Development Plan 2018-2023 

Graduate School of Planning
Dr. Salvador M. Padilla Escabí
University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras


The University of Puerto Rico Graduate School of Planning (GSP), founded in 1965, is the oldest planning school in Latin America. It is the only APA-accredited institution in Puerto Rico, and a leader in teaching and applied research on planning in the island. The GSP Masters in Planning Program focuses on fostering an integral and multidisciplinary education of its students promoting intellectual curiosity, critical thinking capacity, continuous learning, effective communication, and appreciation for and cultivation of ethical values, social awareness and social responsibility.  The Program provides a graduate professional education of the highest level, whose key elements are research and creation of new knowledge to solve needs and problems, and training of professionals of the highest caliber, committed to the ideals and values of Puerto Rican society. The Program also develops innovative, relevant initiatives for research and development of community services, contributes to the transformation and continuing progress of Puerto Rican society, analyzes the socio-economic and political problems of the Island, and formulates solutions to these problems, in order to improve quality of life.

GSP´s uniqueness lays in its professional program offering as the only two-year Master degree in Planning in Spanish within territories of the United States of America. The natural market area for this program is PR, the Caribbean Basin and all of Latin America.

This GSP Development Plan is an extract of the GSP Development Plan tables submitted to the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research in 2018.  It draws from GSP’s Self-Study Report for the Planning Accreditation Board 2017 recommendations, and needs of the GSP.

The revision process of this Strategic Plan was part of the Faculty meetings and agreements. Student representatives were part of the meetings as well.  Input from the rest of the faculty was then gathered after circulating drafts of the plan through email and at faculty meetings.

This Development Plan begins by laying out the current Mission and Vision of the school, revised in 2014. The Plan then sets out goals for the GSP that are consistent with, and specifically derive from, the Program’s Mission and Vision. The Development Plan goals are also aligned with the University of Puerto Rico’s own strategic plans, as laid out in two documents, UPR-Rio Piedras Plan Compromiso 2018-2023 and Plan Estratégico de la Universidad de Puerto Rico.[1]


The GSP Mission and Vision, revised in 2014, are as follows:


To train Planning professionals with the theoretical and technical knowledge required to exercise an ethical and effective professional practice, with a strong scientific and historical foundation, creative, related to integral and territorial ordinance planning, to the diverse fields, themes and scales in which the practice is organized, and to the collective decision-making necessary to advance the common interest and foster sustainable development.

To advance knowledge aimed at strengthening the Planning discipline and its applications through interdisciplinary research that integrates theory and practice and synthesizes the knowledge necessary to improve Planning processes and policy, plan, program and project evaluation.


An interdisciplinary professional Planning program demonstrating excellence in academic and applied research, contributing to both discipline and practice, having a significant impact on public sector management, and enjoying recognition in the Caribbean, Latin America and the United States. The program is committed to preparing highly trained Planning professionals with problem solving, analytical and communication skills, sensitized in critical thinking and innovation, with the possibility of developing distinguished careers in the public and private sector as well as non-profit organizations in Puerto Rico and abroad.


GSP Strengths

  • GSP belongs to the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) which is a comprehensive, research institution with 55 master programs.
  • Since 2008 the EGP has new spacious and comfortable facilities that provide an excellent environment for education and research. It also has a fully-equipped, state-of-the-art computer and GIS laboratory.
  • Recent recruitment of two new professors in the areas of environmental planning.
  • Large number of student research assistantships from both institutional funds and external grants.
  • Faculty collaborations with external planning related initiatives such as APA´s Davidoff´s Award Winner Enlace Project from the Caño Martín Peña, Imagine Santurce, Puerto Rico Model Forest, Puerto Rico Conservation Trust and Xplorah, CAUCE, Big Ideas Challenge, Hazard Mitigation Program from FEMA, US Geological Survey, CMTAS, Inc., Enterprise Communities, Inc., Puerto Rico Science and Technology Trust, as well as government agencies.
  • Student internship program with federal, state, municipal government and NGOs in the island and abroad.
  • Continued collaboration with USA universities through joint research projects has rendered good results.
  • The GSP program’s focus is consistent with the view of professional practice as stated in PR Law 160-1996 and the licensing requirements enacted therein.
  • GSP has projected its presence in the Caribbean Region and Latin America by faculty participation in conferences, congresses and teaching at universities or community organizations.
  • The GSP has organized international conferences with strong participation of scholars from Latin America.
  • The uniqueness of the GSP lays in that its professional program offers the only two-year MA degree in Planning, in Spanish.
  • Student enrollment hast been stabilized and showed increase during the last years even with loss of students’ tendency at the Campus.

GSP Weaknesses

  • Limited faculty peer reviewed publications
  • Access to library resources
  • Rigid structure for final planning project which delays completion of degree
  • Lack of adequate coverage of social and economic planning areas in the curriculum
  • Time-to-degree is greater than two years for full-time students
  • GSP has yet to fully implement an assessment system that captures academic and institutional components
  • Limited resources for outreach and student recruitment
  • 30% of GSP faculty have retired during the last five years
  • Limited presence in social media

GSP Opportunities

  • Availability of infrastructure presents opportunities for increased intra- and inter-university collaborations through, for instance, visiting scholar programs that attract highly qualified academics to GSP for a defined period of time
  • The need for supporting graduates in their preparation for local planning license exam
  • Interest from other universities and international institutions to undertake collaborative agreements with GSP
  • Intramural Practice Program from the UPR system provides administrative support to undertake professional and research projects with external funding
  • Potential demand for a Planning degree in Spanish that is PAB accredited
  • Development of interdisciplinary programs with other graduate programs within the UPR system
  • Development of research specialization on coastal management and climate change
  • Increased use of social media as a main social diffusion platform

GSP Threats

  • Overall economic crisis in Puerto Rico results in a reduction in employment opportunities for our graduates as well as research opportunities
  • Central government programmed a decrease in funding for the UPR system by $500,000,000 over the next five years or a 30% decrease total by 2023
  • Other private universities offer graduate programs with fewer requirements
  • Administrative changes within the university system almost every four years
  • Limited institutional support from UPRRP for monitoring alumni development after graduation
  • Long and cumbersome curricular and new program approvals by UPRRP
  • Limited institutional funding and general support for research


The Plan then sets out main strategic goals for the GSP that are consistent with the Program’s Mission and Vision and are aligned with the University of Puerto Rico’s own strategic framework.

Goal 1. Provide an academic program of excellency in Planning

Objective 1.1. Develop and implement a Faculty Recruitment Plan for new faculty in order to comply with the requirement of the Planning Accreditation Board for having an adequate and sufficient number of faculty members.

Objective 1.2. Distribute adequately the academic and research loads among faculty with the purpose of supporting their publication of peer reviewed research papers.

Objective 1.3. Demand efficiency and effectiveness to the Institution for the request as well as execution of research projects.

Objective 1.4. Establish agreements to do research with research centers in UPR.

Objective 1.5. Submit proposals for external funding for research and    service.

Objective 1.6. Develop an Academic Post-Graduate Certificate on Disaster Planning.

Objective 1.7. Develop two hybrid courses every semester.

Objective 1.8. Offer hybrid courses for the Disaster Planning Certificate  after one year of its implementation.

Objective 1.9. Develop a pilot seminar for students of GSP for preparing them for taking the professional planner license exam in Puerto Rico.

Objective 1.10. Develop new strategies for student mentorship.

Objective 1.11. Establish a marketing plan for recruitment of new students.

Objective 1.12. Complete and submit with General Studies a proposal for a five-year accelerated bachelors and master of planning  degrees joint program.

Objective 1.13. Complete and submit a proposal for development of a joint program with Geography for a five-year accelerated bachelors and master of planning degrees.

Objective 1.14. Establish double title programs with the Law School, Architecture and Public Administration.

Goal 2. Increase GSP impact on public policy and professional practice

Objective 2.1. Offer courses about planning processes and techniques that include collaboration with CAUCE and other entities in Río Piedras

Objective 2.2. Establish and promote a program on community services related to planning through professors’ service, Center for Coastal Research and Planning, GSP Computer Lab and  academic work of students.

Objective 2.3. Establish partnerships with government institutions for collaboration.

Objective 2.4. Participate in public hearings or comment law projects every  year.

Objective 2.5. Request, win and execute at least one research or service project successfully every year.

Objective 2.6. Pursue at least one project that results in an increase in visibility of the School, and promotes greater external funds.

Objective 2.7. Sign at least two collaborative agreements to offer service and gain external funding from the government.

Objective 2.8. Create a GSP student chapter at the Puerto Rican Planning  Society.

Objective 2.9. Develop, promote and offer continued education courses.


Adopted by the Graduate School of Planning on October 31, 2018.

[1] Plan Estratégico del Recinto de Río Piedras Compromiso 2018-2023,

Plan de la Universidad de Puerto Rico 2017-2021

Última actualización / Last Updated on junio 2, 2023