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Master of Urban Planning

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Program Contact

Diana Siembor,
Graduate Academic Advisor,
for Master of Urban Planning Program

(206) 685-4055


The Professional Master's Degree Program

The Master of Urban Planning (MUP) is the usual educational credential for professional planning practice. It is normally a two-year, or six-quarter program. Requirements for undertaking graduate-level study include a satisfactory academic record and undergraduate training in one of a variety of disciplines including urban planning and environmental design or other appropriate fields, such as geography, economics, or other social sciences; English and other humanities; civil engineering and environmental studies; landscape architecture and architecture.


Starting with the entering class of Autumn 2015, the MUP program will no longer require prerequisites. However, because resource allocation is often a key issue in planning, we consider a solid understanding of basic economic principles essential for all planners. Moreover, students should be aware that they are expected to have a foundation in microeconomics for certain courses and thus should be adequately prepared if they plan to take such a course. Students who join the MUP program without having completed a course in economics (microeconomics in particular) will be counseled to take an economics course as part of their curriculum.

Students who lack knowledge in economics but wish to take a microeconomics course prior to entering the MUP program have several options. Students may take a microeconomics course at a community college or through an accredited on-line program, which typically charge a comparatively modest tuition. Students may also take ECON 200, Intro to Microeconomics, at the University of Washington (5 credits). This course is offered every quarter, but tends to have greater availability in summer quarter. Please note, however, that the credits will not count towards the MUP degree.

Program Objective

The primary objective is to educate professional planners with a broad range of competence in planning and design; a second is to provide opportunities for individual studies in selected professional areas. All students are required to complete a core curriculum of essential knowledge in urban planning, design, and development covering history, contexts of design and planning, and theory; analytical methods; processes of planning and implementation; communication skills; current issues; research methods; and studio experiences.

To be awarded the Master of Urban Planning degree, the student must complete a minimum of 72 quarter credit hours of work in urban design and planning related fields, at least half of which must be at the 500-level and above. Full time students normally take 12-15 credit hours per quarter; 10 is the minimum for those receiving financial aid; 18 is the maximum normally allowed per quarter. A 3.0 cumulative grade point average in the courses taken while enrolled in the Graduate School is required for graduation. All work toward the degree must be completed within six years of entrance into the program.

The Educational Setting

Excellence in a graduate curriculum is a matter of context and necessary knowledge. The context of a curriculum is determined by the faculty and its skills, interests and intellectual energy; by students who are part of the program; by relationships the program has to other programs and the profession; and by resources, both in and outside the University, available to students. The context is the vehicle that delivers; that shapes, excites, unites, instills, and defines the field for the student.

Studying planning and urban design at the University of Washington is enhanced by the degree program's location in a college containing architecture, landscape architecture and building construction. The diversity of the University itself, one of the country's leading research institutions, is a significant resource of courses and faculty for the planning student. Also reflected in the curriculum is the program's situation in the Pacific Northwest's largest metropolitan area, Seattle and the Puget Sound Region. Professional expertise and first-hand training are available to students in a wide variety of planning and urban design roles.

Requiring a core of courses in the planning curriculum is based on the premise that despite a rather wide range of bona fide professional activities that constitute urban planning, there are some subjects that all should hold in common. As a consequence, the curriculum is designed to provide for a shared set of experiences and material for all students in the program. However, we believe that excellence in planning education is not just getting the right subjects on the table. In this integrative field educational excellence cannot be measured only by the availability of significant areas of course work. Rather, it is a matter of providing a framework for the future professional; a framework of relationships to enable the professional to grow and change as does the field. It is faculty pointing out connections in terms of history, values, basic ways of approaching problems and the roles that various substantive areas and specializations have within this field and with other fields. For this reason, the program emphasizes activities of teaching, exemplifying, advising and linking so that the experience of becoming educated in urban design and planning is as meaningful and exciting as the context of the courses.

University of Washington
Department of Urban Design and Planning · 410 Gould Hall · Box 355740 · Seattle, WA 98195-5740 · Phone: (206) 543-4190 · Fax: (206) 685-9597 · email: udp@uw.edu