Master of Science in Urban Design (MSUD)

The Master of Science in Urban Design Program 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 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.

Although the Master of Science in Urban Design is a new degree title, Georgia Tech has been offering a similar Master of Science in Architecture with a concentration in Urban Design for a number of year. Georgia Tech has been known as a leader in urban design education since 1969. The MSUD designated degree program begins a new chapter in urban design at Georgia Tech.

The MSUD Program is a small program – a maximum of eight to ten students from a variety of backgrounds are admitted each year. The MSUD Program requires a full-time commitment for twelve months. Participation in the Georgia Tech Graduate COOP Program or other employment is possible, but outside employment cannot consume more than 15 hours per week.



The photo section includes recent student work from the MSUD program.

Eligibility and Applications

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 scores, taken within the past 5 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.



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 39 hours. Download the MSUD Handbook


 Fall Semester:  
 COA 6011: Urban Design Fundamentals  6
  COA 6151: History of Urban Form   3
 ARCH 6151: Theories of Urban Design  3
 Total       15 credits
 Spring Semester:  
 COA 7011: Urban Design Studio I     6
 CP 6016: Growth Management Law       3
 CP 6611: Principles of Real Estate Finance  3
 Total        15 credits
 Summer Semester:  
 COA 7012: Urban Design Studio II  6
 Urban Design Approved Elective  3
 Total  9 credits
NOTE:  The summer studio – COA 7012 – is one choice with two additional alternatives, including ARCH 7045: Urban Design Workshop and COA 8881: Special Problems in Urban Design. These choices vary from year to year.
  Total Credit Hours Required           39 credits


Elective Courses

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 concentrations or in distributed subjects, based on their prior professional degrees, professional experience and career interests. These elective areas are as follows:

  • Urban Design History, Theory and Practice
    These 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.
  • Sustainable Development
    These 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.
  • Transportation Planning
    These electives are courses in the existing Transportation Dual Degree Program between City and Regional Planning and Civil and Environmental Engineering. Students may also enroll, with permission, in other transportation planning and design courses in the Georgia Tech School of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
  • Real Estate and Economic Development
    These 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.
  • Digital Media
    Digital media is a rapidly growing need in urban design practice, especially the bridging among GIS, CAD, 3-D Modeling and Animation. The strengths in the COAGIS Center and the Imagine Lab provide substantial opportunities in this area, and these opportunities are expanding rapidly.
  • Heritage Preservation
    Heritage Preservation is 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.

Residency and Minimum Credits

The program requires a minimum a calendar year of study, including fall, spring, and summer semesters. The summer semester will focus on the final studio, independent research project or an urban design workshop experience. International programs are also an opportunity to fulfill some or all requirements for the  summer semester.

The MSUD Program requires a minimum of 39 semester credit hours.  Only three credits of pass-fail courses may be applied to the 39 credit hour total.

International Programs

Students in the MSUD Program are encouraged to participate in the College International Programs, both of which have an urban design focus. The Modern Architecture and the Modern City  [MAMC] Summer Study Abroad Program alternates annually between Europe [2013] and Asia [2014] focusing on the modern and contemporary city and its urban design, architecture and landscape architecture. Students earn 9 to 12 credits in this program, combining electives and an independent research project. The COA International Urban Design Workshop visits various world cities to conduct urban design workshops in cooperation with urban design, architecture and planning schools abroad. Students participating in the Workshop earn 6 credits of workshop and electives in the summer semester. The 2009 and 2010 Workshops were located in Shanghai and Tongji University. The 2011 Workshops will again be in Shanghai.

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