Our curriculum balances a strong, comprehensive set of core courses with a self-directed path through a wide range of elective choices.
Unique Program Features
Integrated throughout our program are four distinguishing features:
In our program, students have the ability to craft an education suited to their career goals and personal interests. Beyond the required core curriculum, students may choose any combination of elective courses, whether oriented towards one of our three Program Initiatives, a traditional specialization, or a generalist survey of the planning field.
Throughout our program, students have significant opportunities to gain hands-on planning experience and have direct interaction with Colorado’s planning professionals. We use Denver’s diverse urban landscape as a real-world classroom for students to experience and analyze the built environment.
Physical Planning and Design:
We emphasize physical planning and design throughout our curriculum. Housed within the College of Architecture and Planning, we work closely with the College’s Architecture, Urban Design, Landscape Architecture, and Historic Preservation programs.
Innovative Planning Technologies:
We integrate innovative planning technologies into many of our program’s courses and activities. We capitalize on the Denver region’s entrepreneurial spirit and tech-focused economy by providing access to state-of-the-art planning technologies and teaching students how these tools can support the planning process.
Our focus is on teaching students how to address critical issues and to solve the complex problems facing cities and regions today. In order for planners to take the lead in the city-building process, they need to understand the breadth of their field and know how to work in cross-disciplinary teams. By structuring our whole program—research, curriculum, faculty and student efforts, etc.—around issue areas, which we call Initiatives, we encourage broad understanding and creative problem-solving, rather than professional silos. The MURP Program’s three Initiatives represent issues at the forefront of the planning profession today, and are also topics that are particularly prominent in Denver and Colorado.
The link between human health and the built environment has become a key factor in planning cities and regions. Colorado is known for its physically fit and active adult population, but our vulnerable populations face significant challenges such as childhood obesity, disconnected neighborhoods, and lack of access to healthy food. Colorado has become a national leader in finding ways to plan and design healthier environments, and the MURP Program’s Healthy Communities Initiative is part of that effort. We work with partners at the local, state and federal levels, as well as the non-profit, educational and private sectors, to provide students comprehensive and interdisciplinary training in the tools, innovations and policies necessary for creating physically, socially and economically healthy communities.
After decades of suburbanization, segregated land uses, and automobile-dependent development, the US is now experiencing a resurgence of traditional urbanism and a reorientation toward central cities. Nowhere else is that phenomenon more evident than in Denver, where infill and transit-oriented development, historic preservation, adaptive reuse, and multi-modal transport are transforming the urban landscape. The MURP Program’s Urban Revitalization Initiative gives students opportunities to engage with local developers, planners, designers and policymakers to help revive and enhance established cities, retrofit the suburbs, and plan sustainable new developments.
Climate change, environmental degradation, resource scarcity, and sprawling development present critical challenges to planners worldwide. In the Rocky Mountain West, the impacts are evident in habitat loss, wildfire risk, and conflicts over water and energy resources, among others. The MURP Program’s Regional Sustainability Initiative explores ways that Colorado and its neighbors can tackle these issues together. At the metropolitan level, Denver and its adjacent communities already serve as a model for regional planning and cooperation, exemplified by the visionary FasTracks transit program. Our Initiative draws on Denver’s success in regional land use, transportation, economic development and resource planning to help students understand how built and natural environments can co-exist more sustainably at various regional scales.
Completing the MURP degree requires 54 credit hours, comprised of 36 credits of required “core” courses and 18 credits of elective courses. (Six of the 36 required credit hours represent a self-directed Capstone project or thesis.) Most full-time students complete the program in two years, while other students complete the program at a slower or part-time pace.
New students begin the program of study in the fall semester. Full-time students typically take approximately 12 credit hours per semester; taking more than 15 is generally ill-advised. Students are strongly encouraged to primarily take core courses during their first year of study. With the exception of the studio and capstone courses, most core courses are offered only one semester per year so it is important to pay attention to the scheduling to ensure your desired graduation date.
We encourage students to view their planning education through a fresh perspective aimed at a planning goal or agenda, rather than a “job description.” However, we also recognize that some students may want their MURP degree to focus along a traditional specialization, such as Transportation Planning or Economic Development. To ensure all our students have the educational experience they are seeking, we provide exceptional coverage across many traditional topics of specialization.
Given the self-directed nature of the MURP program, students are highly encouraged to seek advice on their curriculum path and career direction from an academic advisor. New students are assigned a faculty advisor, but are free to choose their own as they proceed through the program.
Students should work with their advisor to maintain and complete a MURP Program Planning Form. It is a useful tool for planning the student’s progress through the program and ensuring that all graduation requirements have been fulfilled.
Students with prior education in urban planning may qualify for advanced standing. Up to 9 credits of course waivers may be granted when the prior coursework meets prescribed level, content and quality thresholds. To be awarded advanced standing, the student must complete a waiver form and provide documentation of their prior coursework; all waivers must be approved in writing by the Department Chair.