Master of Urban Design

Students and faculty explore the significance of the Mississippi River to the St. Louis region at the historic Eads Bridge.

Founded by Fumihiko Maki and Roger Montgomery in 1961, WashU's Master of Urban Design program is the second-oldest urban design program in the United States. This innovative, post-professional program allows students to pursue advanced design and research work focused on the urban environment while acquiring the theoretical and professional foundation for urban design practice. The program draws from the University's and Sam Fox School's diverse student body, interdisciplinary study opportunities, and international studio and course opportunities to prepare students for global practice in the private and public sectors, and for leadership roles in the design and development of the built environment for a sustainable future.

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The MUD program shares a synergistic and mutually beneficial relationship with the Doctor of Sustainable Urbanism, which focuses on the development of applied research in urbanism, and is intended to prepare professionals and advanced urban design students for careers in multidisciplinary, evidence-based, sustainable urban design and planning practice and teaching. Both the MUD and the DrSU programs are STEM-designated.

About the Program

Urbanization is an increasing and constantly changing condition of contemporary society, one that presents enormous opportunities for—and challenges to—the creation of resilient, livable, and healthy urban habitats for a sustainable world. Our cities are the the largest consumers of resources, producers of economic activity and prosperity, and agents of social change. For a sustainable future, their design must become the means through which we address the potential of the urban world.

To this end, the MUD program focuses on reinventing and transforming cities across the United States and the world through a full range of scales: from region to the district; from district to the block and street; and, ultimately, to the design of the public realm as the place of a lively and vibrant community.

During this three-semester program of study (completed in one calendar year for 42 credits), students are challenged to explore the potential of urban design to impact cities, as well as their own role as active and informed participants in the transformation of cities. Studios integrate concepts and principles of urbanism, architecture, landscape architecture, and infrastructure. Required and elective course work, along with associated research, serve as a base for the more speculative and exploratory nature of the design studio experience. Students are introduced to social, political, economic, and environmentally responsible principles of development, as well as the history and theory of contemporary urbanism.

Most importantly, the MUD program is structured to provide students opportunities for experiential immersion learning—the best form of education for an urban designer. As part of the curriculum, students travel to a select number of major metropolitan cities in North America, Europe, South America, Africa, and Asia, under the guidance of Washington University faculty and associated local urban design professionals. Through this hands-on experience, students obtain a great appreciation for a range of cities and different approaches to the making of cities.

The Master of Urban Design degree can be combined with study in other divisions at Washington University, including architecture, landscape architecture, public health, social work, and with the Doctor of Sustainable Urbanism. To learn more, visit our Dual Degrees page.


Samuels Wins National Architectural Education Award
Video: Kampala Workshop for the Global Urbanism Studio
Spring 2020 Sam Fox School Public Lecture Series
Fall 2019 CityStudioSTL Faculty Course Grants
Photos: 2019 Informal Cities Workshop
Mumford on Five Books that Have Defined and Redefined Urbanism since 1850
Hoeferlin Named Chair of Landscape Architecture and Urban Design
Designing Hyperloop Infrastructure
The Architects of Arbolope Studio
WashU Expert: Notre Dame "Symbolic Center of the Nation"
2018 Informal Cities Workshop + Lecture
Faculty Spotlight: Patty Heyda on Rebuilding the American City
WashU project honored by Missouri Chapter of the APA
WashU team wins NOMA Student Design Competition
Spirit of ingenuity: Godshalk searches for ecological solutions to basic human needs
Transforming the east end of the Danforth Campus
MUD studio receives Outstanding Student Project Award from Missouri Chapter of the APA
Chair John Hoal leads finalist team in global design competition

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