Graduate Programs

Urban Design, Master of Urban Planning (M.UP)

The Graduate Program in Urban Design is focused on creating new, equitable, beautiful, and sustainable forms and technologies for the city and urban life. We believe trans-disciplinary designers in general and urban designers in particular are in an ideal position to positively contribute to re-envisioning a series of global urban realities in crisis. Through cultural, technological, environmental, and social engagement, we can harvest a newly found design adroitness to address the problems that render our cities less just, less plural, less safe, unproductive, and environmentally deficient. The Urban Design program seeks emergent urban narratives that can guide design through the aforementioned surplus of practices, orbiting epistemes, and technologies addressing the city.

Far from the smart city movement and tightly codified Western planning efforts, some of the most promising urban practices are emerging in the Global South. These urban practices are bound by another set of drivers that enable a set of complex and advanced anthropologies, economies, and social structures. In addition, they address an enmeshed range of issues such as scarcity, equanimity, densification, resource depletion, and environmental crises. Together, these practices are inciting new urban narratives that spatialize social economies, environmentally responsive practices, and new public infrastructures.


Students in our program will surface the narratives that guide and enable these complex interactions and if necessary dream or induce them to a new reality. Focusing on topics such as diasporas as they intersect with environmental and urban systems, we will promote design methods ranging from systems and processes thinking, to the recalibration of existing urban fabrics, and to novel spatial practices. Hence, in the concerns of cities lie also the opportunities to redefine our practices.


The program is designed to be completed in two full-time, sequential semesters. At the core of the curriculum is the design studio. Committed to both experiment and amelioration, the two-semester program focuses, each year, on a New York City site and, after a research visit, on design of a city in a demanding environment abroad.  Projects have addressed sites including Havana, San Jose (Costa Rica), Gaza, the Ecuadorian rainforest; Belfast; Tianjin; Nicosia; Johannesburg; New Orleans; Hanoi, Wuhan, Bogota, Tijuana, Biloxi, and Chicago.


A total of four courses are required each semester. The electives are chosen from the remarkable and wide-ranging urban offerings and distinguished faculty at the School of Architecture and City College at large, the Urban Affairs and Planning Program at Hunter College, and the CUNY Graduate Center.


Applicants to the Urban Design programs should hold a professional degree in either architecture or landscape architecture. Applicants from other backgrounds will be considered only in exceptional circumstances and on demonstration of a high level of design ability.



Per-semester courseload: 16 credits
Note: For students who desire a longer course of study, it is possible to distribute the credits over up to three semesters with the required studio and theory courses taken during the first two semesters.


Fall Term 1

Spring Term 2


Elective offerings are also available and may be chosen from the urban offerings and distinguished faculty of City College at large (including urban design, architecture, landscape architecture, and sustainability programs), the Urban Affairs and Planning Program at Hunter College, and the CUNY Graduate Center. For a sampling of recent electives at the Spitzer School, refer to the school schedule.