Master of Urban Design

Program Overview

The Master of Urban Design (MUD) degree program is an applied research and design degree for students who complete a bachelor's degree in architecture, planning, landscape, or another related disciplines. A broad and inclusive admissions policy is used to attract a cross-disciplinary group of students pursuing professional and academic opportunities as well as mid-career enhancement, and to meet a growing demand for expertise in urban design in the global urban society. The program is designed to fit the needs of both full-time and part-time students.

The MUD program aims to engage the complex issues faced by contemporary towns and cities, which are being transformed by shifting demographics, global capital, information technology, and environmental sustainability. The MUD program is built on the premise that urban design is a fusion of physical design, policy, and implementation strategies. It mediates the professional disciplines of architecture, urban planning, landscape architecture, development, and engineering that together shape our urban environment. Thus it constructs collaborations between these specialists and the citizens affected by urban development and redevelopment.

The MUD program takes the Charlotte metropolitan region as a laboratory while simultaneously reexamining issues on the national and global scales through an integrated summer travel-design experience abroad. The program is housed in the University’s Center City Building in uptown Charlotte, which is also home to the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and the School of Architecture’s own City. Building. Lab, which provides an important contact for students to engage in funded research projects with the faculty and organizations beyond the campus.

Students entering the MUD program with a professional degree in architecture can earn IDP credits towards architectural licensure. 

For more information, please watch this video about the MUD Program.

MUD Program Director
Associate Professor Dr. Zhongjie Lin

MUD Faculty
Associate Professor Dr. Jose Gamez
Assistant Professor Dr. Ming-Chun Lee
Associate Professor Dr. Emily Gunzburger Makas
Associate Professor Deborah Ryan
Professor Emeritus David Walters


The MUD program requires 36-credits, which can be completed in twelve months (fall-spring-summer) by full time students. Each of the three semesters includes 6-hours of studio and two 3-hour seminar courses. Applicants with no previous design training are required to enroll in an extra 3-credit hour summer Basics course prior to fall enrollment.

To accommodate part-time students, courses can be taken in independent 3 and 6-hr increments, but full-time attendance is required for the final summer semester, including the 5-week travel immersion experience.

Master of Urban Design Curriculum

MUD Program Curriculum Diagram


Please visit the SoA Graduate Admissions page for more information about the application requirements and process.

International Study Experience

Rio de Janeiro Favelas

The MUD program includes an integrated 5-week summer international travel-design immersion experience. In recent years, students have traveled to multiple cities in China to study high-density urbanism, historic regeneration, and new town movements. During the summers of 2015 through 2017, students will travel to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to study hyper-density, verticality, infrastructure, and sustainability in urban design - all issues critical to the revitalization and expansion of urban centers.

Tuition, Fees, and Study Abroad Costs

Tuition and fees varies annually. Below is a cost estimate of the Master of Urban Design (MUD) Program for AY 2017-2018. The study abroad program cost of the 5-week summer travel immersion experience is included in the overall cost estimate of the MUD Program, as described below. The study abroad program fee ($5,100) replaces the tuition and fees charge of Summer Session I or first half of the summer semester of the MUD program. You can access UNCC Financial Services website for additional information regarding tuition and fees.

  NC Resident Non NC Resident
Fall 2017 $4,800 $11,800
Spring 2018 $4,800 $11,800
Summer 2018 Session I - Study Abroad $5,100** $5,100**
Summer 2018 Session II $3,300* $5,800*
TOTAL $18,000 $34,500

*estimated summer session tuition + fees
**estimated study abroad trip fee. This fee can be paid in three installments during the Spring 2018 semester.  For students who qualify, summer financial aid is available to defray a portion or all of the cost of the travel program. Aid cannot be released, however, until late in the spring semester.  The amount of aid is determined by the Financial Aid Office. For information about applying for aid, visit the Summer Financial Aid website.

Dual Degree Options

For full-time students with a four-year undergraduate degree in architecture, the MUD program also offers dual degrees with the two-year Master of Architecture (MII-track) professional program at UNC Charlotte. This dual degree can normally be completed in three academic years. Opportunities also exist for additional dual degree options with other UNC Charlotte graduate programs in Geography (Community Planning) and in Business Administration (Real Estate).

Students enrolled in the three-year Master of Architecture (MI-track) program may also add the MUD degree to their architecture degree at the end of their program with a separate application submitted during the last year of their architecture studies. The enrollment period for these two degrees comprises 4 calendar years with two summer sessions.

Students enrolled in the 5th year of the BArch program at UNC Charlotte may also enroll in the 12-month MUD Program through an expedited application process in the spring semester of their fifth year. This allows students to obtain a professional architecture qualification and a post-professional urban design qualification within a two calendar year period.  BArch students must take the GRE exam during the spring semester as an application requirement.  The separate portfolio submission may be waived.