Portland Planning Diversity Awards (PPDA)

The Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning is pleased to offer Portland Planning Diversity Awards for students in the Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program. The purpose of these awards is to attract and support outstanding students from diverse backgrounds and experiences, including racial and ethnic backgrounds that are traditionally underrepresented in graduate urban planning programs. Additional goals of the PPDA are to facilitate the development of skills, connections, and professional pathways for diverse MURP students, and to expand the pipeline of diverse, emerging planning talent available to employers in the Portland planning community.

Two Types of Awards:

  • Two-year funding commitments made at the time of admission to the MURP program, typically to three students per incoming MURP cohort (see application procedure below);
  • One-year awards to incoming or continuing MURP students, subject to funding availability.

The PPDA functions like an externally-hosted Graduate Assistantship. Read more about Graduate Assistantships on the Graduate School's website. Each award entails a tuition waiver (up to 36 credits per academic year), partial fee waiver, and a monthly stipend (minimum $800/month) based on a paid position (minimum 12 hours/week, up to 19.5 hours/week) as a graduate assistant working off-campus with a local public agency or community partner during the academic year. The specific details of the placement vary by partner organization.

Beginning in 2021, one PPDA will be designated for Tony Lamb Racial Justice Fellowship, which focuses on internship placement with a Black- or Indigenous-led organization on planning-related projects promoting racial justice in the greater Portland community.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Prospective student who has applied for priority admission to the MURP program (two-year awards), or incoming or continuing MURP students enrolled full-time (9 credits or more) and in good academic standing with the PSU Graduate School (one-year awards).
  • Eligible for off-campus job placement. Due to visa restrictions on off-campus employment in the first year of the program, international students are not eligible for two-year PPDA awards, and eligible for one-year awards in their second year of the program only.

Selection Criteria:

Awards will be made to prospective MURP students who meet the eligibility requirements, submit a complete application, and best exemplify the goals of the Portland Planning Diversity Awards, including professional potential and contribution to the diversity of the MURP program and the planning profession. The committee is interested in multiple dimensions of applicants’ personal, academic and professional background and experience that would contribute toward a more diverse MURP student environment, including but not limited to: race/ethnicity, class/socioeconomic background (e.g., first-generation college students), educational background (e.g., attendance at a predominantly minority institution such as an HBCU or tribal college, or at a community/junior college), gender, sexual orientation, disability status, age, veteran status and life experiences. Priority will be given to individuals who have participated in Ronald E. McNair Scholars Programs as undergraduates.

Application Process:

All MURP applicants applying for Fall 2021 admission by the Priority deadline will receive a link to the PPDA application once their full application has been received. PPDA applications are due February 1st and two-year award notifications will be made when admissions decisions are announced, approximately by the end of March. PSU faculty will then work to connect PPDA awardees to their host employers in the subsequent months.

Applications for one-year PPDA awards will be accepted based on funding availability. All incoming and continuing MURP students will be notified when such positions are available.

Meet Some of Our PPDA Scholars:

  • Angelica Martinez, Graduating 2022
  • Asif Haque. Graduating 2022
  • Arva Hussain, Graduating 2021
  • Truong (Eric) Trinh, Graduating 2021
  • Walle Brown, Graduating 2020
  • Tony Lamb, Graduated 2018
  • Victor Tran, Graduated 2018
  • Karen Guillén-Chapman, Graduated 2016


Past and current PPDA hosts include:

  • Private firms, e.g. Cascadia Partners
  • Nonprofit organizations, e.g. Hacienda CDC
  • Government and quasi-governmental agencies, e.g. Portland Bureau of Development Services, Bureau of Environmental Services, Bureau of Planning & Sustainability, Housing Bureau, Metro, Port of Portland

Check out what one of our PPDA hosts from the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) says:

Every year BPS looks forward to the fresh perspective and surge of energy that comes along with our MURP interns. As leaders across the country in urban design, climate justice and equitable city growth, we are only as successful as the most vulnerable in our communities and work hard to invest in creative solutions to challenges. We rely on partnerships with programs like the Masters in Urban Planning department to stay connected to emerging theories in the field and plant the seeds for innovative ideas. In 2019 we hosted 3 interns each leading research projects, code drafting and other public involvement projects on land use plans. Their input contributed to more equitable processes by which bureau decisions are made and priorities are set. Our interns have been incredibly bright and professional and have brought much more to their roles than anticipated. BPS is committed to advancing racial equity in the bureau at all levels and will continue to invest in programming that supports students and creating more pathways into the field for professionals of color.

- Nikoyia Phillips (she/her/hers) is the equity and engagement strategist for the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS)

Find out more information on hosting a PPDA student. Interested? Contact Greg Schrock, MURP program coordinator, at gschrock@pdx.edu.