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Urban Design and Planning

Department Overview

410 Gould

Urban design and planning deals with critical issues of human settlement and urban development, providing communities an informed basis for coordinated public- and private-sector action. Urban design and planning constitutes a professional field of growing complexity, responding to the urban challenges of this century. The department fosters an integrative approach to education and research in planning the physical environment. The academic program includes the social, behavioral, and cultural relationships between people and the form and quality of their built and natural environment; the financial, administrative, political, and participatory dimensions of planning, design, and development; and the informational base for making deliberate decisions to shape urban areas and regions, bringing analysis together with vision.

Departmental faculty participate in interdisciplinary research units, including the Institute for Hazard Mitigation Planning and Research, the Urban Form Laboratory, the Urban Ecology Research Laboratory, the Northwest Center for Livable Communities, and the Urban Infrastructure Laboratory.

The department, committed to public service, has strong connections to the region and beyond. The approach to urban development is driven by the values of sustainability, livability, economic vitality, and social justice. The department is also committed to developing a leading edge urban planning practice with a strong participatory ethos.

Undergraduate Program

Urban Design and Planning offers the following programs of study:

  • The Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in community, environment, and planning
  • A minor in urban design and planning

Community, Environment, and Planning

208Q Gould

Community, Environment, and Planning (CEP) is an interdisciplinary bachelor of arts degree program offered through the College of Built Environments as one of the University's interdisciplinary undergraduate programs. CEP has gained distinction as a model for a highly personalized, collaborative, and active educational experience within a large research institution. CEP students draw liberally from the entire range of courses, faculty, and programs at the UW.

Bachelor of Arts

Suggested First- and Second-Year College Courses: CEP 200.

Department Admission Requirements

  1. Minimum 90 credits completed when student begins the program and at least 80 percent of general education requirements fulfilled
  2. Minimum 2.50 GPA with additional emphasis on a written essay, demonstration of relevant extracurricular activities, and a final interview
  3. Admission is once a year, for autumn quarter. Early admission deadline is February 15. Additional application dates vary each year. See CEPís website for specific dates.

Graduation Requirements

General Education Requirements

  1. Written Communication (15 credits): 5 credits English composition; 10 credits additional composition or W courses. W courses, if applicable, may also be counted toward Areas of Knowledge or major requirements.
  2. Quantitative or Symbolic Reasoning (4-5 credits): The QSR course, if applicable, may also be counted toward an Area of Knowledge or major requirement.
  3. Areas of Knowledge (60 credits): 20 credits Visual, Literary, & Performing Arts (VLPA); 20 credits Individuals & Societies (I & S); 20 credits Natural World (NW). Required CEP courses and other non-CEP courses used to satisfy major requirements may also be counted toward Areas of Knowledge requirements, if applicable.

Major Requirements

77-82 credits

  1. Core Seminars (30 credits): CEP 301, CEP 302, CEP 303, CEP 460, CEP 461, CEP 462.
  2. Methods Courses (25 credits): Upper-division courses within the University, with no more than 15 credits from one department; chosen with guidance and approved by CEP staff and faculty.
  3. Diversity Course (5 credits): One course that critically analyzes and addresses social constructs and/or issues from a different perspective than that of our dominant culture. Must be approved by the program adviser
  4. Digital Skills Proficiency Course (3 credits): One course that enhances student's understanding of the creation, utilization, and implications of digital material. See department for list of approved courses (a course not on approved list must be approved by the program adviser). May count toward Methods Courses requirement if the Digital Skills Proficiency course is an upper-division course.
  5. Leadership Retreats (4 credits): CEP 300, autumn and spring
  6. Governace Practicum (6 credits): CEP 400, quarterly
  7. Internship (5 credits): CEP 446, 120- to 150-hour internship
  8. Senior Project Capstone (2-6 credits): CEP 490 and CEP 491, autumn and winter

Electives to complete minimum 180 credits for degree; varies, depending on how many general education courses apply to more than one requirement.

Continuation Policy

All students must make satisfactory academic progress in the major. Failure to do so results in probation, which can lead to dismissal from the major. For the complete continuation policy, contact the departmental adviser or refer to the department website.

Student Outcomes and Opportunities

  • Learning Objectives and Expected Outcomes: A CEP education is founded on the following: students start where they are; articulate and embrace a vision of how they intend to make a difference in the world; construct a plan (with guidance from faculty and peers) of CEP seminars, cross-disciplinary courses, and field experiences; move deliberately with this plan in the final two years of undergraduate education; through first-hand experience and in the context of the CEP community of learners, become acquainted with effective ways for working constructively together to anticipate and address critical issues facing the complex communities and world we inhabit.

    A CEP education is fully lived, not passively taken. CEP students actively make their education in community with others. CEP class cohorts range from 25-30 students. This group comprises a community of mutual learning that requires commitment, personal investment, and strong teamwork strategies for two years. Through six interconnected, quarterly seminars students engage the core content of the major: community, environment, and planning. These contemporary academic fields and areas of research include the study of community as subject and practice, exploration of the ecological context of all societal life, and an investigation of the potentials of planning for developing strategies for positive change.

    CEP students have gone on to careers in a variety of interdisciplinary fields such as community planning and organization, urban development, communications, work in for-profit and nonprofit sectors, public administration, education, community and environmental activism, ecology, and government/community relations.

  • Instructional and Research Facilities: See College of Built Environments section.
  • Honors Options Available: For Interdisciplinary Honors, see University Honors Program.
  • Research, Internships, and Service Learning: See College of Built Environments section.
  • Department Scholarships: Department and program offer specific scholarships. Contact program adviser for details.
  • Student Organizations/Associations: See College of Built Environments section.


Minor Requirements: 30 credits to include URBDP 300; minimum 13 additional credits in URBDP-prefix courses; and 12 additional credits in planning-related courses with Urban Design and Planning adviser approval. Minimum 2.0 grade required for each course counted toward the minor. See departmental adviser for recommended courses.

Graduate Program

Graduate Program Coordinator
410 Gould, Box 355740
(206) 543-4190

The department offers the Master of Urban Planning (MUP) and the Master of Science in Real Estate (MSRE) degrees and its faculty participate in the interdisciplinary Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Urban Design and Planning. The MUP is the professional degree for urban planners, and the MSRE is a two-year professional degree that provides students the core and advanced training necessary for successful careers and leadership positions in the real estate industry. The PhD is for persons who desire careers in urban design and planning, primarily in academic research and teaching or advanced professional work.

Master of Urban Planning

Focuses on planning the physical environment and its socioeconomic and political determinants. Advanced students are encouraged to conduct research and studies in one of the following specializations:

  • urban design dealing with physical form, character, and quality issues
  • real estate, designed to provide students a deep foundation and specialized skills to help launch or enhance professional careers in real estate
  • historic preservation, focusing on the specialized skills needed actively to protect historic districts, buildings, and landscapes
  • land-use and infrastructure planning, including its environmental, socioeconomic, legal, information systems, and administrative aspects
  • environmental planning, addressing the interactions between urban systems and natural processes

This degree, a two-year (or six-quarter) program, is the usual educational qualification for professional practice of city and regional planning, including generalist planning, research, urban design, and administrative positions in a wide variety of public agencies and private consulting firms.

Admission Requirements

  1. Bachelorís degree in a discipline such as urban planning and environmental design or in other fields such as geography, economics, or other social sciences; English and other humanities; civil engineering and environmental studies; or architecture and landscape architecture. Applicants should have completed at least one college-level course in each of the following areas: micro-economics, mathematics, statistics, and cultural diversity. Students without sufficient background must take these prerequisite courses concurrently with their graduate studies.
  2. GRE general test scores
  3. Three letters of recommendation
  4. Official transcripts for all previous college courses or programs attended
  5. Resume
  6. Supplemental information form and statement of purpose
  7. Work sample (optional)
  8. TOEFL for applicants whose native language is not English
  9. Application deadline: January 15 (November 15 for international students) for admission the following autumn quarter

Degree Requirements

Minimum 72 credits

  1. 33 core-course credits covering the history and theory of planning and urban design, urban form, communication methods, quantitative methods, processes and methods of land use planning, comprehensive planning, planning law, research methods, and a planning studio.
  2. 14 credits of restricted electives, including courses in advanced methods and advanced studio (both may be in an area of specialization); and courses in urban development economics, and in history/theory of planning.
  3. 9-credit thesis or professional project following completion of all other degree coursework
  4. 16 credits in open electives

An internship is encouraged for those without previous professional experience. A specialization in one area of planning is required. Specialized areas include land-use and infrastructure planning, real estate, urban design, historic preservation, and environmental planning.

For specific courses, see program website at

Master in Infrastructure Planning and Management (MIPM)

A two-year, eight-quarter, online degree. Teaches professionals to master the methods and core knowledge required to sustain and ensure resiliency of major infrastructures against both man-made and natural disasters. For further information, see program website at

Admission Requirements

  1. Bachelorís degree in a discipline such as urban planning and environmental design, or other fields such as geography, economics, or other social sciences; English and other humanities; civil engineering and environmental studies; or law or criminal justice.
  2. At least one college-level course in mathematics.
  3. GIS introductory course (recommended).
  4. TOEFL for applicants whose native language is not English
  5. Application deadline: July 15 for autumn quarter

Degree Requirements

45 credits

Students take two courses per quarter for a total of 15 of the 16 courses outlined below.

  1. Four required core courses: introduces key concepts about infrastructure, systems thinking, financial planning, and the fundamentals of policy making. In addition, students explore the impacts of climate change on infrastructures.
  2. Four required methods courses: focuses on processes related to planning and monitoring infrastructures, general management, and leadership. Processes include advanced geospatial analysis, epidemiology, emergency management, and business continuity planning.
  3. Five systems courses: focuses on infrastructure systems for food, energy, communications, transportation, and more. (Students select five of the six courses offered).
  4. Two capstone courses: helps students synthesize knowledge learned across the program and then apply it to a real-world project, conduct research, and develop a case study.

Master of Science in Real Estate

Provides students basic knowledge, core skills, and advanced understanding necessary to assume leadership positions in the real estate industry. An emphasis on interdisciplinary study allows graduates to engage in collaborative efforts and to address the complex problem of achieving sustainable cities.

Admission Requirements

The Runstad Center admits students whose objectives align with those of the program, which are to apply broad business leadership skills to solve real-world problems; understand how spatial and capital markets affect creation of value; examine the effects of place-bound, three dimensional built forms on cities; explore how behavior of decision makers impacts sustainable real estate.

  1. Undergraduate or graduate degree in a discipline such as architecture, business, construction, engineering, geography, public policy, law, or urban planning. Experience in real estate or related field highly valued.
  2. Application form to include resume, statement of purpose, personal history
  3. Official transcripts from each college or university attended
  4. Three letters of reference
  5. GRE or GMAT scores
  6. TOEFL scores for international students
  7. Application deadline: February 1 for autumn quarter (November 1 for international applicants)

Degree Requirements

Minimum 72 credits

The Master of Science in Real Estate degree, a demanding, interdisciplinary program, combines business management skills with an understanding of how real estate markets work and how the three-dimensional, place-bound attributes of real estate products affect their performance. Overarching these three interdisciplinary areas of study is a focus on how behaviors of those involved in making decisions about real estate investment and development affect desired outcomes.

The curriculum provides basic knowledge, core skills, and advanced understanding necessary for graduates to assume positions of leadership in the real estate industry of tomorrow. Learning leadership skills is integral to everything a student does throughout the two years in the program. Interdisciplinary study provides understanding of techniques and tools used in a broad range of fields essential to real estate, enabling graduates to lead collaborative efforts to solve complex problems of creating sustainable urban environments. The limits imposed by the physical characteristics of real estate have put a premium on understanding behaviors of people involved in creating and managing real estate projects. People make the decisions that drive values of property types. Students explore ethical behaviors leading toward emphasis on using technology to support classroom and case learning and in applying the knowledge and leadership skills learned throughout the program. For curriculum details, see the program webisite at

Doctor of Philosophy

Many departmental faculty are part of an interdisciplinary faculty group which offers doctoral study in urban design and planning. The program is located administratively within the Graduate School. See Interdisciplinary Graduate Degree Programs.

Certificate Programs

Graduate students may elect to participate in the College-wide certificate programs in urban design and historic preservation. (See program descriptions in the College of Architecture and Urban Planning section).