At this critical moment in our history, Urban Design at the UVA School of Architecture brings together multidisciplinary expertise to address complex spatial challenges through radical concepts and enact our collective capacity to envision more just, livable, and compelling cities for our future.


With a mission-driven interdisciplinary group of faculty rooted in the Departments of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Urban and Environmental Planning, and Architectural History, our Urban Design curriculum addresses the most pressing social, environmental, and spatial challenges confronting society in the 21st century — challenges such as climate change and environmental degradation, demographic shifts and racial injustices, as well as technological transformations. 

Through our collaborations, integrated with the School's Next Cities Institute, these challenges are addressed through radical concepts and transformative methodologies that allow us to not only envision more sustainable future cities, but to shape new practices that constitute the dynamic conditions of the urban. Our work engages the ways in which complex, often competing, forces come together in the spatial structure of the city.  Spatial literacy and active participation are critical to recognizing that the spaces of urbanism are spaces of citizenry — where struggles and potentials collide and where we, collectively, enact our capacities to make a better world for all.

Embracing an interdisciplinary and multi-scalar approach, and utilizing applied design research and theoretical investigations, our cross-departmental Urban Design curriculum is committed to the education of the next generation of design leaders and change-makers. In examining a multiplicity of scales and diverse spatial conditions of urbanity, from public space to private development, and from the social to the ecological, we help designers and planners to become critical thinkers and strategic agents in support of urban sustainability, social justice, and environmental resilience.


MUD (Master of Urban Design)

1.5-year post-professional degree (Master of Urban Design, 45 credits) program with dual degree options for graduate students in the UVA Departments of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban + Environmental Planning

***We are currently not accepting graduate applications for Fall 2025 for the Master of Urban Design Program (1.5 year post-professional degree), including dual degree applicants.***

Prospective students applying to any of our four other masters programs (Master of Architectural History, Master of Architecture, Master of Landscape Architecture, or Master of Urban + Environmental Planning) are eligible to pursue the Urban Design Certificate (15 credits) as part of their graduate education at UVA School of Architecture. See more information below and here.

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. Learn more about our STEM-designation.

UDC (Urban Design Certificate)

15 credit urban design concentration (Urban Design Certificate) for graduate students in the UVA Departments of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Urban + Environmental Planning and Architectural History


The School of Architecture places a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary urban design research and is based on collaboration across all four departments and with a wide range of partners across the University’s Grounds. We welcome students who are interested in studying and exploring the design of our built environment and the dynamics of the urban spatial condition.

Our curriculum offers our students unique opportunities to engage with the city and its citizens through applied research projects and community engagement, learning to work ethically and proactively alongside stakeholders directly effected by urban design. Combining theoretical and applied knowledge with design strategies, our students gain expertise in addressing the complex social, environmental, and spatial issues of our cities. Our graduates find employment with our wide professional network, working for renowned offices that are known for multi-scalar projects, like BIG, SHoP, FXCollaborative, West 8, SCAPE, Nelson Byrd Woltz, and MASS Design; they help cities to become better places by working for planning departments and other civic organizations; they pursue academic careers to become thought-leaders in the field of urban design.

The curriculum is enhanced by an expansive set of travel and study abroad courses and extracurricular research opportunities that allow our students to study and engage with research projects related to the School’s Next Cities Institute.


Throughout the Urban Design curriculum, we build upon the strengths of our School-wide inherently interdisciplinary community, working both within and across our four departments: Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Urban + Environmental Planning, and Architectural History. Depending on whether students pursue the Urban Design Certificate, the Master of Urban Design, or take urban design classes within their major, the curriculum allows students to develop skills to comprehensively learn about, analyze, and design complex urban environments.

Urban Design Foundation Studios + Courses: 

Urban Design foundation studios and courses focus on fundamentals that make up the core of the urban design education and are required classes in the Master of Urban Design program. These foundation studios and courses address questions of coastal resilience, environmental degradation, and social justice in the spatial context of the Northeastern Seaboard and its hinterland.

Urban Design Core Seminars + Restricted Electives: 

Students in the Urban Design Certificate and Master of Urban Design programs have the opportunity to enroll in core seminars and restricted electives that specifically address the contents of urban history + theory, urban ecologies + landscapes, urban economy + policy, urban design + engagement strategies, as well urban design analysis + visualization technologies.

Urban Design Elective Research Studios:

Advanced students choose an urban design research studio from a range of spatial topics that are of an interdisciplinary nature and discuss contemporary questions of the urban. The School offers Next Cities Studios with international travel opportunities including the “Yamuna River Project” studios in India, study abroad studios in Barcelona and Venice, or the Arctic Design Group studios focused on mediating extreme environments.

Urban Design Elective Seminars:

Drawing from faculty research and expertise across our departments, urban design elective seminars expose students to a wide range of contemporary theories, analytical methods, design strategies, and urban contents to contextualize and understand our urban environments.

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.  MUD curricular requirements are published in the 2023-24 Graduate Record.



We understand urban design as a bridge discipline that provides students with various possibilities to engage in applied research with significant forms of impact. These include graduate research assistantships in our Next Cities Research Projects and graduate teaching assistantships in urban design seminars or research studios. 

We also offer international research and travel opportunities to examine the urban condition across the globe. Direct engagement with the sites and the communities we are studying and designing for is a critical part of our curriculum. Students travel locally, nationally, and internationally to experience design in-situ, engage in fieldwork, and gain a deeper awareness of global urban cultures. More information on the school’s study abroad programs can be found here.

With the challenges that accompany planetary urbanization, racial and ethnic injustices, and environmental degradation, we support independent urban design thesis projects and research agendas that allow our students to identify and develop skills in areas of their interest to promote stewardship, agency, and positive change.


Owning up to the Urban Speaker Series_high res

The Owning [up to] the Urban Speaker Series brings together educators, practitioners, and scholars to discuss the elusive nature of contemporary global urban transformations. Co-organized by Maria Arquero de Alarcón, Associate Professor of Architecture & Urban Planning, University of Michigan and Mona El Khafif, Associate Professor of Architecture & Urban + Environmental Planning, University of Virginia.

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