More than half the world's population lives in cities - calling into question issues of limited resources - environmental, economic and social. At UVA School of Architecture, we believe in preparing future planners to tackle the critical challenges that come with rapid global urbanization to ensure resilient, equitable and healthy cities for the future.

Urban + Environmental Planning at UVA emphasizes the impact that planning and design can have on the  built environment. Rapid and expansive global urbanization has created many challenges - from adapting to climate change to investing in renewable energy strategies, from expanding affordable housing and economic opportunities in cities to creating healthy and just environments for all. UVA School of Architecture's Urban + Environmental Planning programs offer the opportunity to boldly take on these critical challenges. Both through the classroom and beyond, we actively plan for tomorrow's cities through innovative strategies of design, analysis, policy and community engagement.



4-year undergraduate program


2-year graduate program


The program in Urban + Environmental Planning gives both undergraduate and graduate students professional planning and design skills, emphasizing theories of planning, methods of analysis, and creative strategies for implementation. Our students experience the practice of planning first-hand through research, design and community-driven projects, internships, interdisciplinary study, and global travel experiences. 

The curriculum focuses on understanding how cities can fulfill their greatest promise as places of commerce, social equity, and environmental sustainability. Students learn ways that transportation, housing, social services, land use, and health work systematically to build sustainable urban areas. To be able to integrate and improve urban systems, we introduce students to the theories of planning, methods of data analysis, effective means of communication, collaborative planning processes, and design thinking.

To study Urban + Environmental Planning at UVA provides the necessary preparation to positively influence the future of neighborhoods, cities, and rural areas around the world. Cities are no longer contained or identified by boundaries; rather, we live in a world where systems overlap and impact social, environmental and civic territories. A planning degree is for students who want to make an impact in improving those systems by maximizing the opportunities that they provide. Working with a range of stakeholders and in a variety of organizations, planners make decisions and implement policies that enhance a sustainable quality of life; protect the natural environment; promote access and social justice for disadvantaged groups; and balance the impact of population growth or decline on the built and natural environments.

Our graduates work in the public, private and non-profit sectors. They build careers as urban planners for governments, sustainability directors, transportation specialists, and urban designers with architectural and planning firms, to name a few. 

Master of Urban + Environmental Planning graduates are eligible for certification by the American Institute of Certified Planners after two years of professional practice.

Our faculty + students are engaged in research collaborations that are addressing key challenges across the globe. Some key research areas include:

+ SMART TECHNOLOGIES: investigating emerging systems of driverless technologies, GIS systems, and data visualization for planning processes

+ BIOPHILIC CITIES: developing a network of cities around the world to test innovative ways to integrate nature into the fabric of urban life

+ DESIGN and HEALTH: forming meaningful collaborations between designers, planners, and members of the medical, nursing and public health communities to address urban health challenges

+ SOCIAL JUSTICE: developing empowerment strategies for disadvantaged populations in relationship to their neighborhoods, histories, resources, and public spaces.


Urban Planning is such a well-rounded program. I have been able to take a variety of courses in politics, economics, and architecture. I studied abroad this past summer in Switzerland through the UVA Sustainable Europe course. The experience was amazing, I learned so much about aspects of transportation, water, and city planning through amazing professors as well as my own firsthand experience. - CAROLINE, B. UEP

I hope to pursue work in the human-centered design of public spaces that promote physical, psychological, and social health for urban residents and their environment. The A-School if the ideal school for me to build upon my interest in making a difference through the design and advocacy of healthy communities. - Michaela Accardi, M. UEP

Tom Eitler (MUEP, 1987) Senior Vice President, Advisory Services, Urban Land Institute

Tom Eitler runs the Urban Land Institute's Advisory Services Program, providing strategic advice to governments, institutions and companies on a wide variety land use, real estate development and public policy issues ranging from economic development, urban design, and municipal management associated with the built environment. The Urban Land Institute's mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide.


Washington Canal Park, Urban Land Institute's Urban Open Space Finalist (2015)

Mary Kathryn Fisher (BUEP, 2016) Analyst, Public Works Partners, NYC

Mary Kathryn creates creative community engagement strategies from a design-thinking and strategic planning lens, specializing in public interest campaigns and public-private partnerships. With a particular expertise in land use and urban planning efforts, she builds and implements accessible tools and processes to ensure successful public outreach, translating complex regulatory issues into easily digestible information so community members can understand the implications for their everyday lives. 

mary-kathryn-fisher-81st-street-bridgeEast 81st Street pedestrian bridge, NYC (Photo: Mary kathryn fisher)

IEN Student Internships

A unique feature of the School of Architecture is the Institute for Environmental Negotiation (IEN), founded in 1980, and affiliated with the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning. Students internships with the IEN provide high impact learning experience through work on real community projects addressing important current environmental and social issues. Students form a vital part of IEN’s professional services team. They learn to work with stakeholders and clients, grapple with real issues on the ground, gain understanding of how to design community engagement, see how conflict is addressed in ways to foster positive outcomes for all parties, and gain and refine important job skills.

Students in the Master of Urban + Environmental Planning program have an opportunity to work directly with EIN. Here's what some past EIN interns have had to say about their experiences:

My experience at IEN provided a powerful and consistent resume builder that made me a stronger job candidate upon finishing the program. My time management and task tracking abilities improved tremendously and this is already serving me well in my first job, where a high level of organization and follow-up are crucial.

I am certain that my experiences with collaborative planning, meeting facilitation, and community engagement [gained at IEN] were the tipping point that helped me stand out from other job candidates.

Besides giving me practical and applicable experience in a planning-related field, working at IEN strengthened my facilitation, grant-writing, and project management skills. It was a valuable opportunity.