Master's in Architecture & Urban Planning

Sep 27, 2019

This article contains information for those looking into pursuing a master's degree in architecture and urban planning. It provides information on program length, entrance requirements, and descriptions on common required courses.

A master's degree in architecture and urban planning, or sometimes called urban design, provides training for graduates looking to pursue professional careers that utilize skills from fields like urban development, architecture, and community development. People with this degree end up working in both private and public sectors, or even with non-profits, to plan and design built environments. Below you will find information to help you decide if you are interested in applying.

Should I Get a Master's Degree in Architecture & Urban Planning?

Most master's in architecture and urban planning programs are two years in length, but can range from three semesters to three years, with some programs set up as dual degrees. During the program you will take courses, conduct research, work in design studios, attend seminars, and work on your thesis. To follow are some examples of classes you might take during your studies.

Urban Design

While architecture is most often concerned with the design of buildings, urban design takes a different approach and is focused with the design of a whole city or community. Urban design courses look at architecture from a broader perspective and take into account how the design of a city or community can serve the needs of the people living in it.

History and Theory of Architecture

In order to design new buildings and communities well, you must have a solid foundation as a base to build upon. It is important to know the history of architecture in order to do so. In this type of course, you will learn about different architectural theories that have been developed over time and which theories and methods are applied today.


Courses in sustainability look at what we can do to make architecture more environmentally friendly. It focuses on the changes to the future of urban planning and the impacts a design can have on the environment. It emphasizes what urban planners can do to make a meaningful difference.


In this course you will analyze policies surrounding transportation. You will also foster skills in transportation design. The course looks at urban transportation within cities, transportation of people between cities, and transportation of goods.

Mediums of Architecture

In this type of course you will learn how to use architectural software programs. You will work with different systems and learn techniques to analyze and present data. You will hone skills that allow you to communicate more effectively about physical environments through visual designs.

What You Need to Apply for a Master's in Architecture & Urban Planning

To start your application for a master's in architecture and urban planning will need to have completed a bachelor's degree in architecture, which is usually a five year program, from an accredited university or college program. A few years of professional experience is not required, but highly recommended. Some master's programs will require you submit a portfolio, resume, and multiple letters of recommendation with your application. You may also be asked for your GRE score to be included, and acceptable scores vary depending on the school. Most applications require you to pay an application fee.

To apply for a master's in architecture and urban planning, you will need a five-year bachelor's degree in architecture. You'll study subjects related to transportation, sustainability, and urban design in typical two-year master's programs.

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