Private sector is however governed based on their requirements which can be project specific or at large designation specific. Thus, you will be required to apply to all the roles where you have matching skillsets.
- Urban Planning is a licensed course. Planning is a “professional course” however it is not licenses. Thus, do not expect to get a license after completion of course. Independent professional bodies such as ITPI (Institute of Town Planners India) provide you with membership, however that is not an exclusive right to practice the planning, i.e. not a “license”. COA (Council of Architecture) does not provide any licence to planners, a license from COA is restricted to Architects for practicing architecture.
We hope these help you understand about the planning profession. Since everything cannot be explained and put in few lines, we are providing you with the frequently asked questions and all relevant information here which you might wish to know and explore about Urban Planning in India. The answers provided here are for quick reference and a detailed version/ article is provided at the corresponding links should you wish to read further. The information provided here is useful for both school students and as well as undergrads with non-planning background or those already in practice. Since planning is often confused with other professions, you can watch the video below to understand the basics about planning and continue exploring more about planning in this article below to understand about the difference between Urban Planning and other professions.
Another option is to pursue M.Plan (Master in Planning) after your bachelor degree in Planning, Architecture, Geography, Sociology or Law depending on the eligible courses for admission to M.Plan.
Urban Planning as a career for School Students
This section is primarily focused on the school students who are exploring various career options and wish to explore about the Urban Planning profession. One can go for graduation in Urban Planning after 10 + 2 from any stream with Math as a mandatory subject and later on pursue post-graduation in the field of Planning.
Planning as a career for Architects, Civil Engineers, Sociologists, Geographers and others
There is a wide variety of options available to select from for the purpose of Master’s programme such as Environmental Planning, Housing, Regional Planning, Urban Planning and Transport Planning. This guide will be helpful for those who are planning to shift from their existing fields and exploring the option of doing M.Plan. Both the groups will be benefitted with the contents of this section and as well as that of school students section (provided above), so as to gain clarity on what to expect and how to proceed.
To enter Planning field after completing 10 + 2 is to purse bachelor’s degree in Geography, Economics, Sociology and other such fields which makes you eligible for Masters degree in Urban Planning. An important thing to note is that apart from Math being a mandatory subject, students should score a minimum of 50% marks in 10 + 2 exams. Also, there is an option of pursuing PhD after post-graduation.
- M.Plan Admissions at School of Planning & Architecture (SPA), Delhi 
- Post Graduate Diploma in Urban Planning and Development from IGNOU
Urban Planning Colleges in India
In India, Urban Planning or Town Planning is offered by a number of colleges which are affiliated to Institute of Town Planners of India (ITPI) and/ or All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) or state departments. These colleges offer undergraduate, postgraduate courses and some of them offer PhD as well. The list includes both public and private institutes like IIT, Kharagpur, SPAs, CEPT, Lovely Professional University and so on. A complete list of colleges available on Urban Planning Colleges in India.
Urban Planners are in great demand in the country as the field of education is getting recognition and the need of Planners is being realized. Due to awareness, being made at various levels, importance and role of Planners are now being properly put in place which was not the scenario earlier. Thus, more people are now interested in exploring this field of knowledge and considering it as a career.
Since Planning is a multidisciplinary field, Planners possess knowledge related to huge number of subjects that are required in proper functioning of towns or cities. This, in turn, makes Urban planners eligible to work in a variety of sectors including government, private and NGOs.
Related: Urban Planning Job Description
Salaries and outlook
While choosing a career option, one of the most important questions that crosses the mind of majority is regarding the monetary returns that can be made after investing huge amount of time and money during the process. This is an important indicator to be looked into while assessing all the available career options, after all, monetary value of a profession cannot be ignored. So, there are several factors that affects the monetary value of an Urban Planner. These factors range widely from the city you are posted in to the organization you are working with. But broadly speaking, as a graduate after B.Plan, salary could range from 3 LPA to 5 PLA whereas a post graduate with M.Plan degree could get offers ranging from 4.5 to 10 LPA. Further, work experience highly adds up to the market value of a Planner.
Related: Market Value of a Planner in India or a detailed version with reviews and feedback from professionals on B.Plan on The Market Value of a B.Planner
Frequently Asked Questions about Urban Planning in India
We at Planning Tank fuelled by passion to create awareness about the Planning profession, a profession of utmost importance, yet least explored. Therefore, here are some answers and link of relevant resources to guide you through this journey of decision making.
Q) Who are Urban Planners and what do they do?
Urban Planners are person in charge of planning out the city before it is even built. They decide where to place certain establishments, how wide the streets and roads should be, how much space shall be allocated for homes or businesses. They make sure that schools are not placed near activities such as bars, banquet halls or markets that could distract students from their studies. It is the job of urban planners to make sure that the city functions well, looks nice and artistic.
- Is Urban Planning meant for you?
- How to become an Urban Planner in India?
- Tips before starting a Planning degree
- Planning course in India, course description, curriculum & Jobs
- FAQ about Urban Planning Courses in India
Q) Why you never heard of Urban Planning before?
Urban planning education started with the initiation of a master-level programme in SPA, Delhi in the early 1950s followed by other institutions. While the origins of Urban Planning in India can be traced to the planned towns of Mohenjodaro and Harappa belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization as early as 2500 BC, town planning as an approved programme was notified under AICTE Act 1987. Though this technical field still remains largely unknown by the people, it is slowly gaining popularity over time. For details continue reading on our article B. Planning Course in India – Exam, Subjects, Jobs, Future Prospects.
Q) What are the Key difference between B. Arch and B. Planning?
B. Arch is of 5 year duration whereas B.Planning is a 4 year program. The work nature is different for both B. Arch graduate and B. Planning graduates. B. Arch is basically designing and learning about spaces limited to individuals. B plan is studying and designing spaces confined to a large areas, like a city, town and lots of infrastructure, environment, regional criteria a are involved in this.
It is a 4 year undergraduate course involving ultimate planning techniques, provide better understanding of policies and ultimately making policies & master plan which helps in improving the living condition in a place. An architect is basically a professional who deals with the design and construction of buildings. His job requires a great accuracy as even a small variation in his design can lead to complex situations. A planner deals with the planning that is a must for certain human settlements. Without city planners, cities efficient cities can’t be designed.
Q) Role of Urban Planners in Government Sector, Private Sector & NGOs
Urban Planning jobs vary widely in a number of private, government and non – government organizations. As a government urban planner, many tasks can be undertaken under ongoing programmes, mission or schemes like Swachh Bharat Mission, Smart city mission etc. Private sector planners tend to work in consulting firms on a project or as research assistants. In NGOs, planners get the opportunity to work on various aspects including WASH sector and so on. Further reading – Urban Planning Job Description & Titles.
Q) Colleges offering Urban Planning education in India
Urban Planning or Town Planning in India is offered by a number of colleges which are affiliated to the Institute of Town Planners of India (ITPI). AICTE provides approval for town planning educational institutions as per prescribed procedures and rules on the sanctioned intake capacity, land area requirements, infrastructural requirements, teacher-student ratio, nomenclatures, etc. A comprehensive list of Urban Planning Colleges in India.
Q) Eligibility criteria and admission process for B. Plan
Bachelor of Planning or Bachelor of Technology- Planning is an undergraduate programme with a duration of four years. Its eligibility requires passing 10+2 examination (with Math as a mandatory subject) and obtaining at least 45% marks in the qualifying examination. Intake capacity per division is 40 with 1:16 as faculty to student ratio.
National Testing Agency (NTA) conducts examination for B. Planning admission through JEE (until 2019, B.Plan and B. Arch had a common exam) Students appearing have now an option to appear for all three tests, i.e., Paper 1 for B. Tech or Paper 2 for B. Arch, and Paper 3 for B.Planning, or any two, or one paper, as per their choice. You can continue reading more about eligibility and admission process for B. Plan Admissions at School of Planning & Architecture (SPA), Delhi  or the JEE Main – B.Planning Exam.
Q) How much do you get paid as an Urban Planner?
As a graduate after B.Plan, your salary could be anywhere between 3-5 LPA whereas for a post graduate with an M.Plan degree, you could get offers in range of 4.5-10 LPA. Offers higher than these are mostly either from the management consultancy firms or short-term contract-based positions where deployment is based on some priority project being taken up or wherein the no. of hours, you’ll be required to put in are way more than the standard working hours. For more details please check – Market Value of an Urban Planner in India.
Q) Options available after completing undergraduate course
After graduating from Bachelor of Planning, you can either pursue higher studies in the field of planning or other related fields or go for jobs which vary widely in a number of private, government and non – government organizations. You may get a job with your undergraduate degree but you can increase this chance to a higher level by completing a master’s degree. This, in fact, gives you an edge over others.
- Why You Should Consider a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning
- Placement scenario after M.Plan from School of Planning & Architecture, Delhi
- Urban Planner Job Description & Titles
Q) Planning Education and Practice outside India
Studying abroad can be a very different experience especially in University life. Although it might take some time to adjust to a new culture and a new type of lifestyle including change of food etc., it can be an amazing experience to study abroad. You get to meet so many people of different cultures and races and the world becomes a bit smaller as you meet people and have friends from around the world.