University of Virginia

Master of Urban Design

UVA Campbell Hall


The University of Virginia’s Master of Urban Design is a post-professional educational opportunity that gives students the ability to work closely with faculty and peers across interdisciplinary expertise to address the critical real-world urban challenges through innovative research and transformative design practices.

The Master of Urban Design (MUD) is a new 3-semester, 45-credit hour, post-professional non-accredited degree program at the UVA School of Architecture that addresses contemporary questions of urbanization. Recognizing the urban as a dynamic, evolving construct and a space of collective citizenry, the city for us is a verb — rooted in action and participation, complexity and potential. Defined as a bridge discipline and a critical catalytic link across different professions, Urban Design at UVA draws together and transcends the traditional disciplines of Architecture, Urban Planning, and Landscape Architecture to address current urban challenges, to serve broad community needs, and to participate in the dynamics of the urban condition. The breadth and depth of our interdisciplinary faculty expertise teach students to push disciplinary boundaries while providing a strong mission-focused foundation, across scholarship, design, technology, society, and practice.

Preview Our Recent Urban Design Studios and Seminars.

Why study urban design at UVA?

Urban Design Now

We are living in a critical moment in human history. With most of the world’s population now living in urban areas and an expected substantial increase of the world’s urban population by 2050, urban design is at the center of addressing so many of today’s most pressing spatial, economic, environmental, and social challenges. From rapid population growth and mass urbanization to environmental degradation and the impacts of climate change, from questions of social justice and urban inequities to housing affordability and accessibility to shared public space, urban designers are leaders and change-makers who are envisioning and shaping sustainable, just, and resilient urban environments for our future. 

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Enact Positive Change

The post-professional Master of Urban Design program at the UVA School of Architecture embodies an in-depth interdisciplinary and multi-scale approach and takes advantage of the School’s existing expertise to synthesize knowledge and skills drawn from all our disciplines and grounded in spatial literacy. Our students are part of a collaborative community of internationally recognized faculty and an energetic, talented, and culturally diverse student body. The program prepares graduates as future leaders, critical scholars, innovative urban designers, and mission-focused change-makers who develop advanced skills and knowledge to address the contemporary challenges of our constructed environments.

Catalyzed by Participatory Research

Linked to the Next Cities Institute, our students are directly engaged with urban design research projects that provide opportunities to apply theory and experimentation in specific conditions and contexts. Our research-focused program gives our students a chance to participate in the dynamic conditions of the urban as active citizens — to work with community members and to learn from their lived experience. Our work is diverse, in scope and geography, with projects in India, Brazil, the Arctic, China, and many other global sites, that address the paradigm shifts of planetary urbanization, environmental degradation, and the digital revolution.

Who Should Apply

We welcome students from diverse academic backgrounds and professional experiences with a desire to make a positive impact on the built environment. As a student, you have the opportunity to take advantage of UVA’s strong history as a renowned research university, with nationally and internationally ranked programs, distinguished faculty, and robust resources.

The Master of Urban Design program welcomes applicants with a professional degree in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and/or Urban Planning. Applicants with a 4-year non-professional degree in Architecture or Landscape Architecture and experience in design practice can be admitted based on portfolio review and by the decision of the Urban Design admission committee.

The diverse scholarly and professional backgrounds of our students and faculty enrich our educational environment in the post-professional MUD program. Applicants with a previous Urban Design Certificate from UVA and a degree in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, or Urban and Environmental Planning from UVA are eligible for advanced placement.


The Master of Urban Design (MUD) degree at UVA is an approved field of study within the U.S. government’s official STEM fields list.  The program’s STEM-designation allows our international MUD graduates to apply for the optional practical training (OPT) extension program for F-1 students with STEM degrees.

The STEM OPT Extension program affords eligible international students holding F-1 visas, upon completion of a STEM-designated degree, the opportunity to extend their stay in the United States by 24 months (allowing for a maximum of 36 months total) to obtain advanced training in their field – enhancing our students’ overall educational experience and helping to bridge their experience between academia and practice.

Learn more about the MUD STEM-designation.

Web Links
To find out more about our MUD program, curriculum, and more, visit: -mud

To learn more about the UVA School of Architecture, visit:

For information about our graduate admissions process, visit:

If you are interested in this program, please join our contact list:

Contact the Program Director
Mona El Khafif, PhD
Associate Professor
[email protected]

Mona El Khafif, PhD, Graduate Urban Design Program Director
Cindy Kiefer, Ed.D., Director of Recruitment, Admission and Financial Aid

University of Virginia

School of Architecture

Urban Design Program

P.O. Box 400122

Charlottesville, VA 22904