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Urban Design


The Master of Urban Design
The Master of Urban Design (MUD) is an advanced, interdisciplinary program of study that focuses 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 and just 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 21st 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; and
  • a reexamination of the potentials of hard and soft infrastructures, principles of the circular economy and a reframing of the urban-rural divide.

The program consists of 30 credits, typically distributed over three semesters (fall, spring and summer); however, students may choose to distribute these credits over four or five semesters. The degree is geared toward students with professional degrees in architecture (BArch, MArch), landscape architecture (BLA, MLA) or planning (BSCRP, MCRP, MUP). Applicants are welcomed from other related disciplines. Graduate students can also pursue the following double degrees in the College of Design: MArch/MUD, MCRP/MUD and MLA/MUD. Current undergraduate students can apply to pursue this degree, concurrently.

Graduate Minor in Urban Design
The graduate minor in Urban Design consists of 12 credits:
  • 6 credit Urban Design Studio (URB D 501 or 502)
  • 3 credit course from History/Theory/Culture
  • 3 credit course from Technology/Methods


1 studio (either 501/502)

1 course from HTC

1 course TM

List of courses:

Urban Design Local Studio (URB D 501) – 6 credits
Urban Design Global Studio (URB D 502) – 6 credits
History/Theory/Criticism – 6 credits from the following list
Technology/Methods – 12 credits from the following list

History, Theory, Culture

Art and Architecture of India. (ART H 581)
Art and Theory Since 1945 (ART H 595)
Art History in Europe (ART H 592)
Contemp. Urban Design Theory (ARCH 575)
Foundations of Urban Design (URB D 521)
Green Art: Earthworks and Beyond (ART H 597)
History of Chinese Architecture. F. (ARCH 527)
History of Photography (ART H 596)
History of Urban Design (URB D 511)
Issues in Visual and Material Culture Seminar (ART H 501)
Methods of Urban Design Workshop (URB D 531)
Middle Eastern Cities (Arch 519)
Modern Art and Theory (ART H 588)
Nineteenth Century Art (ART H 587)
Planning in Developing Countries (CRP 529)
Planning the American Metropolis (CRP 563)
Planning Theory (CRP 561)
Seminar on the Built Environment III: Theory (ARCH 597)
Seminar on the Built Environment IV: Topical Study (ARCH 598)
Spatial Dialectics in the American Midwest (ARCH 529)
Studies in Architecture: Culture (ARCH 528A)
Theory of Urban Design (URB D 522)
Topical Studies in Landscape Architecture (LA  578)
U.S. Environmental History (ENV S 472)
Urban Design Media Workshop (URB D 532)
Urban Design Methods (URB D 533)
Women/Gender in Art (ART H 594)


Advanced Computer Lighting and Rendering (ARCH 432)
Advanced Computer-aided Architectural Design (ARCH 534)
Advanced Design Media (ARCH 436)
Advanced GIS Modeling (LA 567)
Advanced GIS Modeling (LA 567)
Advanced Three-Dimensional Studio (ARCH 535)
Analytical Planning/GIS (CRP 553)
Building Science and Technology V (ARCH 445)
Community and Regional Planning
Computer Aided Animation and Visualization (ARTIS 508)
Computer Aided Industrial Design (IND D 541)
Computer-aided Arch. and Enviro. Design (ARCH 434)
Computer/Video Game Design and Development (ARTIS 409)
Computer/Video Game Design and Development (ARTIS 509)
Design for E-Commerce/Graphic Applications (ARTGR 478)
Digital Textile Design (ARTIS 548)
File to Fabrication (ARCH 433)
Geog. Data Management and Planning Analysis (CRP 552)
Geographic Data Management and Planning Analysis (CRP 452)
GIS Programming and Automation (CRP 456)
GIS Programming and Automation (CRP 556)
Intaglio & Monotype Printmaking: Dig/Traditional (ARTIS 557)
Introduction to Web Mapping (LA 558)
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (CRP 551)
Lithography: Digital / Traditional (ARTIS 558)
Multimedia Design (ARTGR 473)
Principles of 3D Animation (ARTIS 408)
Principles of 3D Character Animation (ARTIS 407)
Principles of 3D Character Animation (ARTIS 507)
Product Realization for Industrial Design (IND D 534)
Relief Printmaking: Digital/Traditional (ARTIS 556)
Science and Technology for Architects I (ARCH 541)
Seminar in GIS Applications/Research (CRP 595)
Sustainability and Green Architecture (ARCH 558)
Topical Studies in Landscape Architecture (LA  578G-K-L)
Urban/Periurban Watersheds (LA 517)
Wayfinding Design (ARTGR 479)
Workshop: Computer Art and Design (ARTIS 493C)

MUD Curriculum
Courses Existing Dept. Course
Proposed Dept. Course total credits 30
Urb D 511 CRP 564 or HTC from the List North American Urbanization 3
Urb D 532 Urban Design or Skills from the List Urban Design Media Workshop 3
Urb D 533 Urban Design or Skills from the List Urbanism Theory and Methods 3
DSN S 501x Research Methods 3
12 credits
Urb D 501 Urban Design/LA 604/DSN S 546 Urban Design Local Studio 6
Urb D 522 Urban Design or HTC from the List Contemporary Urban Design Practices 3
Urban elective selected from approved CoD offerings 3
12 credits
Urb D 502 Urban Design/DSN S 546 Urban Design Global Studio 6
6 credits
MUD learning goals from 2014
  • gain knowledge of new practices, technologies and methods of urban design,
  • learn advanced thinking skills and integrate concepts, ideas and approaches in a team-based, interdisciplinary design process, and
  • acquire knowledge and skills that support professional leadership in research and design work focused on local, regional and global issues in the contemporary built environment.
Admission Requirements
Admission to the MUD program is by application to the department and to the Graduate College.

The MUD program does not require a bachelor’s degree in design disciplines and is open to students from any other disciplinary background. Information about our program and how to apply can be obtained at online from the Grad college site, or send an email directly to graduate recruitment services

More Information:

Seda McKilligan, Associate Dean for Academic Programs, Interim Program Director

Graduate Recruitment Coordinator

Meredith Foley
295 Design
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011-3091
(515) 294-0816

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