Master of Urban Design - Future Cities


College of Architecture & the Built Environment


Master of Urban Design


East Falls


On Campus


The Master of Urban Design – Future Cities (MUD) is a 48-credit, four-semester, full-time program that is studio based. Students have opportunities to travel to a variety of national and international metropolitan areas and explore first-hand the challenges of rapid urbanization. This valuable real-world experience prepares graduates for global practice in the field.

Students without a formal education in architecture or a related field will be required to take additional courses (up to 23 credits) in their first semester or first year.

MUD Course Descriptions

Total: 48 Credits

Year One, Fall (12 Credits)

MUD 601: Master Studio – Sustainable and Smart Cities 6 Credits

This urban design studio introduces fundamental concepts and methods of urban design, and explore sustainable and smart cities through four different scales: infrastructure, mobility, public space, and building. The studio focuses on the development of major metropolitan areas, and involve travel to large American cities, such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Various social and environmental indicators are assessed and designed, such as accessibility to public transportation, amenities and green spaces, walkability, carbon emission, daylight, etc.

MUD 615: Advanced GIS for Landscape Analysis 3 Credits

This advanced GIS course covers topics in geospatial technology as related to landscape architecture and geodesign. The course prepares students to apply GIS within practical design processes such as site preparation and analysis; modeling terrains and hydrologic processes; integration of sustainable design criteria; and modeling the built environment in 3D. While this course covers a broad suite of tools within the ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Pro Platforms, it places heavy emphasis on raster-based GIS processes.

MUD 600: Modeling Urban Environmental Performance 3 Credits

Urban designers and planners need to understand different urban systems and their interactions with the surrounding environment to make informed decisions. Various types of urban modeling and simulation methods provide unique opportunities to address this need. In this course, students are exposed to a wide range of computational tools to model, simulate, and analyze the urban environment. This course also discusses how these tools can facilitate knowledge extraction from urban data and inform decision-making in design practice.

Year One, Spring (12 Credits)

MUD 621: Master Studio – Resilient Cities and Communities 4 Credits

This studio introduces fundamental design strategies and approaches of building resilient cities and communities, with advanced techniques to model, simulate and analyze the performance of the project site from social, economic, and environmental perspectives. Over the semester, students gain the understandings of resilient design principles, research & data analysis, and stakeholder engagement process while strengthening their core urban design skills through a collaborative design process.

MUD 623: Studio Companion: Ecological Systems for Resilient Communities 2 Credits

This course aims to introduce a kit-of-parts approach for analyzing and strategically responding to issues pertaining to urban resilience. As a studio companion, this course is intended to provide students with technical skills and conceptual focus to support the design process through digital workflows. Heavy emphasis is placed on the rigor and accuracy of analysis as well as the corresponding design strategy, though students are expected to develop their own subjects of inquiry through which their projects may take shape.

MUD 617: Advanced GIS for Urban Planning and Development 3 Credits

This advanced geospatial course focuses on analysis and modeling of urban structure and dynamics. The aim of this course is to prepare students to apply GIS processes within practical situations, such as demographic and population research; real estate development; transportation modeling; and economic analysis. Exercises includes simulating and modeling urban transportation systems, analyzing and modeling urban growth, and predicting urban changes and impacts.

MUD 604: Emerging Design and Technology for Future Cities 3 Credits

This course explores how new design strategies and emerging technology can build a more sustainable city of the future at human, architectural and urban scales. Particularly, the technologies introduced in this course include those that can be used in the process of designing and making cities (e.g., big data, modeling and simulation), as well as those that can be implemented within cities (e.g., sensors, mobility system and IoT devices).

Year Two, Fall (12 Credits)

MUD 603: Master Studio – Decarbonizing Cities 6 Credits

The cities we build today urgently need to minimize carbon emissions wherever possible, at both the building and urban scale. Both operational and embodied carbon emission reductions need to be a part of this equation. With the development of data and digital technologies, understanding low- or zero-carbon cities concepts and developing the capacity to analyze the performance of cities are increasingly important for architects, urban planners, and policymakers. Therefore, this studio aims to design a truly sustainable neighborhood by using various advanced computational and simulation tools.

MUD 602: History and Theory of Urban Design 3 Credits

This course analyzes major movements and theoretical constructs that have dominated urban design and the making of cities from pre-industrial periods to contemporary cities and megacities. Focus upon societal and environmental aspects, political and economic systems, scientific and technological changes, philosophical and ideological positions form the backdrop to an examination of the city as artifact and to decoding the meanings embedded within the urban fabric.

MUD 631: Research Methods 3 Credits

This seminar guides students in the formulation of a research question tailored to the individual’s professional goals whose original analysis and proposed solution contributes to the discourse in the field. Avenues of inquiry within the discipline are wide-ranging, encompassing either research-based or design-driven topics. Working with both faculty and professional advisors, each student investigates current debates relative to the topic, significant case studies and core literature, in addition to topic-specific research strategies.

Year Two, Spring (12 Credits)

MUD 606: Master's Research Studio 6 Credits

This research studio explores the historic and contemporary intersections among urban design, sustainability and technology. Students develop a self-directed, faculty monitored independent study through this studio, and research topics are based on the student interests as well as the expertise of our faculty. Possibilities include: sustainable cities, urban data analytics, computational urban design, environmental simulation, and histories and theories of urban design. Students are encouraged to publish the final output of this studio in a peer-review publication.

Elective Course 3 Credits
Elective Course 3 Credits