The Urban Design Certificate program is open to graduate students in any department of the School of Architecture who want to pursue an interdisciplinary program that focuses on the critical questions raised by planetary urbanization.

The four graduate departments – Architectural History, Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban + Environmental Planning – each offer unique contributions to the program.  The certificate is structured to synthesize concepts, methods and strengths across disciplines into new approaches to the design and planning of resilient cities and settlements.

Architects pursuing the urban design certificate will learn how an urban plan can orchestrate the interactions between buildings and the spaces between and around them. For landscape architects, the certificate will provide tools and strategies to enable them to negotiate the needs of urban development with the needs of local and regional ecosystems. Certificate courses will build spatial skills and design thinking for students from Urban and Environmental Planning. Students in History can gain concepts and strategies to help ensure that historic buildings and districts maintain or renew their vitality in a changing urban context. 


The Urban Design Certificate is comprised of nine credits in three required core courses; six credits in an urban design studio as designated by the program director and six credits of elective coursework.

Students wishing to enter the Urban Design Certificate Program must first be admitted to one of the graduate departments in the School of Architecture. Graduate students from departments other than Architecture and Landscape Architecture must have some design studio background prior to taking the required research studio. In order to ensure proper academic advising and program coordination, students interested in the Urban Design Certificate program should:

STEP 01: Upon arriving at UVA School of Architecture, file a program application form. This form can be obtained from the Office of Student Services and Academic Records, Campbell Hall 201.

STEP 02: Attend a program meeting at the start of the fall semester.

STEP 03: Work with the Program Director to develop a course plan to obtain the Urban Design certificate during your time as a graduate student.


Our Urban Design Certificate Program assumes the cities of the future will respond coherently to environmental challenges. Urban growth cannot continue unchecked without a clear strategy for responding to climate change and the difficulty of generating sufficient clean energy. This program proposes to use the need for energy as a tool for discovering how we can design new cities. Energy can help to establish new relationships between the land and the city.


Design and planning professionals understand the past in order to imagine the future. Our students work with faculty to investigate the histories and memories of a place, as well as the environmental and architectural actions that constitute a powerful catalyst of our contemporary urbanity. Our students invent new design strategies and tactics as much as design finished objects. By developing new open systems, our students are encouraged to understand the role of the ephemeral in the design process, while also keeping in mind the power of the material dimensions of the city. The Urban Design Certificate program focuses on discovering new tools of urban design. Our students respond during this unstable, delicate and provocative contemporaneous time period when our cities need to find a new relationship with the land, from the scale of site to that of the territory.

Satisfactory completion of the 21 credit hour program leads to the Urban Design certificate. Graduate students in the School will normally be able to complete the program requirements and earn the certificate within the time required for their graduate degree programs. It can be accomplished during the standard length of a professional degree by taking the urban design courses as one’s elective credits, or the certificate can be completed over an additional semester.