Sep 19, 2020  
2009-2010 Downtown Campus Catalog 
2009-2010 Downtown Campus Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Urban and Regional Planning MURP

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Students are expected to have achieved a basic level of computer literacy prior to enrollment, and should be familiar with PC or Apple operating systems. Acquiring some prior familiarity with digital visualization techniques is recommended for students who do not have a background in graphic communication. A higher level of proficiency is desirable for those seeking to emphasize the design elements of professional practice, most in evidence in our urban place-making concentration. Some assistance in attaining these skills may be provided in advance of the fall semester. Applicants are annually welcomed from virtually every field of prior study.

Program Requirements

The master of urban and regional planning is the college’s accredited degree for students intending to pursue careers in planning and in related fields across a wide spectrum of employmentniches both within and outside government.

  • With no advanced standing, candidates for the MURP degree must complete a minimum of 51 semester hours of graduate work, including all core courses (27 semester hours), a concentration (15 semester hours minimum) and additional electives (9 semester hours).Concentrations currently include: land use and environmental planning, economic and community development planning and urban placemaking.Students may also devise their own individual concentrations with an advisor’s approval.
  • Entering students who have engaged in the study or practice of planning elsewhere may petition the faculty prior or during their initial semester to determine whether any credit will be awarded or degree requirements relaxed as a result of these prior activities. A maximum of 9 semester hours of course work can be applied for advanced standing when such work was pursued at other institutions and meets prescribed level, content and quality thresholds.  Graduates of the college’s own BEnvd program are eligible for up to 15 semester hours of advanced standing.

New Entrants: Primers, Advising, Transfer Credit and the Plan of Study

The college and each of its departments provides an orientation prior to the start of fall classes.  The MURP program will, as it is able, be offering certain noncredit primer courses in advance of each fall semester’s onset. These would address such matters as rudimentary design skills, digital visualization and geographic information systems (GIS). Each entering student will be assigned an advisor, identified from the ranks of the regular continuing faculty during the initial days of the fall semester and the initial days of the spring semester for spring entrants. Each student is to meet with his/her assigned advisor in the first two weeks of the semester upon the onset of study. Each is to secure from his/her advisor a plan of study form.  The student, with the assistance of the advisor is to begin to pencil in core course selections, indicating in which semesters these would be taken. The student is to retain this form during his/her time of study, augmenting it as the plan of course selections unfolds in ensuing semesters. The faculty advisor is to note on this plan of study all approved waivers, noting whether or not a “waiver” is to be accompanied by the award of transfer credit. A waiver without credit simply releases the student from taking a particular core class, thereby freeing him/her to take other classes in its place. The plan of study, once completed, is to be submitted to the college office for inclusion in the student’s official student file after the onset of the last semester of study. This plan will be used by the department dhair, along with other information, to certify the student for eventual graduation. Students may opt to switch advisors as their study plans clarify. Some will necessarily wish to switch to a faculty member—often the faculty coordinator for the concentration the student has chosen if it is one of our three official concentrations—who is especially conversant with the student’s particular interests.

Advanced Standing

  • Entering students who earned the college’s bachelor of environmental design (BEnvd) degree offered on the CU Boulder campus, within five years prior to enrollment, and who have maintained a GPA of at least 3.0, will be admitted to the MURP with advanced standing.  Those who graduated still earlier may receive advanced standing at the discretion of the department chair, in consultation with the program faculty.
  • These students can earn the MURP degree after completing a minimum of 42 semester hours, which will include the core courses (less any waived due to prior study), an approved concentration and additional electives required to meet the overall credit requirement of 42.
  • Students holding the college’s BEnvd degree who also have completed, in this study, the undergraduate planning option with a GPA of at least 3.0 (and with a grade of at least 3.0 in ENVD 4320, Planning Studio III) will, in addition, receive a waiver with credit for URP 6630, Planning Studio I. These students will earn the MURP degree upon completion of a minimum of 36 semester hours, including 21 semester hours of core courses and an additional 15 semester hours in an approved concentration.

Total: 27 Hours

A thesis option (URP 6950, Thesis Research and Programming, and URP 6951, Thesis) is available primarily for students who are interested in pursuing more advanced academic training in planning or related fields. Thesis work will substitute for Studio II.

Areas of Concentration

Concentrations—whether official designated or self-devised — enable students to explore in depth an area of special interest. Concentrations are to be composed of 15 semester hours of study. Nine additional semester hours of electives beyond the concentration in the standard 51-semester hour program may be used to deepen study within the concentration or to branch out into other areas of interest.  The program supports three official concentrations: (1) land use and environmental planning, (2) urban place making, and (3) economic and community development planning. A set of foundation courses is identified in each concentration, plus additional supporting electives.  If the student opts to devise his/her own concentration this must be pursued under the guidance of a faculty member.  Each student so inclined is to prepare a one-page concentration statement that, upon an advisor’s approval, is to be retained in the student’s official university file.

  • Land Use and Environmental Planning emphasizes regulation of land uses and land development processes; management of transportation, infrastructure and other major public investments; and management of urban ecology, environmental quality and natural resources on both private and public lands. This concentration prepares students for plan-making and policy administration in urban neighborhoods, cities and counties, regions, open spaces and resource management areas. The curriculum focuses on practices and innovations in land use regulation; analytical methods including transportation modeling, land market evaluation, environmental impact analysis and use of decision support systems; administration of public policies and plans; management of negotiation and collaborative processes among diverse interest groups; and the politics of planning. Graduates take jobs in local, state and federal government, nonprofit organizations, consulting firms and the development industry.
  • Urban Place Making emphasizes the interrelations between physical design, urban morphology, land-use regulations and other forces such as market trends and regional policies shaping the urban environment and their impacts on quality of life. Curriculum focuses on providing the students with a special kind of expertise that combines design thinking and land-use planning within the dynamic context of city hall politics. The goal is to produce planners, working in the public or the private sector, who can effectively guide the physical form of urban development to serve the needs and desires of an increasingly diverse public while negotiating the realities and constraints of the real estate market and economic development goals of cities and communities. Graduates take jobs in local governments, nonprofit community organizations, consulting firms and the development industry.
  • Economic and Community Development Planning harnesses both the public and private sectors to fashion local economies able to support the essential needs of resident populations. The field of economic development features efforts to nurture, attract and retain firms that are suited to the fiscal, economic and environmental requirements, capacities and constraints of urban districts (e.g. neighborhoods, downtowns, industrial districts and mixed-use spaces such as TODs and the like), entire municipalities both small and large and multi-local regions. Economic development also concerns the cultivation of both human and social capital as it seeks to encourage an appropriately skilled resident workforce able to find work in both local and regional labor markets.

The field of community development features development from within. It encompasses the many means for engaging local residents and institutions, fostering democratic participation, formulating developmental plans that address residents’ most urgent needs and drawing together all parties whose involvement is essential for success. Our program stands apart in its determination to (1) join together these two distinct fields, (2) situate the economy within its essential “built,” social and environmental rubrics and (3) encourage a sufficiently broad, hence robust, conceptualization of the economy and its spatial and temporal development. This joint enterprise travels a continuum from smaller-scale project-based activities through strategic planning at the multi-local regional scale that has utility across the booms and busts of the regional business cycle.

Urban and community economic development specialists find work in localities, sub-state regions and state offices, as well as in quasi-public and private firms and institutions. They work with local residents, neighborhood and community organizations, community development corporations, various other nongovernmental organizations, consulting firms and, of course, in public agencies. For most, although hardly all such graduates, the primary career destination will be the local public sector. Those having this objective in mind should be aware that the bulk of such jobs will marry an appreciation of the rudiments of community economic development to some related physical planning specialty. Others seeking positions explicitly tied to the tasks of economic development are advised to consider opportunities at the municipal, state and federal levels—often set apart from offices devoted primarily to physical planning—with local and regional chambers of commerce, in the private development community and in strategic institutional and corporate planning and development.

Course Sequence

Applicants may be admitted for both the fall and spring semesters.  The schedule below posits a fall onset.  If study is commenced in the spring the student may not encounter Planning Methods I until the following fall, so Planning Methods would be deferred to the third semester of study since we now encourage students to take these in the numeric sequence.  Planning Issues and Processes is currently offered only in the fall and is the usual “door of entry” to the program.  It is possible however that we will move to offer sections of this course during both semesters. Students may take more than 12 semester hours of study and so may progress faster than the template below would indicate. Generally taking more than 15 hours is ill-advised.  Under some circumstances—and on a space-available basis—Studio I may be taken during the first semester of study.  Both Studio I and II are offered every semester, and additional sections will be added as demand warrants to preserve an acceptable class size.  We offer numerous courses beyond the core, and also designate additional options in other departments, elsewhere within our college and across the campus.

First Year


Total: 12 Hours

Total: 12 Hours

Second Year


Concentration Courses (9 semester hours)
Electives (6 semester hours)

Total: 12 Hours


Total: 12 Hours

* Both studios are offered in the fall and spring semesters.

Dual Degree Options

Students may enroll in dual degree programs with public administration (MURP+MPA), law (MURP+JD) and business (MURP+MBA). In addition, dual degree options are also available combining the MURP with landscape architecture (MLA) and architecture (MArch).  A new dual degree combining planning and public health (MURP+MPH) is under development combining strengths on both the Downtown and Anschutz Medical Campuses of UC Denver.  The dual degree with law combines study on UC Denver’s Downtown Campus and in the CU Boulder Law School.  Interested students should consult the college Web site for additional information regarding these options.  Overall, applicants to any dual option must apply to and gain separate admission to each degree program.  Once admitted the student can graduate from neither until the work is completed for both degrees.  Synergies enable a significant reduction in both the time and credit required to complete these pairings than would be needed if each were separately pursued.  If the student should opt to drop either member of the dual set, he/she must then fulfill the stand-alone requirements of the remaining degree.

Independent Study and Internships

MURP students may take up to 6 semester hours of independent study, after first assembling a plan of study with a member of the regular faculty. In addition, up to 3 semester hours of internship may be applied to the 51-semester-hour program.  Independent study entails individual study and research under the personal direction of a regular faculty member.  Such study may at times underpin subsequent thesis work, as previously described.  It is assigned a letter grade on completion.  Internships are a different matter.  These entail a “contract” for up to three semester hours of study, that involves a regular faculty member, the student and an area employer.  Students contemplating internship work should secure the appropriate “contract”’ template from the college office, prepare a synopsis of the intended work, secure a faculty mentor, gain his/her approval for the project and then secure the signatures of all three participants, providing a copy of this document to both the mentor and the employer.  The employer will subsequently prepare an evaluation of the student’s performance—using the appropriate evaluation form also to be secured from the college office—when the work is completed and submit this to the faculty mentor who will then assess the overall effort, review all “deliverables” on which the student may have worked, and then finally, assign a mark.  Internships are grades pass/fail.

Certificate Programs

The college offers official certificate programs in design build, geospatial information science and historic preservation. Consult our Web site for details on each of these. The first is more attuned to the requirements of architectural students, whereas the latter two could suffice—with the approval of the department chair—as a basis for a concentration satisfying the MURP concentration requirement. Some students may wish to augment their 51 semester MURP with additional course work in order to complete any one of these certificate programs.

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