Master of Urban Design

UVA's Master of Urban Design is a post-professional educational opportunity that gives students the ability to work closely with faculty and peers across interdisciplinary expertise to address the critical real-world urban challenges through innovative research and transformative design practices.


The Master of Urban Design (MUD) is a new 3-semester, 45-credit hour, post-professional non-accredited degree program at the UVA School of Architecture that addresses contemporary questions of urbanization. Recognizing the urban as a dynamic, evolving construct and a space of collective citizenry, the city for us is a verb — rooted in action and participation, complexity and potential. Defined as a bridge discipline and a critical catalytic link across different professions, Urban Design at UVA draws together and transcends the traditional disciplines of Architecture, Urban Planning, and Landscape Architecture to address current urban challenges, to serve broad community needs, and to participate in the dynamics of the urban condition. The breadth and depth of our interdisciplinary faculty expertise teach students to push disciplinary boundaries while providing a strong mission-focused foundation, across scholarship, design, technology, society, and practice.



***We are currently not accepting graduate applications for Fall 2025 for the Master of Urban Design Program (1.5 year post-professional degree), including dual degree applicants.***

Why Study Urban Design at UVA?

Urban Design Now

We are living in a critical moment in human history. With most of the world’s population now living in urban areas and an expected substantial increase of the world’s urban population by 2050, urban design is at the center of addressing so many of today’s most pressing spatial, economic, environmental, and social challenges. From rapid population growth and mass urbanization to environmental degradation and the impacts of climate change, from questions of social justice and urban inequities to housing affordability and accessibility to shared public space, urban designers are leaders and change-makers who are envisioning and shaping sustainable, just, and resilient urban environments for our future. 


The post-professional Master of Urban Design program at the UVA School of Architecture embodies an in-depth interdisciplinary and multi-scale approach and takes advantage of the School’s existing expertise to synthesize knowledge and skills drawn from all our disciplines, and grounded in spatial literacy. Our students are part of a collaborative community of internationally recognized faculty and an energetic, talented, and culturally diverse student body. The program prepares graduates as future leaders, critical scholars, innovative urban designers, and mission-focused change-makers who develop advanced skills and knowledge to address the contemporary challenges of our constructed environments.


Linked to the Next Cities Institute, our students are directly engaged with urban design research projects that provide opportunities to apply theory and experimentation in specific conditions and contexts. Our research-focused program gives our students a chance to participate in the dynamic conditions of the urban as active citizens — to work with community members and to learn from their lived experience. Our work is diverse, in scope and geography, with projects in India, Brazil, the Arctic, China, and many other global sites, that address the paradigm shifts of planetary urbanization, environmental degradation, and the digital revolution.


We welcome students from diverse academic backgrounds and professional experiences with a desire to make a positive impact on the built environment. As a student, you have the opportunity to take advantage of UVA’s strong history as a renowned research university, with nationally and internationally ranked programs, distinguished faculty, and robust resources.

The Master of Urban Design program welcomes applicants with a professional degree in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and/or Urban Planning. Applicants with a 4-year non-professional degree in Architecture or Landscape Architecture and experience in design practice can be admitted based on portfolio review and by the decision of the Urban Design admission committee.

The diverse scholarly and professional backgrounds of our students and faculty enrich our educational environment in the post-professional MUD program. Applicants with a previous Urban Design Certificate from UVA and a degree in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, or Urban and Environmental Planning from UVA are eligible for advanced placement.


The 1.5 year, post-professional Master in Urban Design [MUD] is 45 credits. Students complete 15 credits per semester, starting in the fall semester. Graduates with a previous Urban Design Certificate from UVA are accepted with advanced standing and can complete the program in 1 year, completing a curriculum of 30 credits.

The first-semester sequence establishes a common ground for all MUD students who are entering the post-professional program coming from diverse disciplinary backgrounds. In the first semester, students learn to synthesize analytical, theoretical and design skills to address questions of coastal resilience and environmental justice. An open elective allows students to explore individual interests and research agendas.

  • UD 8010 Foundation Studio [6 credits]

  • UD 8611 Urban Analysis and Technology [3 credits]

  • Restricted Elective* [3 credits]

  • Open Elective [3 credits]

*Restricted elective seminars are offered in every semester and have three different focus areas: 

  • Urban Climate Ecology and Environment [3 credits]

  • Global Territories and Social Justice [3 credits]

  • Urban Economy and Spatial Policies [3 credits]

Students can choose among multiple seminars listed in these categories that are taught at the School of Architecture and across Grounds in other Departments and Schools. Over the three semesters of the degree program, students must have taken a course in each of the three focus areas. Restricted electives can also count as open electives.

For the second-semester curriculum students contribute to the Next Cities Research initiative. Embedded into a network of international partners in Europe, Asia, and the Americas, as well as NGOs and governmental organizations, students explore questions of global urbanization processes in their studio project. The studio is linked to travel opportunities and interdisciplinary design workshops with national and international partners. Two core seminars and a restricted elective will help students to further synthesize urban theory and explore a range of urban design strategies.

  • UD 8020 Research Studio Next Cities [6 credits]

  • UD 8614 Urban Strategies and Engagement [3 credits]

  • UD 8612 Urban History and Theory [3 credits]

  • Restricted Elective* [3 credits]

The third, and final, semester is built around individual design research. Students may choose to pursue an independent urban design thesis or take an advanced research studio from a wide range of elective studios offered by the School of Architecture. Open electives allows students to explore urban design classes offered across UVA Grounds and to investigate work related to their thesis interest.

  • UD 8030 Thesis Studio [6 credits] or ALAR 8010 Research Studio [6 credits]

  • Restricted Elective* [3 credits]

  • Open Elective Thesis Research** [3 credits]

  • Open Elective [3 credits]

** Students must dedicate one of the open electives to support their thesis research or research studio.

Some individual adjustments to the degree program curriculum are possible.  For example, the semester in which a student takes restricted electives and/or open electives could be adjusted from the curricular path outlined above, but all changes need to be discussed with the MUD Director during the enrollment period.

Students enrolled in the MUD program must consult UVA's Graduate Record for the official requirements.

Got it!

This website uses anonymous cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our use of analytical and performance tracking.
We do not sell or share any personally identifying information. More info