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.
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.
AN INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACH TO ENACT POSITIVE CHANGE
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.
CATALYZED BY PARTICIPATORY RESEARCH
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.
WHO SHOULD APPLY
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.
MUD: 45 CREDITS
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.
FIRST SEMESTER (FALL): 15 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. The first semester exposes students to a deep understanding of North American urbanization processes and emerging urban design strategies through four courses: a foundation studio, an urban design analysis seminar, an urban design theory course and a seminar on urban ecology. In the first semester, students learn to synthesize analytical, theoretical and design skills to address questions of coastal resilience and environmental justice.
UD Foundation Studio [6 credits]
UD Urban Design History and Theory [3 credits]
UD Analysis and Technology [3 credits]
UD Ecology restricted Elective* [3 credits]
*UD Ecology is a restricted elective seminar. Students can choose among multiple seminars listed in this category that are taught at the School of Architecture and across Grounds in other Departments.
SECOND SEMESTER (SPRING): 15 CREDITS
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. The studio is supported by two seminars that address the challenges of global cities and strategies of urban engagement. An open elective allows students to explore individual interests and research agendas.
UD Research Studio Next Cities [6 credits]
UD Urban Strategies and Engagement [3 credits]
UD Global Cities restricted Elective* [3 credits]
UD Open Elective [3 credits]
*UD Global Urbanization Processes is a restricted elective seminar. Students can choose among multiple seminars listed in this category that are taught at the School of Architecture and across Grounds in other Departments.
THIRD SEMESTER (FALL): 15 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. A complimentary research seminar allows students to develop a methodological and theoretical framework for their thesis or research studio project. The UD Economy restricted seminar introduces students to the legal, financial, and institutional frameworks that set the parameters for urban design practice. An open elective allows students to explore urban design classes offered across UVA Grounds.
UD Thesis Studio [6 credits]
UD Economy restricted Elective* [3 credits]
UD Research Seminar [3 credits]
UD Open Elective [3 credits]
*UD Economy is a restricted elective seminar. Students can choose among multiple seminars listed in this category that are taught at the School of Architecture and across Grounds in other Departments.
Information provided through the curricular charts linked below are for informational purposes only. Students enrolled in UD programs must consult UVA’s Graduate Record for the official requirements for these degree programs. Note: MUD curricular requirements will be published in the 2022-23 Graduate Record.
Students enrolled in one of our graduate programs [M.ARCH, MLA, MUEP] who are interested in also receiving the Master of Urban Design [MUD] degree should first complete the Urban Design Certificate [UDC], a 15-credit curricular sequence. The UDC is taken while pursuing the M.ARCH, MLA or MUEP degree. By continuing for another year [30 credits], students can complete the MUD as a dual degree with our other graduate degrees.
The Master of Urban Design (MUD) degree at UVA is an approved field of study within the U.S. government’s official STEM fields list. The program’s STEM-designation (and associated new CIP code: 30.3301) allows our international MUD graduates to apply for the optional practical training (OPT) extension program for F-1 students with STEM degrees.
The STEM OPT Extension program affords eligible international students holding F-1 visas, upon completion of a STEM-designated degree, the opportunity to extend their stay in the United States by 24 months (allowing for a maximum of 36 months total) to obtain advanced training in their field – enhancing our students’ overall educational experience and helping to bridge their experience between academia and practice.
OWNING [UP TO] THE URBAN: UD GUEST SPEAKER SERIES 2021
In spring 2021, the UVA School of Architecture and Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan partnered to host the Owning [up to] the Urban speaker series, organized and moderated by Maria Arquero de Alarcón [UMich, Director, Master of Urban Design and Associate Professor of Architecture and Urban and Regional Planning] and Mona El Khafif [UVA, Director, Graduate Program in Urban Design and Associate Professor of Architecture and Urban + Environmental Planning].
Owning [up to] the Urban brought together educators, practitioners, and scholars to discuss the nature of contemporary global urban transformations.
The archive of the Owning [up to] the Urban speaker series presents a range of urban design topics framed around the following questions:
- What is the nature of the work (problem solver, project maker, critical theorist)? Agency
- Why is it relevant (innovates, repairs, empowers, heals, anticipates)? Actions
- How do you work, and what shapes the project? Methods
- Who are the partners, stakeholders, and coalitions? Actors
- How is the project sustained? Funding
- How could the project replicate or scale up? Replication
Together, they present urban design avenues that generate agency and elicit more inclusive, just, and joyful urban futures.