Our History

Established and approved by the Rutgers University Board of Governors in 1992, the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy serves as one of the nation’s key centers for the theory and practice of planning and public policy scholarship and analysis.

Edward J. Bloustein was the seventeenth president of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from New York University and received his law and Ph.D. degrees from Cornell. After teaching at NYU and serving as President of Bennington College, he was appointed President of Rutgers in 1971.

Many observers of higher education believe that, under Dr. Bloustein’s presidency, Rutgers reached a “Golden Age.” His tenure as Rutgers’ president began in the midst of student protests over Vietnam and ended with protests over proposed increases in student tuition, but the intervening years saw the university expand its research facilities, attract internationally known scholars, and achieve distinction as one of the major public research universities in the nation. In February 1989, the university was invited to join 56 other prestigious academic institutions that make up the Association of American Universities. It was this kind of recognition that Edward Bloustein worked so diligently for Rutgers during his 18 years in office. This was the same year in which Dr. Bloustein passed away.

Founding of the School and Academic Programs

“It is a commonplace of educational philosophy that a university, especially a major state university, should encourage the application of knowledge to social purpose.  It is in this process of public policy analysis that the resources of higher education can be invaluable….”

The establishment of the School of Planning and Public Policy was one of Dr. Bloustein’s last acts as president, and it was named in his honor in 1992. Citing his leadership in establishing partnerships between the university, state, and private sector as well as his great involvement in the public service mission of the university, the Rutgers Board of Governors noted that he often spoke of the need for a school to serve local and state public policy concerns and of the importance of community service as part of a liberal education.

With its graduate urban planning program ranked nationally, an accredited graduate public policy program, the undergraduate public health program ranked 4th nationally, and new research interests in health administration, public administration, and public informatics added more recently, the Bloustein School is committed to a rebirth of the public service ethic in the United States. The ethic focuses on good civic design in its broadest sense, encompassing such endeavors as housing, transportation, workforce development, public health, economic development, ecological balance, and social justice for the disadvantaged. The school supports a wide variety of educational activities, including undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degree programs, continuing education and conferences for professionals and alumni, and a range of research centers focused on major planning and policy issues.

Academics at the Bloustein School

The disciplines and professions of urban planning, public policy, public health, health administration and public informatics are strongly situated in an educational context that stresses social science education and public service. The Bloustein School grants B.A. and B.S. degrees in five majors, four Master’s degrees, and, through the Rutgers School of Graduate Studies, a Ph.D. in Planning and Public Policy.

Academic Community

The Bloustein School educates a highly select group of students and prepares them for careers in the public, nonprofit and for-profit sectors, teaching and research professions, and service at all levels of government. Alumni of the school are employed in areas of planning, land use, politics, public and community health, employment and social policy, human services, transportation, housing, urban policy and international development.


Faculty, staff and students conduct research on critical issues facing the world, country, state, and neighborhoods. Researchers study climate change, poverty, inequality, housing finance, community development, transportation, health, immigration, education, urban design, statistics, and government funding and budgeting, expanding the school’s public service mission and providing students with opportunities for research on some of the most critical planning and public policy issues.

Undergraduate Programs
The Program in Urban Planning and Policy Development

City and regional planning at Rutgers has its intellectual roots dating back a century. Harland Bartholomew, known as the “dean of city planners” in the twentieth century, attended Rutgers College of Engineering in 1911.

As the knowledge required by planners grew in breadth and complexity, professional planning training often moved from schools of engineering and architecture to separate planning-focused units. This was true nationally, as well as at Rutgers.

Rutgers created the Department of Urban Planning and Policy Development (UPPD) in 1967 on the newly created Kilmer Campus. UPPD was originally located physically on the Rutgers Campus in New Brunswick (third floor of the old Engineering Building on the Voorhees Mall, now Murray Hall) before moving in 1968 across the Raritan River to its new home within Livingston College on the Kilmer Campus (later renamed the Livingston Campus) in Piscataway.

Administratively, UPPD was placed under the Livingston College dean and a broad unit within the college, known as the Division of Urban Studies. However, the MCRP degree was awarded by the Graduate School of Rutgers in New Brunswick. The original 1967 faculty members were Lawrence D. Mann (chair), George Sternlieb, Norman Williams, David Popenoe, and Donald A. Krueckeberg. Early UPPD faculty members Richard Brail, Salah El-Shakhs, and Susan Fainstein all recollect that UPPD’s mission was forged in the tempestuous cauldron of the late 1960s’ urban unrest and the desire to address, through research and service, the inequalities underlying it.

Over the decades, there have been numerous changes with regard to UPPD. After various academic realignments within Rutgers, UPPD became one of the two master’s programs, joining Public Policy, in the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, which itself was formed in 1992. With its creation, the Bloustein School then awarded the professional MCRP degree. From 1995 until the present, UPPD (Program in Urban Planning and Policy Development) has been in the resplendent Bloustein building at Civic Square in downtown New Brunswick—a long way and big improvement from having held classes first in a modest former World War II Army building at Livingston College (Building 4051) and then (1971–1995) at Livingston’s bemoaned cast concrete and Brutalist modern Lucy Stone Hall.

While changes have occurred in the Planning program over the nearly five decades of its existence, there are a number of constants. It is one of the nation’s premier planning graduate programs. From its formation through 2016, it has granted approximately 2,140 master’s degrees in this discipline. The program has been reviewed and accredited (1987, 1992, 1997, 2003, 2008, 2014) with the highest accolades by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP). In 2011 and again in 2019, the Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs named Bloustein’s UPPD program number 3 among the nation’s 80 ranked planning schools. Since 2009, the Bloustein School has been ranked among the top 10 schools in the nation.

Another constant is UPPD’s diversity and academic excellence. Drawn from graduate training in many disciplines—from planning to law, economics, and geography—UPPD professors have blazed paths in important research on many fronts. Faculty members have regularly conducted studies for the National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Sciences, and other prestigious research funding entities; have authored numerous monographs identified by the American Planning Association (APA) as core to “The Essential Planning Library”; have often written annual “best articles” in the APA Journal; and been editors of this journal and others in geography, policy, and related disciplines. UPPD professors are not armchair academics. They were instrumental in crafting New Jersey’s heralded Mount Laurel response to affordable housing and routinely testify before legislative bodies in Washington, D.C., Trenton, and elsewhere.

UPPD faculty take teaching and mentoring responsibilities seriously. Before his passing in 2013 retired UPPD professor Jerry Rose, who taught a gateway planning-law class for many years, remarked, “I enjoyed teaching. . . . I felt exhilarated during class and gratified at the end of each class.” UPPD has benefited from the able stewardship of its chairpersons and directors, which included (in chronological order) the following professors: Larry Mann, Melvin Levin, Jerry Rose, Donald Krueckeberg, Susan Fainstein, James Hughes, Richard Brail, Hooshang Amirahmadi, Lyna Wiggins, Clinton Andrews, Robert Burchell, and Kathe Newman.

UPPD students are similarly varied, talented, and accomplished. The most recent entering UPPD class did undergraduate work in 30 states and 15 foreign countries. UPPD graduates have attained the most senior planning positions across the United States and internationally in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Examples include chief of staff of a United Nations agency, vice president at the World Bank, principals of national professional planning firms, and director (three incumbencies) of the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency.

UPPD’s mission and worldview have endured. This gestalt of the diversity of planning and the role of the discipline as an agent of change, a perspective expressed and excerpted below from a 30-year-old UPPD catalog, remain true today:

Diverse disciplines—reflected in the backgrounds of incoming students, in the positions filled by graduates, in the academic and professional pursuits of the faculty—exemplify the . . . Graduate Program in Urban Planning and Policy Development at Rutgers. This intentional diversity sets the direction for the department, to seek a variety of approaches and expressions in exploring the dimensions of urban and regional questions and in preparing responses. . . . The department assumes that the planner’s goal is to achieve social improvement. And it reasons that, in today’s world, effort requires competence in dealing with socioeconomic problems as well as with the physical and natural concerns of traditional planning.

Chronology of Major Events at the Bloustein School

1946 – First undergraduate courses in Urban Planning taught at Rutgers

1950 – Establishment of the Bureau of Government Research (predecessor to Center for Government Services)

1956 – Establishment of Master of Arts (MA) in Political Science (Politics and Public Policy track)

1959 – Establishment of the Urban Studies Center (predecessor to the Center for Urban Policy Research [1969])

1967 – Rutgers creates Department of Urban Planning and Policy Development on the College Avenue Campus

  • Establishment of Master of City and Regional Planning; Master of Science (MS) in City and Regional Planning

1968 – Establishment of MS in Urban Planning; Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Urban Studies;

  • BA in Community Development; Department of Urban Planning moves to the Kilmer Campus

1969 – Establishment of PhD in Urban Planning; Larry Mann named first director of the PhD program

1976 – Establishment of Bachelor of Science (BS) in Public Health

1977 – Establishment of the New Jersey Public Policy Research Institute

1978 – Name change to PhD in Urban Planning and Policy Development

1980 – Urban Studies and Community Development major evolves into Department of Urban Studies and Community Health, offering two undergraduate majors

1981 – Establishment of Eagleton Institute of Politics program for MS in Political Science students (Politics and Public Policy track—predecessor to the Public Policy program)

  • Establishment of School of Urban and Regional Policy under the Faculty of Professional Studies (established as part of the New Brunswick Campus academic reorganization)

1983 – Establishment of the joint graduate program in public health with UMDNJ; Master of Public Health

1986 – Establishment of the Center for Negotiation and Conflict Resolution (Newark Campus)

1987 – Urban Planning Program accredited for 5 years

1988 – Faculty of Planning established; PhD in Public Health; Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)

1989 – Mark Lapping appointed dean of the Faculty of Planning

  • First Rutgers Regional Report issued

1992 – Urban Planning program accredited for 5 years

  • Rutgers Economic Advisory Service (R/ECON™) established
  • School of Planning established by Board of Governors; Mark Lapping appointed dean
  • National Transit Institute established
  • James W. Hughes appointed acting associate dean of School of Planning
  • Department of Public Policy formed
  • School named for Edward J. Bloustein

1993 – James W. Hughes appointed associate dean of Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy (Bloustein School)

  • Board of Governors approves the establishment of the Department of Public Policy within the Bloustein School
  • Two-year Master of Public Policy (MPP) approved

1994 – James W. Hughes appointed acting dean of Bloustein School

1995 – Rutgers Board of Governors approves name change of MA in Political Science (Politics and Public Policy track) to MS in Public Policy

1995 – James W. Hughes appointed dean of Bloustein School

  • School moved to Civic Square Building in downtown New Brunswick

1996 – Dedication of Civic Square Building

  • Reorganization of the New Brunswick Campus, including decentralization of graduate program management to deans of professional schools from dean of the Graduate School

1997 – Board of Governors approves new Master of Public Policy degree program

  • Urban Planning program accredited for 5 years
  • Board of Governors approves establishment of the Center for Employment Policy and Workforce Development

1998 – First Sitar/Rutgers Regional Report issued

  • John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development named
  • Board of Governors approves the establishment and naming of the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center (VTC)
  • National Transit Institute becomes part of VTC and Bloustein School

1999 – Approval of name changes from MS in Urban Planning and MS in Public Policy to Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP) and Master of Public Affairs and Politics (MPAP)

  • External Review of Bloustein School
  • Board of Governors approves establishment of the National Center for Neighborhood and Brownfields Redevelopment

2000 – University’s CSPAD committee accepts recommendations of external review, and Center for Urban Policy Research (CUPR) becomes part of the Bloustein School

2001 – New Jersey Public Policy Research Institute becomes part of the Bloustein School at CUPR

  • Strategic Planning process completed and reorganization begins, including establishing schoolwide faculty and addition of CUPR to the school
  • HIV Prevention Community Planning Support and Development Initiative established at the Bloustein School

2003 – Establishment of the Center for Energy, Environmental, and Economic Policy

  • Urban Planning program accredited for 5 years

2005 – Establishment of Bloustein Center for Survey Research (moved from Eagleton Poll to become part of Bloustein School)

2006 – Establishment of the Rutgers Center for Green Building

2007 – Change in name of PhD program from Urban Planning and Policy Development to Planning and Public Policy

2008 – Urban Planning program accredited for 5 years

  • Establishment of the Center for Transportation Safety, Security, and Risk

2009 – Establishment of the Center for Planning Practice

  • First Advance & Rutgers Regional Report issued

2011 – Public Policy program receives first accreditation from NASPAA (National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration)

  • Establishment and naming of the Ralph W. Voorhees Center for Civic Engagement
  • First directly admitted transfer students accepted into undergraduate Public Health major

2012 – School celebrates 20th Anniversary of its founding

2013 – Public Policy undergraduate major is approved by Board of Governors in spring; first students admitted to program in September

  • Bloustein Local Government Research Center established

2014 – Public Health major begins accreditation process

  • Heath Administration undergraduate major is approved by Board of Governors in spring; first students admitted to program in September
  • Urban Planning program receives highest marks for reaccreditation; program accredited for 7 years

2015 – Rutgers University celebrates 250th anniversary

  • Urban Planning & Design undergraduate major is approved by Board of Governors in spring; first students admitted to program in September

2016 – Bloustein School celebrates 25th anniversary in fall; Urban Planning program celebrates 50th anniversary

  • James W. Hughes announces his retirement as dean of Bloustein School; search for new dean commences
  • Rutgers Board of Governors approves Master in Health Administration program
  • Public Health undergraduate major ranked #4 of 50 U.S. colleges ranked for a public health major by College Factual
  • Public Health major becomes one of the first four schools in the nation to have its standalone baccalaureate public health program receive accreditation by the Council on Education for Public Health

2017 – Executive Master in Health Administration begins admitting students in January

  • James W. Hughes appointed University Professor by Rutgers Board of Governors; returns to teaching faculty in July
  • Michael R. Greenberg, long-time Associate Dean of Faculty, appointed as Interim Dean as international dean search commences.
  • Master in Health Administration traditional degree begins admitting students in September
  • Minor in Public Administration is established

2018 – Piyushimita (Vonu) Thakuriah appointed Dean, effective Oct. 1, 2018

  • Public Health undergraduate major ranked #7 of 100 U.S. colleges ranked for a public health major by College Factual
  • Public Health undergraduate major ranked 1 out of 102 U.S. colleges for veteran friendliness/providing quality education in public health for veterans by College Factual.
  • Public Health undergraduate major ranked 1 out of 95 U.S. colleges for returning adults and non-traditional students by College Factual.
  • Rutgers Board of Governors approves Master of Public Informatics program (October)

2019 – Master of Urban and Public Informatics program begins admitting students in September

  • Undergraduate minor in Medical Ethics and Health Policy established
  • Dual degree programs for MCRP/MPI and MPP/MPI are approved and begin accepting enrollments
  • Dual degree program in Master of Social Work/Master of Public Policy approved and begins accepting enrollments
  • School creates Educational Priorities and Strategic Marketing and Communications Committees to guide future investments in education, research, and philanthropy
  • Market study for creation of fully on-line Master of Public Informatics conducted; course conversion for implementation begins

2020 – COVID-19 pandemic hits United States (March)

  • Rutgers Urban and Civic Informatics Laboratory (RUCI Lab) established.
  • All graduate and undergraduate courses throughout Rutgers University are moved to virtual format for remainder of Spring semester, effective March 23; Bloustein School successfully transitions to a fully online, remote work/learning mode
  • Rutgers issues announcement that majority of graduate and undergraduate classes will be conducted virtually in Fall semester; Bloustein School commits additional student services, academic advising, online technology, network connectivity, software applications, and hardware resources in support of virtual learning
  • Jonathan Holloway appointed 21st president of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, on July 1, 2020
  • 12-credit Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Public Policy and Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Urban and Public Informatics created for non-matriculated students

2021 – COVID-19 pandemic continues

  • Classes continue in a virtual format through Spring 2021
  • March 2021, Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway announces full return to campus for Fall 2021, with robust plans to protect the safety and health of our students, faculty, staff, and host communities.
  • September 2021, Bloustein School reopens with 75% of classes (graduate and undergraduate) operating as in-person or virtual-hybrid, offering one of the highest percentages across the university

2022 – Piyushimita (Vonu) Thakuriah steps down as Dean, effective Jan. 2022; Stuart Shapiro appointed Interim Dean

  • COVID-19 pandemic continues with rise of Omicron variant; Rutgers reopens spring semester in temporary virtual mode through January 30.
  • Rutgers and Bloustein School return fully in-person for September 2022
  • Bloustein School 30th anniversary year commences September 1, 2022

2023 – Stuart Shapiro appointed as Dean, effective April 21, 2023.

  • Undergraduate minor in Disability Studies is established


Civic Square Building - Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy

The Civic Square Building

Since 1995, the Bloustein School has been located in the Civic Square Building in downtown New Brunswick. The construction of the Bloustein School’s home realized Dr. Bloustein’s vision that Rutgers University would one day occupy a physical position in the cultural and economic hub of New Brunswick, New Jersey, the host city of Rutgers’ flagship campus.

One of the state’s most significant areas for education, health care, and the arts, New Brunswick is home to Rutgers’ historic Old Queen’s campus; Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Saint Peter’s University Hospital, and the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. The Bloustein School itself is located in New Brunswick’s thriving cultural area, with The State Theater of New Jersey and the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center just steps away. Downtown New Brunswick offers something for every taste through a spicy menu of restaurants and entertainment venues.

The Civic Square Building epitomized public-private partnership during the city’s redevelopment in 1995, and was financed by nearly equal investments from Rutgers University and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, through the Port Authority’s mandate to promote economic and commercial redevelopment in the region.

The Bloustein School operates state-of-the-art computer laboratories used for both instruction and research. The school’s computing facilities include a main lab, a smaller “information gateway,” and dedicated studio classroom space. The two computer laboratories house 75 computer work stations for students to run software for geoprocessing, statistics, big data analysis, and graphic design.

The computer laboratory is used for graduate class instruction, workshops sponsored by the various centers affiliated with the school, and for professional continuing education. Research projects carried out in the laboratory include student projects, doctoral research analysis, and applied GIS grants and contracts.

The school has also invested over $350,000 in renovations which added an additional 25 workstations and created five “smart classrooms.” Smart classrooms and seminar/conference rooms at the school all feature wireless internet connections and ceiling-mounted projectors with PC, audio and video hook-ups.