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College of Architecture and Planning

Our curriculum embodies our three Initiatives, and makes the most of our geographic context and our unique program features.  Our curriculum balances a strong, comprehensive core set of courses with a self-directed path through a wide range of elective choices. 

Completing the MURP degree requires 54 credit hours, comprised of 36 credits of required “core” courses and 18 credits of elective courses. (Six of the 36 required credit hours represent a student-chosen, self-directed capstone project/thesis.)  Most full-time students complete the program in two years, while other students complete the program at a slower or part-time pace.

For more details about the MURP curriculum, consult the Student Handbook .

Required Courses

The MURP Program curriculum includes 10 required core courses totaling 36 credit hours. Together, these represent a broad and robust survey of the most critical topics in the planning field. The table below shows the 10 courses, the program year in which the course is intended to be taken, the credit hours granted, and the major topics covered in each course.

 Required Courses

Required Courses 

Course Topics / General Description 

Year 1

Planning History and Theory

3 credits

Fall Semester

This course comprehensively reviews the major historical and theoretical developments in planning; the human aspects of planning as a social, political, and community-oriented process; public engagement; social justice; planning advocacy; and the future of planning.

Planning Law and Institutions

3 credits
Fall Semester

This course covers the legal basis for planning; the evolution of planning law through a comprehensive review of landmark court decisions; and the types and hierarchies of governments, their powers and relationships, and how planning operates within various governmental contexts.

The Planning Profession
3 credits
Fall Semester

This course offers a comprehensive survey of the breadth and depth of the planning profession; different types of planners and the organizations which employ them; business aspects of planning; planning solicitation processes; planning ethics; and professional/career development in planning.

Planning Methods
3 credits

Fall Semester

This course focuses on the most commonly applied quantitative and qualitative methods used in planning; data organization and management principles; and various ways to collect, analyze, and communicate information as a fundamental component of the planning process.

Urban Sustainability

3 credits
Spring Semester

Examines the interface of the natural and social realms in cities. Topics include the environmental history of cities; the causes, environmental impacts and mitigation of sprawl; urban green infrastructure; and best practices in planning environmentally sustainable cities and suburbs.

Urban Development

3 credits
Spring Semester

This course explores how cities get built. Topics include an overview of the players, processes, politics and policies of real estate development; land division, entitlement and regulation; site planning and development review; development finance; public infrastructure and finance.

Planning Workshop
6 credits
Spring Semester

An introduction to the studio environment, this course provides students with knowledge/skills development in physical planning and design, the planning process, plan making, and collaboration, plus introductory instruction in GIS, Adobe Creative Suite, and Google SketchUp.

Year 2

Planning Project Studio
6 credits
Year 2

An advanced studio, this course requires student teams to complete a substantial planning project for a real-world client. Sections are offered that emphasize a Healthy Communities, Urban Revitalization, Regional Sustainability, or International Opportunities perspective.

Planning Capstone Experience
6 credits
Year 2

Spanning two semesters, Planning Capstone requires students to plan and complete an independent or small group project of their choice. Part A provides project management and research instruction while students develop a detailed methodology, work plan, and schedule for their Planning Capstone effort. Part B includes the completion of the independent/small-group project and concludes with the final deliverable and juried presentation.





Elective Courses

Beyond the core curriculum, MURP students follow a self-directed educational path. Students may choose any combination from our broad offering of elective courses, whether aligned with one of our three Initiatives, a traditional or unique specialization, or a generalist survey of the planning field. 

The courses listed in the table below are those that are housed within the MURP Program and taught primarily by Department of Urban and Regional Planning faculty. In addition, numerous other elective courses applicable for MURP credit are available through our allied programs within the College (Architecture, Urban Design, Historic Preservation, and Landscape Architecture) and through cross-listed courses offered by other CU Denver programs, such as Public Affairs, Geography, and Business. 

 Elective Courses


Elective Courses
(3 credits)

Course Topics / General Description 


Advanced Geo-Spatial Analysis



Advanced Research Techniques

Survey design; sampling; probability distributions; hypothesis testing; inferential statistics; other topics associated with scholarly research.


Analyzing the Built Environment

Land division and development measures; spatial analyses techniques; urban morphology; spatial attributes of cities and regions.


Community Development

Neighborhood planning; gentrification; asset-based development; organizing; community-based organizations; CDCs; community benefits agreements.


Comparative International Planning

Global dimensions of planning; global planning issues; comparative planning techniques; international planning coordination/organizations.


Emerging Planning Technologies

Web-based applications; mobile technologies; virtual participation; data visualization; social media; crowdsourcing, public engagement/surveying.


Energy and Natural Resource Planning

Energy policy; alternative energy development; water resources; extraction/mining; resource protection and regulation; technologies; allocations.


Environmental Management

Natural hazards and disasters; ecosystems; air/water quality; natural area management; conservation; habitat protection; organizations and policies.


Environmental Policy and Regulation

NEPA; environmental justice; environmental law; land use conflicts; contamination/remediation; environmental regulators and regulatory policies; enforcement.


Form and Formation of Cities

History of cities and urbanization; origins of urban growth; urban morphology; urban form/urban form theory; types of urbanisms.


GIS Analysis

Advanced studies in GIS applications; cartography; geographic planning analysis. Prerequisite: Planning Technologies Workshop or other approved GIS course.

Green Real Estate Development

Infill development; transit-oriented development; LEED-ND; green buildings; universal design; mixed-income; net-zero developments.


Health and the Built Environment

Health/built environment relationships; fitness; food access; walkability; environmental quality; active transportation; public policies; partnerships.


Healthy Community Assessments

Planning for Healthy Communities; Health Impact Assessments, other health measures; policy impacts, best practices.


Land Development Regulations

Entitlements; plats; general/final development plans; zoning; PUDs; variances; site plan/development review; land use regulators; regulatory processes.


Parks and Public Spaces

Park/plaza/open space design; activation/programming; security; diverse users; socio-economic significance; natural systems; recreation; urban place making.


Pedestrian and Bicycle Planning

Active transportation; pedestrian/bicycle planning fundamentals; routes and systems; facilities and design requirements; policies; best practices.


Plan Making

Plan types and processes; comprehensive plans; rural/small town planning; corridor planning; small area planning; campus/ institutional planning; special plans.


Planning for Healthy Communities



Planning in the Developing World

Challenges and solutions for complex development; health/community issues; social justice; environmental justice; funding; development organizations.


Planning Politics and Engagement

Controversial planning topics; planning advocacy; public meetings; public engagement techniques; diverse publics; mediation; negotiation.


Planning Sustainable Suburbs

Suburban patterns and forms; suburban land use and transportation issues; sustainable greenfield development; retrofitting suburbia.


Real Estate Development and Finance

Real estate developer/planner interface; development types; developer’s pro-forma; project finance/funding; market supply/demand analysis; public policy impacts.


Regional Economic Systems

Regional/metropolitan economies; regional economic development; regional market assessment; job generation; taxes/spending; fiscal/economic policies and impacts.


Regional Planning and Policy

Regional planning fundamentals; land use/transportation; environmental constraints; regional cooperation; regional institutions/COGs/MPOs; demographics.


Small Town and Rural Planning

Planning in small communities; rural/agriculture issues; growth management; conservation; rural economic development.


Social Justice in Planning

Conflict resolution; environmental justice; social equity; culture; disadvantaged populations; public engagement; affordability; equal access; policies and impacts.


Sustainable Planning and Design

Sustainability defined; measuring sustainability; sustainable planning/practices; sustainable design; LEED; environmental quality; sustainability advocacy.


Sustainable Tourism Planning



Tourism and Resort Planning

Eco-tourism; historic tourism; urban tourism; regional tourism planning; recreation planning; resort planning and development.


Transit Planning

Transit planning fundamentals; routes and systems; modes and technologies; ridership; scheduling; operations; relationship to land use; facilities/design requirements.


Transportation and Land Use

Transportation planning fundamentals; transportation and land use relationship; local and regional networks; traffic demand/modeling; accessibility/mobility.


Transportation Planning and Policy

Transportation policies and impacts; funding; politics and institutions; role in economic development; planning processes; regulatory/environmental/NEPA.


Urban Economic Systems

Urban economies; urban economic development; urban market assessment; job generation; taxes/spending, sustainability; fiscal/economic policies and impacts.


Urban Housing

Housing types; affordability; housing policies; mixed-income housing; HUD/Fair Housing; housing sustainability; NIMBYism; homelessness; segregation.


Urban Infrastructure

Civil engineering basics for planners; infrastructure planning/funding; public rights-of-way; bridges/structures; storm water; water quality; wet/dry utilities; soils.


Urban Redevelopment Strategies

Urban infill; TOD; adaptive reuse; historic preservation; design review; parking; public spaces/realm; brownfields; grayfields; culture/tourism; funding/policies.




Potential Specializations

We encourage students to view their planning education through a fresh perspective aimed at a planning goal or agenda, rather than a “job description.” However, we also recognize that some students may want their MURP degree to focus on a traditional specialization, such as Transportation Planning or Economic Development. To ensure all our students have the educational experience they are seeking, we provide exceptional coverage across many traditional specialization topics. This table suggests courses that could apply to several potential specializations.


As part of encouraging among planners an appreciation for and a knowledge of the perspectives and practices of the other disciplines that participate in planning and city-building, we offer several dual degree opportunities, both with programs within the College of Architecture and Planning and with other units across the University of Colorado system. In every instance the total credit requirement of the Dual Degree is considerably less than would be needed if each degree were independently pursued.  The degrees that may be combined with the Master of Urban and Regional Planning include:

  • Juris Doctorate (Law Degree) (MURP+JD—in collaboration with the CU-Boulder Law School)

In addition, students with strong interest in applying Geospatial Information Science (GIS) to the planning profession may pursue a GIS Certificate in addition to their MURP degree. Up to two of the courses (6 credits) required for the certificate may count towards the MURP degree.


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