Master of Urban and Regional Planning

The Master of Urban and Regional Planning Program at the University of Colorado Denver has evolved to become one of the strongest planning programs in the United States. We offer a hands-on, real-world oriented program that uses Colorado as our classroom and engages students with top planning/design professionals and the community.

We believe that successful city-building requires expertise, breadth, interdisciplinary understanding, and creativity. As part of the Urban and Regional Planning Department, our program looks beyond traditional professional silos and instead centers on issues at the forefront of planning practice. Our three program Pillars—Healthy Communities, Equitable Urbanism, and Regional Sustainability—form the basis of our research, instruction, and community outreach.

We encourage all students to follow their passion and develop expertise in the areas that matter most to them. Thus, we offer a unique, self-directed curriculum that allows students to understand the breadth of the planning field while gaining the technical expertise demanded by the profession.

Our world-class faculty includes some of the most respected researchers in the planning field, and our award-winning planning practitioners bring a wealth of experience to the classroom. All of our faculty make teaching a top priority.

Our presence in a College of Architecture and Planning ensures that our approach to planning education has a strong connection to design, and our location in the heart of downtown Denver presents our students with endless opportunities to learn what it takes to create amazing cities.

Program Hallmarks

Program Faculty

Meet the Urban and Regional Planning Faculty

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Curriculum


Our curriculum embodies our three Pillars, and makes the most of our geographic context and our unique program hallmarks. Our curriculum balances a strong, comprehensive core set of courses with a self-directed path through a wide range of elective choices. Read below to learn more about our program requirements, core courses, electives, and more. 

The total number of credit hours required to earn the Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) degree is 54. To reach the 54 credit hour total, students must earn 36 credits by completing and passing the required core courses. Students must then earn an additional 18 credits by completing elective courses of their choice, with three (3) of those 18 consisting of an advanced skills/methods elective.

Across those 54 credits, students must also meet final course grade minimums and cumulative grade point average requirements (see the GPA Requirements and Grading Policy tab) in order to earn the MURP degree. The required 54 credits may be reduced in some cases for students who meet the requirements for advanced standing or who have transfer credits (see the Advanced Standing Credit Waiver tab).

To learn more about the required core courses and the overall total credit hour requirements for completing the MURP degree, please see the Credit Hour Requirements Section below. 

Credit Hour Requirements

Course Sequence and Prerequisites

Generally, the 5000-series core courses should be completed first because they provide foundational knowledge, skills, and values that are important to successfully completing the 6000-series core and elective courses. While most electives are taken in the second year, students have the opportunity to take elective courses during their first year in the program. 

The following tables show the typical two-year course sequence and prerequisites.

Core Courses

The MURP program’s core courses provide students with a comprehensive survey of the planning field and the foundational knowledge, skills, and values important to the profession. The core courses have been carefully designed to fully comply with the Planning Accreditation Board’s required educational outcomes. Click on the course below to read the full description.

Core Studios

Planning Workshop (URPL 5060) and Planning Project Studio (URPL 6000) are the two core studio courses. These courses are a key part of the hands-on, real-world focus of the MURP program. This section provides more details on these unique core courses.

Planning Workshop is the introductory studio for MURP students offered each spring semester. Planning Workshop provides students an opportunity to address actual planning problems, issues, and processes; apply previously acquired knowledge and skills; and develop new knowledge and practical skills in an applied context.

Students will develop basic competence in accessing existing information, generating new information, and performing planning analysis and synthesis to inform and generate conceptual plans. Students will also learn the fundamentals of physical planning, understanding different geographic scales and site components, and how to illustrate physical plans and designs through various media and techniques. Through the Planning Workshop experience, students will develop an understanding of the relationship between planning theory and practice, and enhance their graphic, written, and oral communication capabilities.

Students will also receive introductory instruction in Trimble SketchUp, which complements the introductory instruction in Adobe Creative Cloud and ArcGIS Pro that students receive in the Planning Practice and Technology course. The integration and use of these common planning applications is a critical component of the Planning Workshop experience.

Planning Capstone/Planning Thesis

Planning Capstone is a six-credit, project-oriented, one-semester course that results in a substantial deliverable upon completion. The Capstone option is best suited for students who wish to pursue a career as a professional planner after graduation. 

Alternatives

Within the Planning Capstone option are two alternatives: Independent Project and Small-Group Project.

If a student chooses the Planning Capstone > Independent Project path, he or she will work individually to complete a significant planning project or study for a real-world client. If a student chooses the Planning Capstone > Small-Group Project path, he or she must team up with one or two other students—forming a project team of no more than three people—to complete a significant planning project or study for a real-world client. However, each student must be individually responsible for a clearly defined component of the group project as each student will be graded independently for his or her work. 

Requirements

During the semester before enrolling in Planning Capstone, students will be required to:

  • Attend a mandatory Capstone Orientation to receive instruction and guidance on project planning and management
  • Determine if they will be working independently or as part of a small group,
  • Identify their Capstone client and project topic, and
  • Begin preparing a detailed project prospectus (work plan, schedule, methodology, and deliverables).

Students must have a completed and approved project prospectus by the first week of their Capstone semester. Students may identify their own Planning Capstone client and project topic or they may select from a list of Capstone clients/projects that have been pre-arranged and approved by the MURP faculty.

During the Planning Capstone semester, students complete their project work while maintaining regular contact with their Capstone faculty advisor and client to ensure sufficient progress and work quality, as well as periodically meeting with other Capstone students to discuss common issues and challenges, share experiences, and receive continued instruction and guidance from the Capstone faculty on project management and methodologies. The Planning Capstone semester concludes with the submission of all deliverables and a formal presentation to the client. 

Additional Info

For more information about Planning Capstone, students may request a copy of the Planning Capstone Handbook. Students will automatically receive a copy of the Handbook at the Capstone Orientation in the fall.

Elective Courses

Whereas the MURP core courses offer a broad survey of related planning topics to provide foundational knowledge, skills, and values, the elective courses offer a more intensive investigation into a diverse array of planning and design topics.

Click the link below to find brief descriptions of the MURP program’s elective courses that are regularly offered once a year in the Fall and Spring semesters, as well as elective courses that are intermittently offered—usually once every two years. 

Disclaimer: All courses listed are subject to change given student interest, faculty availability, and other considerations. Additional electives will also be periodically offered as Special Topics courses. Not counting cross-listed courses (those provided by a different program but assigned a URPL course number), students may take up to two elective courses from other CU Denver programs and departments as qualifying MURP electives. We recommend consulting with your faculty advisor about these course decisions.

Elective Courses Regularly Offered - FALL

Please note: Courses an asterisk (*) are offered by other programs within the College or University but are cross-listed with a URPL course number as approved MURP courses. Courses with a double asterisk (**) are approved as advanced skills/methods electives.

Elective Courses Regularly Offered - SPRING

Please note: Courses with an asterisk (*) are offered by other programs within the College or University but are cross-listed with a URPL course number as approved MURP courses. Courses with a double asterisk (**) are approved as advanced skills/methods electives.

Elective Courses Regularly Offered - Summer

GIS for Urban Planning and Visualization for Planning are offered in the Fall and Summer semesters.

Cross-Listed Elective Courses

These courses focus on planning-related topics within disciplines such as urban design, landscape architecture, public administration, business, and civil engineering. 

 

Preview Electives

Listen to our faculty talk about elective course offerings and answer student questions.

Potential Focus Areas

Through our self-directed elective curriculum, students have the ability to craft a MURP degree suited to their career goals and personal interests. Students may choose any combination of elective courses, whether oriented towards a traditional planning field such as “Transportation Planning,” a customized emphasis on a unique planning niche, or a general survey of diverse planning topics (i.e. no specialization at all). Students are not required to identify or pursue any type of planning specialization unless they want to
(specializations do not appear on transcripts). Ultimately, students may choose whichever combination of elective courses they desire.

However, for those students who may want to focus their electives on a specific aspect of planning, we've identified below six common planning “focus areas” and a selection of MURP elective courses that would provide excellent coverage of each focus area. Again, these are not prescribed or required, just suggested combinations of electives related to each focus area for students who may be interested. Additional relevant courses may also be found within and outside of the MURP program.

The most helpful resource for assisting students in choosing their self-directed path through the MURP program is the planning faculty. Students should not hesitate to reach out to any faculty member for advice about which electives to take or any topic relating to the MURP program or careers in planning. For more information, see Advising.

Introductory Electives Advanced Skills/Methods Electives Specialized Electives
URPL 6555
Transportation, Land Use, and Environment
URPL 6225
Urban Policy Analytics
URPL 6260
Advanced Geospatial Methods
URPL 6560
Transit, Pedestrian, and Bicycle Planning
URPL 6250
GIS for Urban Planning
URPL 6399
Intro to Sustainable Urban Infrastructure
    URPL 6550
Transportation Planning and Policy
    URPL 6600
Regional Growth and Equity

Notes:

  1. Only one advanced skills/methods elective is necessary to meet the requirement. 
  2. URPL 6260 - Advanced Geospatial Methods would be an effective specialized elective under any focus area.
  3. URPL 6800 - Special Topics courses are routinely offered by the MURP program that may be effective specialized electives under a focus area.
  4. Students may discover courses offered by other programs in the university that may be effective specialized electives under a focus area. Consult with your faculty advisor.
Introductory ElectivesAdvanced Skills/Methods Electives Specialized Electives
URPL 6500
Environmental Planning and Management
URPL 6225
Urban Policy Analytics
URPL 6205
Plan Making
URPL 6555
Transportation, Land Use, and Environment
URPL 6250
GIS for Urban Planning
URPL 6365
Parks and Public Spaces
  URPL 6615
Small Town, Rural, and Tourism Planning
  URPL 6645
Disaster and Climate Change Planning

Notes:

  1. Only one advanced skills/methods elective is necessary to meet the requirement. 
  2. URPL 6260 - Advanced Geospatial Methods would be an effective specialized elective under any focus area.
  3. URPL 6800 - Special Topics courses are routinely offered by the MURP program that may be effective specialized electives under a focus area.
  4. Students may discover courses offered by other programs in the university that may be effective specialized electives under a focus area. Consult with your faculty advisor.

Independent Study Elective Course

Independent Study is a student self-directed learning experience with faculty oversight, guidance, and evaluation. Independent Study offers students an important opportunity to engage in research or creative activity in an area of inquiry not offered through regular courses, or in greater depth than offered in regular courses. Students who wish to pursue an Independent Study course must develop an Independent Study proposal and have it approved by the faculty member who has agreed to serve as their project advisor, prior to enrolling in the course. More information about the Independent Study option is available from the Planning faculty or, for current MURP students, on MURPspace.

Internships

Internships are an important way the MURP program helps students achieve hands-on, experiential learning. The difference between an internship and a part-time job is that an internship is specifically intended to be a learning experience. Getting academic credit for an internship is not required, but doing so can be a rewarding part of a student's self-directed curriculum. Students earn 3 elective credits for successfully completing URPL 6805 - Planning Internship. For more information, refer to the MURP Student Handbook or contact Jenny Steffel Johnson jennifer.steffeljohnson@ucdenver.edu

The school uses the Handshake platform to post internship and job openings but students are also encouraged to pursue opportunities through their own networking and research.

Dual/Overlapping Degree Programs

The CU Denver MURP program believes that successful city-building requires expertise, breadth, interdisciplinary understanding, and creativity. Our program emphasizes thinking outside traditional professional silos and we encourage students to explore the planning profession by following a self-directed path and develop expertise in the areas that matter most to them.

In keeping with this spirit, the MURP program offers nine dual degree options and one overlapping degree option. In order to pursue a dual or overlapping degree, you must be accepted into both programs separately. You may choose to apply to another program to pursue a dual or overlapping degree after you have entered the MURP program. Once admitted to a dual degree, you must complete the work for both degrees before you can graduate from either. Please visit the Master of Urban Design program page for information on the overlapping degree option with that program. Pursuing a dual or overlapping degree provides a reduction in the number of credits required than you would need if you earned each degree separately, saving both time and money.

Travel Study Opportunities

Admissions


Are you passionate about helping plan and build vibrant, sustainable cities? Do you want to help protect the environment and prepare resilient, successful regions? Are you inspired to help people help themselves and promote equitable, healthy communities? If so, you should consider applying to our Master of Urban and Regional Planning program at CU Denver!

Students admitted into this program must have completed a Bachelor’s degree before they will be able to begin this program. An official conferred degree transcript is required by the university. For additional information, please see Graduate School Policies and Procedures.

Spring 2023

Application Opens: July 1, 2022
Application Closes: October 15, 2022

Fall 2023

Application Opens: September 1, 2022

Priority Deadline to be considered for scholarships: January 15, 2023
*All applications materials must be submitted 

For Fall 2022, late applications will be accepted until May 1, 2022, and will be reviewed on a space-available basis. Admissions decisions will be made by the end of May. Late applicants will not be eligible for scholarship consideration.

Students considering applying to the program should:
  • Have at least a 3.00 undergraduate grade point average
  • Have a demonstrated passion for urban and regional planning (although any prior field of undergraduate study is acceptable)
  • Be drawn to at least one of our three Pillars—Healthy Communities, Equitable Urbanism, and Regional Sustainability
  • Be excited about what our program has to offer
  • Be enthusiastic about going to graduate school in downtown Denver and experiencing Colorado and the Rocky Mountain West
  • Contribute to the diversity of our student body by having backgrounds and experiences that give the applicant a unique perspective on urban and regional planning

Master of Urban and Regional Planning Students at Orientation

Tuition & Fees

The University of Colorado Denver has one of the most affordable tuition rates in Colorado.  Our tuition and fees are set by the Board of Regents, the governing body of the University of Colorado.  Tuition is based on student classification (undergraduate, graduate, academic program, resident or nonresident) and you can find out what rates will apply to your situation here. 
All CAP Graduate Programs have WICHE-WRGP (Western Regional Graduate Program) status, which grants in-state resident tuition to students from 15 western states including California, Washington, Oregon and Arizona.

Living in Denver


Student and Faculty Work


Explore MURP Projects From Students & Faculty

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Program News


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MURP Alumni

As former students and now professionals, MURP alumni work throughout the US and abroad and maintain close ties to the MURP program through the MURP Alumni Association. MURP students have numerous opportunities to engage with MURP alumni, learn from their experience, and build relationships that will last a lifetime.

Connect with the MURP Alumni Association

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Student Organizations

The College of Architecture and Planning supports several student organizations including two planning-specific groups—American Planning Association Student Chapter (APAS) and WTS for transportation planning.

Get Involved with Student Organizations Including APAS + WTS

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Urban and Regional Planning Contacts

Carrie Makarewicz

Carrie Makarewicz PhD

Associate Professor & Department Chair
Jennifer Steffel Johnson

Jennifer Steffel Johnson PhD

Assistant Professor CTT & Associate Chair
Roxy New Headshot

Roxy New

Academic Advisor and Course Coordinator
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Jodi Stock

Admissions and Recruitment Coordinator