Exploring Urban Planning and Design at the University of Michigan

Urban Planning at the University of Michigan

The field of urban planning addresses the interrelationship between human and physical systems in neighborhoods, cities, metropolitan areas, or regions around the world. Students pursue a highly individualized course of study, applying concepts from a broad range of professions and academic disciplines.

Students explore topics like climate change, internet inequality and spatial justice as they gain critical skills for transforming today’s cities. Ranked a top program by Planetizen, our Master of Urban and Regional Planning prepares leaders for roles in government agencies at all levels, social impact non-profit organizations, and private businesses around the globe.

Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning

A multidisciplinary college, Taubman prepares students to understand how cities function as complex systems and to play a role in shaping them. Its innovative curriculum combines theory and practice with a unique approach to academic inquiry rooted in experimentation.

Taubman is one of the largest and most distinguished architecture and planning schools in the world, and its graduates consistently rank among the top of their professions. The college is named for real estate developer and philanthropist A. Alfred Taubman, whose gift of $30 million in May 1999 was the largest donation ever given to a school of architecture.

The Master of Urban Design is a 39-credit-hour post-professional degree open to students with professional degrees in architecture, landscape architecture and urban planning. Its curriculum reflects the wide range of principles and practices that form the field of new urbanism.

The university’s graduate student instructors (also known as lecturers) are represented by the Lecturers Employees Union, or LEO-GLAM. A supermajority of those at Taubman are currently on strike over demands that include a living wage of $38,000 per year and unarmed security for their buildings.

Master of Urban and Regional Planning

The MURP degree program provides graduate professional education in urban and regional planning. The curriculum cultivates a broad understanding of the dynamics of metropolitan development while allowing each student to tailor their study toward specific scholastic and professional objectives.

A core sequence of courses develops analytical and critical thinking skills for the field while addressing issues such as public policy, land use law, community and economic development, design culture, and the history of planning. Students also choose from a range of elective courses that allow them to extend their knowledge beyond the basic core and explore planning in specialized areas.

Students develop their skills through hands-on studio projects in topics such as civic innovation, urban design, housing and equitable development, and environmental and transportation systems. Many of these projects, completed for real clients, have won awards from national organizations. MCRP students also complete internships to see their classroom work in action. The combination of studio and practice experience prepares MURP graduates for professional careers with government agencies, consultancies, developers, and nonprofit groups.

Doctor of Urban and Regional Planning

The PhD in Urban and Regional Planning is an advanced degree that prepares individuals for teaching, research, or leadership positions in urban and regional planning. Students undertake a doctoral dissertation that is original and contributes to the study of the complex systems that constitute urban and regional planning. The curriculum integrates analytical methods, research design, a rigorous understanding of urbanization dynamics, and an examination of broader social theories, processes, and policies.

In addition to the courses offered by Taubman College, PhD students take classes in a wide range of academic disciplines, such as sociology, history, economics, architecture, political science, geography, and social work. This interdisciplinary approach is essential for the doctoral program.

Students must complete a minimum of 36 credits and pass a comprehensive exam. Normally, applicants will have a Master’s degree in Planning or a relevant field, but exceptionally well-prepared applicants with an appropriate Bachelor’s degree may be admitted to the program. Students are required to take a four-credit group capstone class and a dissertation seminar.

Agora Journal of Urban Planning and Design

Salvador Lindquist is an assistant professor with the Landscape Architecture Program and teaches in both the undergraduate and graduate programs. He received his M. Urban Design with high distinction from the University of Michigan in 2019 and has a BLA in landscape architecture from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.

Agora is an annual student-run journal that explores topics of planning practice and policy through a diverse range of perspectives and media. The award-winning publication features work by students in Taubman College’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning, Urban Design, and Architecture programs.

Taking its cue from the agora in ancient Greek cities, this project aims to bring together the different elements that form the fabric of city life and invite new ways of thinking about public space. The resulting set of tools and processes gives cities a way to identify common urban system attractors, supports them in mapping and understanding interactions within their local systems, and helps them engage in continuous learning and adaptation.

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