A Master of Architecture in Urban Design comprises a post-professional degree that builds on an undergraduate degree in architecture or related design majors. MUD programs offer curricula with classes that are standard or similar, regardless of the university. A selection of such courses, as well as typical admissions requirements, are presented below.
Students entering a MUD program will usually have a bachelor's degree in architecture, although those holding degrees in other majors, such as landscape design or urban planning, may apply but might to fulfill some other prerequisites such as courses in physics or calculus. Submission of an undergraduate transcript is standard; a GPA of 3.0 is often considered a minimum, but consideration can be given regarding the difficulty of coursework and improvement over the college career. Most universities do not require a GRE, but TOEFL scores indicating English language mastery are necessary for international applicants. Three letters of recommendation from professors or employers from design-related jobs or internships are required, in addition to submitting a design portfolio as well as a letter of intent; the latter should outline the goals and interests of the student and future career objectives. Finally, while admission committees view professional experience as an asset, it is typically not a requirement.
Standard Core Curricula
A MUD program is typically 1 to 2 years in duration, including summers. While electives vary among schools--e.g., classes that relate to the geographical location of the campus--there are standard courses that are much the same across universities.
History of Urban Design
One of the first courses required by MUD students involves the history of urban design, particularly as it relates to the development of cities from the past to now. Learning how urban areas were constructed and evolved can inform not only revitalization projects but also guide the design of cities in emerging countries. In addition, studying the theories of past eras and designers can foster an appreciation of historical styles and emphasize the necessity for architectural preservation.
Learning how cities develop and are organized forms the basis of this course. This topic focuses on aspects of the planning and construction of urban areas, as well as interactions with government officials and laws surrounding zoning regulations. Because urban planning is closely interlinked with urban design, courses defining and exploring the relationship between the two are essential.
Real Estate and Economic Concepts
Understanding the relationships with those in real estate and finance is crucial for future urban designers, as these fields interact when devising plans for and developing metropolitan spaces. Being able to complement and bring to fruition the visions of real estate developers in aesthetically pleasing as well as functional buildings, museums, and parks, for instance, are necessary skills for urban designers. Financial constraints and formulation of budgets are also important factors that require consideration.
Usually undertaken in the latter part of the MUD program, study abroad is often a degree requirement. The approach can be two-pronged: first, students spend time in a major city to examine how urban areas around the world have been designed and how they have resolved issues, such as infrastructure, increasing population, and historic preservation, that are similar to those faced in the US. Second, students can visit developing nations to learn about how emerging cities are being designed with a focus on sustainability, rapid growth, and other present-day challenges.
Sometimes referred to as a thesis or final project, this represents the culmination of a student's MUD experience. Drawing on the coursework and experiences up to this point, including instruction in sustainability, design form, land use, financial considerations, and growth and development issues, the student will choose a topic to investigate and research or an actual design challenge to solve. The student will formulate a creative, innovative solution to the urban design issue and present the findings and finished project to a thesis committee.
Application to an urban design master's program comprises similar criteria regardless of the university being sought. While they differ in terms of courses offered that are particular to their geographical location and setting, most schools have standard curricula that students must take in the pursuit of their master's degree.