College of Environmental Design

Master of Urban Design

Masters Urban Design Program

Photo credit: Robert Campbell/Wikipedia

Program Description

The Program in the Design of Urban Places, leading to the Master of Urban Design degree, is a unique, interdisciplinary program of advanced study in which exceptional architects, landscape architects, and planners holding professional degrees partake of an intense, focused learning experience of 12 months’ duration. Students share working methods, acquire additional skills, and explore new avenues of development under the supervision of an interdisciplinary group of faculty members in the College of Environmental Design drawn from the Departments of Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, and City and Regional Planning. In addition to the program’s core curriculum, Urban Design students can construct a trans-disciplinary course of study with studios, lectures and seminar courses from all three departments in the college.

The program addresses the need for professionals who are specifically concerned with the design of varied urban areas open to public use. The activities of urban design are diverse in both type and scale; it may be concerned with settlement patterns in urbanizing areas, city or town layout, the restructuring of inner cities , the metropolitan edge—mega-cities, territorial dispersed settlements or conversely the planning of cities decreasing in population.  Studies may lead to the design of infrastructure such as highways, streets, bicycle, pedestrian trails and open spaces, buildings, and landscape patterns that establish neighborhoods and provide the settings for public life. Alternatively the program may work on infill in older towns and cities, or may prepare plans, guidelines, or standards to manage extensive new development at the metropolitan growth edge. Our platform incorporates ecological concerns including the understanding of watersheds, topography, conservation or creation of green areas, the need for the preservation of energy resources and a good equitable and varied quality of life for present and future generations.

UC Berkeley is located in one of the most diverse urban areas of the country featuring a varied urban field that contains the traditional fabric of the older areas of San Francisco, Silicon Valley as well as generations of diverse suburban/urban neighborhoods. The Master of Urban Design program at U.C. Berkeley is focused on California the most populous and most diverse states in the US but sees the rest of country and the world as vital source of knowledge. To that objective the program organizes yearly workshops in Asia, Europe or Latin America and assigns travel grants to students on a competitive basis to study places worldwide that relate to their thesis.

Urban Design Curriculum

Five courses constitute the core of the Master of Urban Design degree program:

  • ENV DES 201 Urban Places Advanced Studio — an intensive studio involving collaborative work on problems that are large in scope, yet require attention to spatial organization and design details; projects often involve the exploration of design options for areas under consideration by governmental agencies.
  • ENV DES 251 Urban Places Seminar — an introduction to the program, the faculty resources, and issues arising in current urban design practice.
  • CY PLAN 298 Urban Places Economic Module, which introduces key economic issues and concepts.
  • ENV DES 252 Urban Place Studies, a seminar that brings all candidates in the program together to develop and discuss with core faculty their individual thesis projects.
  • ENV DES 253 Urban Places Thesis Studio, offered during the summer and led by an urban design practitioner with part-time involvement of Masters of Urban Design faculty. The summer thesis studio provides students with guidance leading to completion of the thesis by late summer and presentation to faculty and students during orientation week of fall semester. NOTE: Because this course is offered only during the summer, the UC Berkeley General Catalog does not list it. For general and semester-specific descriptions of ENV DES 253, see Environmental Design Course listings.

An additional studio is selected from one of the graduate studios in the three departments. As advanced candidates, MUD students are expected to take a leadership role in these studios, assisting with the preparation, conduct, or evaluation of the studio and relating it to the content of the Master of Urban Design program. Students must also complete a course that offers instruction in methods for urban design practice or research; a course in urban design history or theory; and elective courses related to the thesis topic and selected in consultation with MUD faculty. See the MUD Program Statement for further information, including sample programs.


Faculty from all three departments are engaged in urban design research, teaching, and professional practice. See a list of current faculty and interests here.

Applying to the Program

Please see Master of Urban Design admission prerequisites for information on how to apply to this program.