Urban Design-School of Architecture - Carnegie Mellon University

Master of Urban Design (MUD)

Urban Design Pedagogy

The Master of Urban Design (MUD) degree is a post-professional, two-year program that prepares graduates for careers using urban design to critically address environmental, economic, social, and cultural issues affecting the contemporary metropolis. The studio-based curriculum allows students to explore design strategies in a variety of scales and settings, from the post-industrial city to the suburban periphery to the dense global metropolis. The studio sequence is supported by small group seminars and workshops to develop the skill sets necessary for an urban designer in the twenty-first century. Students should graduate with a firm grasp of the history, theory, and practice that has established urban design as a discipline as well as skills in cutting edge media and methods.

Program Evolution from One Year to Two Years and Program Residency

Students currently enrolled in the MUD program who will graduate in August 2015 will be the final class in the one-year three-semester curriculum.

Beginning in fall 2015 the MUD degree will evolve to a two-year program that is currently planned to include two semesters in Year One resident in Pittsburgh on the main CMU campus, followed by two semesters in Year Two resident at a new CMU site in New York City in Brooklyn at the Steiner Studios.*

*In late Fall 2014, Carnegie Mellon intends to submit to the Board of Regents of the New York State Education Department an application for permission to offer this education program in New York City in Brooklyn at the Steiner Studios. Carnegie Mellon’s ability to provide this residency option in New York City is subject to Carnegie Mellon timely obtaining the required consent of the Board of Regents.  In the event the required consent from the Board of Regents is not timely obtained, the two-year MUD program will be resident in Pittsburgh for both years.

Overview of the MUD Program

The MUD program at Carnegie Mellon is distinguished by its emphasis on integrating practice with new tools and techniques for representing, understanding, and designing cities, and through the planned opportunity for students to live and study in Pittsburgh and New York City.

The first year of the MUD program is based in Pittsburgh, and uses Pittsburgh as an urban laboratory. Students will take courses in the School of Architecture, and in other graduate programs within the university, including public policy, urban systems, computational design, and sustainable design.

The second year of the MUD program is planned to be based in New York City within Carnegie Mellon’s recently launched Integrative Media Program (CMU-IMP) at the Steiner Studios in Brooklyn. This cross-disciplinary applied sciences program, assuming New York State Board of Regents’ consent to provide this program, will bring together students and faculty from four CMU graduate degree programs, including the Master of Urban Design, Master of Computational Data Science, Master of Emerging Media, and Master of Integrative Innovation.  Students from all four programs will take CMU-IMP graduate courses focused on urban design, urban systems, big data, interactive computing, representational media, and integrative innovation. The interdisciplinary culture and shared courses of the IMP will enhance the MUD program by exploring the emergent relationships between people, cities, technology, data, and media. Students may also take, with prior approval of the School of Architecture, elective courses for credit at other accredited universities in New York City.

Year One Studios

The Pittsburgh-based studios in Year One emphasize citizen engagement and explore real problems of urban neighborhood revitalization, infrastructure development, and suburban transformation in local Pittsburgh neighborhoods. The first-semester fall studio focuses on urban design place-making at the scale of a public space and surrounding buildings. The second-semester spring studio focuses on urban systems in the greater region, with an emphasis on the intersection of urban design, ecology, and infrastructure.

Year Two Studios

The New York City-based studios in Year Two are planned to engage students in a two-semester long design and research project focused on the design, development, and regulation of a new or expanded mixed-use urban district in New York City, and in parallel, of a comparable district in an international global city. The studio integrates themes of place, context, typology, infrastructure, ecology, community engagement, political dynamics, social policy, development economics, and regulatory frameworks. A research trip to the international city partway through the fall semester is an integral part in the year-long studio. Recent CMU MUD international studios have included: Toronto, Canada; Doha, Qatar; Kigali, Rwanda; and Barcelona, Spain.*

* If Year Two of the MUD program is resident in Pittsburgh because the required consent from the Board of Regents is not timely obtained, the second year MUD studios will still focus on mixed-use urban districts in New York City and in a global city outside the U.S., including field visits to both cities.

Summer Internship

In the summer between Year One and Year Two, students are encouraged to secure an internship at an architecture, urban design, or planning firm, or at a public agency or non-profit development organization -- ideally in Pittsburgh or New York City. Summer internships are valuable in utilizing newly acquired skills and knowledge in a professional setting. However, the internship is not required and is not credit-bearing.

Faculty and Remaking Cities Institute

Comprised of experienced practicing professionals, researchers, and educators, the MUD program faculty spans the fields of urban design, architecture, planning, public policy, and digital media. Many MUD faculty work within CMU's international urban design research center, the Remaking Cities Institute (RCI), that conducts interdisciplinary research in place-making, urban systems, citizen engagement, and sustainable development. Students may engage in assistantships in the RCI through faculty-led research projects.

Prerequisite Degrees

Entering students must possess at minimum a four-year degree in a studio-based program in architecture, landscape architecture, or urban/city planning (B.Arch, B.L.Arch, BA/BS Architecture, BA/BS Landscape Architecture, or BA/BS Planning). Design portfolios are a requirement of the application for admission.

MUD Graduation Requirements

In addition to the standard requirements for all graduate students in the School of Architecture, students in the MUD program must satisfy the following:

  • Students must complete a minimum of 180 units of course work for graduation.
  • Students must complete a minimum residency of three (3) academic semesters, during which time they must have Full Time Status. However, the four semester-long urban design studios must be completed in sequence and done on campus.
  • Full Time Status requires a minimum of 36 units.
  • Securing a summer internship between Year One and Year Two in Pittsburgh or New York City is recommended but not required.
  • Core course substitutions are allowed only with the consent of the Track Chair.

Confidentiality Requirements at Steiner Studios

As indicated above, the second year of the MUD program is planned to be based in New York City within Carnegie Mellon’s recently launched Integrative Media Program (CMU-IMP) at the Steiner Studios in Brooklyn.   Because Steiner Studios is a full-service, state-of-the-art “production factory,” equipped for start-to-finish production of major motion pictures, independent films, television, broadcast commercials, photo shoots and music videos, students in the program are required to acknowledge and agree to the following, as a condition to participation (and/or continued participation) in the program while at Steiner Studios:   (i) all production activity on the Steiner Studios’ lots is confidential, (ii) no filming, photographing, videotaping or other recording is permitted on the lots by third parties (including Carnegie Mellon students), other than within the interior of Carnegie Mellon’s space at Steiner Studios (excluding the recording from the Carnegie Mellon space of activities of third parties on the lots outside of the Carnegie Mellon space), (iii) there is to be no posting to any social media website or other services (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) about or involving any filming, photographing, videotaping or other recordings prohibited by (ii) above or confidential production activity on the lots, and (iv) no third parties (including Carnegie Mellon students) may enter any stage on the lots or any other space of any other Steiner Studio client on the lots, nor attempt to view any activities within any such other space, nor communicate with any “talent” on the lots.  Any Carnegie Mellon student who violates the foregoing confidentiality requirements will be denied access to Steiner Studios (and, therefore, the Carnegie Mellon space), and may be personally liable to Steiner Studios and/or its clients for the violation.