► Graduate School Rules apply to this program
Program Information: Ann Komara
The master of urban design (MUD) is an intensive, calendar year, post-professional degree program for students already holding a first professional degree in architecture, landscape architecture or urban and regional planning (e.g., BArch, BLA, MArch, MLA or MCRP/MURP or equivalents). The interdisciplinary program uses Denver as an urban laboratory but the globe as a reference, educating future designers about the unique place the city holds in addressing the critical problems of our time.
The program began in 1969 and counts several hundred alumni practicing around the world. Our student body is extremely diverse, with recent students from Bangladesh, China, Colombia, India, Iran, Japan, Libya and Saudi Arabia. These students join our domestic students to examine contemporary urbanism and design practice through an interdisciplinary, studio-based curriculum taught by a multi-disciplinary faculty. Coursework is capped off by the International Studio held each summer; in past years we have explored China’s rapidly urbanizing Shanghai-Nanjing corridor and the dense central neighborhood of Copenhagen, Denmark.
The program is organized around three central themes reinforced by core studios and seminars:
We take a holistic approach to designing the livable city. Since more than half the world’s population lives in cities, with that number set to increase to two-thirds by 2030, we must anticipate the ecological impacts of our design decisions. In preparation for a post-carbon era, we address concerns related to climate change, energy usage, public health, food production and resource availability through an integrated approach to the design of urban settlements. Our students re-imagine and re-interpret urban systems - from transportation networks to hydrological systems to zoning codes to social movements - with the goal of creating cities that are at once socially just, economically diverse and ecologically resilient. These challenges are unprecedented and must be urgently addressed: we believe that urban designers are best positioned to meet them head on.
We believe urban designers must recognize the interrelated local and global impacts of their actions and understand the interdisciplinary nature of urban problems. We address design issues at all scales, from the individual public space to the neighborhood, city, region, nation and world. This ecological approach acknowledges that all sites are embedded within larger systems, a concept we engage in all our studios. In the fall and spring, students examine the Denver metropolitan area, a progressive, yet prototypical, urban laboratory experiencing significant growth and development and home to every urban condition imaginable, from dense downtown infill to sprawling edge cities to the New Urbanism-inspired Stapleton airport brownfield redevelopment. The Front Range is a national leader in design and planning innovation, as represented by the multi-billion dollar FasTracks transit project, Denver’s groundbreaking new citywide form-based code, Boulder’s open space acquisition policies and energy municipalization effort, Arvada’s GEOS net-zero energy neighborhood, and Fort Collins’ closed-loop brewery-oriented development. Students apply the skills and knowledge gained in their local study in the summer term in a joint studio set in either the Shanghai-Nanjing corridor with faculty and students from the nation’s top schools of architecture and design at Tongji University and Southeast University or in the dense urban core of Copenhagen, Denmark with faculty and students at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS).
We train our students to become critical, reflective professionals with a deep understanding of urban design theory and practice. All our graduates possess knowledge of contemporary urban thinking as well as exceptional technical, verbal and graphic communication skills. Our curriculum is informed by innovations in current practice: we undertake real projects with real clients, and all studios are taught by leading practitioners from the top design firms in the region. Each year, we bring in a renowned practitioner-in-residence to teach a core course, give lectures, ans serve as a juror in all MUD studios. To address the most complex social-ecological problems of our time, we see high demand for graduates who possess multiple talents, a broad understanding of urban planning, architecture, landscape, real estate development, and urban politics and economics, and the ability to work not only with design professionals but also engineers, policy makers, environmental scientists and the public. Students take collaborative, multidisciplinary studios with all College of Architecture and Planning students in an environment that more accurately reflects professional practice, with shorter studios, team projects and design charrettes. Importantly, our MUD Internship Program aims to place all incoming students into an internship with the region’s top design firms. Participating firms have included: AECOM, Civitas, Design Workshop, Norris Design, RNL Design, OZ Architecture, studioINSITE and Tryba Architects. College units including the Colorado Center for Community Development (CCCD) frequently hire MUD students as research assistants (RAs) and the departments of Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Planning and Design often hire teaching assistants (TAs) from our incoming MUD students.
Students are required to hold a first professional degree in architecture, landscape architecture or urban and regional planning (e.g., BArch, BLA, MArch, MLA, MURP/MUP or equivalents).
The master of urban design admissions committee accepts applications for fall semester entry. The program does not allow entry to the program in any spring semester. Although the MUD program has a rolling admission process, the priority deadline is March 15. Applications will be reviewed on a space-available basis until June 30.
Pre-professional students can enter the MUD with advanced standing by first earning a professional master’s degree in the College of Architecture and Planning. For more information on the MArch+MUD, MLA+MUD or MURP+MUD, visit the college website.
The requirements the admissions committee considers are:
Evidence of a professional degree (BArch, BLA, MArch, MLA, MURP/MUP or equivalent)
At least a 3.2 undergraduate or graduate cumulative GPA
- Your statement of purpose (which should include your educational and professional goals)
- Résumé (which describes your educational and professional background)
A portfolio that includes:
- Examples of student or professional projects
- A list of courses that you have taken that relate to design and planning
- A writing sample from previous professional or academic work
- Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores if available (not required for admission)
- A separate statement indicating whether you would like to participate in the MUD Internship Program
- English language proficiency scores are required for international applicants when English is not their first language. Please see International Admissions website for current minimum score requirements.
The requirements for the postprofessional master of urban design (MUD) degree depend on your current standing and educational background. The basic study plan is a 36-semester-hour plan that includes two elective courses. Students obtaining a first professional degree in the University of Colorado Denver College of Architecture and Planning may receive up to 12 semester hours of advanced standing.