The Master of Urban and Regional Planning Program at the University of Colorado Denver has evolved to become one of the strongest, most unique planning programs in the United States. We offer a very hands-on, real-world oriented program that uses Colorado as our classroom and engages students with top planning/design professionals and the community.
We believe that successful city building requires expertise, breadth, interdisciplinary understanding, and creativity. Our program looks beyond traditional professional silos and instead centers on issues at the forefront of planning practice. Our three Initiatives-Healthy Communities, Urban Revitalization, and Regional Sustainability-form the basis of our research, instruction, and community outreach.
We encourage all students to follow their passion and develop expertise in the areas that matter most to them. Thus, we offer a unique, self-directed curriculum that allows students to understand the breadth of the planning field while gaining the technical expertise demanded by the profession.
Our world-class faculty includes some of the most respected researchers in the planning field, and our award-winning planning practitioners bring a wealth of experience to the classroom. All of our faculty make teaching a top priority.
Our presence in a College of Architecture and Planning ensures that our approach to planning education has a strong connection to design, and our location in the heart of downtown Denver presents our students with endless opportunities to learn what it takes to create amazing cities.
Completing the MURP degree requires 54 semester hours, comprised of 36 semester hours of required “core” courses and 18 semester hours of elective courses. (Six of the 36 required semester 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 semester 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.
The MURP Program curriculum includes 10 required “core” courses totaling 36 semester hours. These courses provide students with a comprehensive survey of the planning field and the foundational knowledge, skills, and values important to the profession. The core courses have been carefully designed to fully comply with the Planning Accreditation Board’s required educational outcomes. The list below shows the core courses and the program year in which the course is intended to be taken.
Beyond the core curriculum, MURP students follow a self-directed educational path. Students may choose any combination from our broad offering of elective courses, whether aligned with one of our three Initiatives, a traditional or unique specialization, or a generalist survey of the planning field. We offer MURP students a broad selection of elective courses within the program. In addition, numerous other elective courses applicable for MURP credit are available through our allied programs within the college (Architecture, Urban Design, Historic Preservation, and Landscape Architecture) and through cross-listed courses offered by other CU Denver programs, such as Public Affairs, Geography, and Business.
Internships are an important way the MURP program helps students achieve hands-on, experiential learning. The difference between an internship and a part-time job is that an internship is specifically intended to be a learning experience. While getting academic credit for an internship is not required, it is highly recommended. Students earn three elective credits for enrolling in URPL 6805 but, more importantly, the coursework will enable students to maximize the personal and professional development their internship affords.
Planning Workshop/Project Studio
Planning Workshop (URPL 5060) and Planning Project Studio (URPL 6000) are the two studio core courses. These courses are a key part of the hands-on, real-world focus of the MURP program.
Planning Workshop is the introductory studio for MURP students. It provides students an opportunity to address actual planning problems, issues, and processes; apply previously acquired knowledge and skills; and develop new knowledge and practical skills in an applied context.
Students will develop basic competence in accessing existing information, generating new information, and performing planning analysis and synthesis. Students will also learn to enhance their graphic, written, and oral communication capabilities. Through the Planning Workshop experience, students will develop an understanding of the relationship between planning theory and practice, as well as gain the ability to formulate compelling planning arguments in applied settings.
Students will also receive introductory instruction in Trimble SketchUp, which complements the introductory instruction in Geographic Information Systems (ArcView GIS) and Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign) students receive in The Planning Profession course. The integration and use of all of these common planning technology applications is a critical component of the Planning Workshop experience.
Planning Project Studio is the MURP program’s advanced studio course. This studio requires students to work together as a “planning consultant team” to complete a single planning project or study from beginning to end for a real-world client. It is expected that students enrolled in Planning Project Studio will have already gained the fundamental planning knowledge, skills, and values from their experience in Planning Workshop and other MURP courses. Consequently, the emphasis in Planning Project Studio is on putting everything together into a complete real-world planning project.
The studio will emulate the typical planning consultant/client experience, including: refining the project scope and schedule with the client; establishing guiding principles and expected outcomes; conducting case studies and existing plans background research; gathering and analyzing existing conditions data; formulating alternative plan concepts; assessing alternative concepts through specific criteria; identifying and refining the preferred alternative; and preparing and presenting the final plan deliverables to the client. Emphasis is also placed on professionalism, project management, team-building and collaboration, client management, public involvement, and other aspects of the real-world planning consultant realm.
Each Planning Project Studio course section will focus on a project generally associated with one of the MURP program’s three initiatives (Healthy Communities, Urban Revitalization, and Regional Sustainability). Typically three to five sections of Planning Project Studio are offered each academic year, thereby ensuring that students will have a chance to enroll in a Planning Project Studio section that is aligned with an initiative of interest to them. However, as each studio section is limited in size, there is no guarantee students will be able to enroll in their preferred section. A balloting process will be used when necessary.
Planning Capstone/Planning Thesis
The culminating component of the MURP curriculum is the Planning Capstone/Planning Thesis requirement, which challenges students to utilize to the fullest extent the planning knowledge, skills, and values gained during their MURP program experience. Students must choose which option to select-Planning Capstone or Planning Thesis-based on their career goals, personal interests and aptitudes, and the advice of their faculty advisor.
Planning Capstone is a six-credit, project-oriented, one-semester course that results in a substantial deliverable upon completion. The Capstone option is best suited for students who wish to pursue a career as a professional planner after graduation. Within the Planning Capstone option are two alternatives: Independent Project and Small-Group Project.
If a student chooses the Planning Capstone > Independent Project path, he or she will work individually to complete a significant planning project or study for a real-world client. If a student chooses the Planning Capstone > Small-Group Project path, he or she must team up with one or two other students-forming a project team of no more than three people-to complete a significant planning project or study for a real-world client. However, each student must be individually responsible for a clearly defined component of the project as each student will be graded independently for his or her work.
During the semester before enrolling in Planning Capstone, students will be required to: (a.) determine if they will be working independently or as part of a small group, (b.) identify their Capstone client and project topic, and (c.) begin preparing a detailed project prospectus (work plan, schedule, methodology, and deliverables). Also during the semester before Capstone, students must attend a mandatory Capstone Orientation to receive instruction and guidance on project planning and management. Students must have a completed and approved project prospectus by the second week of their Capstone semester. Students may identify their own Planning Capstone client and project topic or they may select from a list of Capstone clients/projects that have been pre-arranged and approved by the MURP faculty.
During the Planning Capstone semester, students complete their project work while maintaining regular contact with their Capstone faculty advisor and client to ensure sufficient progress and work quality, as well as periodically meeting with other Capstone students to discuss common issues and challenges, share experiences, and receive continued instruction and guidance from the Capstone faculty on project management and methodologies. The Planning Capstone semester concludes with the submission of all deliverables and a formal presentation to the client and Capstone faculty.
For more information about the Planning Capstone option, please visit the Capstone webpage.
Planning Thesis comprises a pair of three-credit courses (A and B) taken over two semesters that together constitute a six-credit effort. The thesis option is most appropriate for outstanding MURP students who are considering pursuing a Ph.D. or a research-oriented career after graduation.
The College offers an official certificate program in geospatial information science (GIS). The Certificate builds upon the extraordinary depth of the GIS community in Colorado and the interdisciplinary teaching and research occurring at the Facility for Advanced Spatial Technology (FASTLab) at CU Denver.
Dual Degree Options
As part of encouraging among planners an appreciation for and knowledge of the perspectives and practices of the other disciplines that participate in planning and city-building, we offer several dual degree opportunities, both within the College of Architecture and Planning and with other units across the University of Colorado system. In every instance the total credit requirement of the Dual Degree is considerably less than would be needed if each degree were independently pursued.
Applicants to any dual degree option must apply to and gain separate admission to each degree program. Once admitted, the student cannot graduate from either program until the work is completed for both degrees.
The degrees that may be combined with the Master of Urban and Regional Planning include:
- Master of Architecture (MURP+MARCH)
- Master of Landscape Architecture (MURP+MLA)
- Master of Public Health (MURP+MPH)
- Master of Public Affairs (MURP+MPA)
- Master of Business Administration (MURP+MBA)
- Juris Doctorate (Law Degree) (MURP+JD-in collaboration with the CU Boulder Law School)