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Students shall specialize in one area of planning while in the MUP program. The specialization is intended to provide an area of focus within key aspects of planning.

The Land Use, Infrastructure, and Transportation Planning area of specialization prepares students for careers in planning dealing with orderly, efficient, and equitable urban spatial development. The knowledge and skills necessary for land use, infrastructure and transportation planning embrace:

  • the forces that shape urban form and spatial structure
  • the roles of both the public and private sectors in urban development
  • how natural systems constrain or direct development
  • land information systems including the application of computer models, GIS and remote sensing
  • public finance for infrastructure and transportation
  • the design of policies, plans and projects
  • negotiation, group process, and conflict resolution
  • using public investments, regulations, and incentives to shape the location and timing of development
  • transportation policy for sustainable development.

The specialization is divided in two separate tracks: land use and infrastructure; and transportation planning.

Land Use Infrastructure and Transportation Planning Specialization

The specialization in Environmental Planning addresses the interactions between urban systems and natural processes. It emphasizes the design and management of urban development patterns that minimize environmental impacts, reduce risks from natural hazards, and improve the quality of life of human populations. The specialization provides the theoretical, methodological, and legal background necessary for planners to play an effective role in integrating scientific knowledge of environmental systems into environmental decision-making and planning. The specialization prepares professional planners to:

  • integrate different disciplinary approaches to analyze urban and regional environmental problems
  • use a broad set of analytical and evaluation techniques to assess the impacts of urban development on natural resources
  • apply a multi-disciplinary perspective to design environmental policies and plans
  • apply advanced spatial data infrastructures and technologies to urban environmental analysis and decision making
  • apply methods for resolving conflicts in environmental and resource management
  • address institutional and intergovernmental constraints to the implementation of environmental policies and plans.

The curriculum for the Environmental Planning Specialization includes a core consisting of three required courses and 2-3 electives selected from a list of substantive and methods-related courses.

Environmental Planning Specialization

The specialization in Real Estate is designed to provide students with a deep foundation and specialized skills to help them launch or enhance professional planning careers related to real estate. It requires a minimum of 17 credits including three foundation courses and two electives. In addition to formal course requirements, students pursuing the specialization must complete a thesis or professional project. If scheduling permits, students are encouraged to take additional courses drawn from a list of interdisciplinary electives.

The Real Estate specialization, which is also offered to graduate students University-wide, offers team-based problem solving facilitated by an interdisciplinary approach to learning. The specialization may appeal to students pursuing a career in other ancillary fields, such as architecture, engineering, business, law, or public administration, who intend to interact directly with real estate professionals. For instance, architects and engineers intending to provide design services to real estate developers learn how their future clients make decisions. Planners and public administrators who regulate real estate learn how real estate professionals approach problems, allowing regulation and review to more effectively accomplish public purposes.

Real Estate Specialization + Certificates

The Urban Design area of specialization provides students with specialized training within the Department of Urban Design & Planning. The program’s goal is to provide students with the fundamental theories, methods, and substantive content of urban design as a base for professional knowledge and a generative source for the future. Particular interests within the program include a concern for regionalism, the evolution of urban form, and the contemporary city. In addition, the program emphasizes understanding of the phenomena of place-making and the connections between site, people, culture, and the built landscape.

Master of Urban Planning students may pursue a certificate in Urban Design through a different, but similar, sequence of required course work. The Urban Design Certificate Program provides students with specialized training through the collaboration of faculty in the College’s three professional programs: architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design and planning. Training is based on the fundamental assumption that urban designers design: the process of design and the problem-solving contributions of designers are as important as understanding the qualitative product of design–the urban environment.

For more detailed information about the Urban Design Certificate Program, please refer to the prospectus on the Urban Design Certificate Program website.

Urban Design Specialization + Certificate

The specialization in Historic Preservation is fulfilled by the Graduate Certificate in Historic Preservation for Master of Urban Planning students.

The Graduate Certificate in Historic Preservation (GCHP) offers students an opportunity to integrate knowledge of historic preservation with their academic disciplines. It prepares students and professionals for careers in historic preservation related to architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, urban planning, history, geography, anthropology, museology and others. Students completing the certificate will be knowledgeable about historic preservation including history, theory, law, and policy, and be able to apply this knowledge in contemporary preservation practice. They will be able to examine historic sites using research methods and prepare preservation plans for a range of historic properties in both domestic and international settings.

The certificate is 18 credits which may overlap with MUP requirements and will appear on your UW transcripts.

Please be sure you are on the preservation email list program to receive quarterly lists of preservation courses. To be added to the list, contact Neile Graham at The quarterly list also appears on Student Info page on the Historic Preservation program website.  For more information, please refer to the Historic Preservation Certificate website.

Historic Preservation Specialization + Certificate

Students in the MUP program have the option to propose an individualized specialization. Students may wish to propose an individualized specialization if their area of interest is cross-disciplinary or extends beyond what is offered in the five formal MUP program specializations. Individualized specializations should fall within the scope of generally-recognized planning-related specializations in the field AND have faculty representation in the Department of Urban Design and Planning. This is to ensure the student has adequate faculty advising in the area of their interest.

Students shall propose an individualized specialization using the format linked below. The proposal shall include an emphasis on faculty consultation and a written rationale. Both are intended to help students critically think through their plan to ensure the coursework and faculty support needed to achieve their goals exists.  Students shall submit their requests to the Department Chair for approval.

The curriculum for the individualized specialization will vary per student, but it shall include at least five courses – three foundational and two elective courses are recommended, to be identified in the student’s proposal.  At least one of the courses should be offered in the Department of Urban Design and Planning (have a URBDP course prefix). In general, courses should be at the graduate level (500 and above).

Students who pursue an individualized specialization should be advised that classes they select for their specialization, either within or outside of the Department, may be canceled or fill to capacity before they can enroll, and should thus be prepared with a back-up option.

Individualized Specialization Requirements

Individualized Specialization Form