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Land Use and Environmental Planning Certificate Program

Planning professionals come from a variety of backgrounds—social science, natural science, engineering and even the humanities, facilities and interior design. Regardless of your background, the UC Davis Extension Land Use and Environmental Planning Certificate Program will give you the foundation you need to master the body of knowledge every planner should have. Through theory and practice, this program delivers—addressing practical aspects of planning in the context of larger issues, future implications of present decisions and processes for examining alternatives.

About the program:

Gain practical knowledge that matters

  • Broaden your conceptual framework in planning.
  • Develop ideas, strategies and skills for more effective job performance.
  • Learn to work more effectively within the increasingly complex regulatory and environmental context of planning.
  • Improve your ability to solve problems and work with a wide range of constituencies.
  • Network with other professionals.
  • Gain comprehensive knowledge you can apply immediately.

Designed for professionals like you

This program is designed for planners, resource managers, administrators and analysts who desire a broader, deeper understanding of the field. It is also ideal for planning commissioners and other decision-makers who want to add to their civic responsibilities foundation. Professionals in related fields such as real estate, engineering, landscape architecture, law, public health, facility management and those wanting to learn more about planning will also benefit.

Program Requirements:

To earn the certificate

You must complete 20 units of required core coursework and eight elective courses with grades of "C" or better.

Eight elective courses are required from Land Use and Natural Resources offerings. Must receive a grade of "C" or better for the course to apply to the certificate. Courses are selected by the participant to allow exploration of a broad range of topics or to concentrate on a particular area, such as CEQA and environmental regulation, subdivision, zoning or planning issues. Please check with the Land Use and Natural Resources department at (530) 757-8878 to be sure the course you are interested in qualifies as an elective in this certificate program as some restrictions do apply.

Quarterly schedule of courses

Financial Aspects of PlanningC
Planning in California: Overview and UpdateC
Environmental Planning and Site AnalysisC
Planning and Environmental LawC
Urban Planning and Design StudioC
Community Involvement and Communication in PlanningC
F=Fall W=Winter SP=Spring SU=Summer; Schedules subject to change.
O = Online C = Classroom OC = Online and Classroom H = Hybrid

Required Courses

4 quarter units academic credit X432.4

Gain an understanding of how planning decisions impact the economic feasibility of a proposed project for the developer and the public agency.

Topics include:

  • Fiscal impact analysis: how it's done and why it's so important
  • How local governments get their revenues
  • Public financing: why it's needed and what alternatives are available
  • Integrating fiscal and financial analysis into the planning process
  • The developer's perspective: How planning decisions affect the bottom line
  • Striking a balance between the goals and objectives of public and private-sector participants

Approximately 20 hours of study and full attendance to all course meetings are required. A course assignment will be mailed four weeks before the course begins, which you are required to complete before the first day of class.

This course is not currently scheduled.
4 quarter units academic credit X432.1

Learn the concepts, structures and processes of land use planning and development decisions. This four-day course delivers an overview of general plans, zoning ordinances, subdivision regulation, permit processes, property rights, environmental review, public finance, natural resources and urban design. The instructor and guest presenters place these topics in wider contexts, valuable for both experienced planners who need a review and others who want solid introductions.

By the end of the course, the participants will:

  • Understand the basic legal tools of land use planning and decision making.
  • Be able to apply those tools to specific problems facing California communities.
  • Understand the connections among land use, public finance and governance.
  • Demonstrate insight into how public policies affect land uses.
This course is not currently scheduled.
4 quarter units academic credit X432.3

Examine the major components of physical planning and site design as they relate to achieving planning objectives. Review regional landscape analysis, physical and man-made factor analysis, and watershed and program analysis. Special focus is given to analyzing site suitability and sensitivity for development, site selection and feasibility studies and conceptual design that responds to site conditions.

  • Develop an understanding of how to conduct site opportunity and constraint analysis that contribute to good land use decisions.
  • Understand the basic natural and cultural components of a site and region and how these components are interrelated.
  • Achieve basic skills necessary to evaluate and compare the value of mapped data.
  • Acquire critical thinking skills to be able to use complex data, synthesize information and select that which is most significant for decision making.
  • Learn graphic methods of compiling, recording and displaying information on environmental, cultural and economic factors. 
  • Understand the value and importance that analysis of the natural and the manmade environment have in planning, design and environmental decision-making.

The first session covers a historic overview of environmental planning and site planning and design process, including several mapping exercises. The second session covers elements of site analysis, an overview of design philosophies and movements, and a site visit in Davis to apply the information to an actual project.  The third session addresses laws, regulations and codes, and the fourth session includes a tour of Village Homes and discussion of sustainable planning and design factors.

Approximately 20 hours of outside class project work and full attendance at all course meetings are required.

This course is not currently scheduled.
3 quarter units academic credit X432.8

Gain a general understanding of planning and environmental law, policy and institutions at both the micro and macro levels. Learn to read and “brief” a judicial opinion, work with lawyers and develop an integrated land use/environmental permitting strategy. 

Students will receive both the knowledge and practical skills to successfully navigate the legal framework in their chosen planning and environmental careers. The course first reviews the various sources of planning and environmental law, including common law, statutes and regulations, the public trust doctrine and judicial case law. It then provides students with a working understanding of:

  • Land use law requirements, including statutory and case law requirements for the General Plan, zoning and subdivisions
  • Constraints on land use regulation, including vested rights, takings and other constitutional constraints
  • The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
  • Requirements of selected environmental/natural resource programs, including water quality, wetlands regulation, air quality, fish and wildlife regulation and climate change
  • Effective land use and environmental permitting
This course is not currently scheduled.
3 quarter units academic credit X432.6

Receive hands-on practice in professional urban planning and design skills in a studio/lecture format. Immerse yourself in planning and design principles, examples and case studies for today's communities. Critique land use plans and site designs, create and prepare site plans, and analyze and develop planning staff reports. Emphasis is placed on urban infill and sustainable community design, and the challenges and complexities of planning and urban design in growing communities. In-class studio work and critique, as well as guest lectures, a hands-on downtown design modeling charrette and field visits are also included. There will be a minimum of 24 hours of planning and design work conducted outside of class.

Sections of this course open for enrollment:
2 quarter units academic credit X432.7

Understand the theoretical background and the hands-on practice of involving stakeholders in urban planning and design decisions and natural resources policy. Practice selected communication and facilitation techniques that create mutually beneficial solutions. Examine how to assess a case situation and determine what type of public process is right for each situation. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of techniques used in public involvement. Explore different approaches to communicating complex and technical planning information to community groups. Using several simulated negotiations, engage as stakeholders or facilitators to resolve complex public policy problems in urban planning. Examine case studies and analyze what went well, what went wrong and why.

Sections of this course open for enrollment:


In addition to the six core classes, eight electives are required to complete the program. Any one-day or longer class from the following subject areas are pre-approved as electives in the Land Use and Environmental Planning Certificate.