Master of Science in Urban Design

The Master of Science in Urban Design (MSUD) degree is oriented to those who wish to expand upon their previous professional education and professional experience, as architects, landscape architects, city planners, or civil engineers, and to enter urban design practices either in private firms or public agencies. The MSUD Program is housed in the School of Architecture and is run jointly by the School of Architecture and the Georgia Tech School of City and Regional Planning. It offers an intensive and richly interdisciplinary experience, with required courses in urban design, architecture and city planning, with additional opportunities in civil and environmental engineering, real estate development, heritage preservation, and other fields. Students in the MSUD Program are in daily contact with architecture and planning students and faculty throughout the College of Architecture.

MSUD: Qualifications needed to apply

Applicants to the MSUD Program are limited to those with prior accredited professional degrees in architecture (M.ARCH or B.ARCH), landscape architecture (BLA or MLA), City and Regional Planning (MCRP or equivalent), or Civil Engineering (BCE or equivalent). Professional degrees from other countries are acceptable with proper documentation with the understanding that the MSUD cannot serve, in itself, as a professional degree in the US. It is preferable that applicants have a year or more of professional experience.
Applicants must demonstrate their ability for graduate study in urban design by submitting the following in their application package:

  1. A design portfolio, including academic and professional work, demonstrating experience and ability to engage professional level urban design problems. The portfolio must be submitted in digital form.
  2. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, taken within the past five years, and professional degree grade point records and averages to demonstrate overall ability to engage graduate studies. In general, minimums are 60th percentile or higher for the GRE sections and 3.0 GPA or higher. GRE scores are required for all international applicants, regardless of the language of their first degree.
  3. Tests of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores, with a minimum scores of 600 (paper), 250 (computer) or 100 (Internet) are required for students whose first language is not English.

The MSUD Program only admits students for the fall semester, unless the student plans to participate in one of the COA urban design-oriented international summer programs prior to the first semester in the MSUD Program.

MSUD Degree Requirements

The course of study for the Master of Science in Urban Design (MSUD) includes a set of required core courses, totaling 30 credit hours, and professional electives, totaling 9 credit hours. The total minimum credit hour requirement for the MSUD degree is thiry-nine hours.


The 30 credit hours of required core courses are organized into two groups. All of these courses are currently taught in the COA. These include:

  1. Four Seminar and Lecture Courses, totaling twelve credit hours:
    1. COA 6151: History of Urban Form (3-0-3)
    2. ARCH 6151: Theories of Urban Design (3-0-3)
    3. CP 6016: Growth Management Law (3-0-3)
    4. CP 6611: Principles of Real Estate Finance and Development (3-0-3)
  2. Three Laboratory, Studio or Special Problems Courses, totaling 18 credit hours:
    1. COA 6011: Urban Design Fundamentals (1-15-6 credits
    2. COA 7011: Urban Design Studio I (1-15-6 credits)
    3. And one of the following:
      1. COA 7012: Urban Design Studio II (1-15-6)
      2. COA 8881: Special Problems - Urban Design (0-18-6)
      3. ARCH 7045: Urban Design Workshop (0-18-6)


The 9 credits of elective courses are organized into six subject areas, reflecting important areas of urban design practice. Students will be advised to take these electives, either in concentrated areas or in distributed subjects, based on their prior professional degrees, professional experience and career interests. These elective areas are as follows:

  1. Urban Design History, Theory and Practice electives provide depth in several aspects of urban design history, theory and practice. These are especially appropriate for students with strong technical backgrounds, who wish to engage broader aspects of urban design practice.
  2. Sustainable Development electives provide an introduction, as well as policy and technical depth, to issues of sustainable urbanism from a variety of perspectives, ranging from building to city to regional and scales.
  3. Transportation Planning electives are courses in the existing Transportation Dual Degree Program between City and Regional Planning and Civil and Environmental Engineering. Students also may enroll, with permission, in other transportation planning and design courses in the Georgia Tech School of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
  4. Real Estate and Economic Development electives provide additional depth in real estate development and economic development. Students may also cross enroll, with permission, in the Georgia State University Robinson College of Business. In addition, students may select to complete the Real Estate Certificate Program at Georgia State University.
  5. Digital Media electives respond to the rapidly growing need in urban design practice to bridge among GIS, CAD, 3-D Modeling and Animation. The strengths in the COA GIS Center and the Digital Buildings Laboratory provide substantial opportunities in this area, and these opportunities are expanding rapidly.
  6. Heritage Preservation electives address an area of urban design practice that has not had significant academic attention. These electives are based on opportunities for students to cross enroll, with permission, at GSU for courses in the Heritage Preservation Program in the College of Arts and Sciences. In addition, students may select to complete the Historic Preservation Certificate Program at Georgia State University.

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