The Master of Urban Design (MUD) program is distinguished by its emphasis on integrating socially engaged practice with new tools and techniques for representing, understanding, and designing cities; by the opportunity to work in trans-disciplinary teams at the intersection of the arts, humanities and technology across Carnegie Mellon's departments and colleges; and by its location in Pittsburgh—a thriving post-industrial laboratory.
Program Overview & Distinctive Characteristics
The Master of Urban Design (MUD) degree is a post-professional, two-year program that prepares graduates for careers using urban design to critically address environmental, economic, social, political, and cultural issues affecting contemporary urbanization. The studio-based curriculum allows students to explore design strategies in a variety of scales and settings, from the post-industrial city to the suburban periphery to the dense global metropolis.
The studio sequence is supported by small-group seminars and workshops to develop the skill sets necessary for an urban designer in the twenty-first century. Students graduate with a firm grasp of the history, theory and practice that has established urban design as a discipline, as well as skills in cutting-edge media and design methods.
Students take required and elective courses in the School of Architecture and elective courses in other graduate programs at the six other colleges within the university.
CMU's MUD program is both venerable and innovative, shaped by these and other distinctive conditions:
- A strong legacy of participatory urban design. Beginning in 1964, the School of Architecture pioneered the Urban Laboratory concept, wherein students and faculty work in the field and engage with citizens on neighborhood revitalization projects.
- Location in a transformed post-industrial city. Pittsburgh, perhaps the quintessential post-industrial city, has transformed itself since 1985 from a declining economy based on heavy industry to a robust and diverse economy based on technology.
- Active participation in the technological ethos of Carnegie Mellon. Benefitting from Carnegie Mellon’s unique research culture in emerging media and advanced technologies, the Master of Urban Design program redefines socially engaged practice in the 21st century.
The Program Experience
In the first year, the MUD studios provide a foundation in place making and integrated urban systems design, using Pittsburgh as an urban laboratory and collaborating with local communities. In the second year, the fall and spring studios engage in a research-based design project exploring the negotiation of top-down design and bottom-up transformations in an international setting. Recent international studios have worked in Doha, Kigali, Barcelona, London, Toronto and New York City. A field trip to an international city is included in the program.
In the summer between Year One and Year Two, students are encouraged to secure an internship at an architecture, urban design, or planning firm, or at a public agency or non-profit development organization. Summer internships are valuable in utilizing newly acquired skills and knowledge in a professional setting. However, the internship is not required and is not credit-bearing.
In addition to the standard requirements for all graduate students in the School of Architecture, students in the MUD program must satisfy the following:
- Students must complete a minimum of 180 units of coursework for graduation.
- Each semester requires a minimum of 36 units to achieve Full Time Status; however, the typical semester course load is 45 units.
- Core course substitutions are allowed only with the consent of the Track Chairs.
Student & Faculty Work
Comprised of experienced practicing professionals, researchers, and educators, the MUD program faculty spans the fields of urban design, architecture, planning, public policy, and digital media. Many MUD faculty work in CMU’s international urban design research center, the Remaking Cities Institute (RCI), which conducts interdisciplinary research in place-making, urban systems, citizen engagement, and sustainable development. Students may engage in assistantships in the RCI through faculty-led research projects.
Entering students must possess at minimum a bachelor's degree in a studio-based program in architecture, landscape architecture, or urban/city planning (B.Arch, B.L.Arch, BA/BS Architecture, BA/BS Landscape Architecture, or BA/BS Planning). Design portfolios are a requirement of the application for admission.
Admitted candidates may apply for advanced standing based on previous coursework or professional experience, eliminating the first semester, and allowing them to begin studies in the Spring term. Advanced standing is also available to qualified CMU students in the BArch program through the Accelerated Master Program (AMP).