Curriculum

The Urban Design Certificate Program is open to students in the MArch, BLA, MLA, MUP, and both PhD programs in the College of Built Environments, who show promise of achievement in urban design.

The program also welcomes and supports students who want to take courses in urban design, but who do not wish to complete the full certificate requirements, and supports the internal urban design specialization within the MUP degree program.

Design Skills

Candidates for the Certificate in Urban Design typically have a physical design background, and hold an undergraduate degree in architecture, landscape architecture, environmental design, or urban planning with a design emphasis. Alternatively, an equivalent background may be obtained during residency in the College. Courses are available to help students develop design awareness and basic skills in conceptualization and integration skills, including graphics and communication techniques and introductory studios, and urban design composition.

Students must possess or gain the necessary physical design abilities prior to participation in advanced urban design studios and to receive the certificate. Students without sufficient design background should anticipate the possibility of spending additional time at the University of Washington to develop these skills.

Candidates without a physical design background may, in unusual circumstances, be awarded the Certificate of Achievement in Urban Design where a specialized program of advanced study in urban design (research, history, law and implementation, urban development) has been approved by the urban design faculty.

Program Structure

Students interested in obtaining a Certificate in Urban Design should complete a Statement of Interest as early as possible in their degree program.

The Urban Design Certificate curriculum allows students to concentrate their study and research in urban design while they fulfill their degree requirements. There is a required set of core courses complemented by recommended courses in four areas to provide students with a firm grounding in theory, methods, and practical skills. Special emphasis is placed on studios where a variety of topics and approaches to urban design are offered as opportunities for the student to synthesize and apply knowledge obtained in other program courses (see detail below).

To receive the certificate, students must complete 12–15 credits of courses from the urban design curriculum which are not required by their degree program or count as "selectives" for them, though we do ask students to choose an urban design selective where they have such an option. Certificate credits are generally open elective credits and part of the total number of credits required for the degree. These 12–15 credits differ depending on the requirements of the student's degree. Thus students need to carefully choose courses both in the certificate program and in their home degree program to complete their study. Preparatory graphic work does not count toward the required credits.

Students must have a 3.0 cumulative grade point average for all urban design courses in order to obtain the certificate.

Prior to completing certificate requirements, students' work and objectives are reviewed in a meeting with the faculty. The review's purpose is to give the students an opportunity to assess their urban design work and to help them to chart their remaining course of study in the program.

Students must complete a thesis, capstone project, professional project, or dissertation with an urban design component. If the structure of their degree program allows, the chair must be from the program faculty; if the program has a prescribed chair, students must select a thesis/project advisor from the program faculty.

So, the overall process is:

  • Application
  • Coursework
  • Program Review
  • Thesis / Capstone / Professional Project / Dissertation
     

Coursework Summary

The lists below include a mix of courses required for the degree and supplementary urban design courses to include:

  • Four urban design core courses (all are required, though for most students at least two will overlap with degree requirements)
  • Three urban design studios (one beginning studio from the student’s degree requirements, plus two additional upper-level studios as identified by the program each quarter, at least one of which should be from outside the student's home department or otherwise clearly be interdisciplinary.)
  • Supplementary courses from the recommended course areas to complete the required 12–15 credits (chosen to complement students’ other coursework and enhance their knowledge of urban design)
  • Thesis/capstone/professional project with an urban design component and a chair or advisor from the program faculty

Note also the required review.

Coursework Detail

A reminder that the certificate requires 12–15 credits of work—course recommendations vary according to students’ degree program. Please check with the advising office for assistance in determining which courses are the best options for you.

Urban Design Core (five required courses)

Urban Design Studios (three studio courses, numbers assigned to these studios range from Arch 500–505, B E 405 or 505, L Arch 401–403, L Arch 501–505, or UrbDP 507–508.)

Recommended Course Areas

Students should take courses in these areas to complete the required 12-15 credits

  • Urban Form and History (1 course suggested)

    • L Arch 450—History of Environmental Design in the Pacific Northwest
    • L Arch 451—History of Environmental Design on the West Coast
    • L Arch 454—History of Urban Landscapes
    • UrbDP 564—Planning history, Theory and Ethics
    • UrbDP 565—American Urban History
    • Combination of one landscape architecture History + one architecture history course
    • or approved equivalent
  • Urban Design Methods (2 courses suggested)

  • Urban Studies (1 course suggested)

    • L Arch 561—The Human Experience of Place
    • PubAF 527—Quantitative Analysis
    • UrbDP 422/UrbDP 522—GIS in Planning
    • UrbDP 500—Survey of Urban Planning
    • UrbDP 510—Theories and Methodologies of Planning
    • UrbDP 520—Quantitative Methods in Urban Design and Planning
    • UrbDP 560—Inequality, Governance, and Policy in the Metropolitan Region
    • UrbDP 562—Introduction to Neighborhood Planning and Community Development
    • UrbDP 567—Democracy, Citizenship, and Participation in the City
    • or approved equivalents
  • Urban Development (1 course suggested)

 

Notes

* Non-BLA students must take 1 credit of 600 Directed Studies or L Arch 590 to count this as graduate level for the certificate.

** Students may not count both Digital Design and/or UD composition and/or UD studio methods for their 2 UD Methods courses. Only one of these three courses can count towards the Urban Design Methods requirement.

Note that 598s are temporary numbers and multiple courses are designated as 598 each quarter—please look for these course titles.