Top Urban Design Schools and Programs

If you have great design sense and definite opinions on how to provide citizens with more attractive, efficient and functional urban spaces, you might want to check out urban design as a career. Read on to learn about the top urban design schools in the U.S. and what programs they offer in this field. Schools offering Land Use Planning degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Do I Need to Know About the Top Urban Design Schools?

Programs specific to urban design may be hard to find, so you may pursue a degree in architecture, landscape architecture or city planning. You'll probably want a school with strengths in these related disciplines and faculty who are active scholars and practitioners to guide plenty of hands-on studio experience. Your graduate work should be supported by research institutes, library facilities with extensive image collections and lab equipment and facilities for design work.

What Are Three Top Urban Design Schools?

Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe, AZ

ASU was ranked #115 among national universities by U.S. News & World Report for 2019 ( ASU specializes in design for arid regions. It participates in the Phoenix Urban Research Laboratory in downtown Phoenix, a studio project involving the university and working professionals in associated disciplines. The school also supports applied design projects ranging from revitalization plans to the Stardust Center for Affordable Homes and the Family. Library resources include the ARTstor Digital Library. The following programs are offered:

  • Bachelor of Science in Planning (BSP) - Urban Planning
  • Master's of Urban and Environmental Planning (MUEP)
  • Accelerated BSP/MUEP
  • Ph.D. in Urban Planning

University of California in Berkeley, CA

At Berkeley, master's programs in city planning, architecture and landscape architecture permit a concentration in urban design. You'll need a professional degree in these or allied disciplines to enter the 1-year Master of Urban Design program jointly offered by the departments of Architecture, City and Regional Planning and Landscape Architecture. You'll take on-campus studio workshops and optional workshops in other countries, such as China, Japan and Thailand.

Multiple urban research institutes include the Institute for Urban and Regional Development and the Center for Global Metropolitan Studies. The Cal Design Lab solves cross-disciplinary design challenges. You'll also have access to the Environmental Simulation Laboratory and environmental design libraries and archives, which contain images in varied media. You can participate in the annual student-published, peer-reviewed Berkeley Planning Journal. Doctoral candidates in architecture, landscape planning, environmental planning or city and regional planning may choose an urban design focus.

  • Master of Urban Design (M.U.D.)
  • Master of City Planning (M.C.P.) - Urban Design
  • Master of Landscape Architecture (M.L.A.) - Urban Design
  • Master of Architecture (M.Arch) - Urban Design
  • M.C.P./M.Arch - Urban Design
  • M.C.P./M.L.A. - Urban Design

University of Michigan (UM) in Ann Arbor, MI

You'll need a related professional degree to enter the 1-year Master of Urban Design program.The curriculum blends theory, studio work and history and offers international study electives and studio work in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and other cities. UM's Detroit Community Partnership Center offers free or low-cost services to city officials and community groups. A regional research collaborative forms a funding umbrella for projects at Taubman College, UM's school of architecture and urban planning. The school's Art, Architecture and Engineering Library Visual Resources Collection.

You'll be able to use a digital media lab and an art and architecture shop staffed by professional model makers who train students. A master's degree and joint degree programs are available, along with custom joint programs with the School of Natural Resources and Environment.

  • Master of Urban Design (M.U.D.)
  • M.U.D./Master of Urban Planning
  • Master of Urban Planning
  • Ph.D. in Urban Planning

Ten Schools with Urban Design and Urban Planning Programs

College/UniversityInstitution TypesLocationEstimated Graduate In-State Tuition*
Boston University4-year, PrivateBoston, MA$53,000
Washington University in St. Louis4-year, PrivateSt. Louis, MO$53,000
University of Miami4-year, PrivateCoral Gables, FL$37,500
Massachusetts Institute of Technology4-year, PrivateCambridge, MA$55,000
Johns Hopkins University4-year, PrivateBaltimore, MD$56,000
Westfield State University4-year, PublicWestfield, MA$6,000
University of New Orleans4-year, PublicNew Orleans, LA$8,500
University of Hawaii at Manoa4-year, PublicHonolulu, HI$16,000
Texas State University4-year, PublicSan Marcos, TX$8,000
University of Arizona4-year, PublicTucson, AZ$13,000

*Source: NCES, U.S. Department of Education

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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