Program details

The Master of Urban Design (MUD) is a 30-credit, initial, interdisciplinary degree program focusing on contemporary challenges of urbanism at the local, regional and global scales. Courses are taught by faculty from architecture, community and regional planning and landscape architecture, with an understanding that urban environments should be engaged through an integrated design process that includes ecological, social, material, economic and urban-policy factors.


The urban design degree reflects a deep commitment to resilient urban environments within the context of an increasingly concentrated, connected and diverse urban world. Accordingly, the coursework engages emerging urbanization topics including:

  • The formation of more adaptable, flexible and resilient cities
  • The exponential growth of megacities and steady decline of investments in traditional urban economies in the twenty-first century
  • The transformation of industrial landscapes, particularly within the Midwestern context, and the global impact of transnational economic operations
  • The spatialization of informal economies, practices, and services across the south-north global divide
  • A reexamination of the potentials of hard and soft infrastructures, principles of the circular economy and a reframing of the urban-rural divide

The MUD is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

Recent Student Work

Application requirements

Anyone applying for admission to the Master of Urban Design program must complete the Iowa State University Graduate College online application. As part of the application, you will be asked to provide:

  • Official academic transcripts
  • A digital portfolio
  • A resume/CV
  • Three letters of recommendation from individuals from your educational or professional background who can most directly speak about your ability to complete graduate level course work and teaching duties
    • You will be asked within the application to provide the names and email addresses for your three references; when you submit the application, the three individuals will receive an email notification from ISU Admissions with a link to the recommendation form
  • A statement of academic and personal interests  (300-500 words)
  • English Proficiency Exam (international applicants only)
  • Financial statement (international applicants only)

Consideration date

The priority application consideration date for fall admission is February 1. Applications will continually be accepted and evaluated until the cohort is full. While typical admission is in the fall, we will accept applications for spring or summer semester admission.

College of Design student working on class project.

A Cyclone in the Making

Find your place at Iowa State University’s College of Design, where we like to ask questions, poke and prod, create something new, and make a difference through design.