The Master of Urban and Regional Planning Program at the University of Colorado Denver has evolved to become one of the strongest, most unique planning programs in the United States. Read our program brochure.
Here you will find a very hands-on, real-world oriented program that uses Colorado as our classroom and engages students with top planning/design professionals and the community.
We believe that successful city building requires expertise, breadth, interdisciplinary understanding, and creativity. Our program thus looks beyond traditional professional silos and instead centers on issues at the forefront of planning practice. Our three Initiatives—Healthy Communities, Urban Revitalization, and Regional Sustainability—form the basis of our research, instruction, and community outreach.
In the same vein, we encourage all students to follow their passion and develop expertise in the areas that matter most to them. Thus, we offer a unique, self-directed curriculum that allows students to understand the breadth of the planning field while gaining the technical expertise demanded by the profession.
Our world-class faculty includes some of the most respected researchers in the planning field, as well as award-winning planning practitioners that bring a wealth of experience to the classroom. All of our faculty make teaching a top priority.
Our presence in a College of Architecture and Planning ensures that our approach to planning education has a strong connection to design, and our location in the heart of downtown Denver presents our students with endless opportunities to learn what it takes to create amazing cities.
We are proud to be a core unit within the University of Colorado Denver’s College of Architecture and Planning. Our program’s vision, mission, and core features are inspired by the College’s overall vision and communities of interest.
To be a national leader in educating skilled, engaged planners and creating vibrant, sustainable communities.
Inspired by our setting in the downtown of a thriving urban center in the dynamic Rocky Mountain region, we:
• Teach our students the knowledge, skills and values they need to be confident, principled, and visionary planners, using Colorado as our classroom to engage students in real-world, experiential learning.
• Advance the field of planning through insightful, relevant research that directly informs policy and improves our built, natural and social environments.
• Serve as a vital resource for communities and professionals and help develop sustainable solutions to our region’s complex planning challenges.
• Advocacy: We believe planners must be visionary in their work, politically engaged, and articulate proponents for positive change.
• Engagement: We believe students should learn planning by interacting directly with professionals and the public to solve real-world planning challenges.
• Interdependency: We believe cities are inextricably tied to each other and to their ecological, regional and global contexts.
• Interdisciplinarity: We believe planners must understand and value the principles and perspectives of allied disciplines that participate in planning and city building.
• Service: We believe our program should serve as a resource for planning professionals and the public by offering ideas, solutions, research, advocacy, and inspiration.
• Sustainability: We believe planning must be based on the principles of economic viability, environmental resiliency, and social equity.
• Urbanism: We believe in the potential of cities and towns to be the most efficient, equitable and inspiring forms of human settlement.
We thrive on our location in the heart of downtown Denver, and we embrace the Mile High City's energy and creativity in all that we do. The MURP program capitalizes on its setting in...
• is the largest urban center in a 500-mile radius
• serves as the cultural, intellectual, and economic capital of the
America’s Rocky Mountain region
• is surrounded by Colorado’s tremendous scenic beauty and
valuable natural and strategic resources
• is the base for exploring Colorado’s abundant recreational
• is steadily growing, densifying, and revitalizing, and offers an
exceptional quality of life
• has a thriving downtown and a vibrant core of dozens of
traditional urban neighborhoods
• has a rich urban heritage and a legacy of civic investment and
• has a young, diverse, healthy, physically active, highly
• has a strong culture of entrepreneurship, collaboration, and
• has an engaged citizenry and civic leaders passionate about
urbanism and sustainability
• has a broad and diverse community of professional planners
• serves as a national model for innovation and experimentation
in planning and design
• serves as a microcosm of the myriad issues that planners face
throughout the country
• has notable examples of virtually every type of urbanism--
good and bad--from the last 150 years
• is a fantastic place to study urban and regional planning!
WHAT MAKES US UNIQUE
Five distinguishing features are integrated throughout the program.
We offer our students have the unique ability to craft an education suited to their career goals and personal interests. Students may choose any combination of elective courses, whether oriented towards one of our three Program Initiatives, a traditional or unique specialization, or a generalist survey of the planning field.1
Throughout our program, we provide significant opportunities for students to gain hands-on planning experience and have direct interaction with Colorado’s planning professionals. We use Denver’s diverse urban landscape as a real-world classroom for students to experience and analyze the built, social, political and economic environments.2
We emphasize physical planning and design throughout our curriculum. Housed within the College of Architecture and Planning, we work closely with the College’s Architecture, Urban Design, Landscape Architecture, and Historic Preservation programs.3
We integrate innovative planning technologies into many of our program’s courses and activities. We capitalize on the Denver region’s entrepreneurial spirit and tech-focused economy by providing access to state-of-the-art planning technologies and teaching students how these tools can support the planning process. 4
We provide students the opportunity to study planning from an international perspective. Through seminars that focus on global planning issues and studios that involve on-site coursework in other countries, we help students expand their personal and educational worldview.5
We focus on teaching students how to address critical issues and complex problems facing cities and regions today. For planners to take the lead in the city-building process, they need to understand the breadth of their field and know how to work in cross-disciplinary teams. Therefore we have structured our whole program—research, curriculum, faculty and student efforts, etc.—around three issue areas, which we call Initiatives.
The link between human health and the built environment has become a key factor in planning cities and regions. Colorado is known for its physically fit and active adult population, but our vulnerable populations face significant challenges such as childhood obesity, disconnected neighborhoods, and lack of access to healthy food. Colorado has become a national leader in finding ways to plan and design healthier environments, and the MURP Program’s Healthy Communities Initiative is part of that effort. We work with partners at the local, state and federal levels, as well as the non-profit, educational and private sectors, to provide students comprehensive and interdisciplinary training in the tools, innovations and policies necessary for creating physically, socially and economically healthy communities. 1
After decades of suburbanization, segregated land uses, and automobile-dependent development, the U.S. is now experiencing a resurgence of traditional urbanism and a reorientation toward central cities. Nowhere else is that phenomenon more evident than in Denver, where infill and transit-oriented development, historic preservation, adaptive reuse, and multi-modal transport are transforming the urban landscape. The MURP Program’s Urban Revitalization Initiative gives students opportunities to engage with local developers, planners, designers and policymakers to help revive and enhance established cities, retrofit the suburbs, and plan sustainable new developments. 3
Climate change, environmental degradation, resource scarcity, and sprawling development present critical challenges to planners worldwide. In the Rocky Mountain West, the impacts are evident in habitat loss, wildfire risk, and conflicts over water and energy resources, among others. The MURP Program’s Regional Sustainability Initiative explores ways that Colorado and its neighbors can tackle these issues together. At the metropolitan level, Denver and its adjacent communities already serve as a model for regional planning and cooperation, exemplified by the visionary FasTracks transit program. Our Initiative draws on Denver’s success in regional land use, transportation, economic development and resource planning to help students understand how built and natural environments can co-exist more sustainably at various regional scales.4
These Initiatives—Healthy Communities, Urban Revitalization, and Regional Sustainability— represent issues at the forefront of the planning profession today, and are also prominent topics in Denver and Colorado.
The faculty of the Department of Planning and Design consists of a purposeful mix of full-time tenured/tenure-track faculty, full-time instructors, and a diverse group of part-time adjunct faculty members who keep one foot in the professional practice of planning and one in the classroom. The MURP Program and its students benefit from the rich contributions of the scholarly research accomplished by our tenured/tenure-track faculty, and the practice-oriented instruction provided by our lecturers and instructors. Learn more about our individual faculty members here.
Our commitment to our students extends across many areas: providing them with exceptional instruction and research-backed knowledge about planning; inspiring them to achieve great things in their personal and professional lives; exposing them to planning professionals, real-world planning situations, and state-of-the-art learning resources; and helping them choose their best academic and career paths through advising and mentoring.
What do we expect in our students?
• reflect a diverse population and represent many different
perspectives and backgrounds
• are highly qualified academically as defined by our admission
• are passionate about planning and creating vibrant,
• advocate for sound planning ideals and excellence in the
• demonstrate the ability to conduct themselves in a
professional and ethical manner
• will enhance their MURP experience by actively participating in
• will work hard and strive to do their best in their studies
• will actively engage with the faculty and their fellow
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND PERSONAL ENRICHMENT OPPORTUNITIES
The MURP program and the College of Architecture and Planning invite students' participation in a range of activities that offer professional discovery, leadership development, and fun!
Internships are key elements in the MURP Program’s approach to providing students with hands-on, experiential learning. Internships provide the opportunity to see planning professionals in action, which helps students develop a clearer understanding of their own career goals, educational needs, and personal passions. Mentorships provide an opportunity for students to connect personally with a practicing professional for guidance, advice and inspiration.
We strongly encourage students to experience a professional internship and/or mentorship during the course of the MURP Program. Students can receive individualized advising, resume writing and job search skills, as well as help securing internship positions. While the professional experience of an internship is in itself valuable, to receive academic credit for MURP internships, students will participate in regular colloquia, complete writing assignments in which they draw reflectively on their workplace experiences and connect them to their classroom work, and document their contributions to their employer. Three credits of the 54-credit MURP Program may be undertaken through internship work. 1
MURP students are strongly encouraged to become active with APAS, the UCD student chapter of the American Planning Association, which promotes the involvement of student planners in local, regional, and national planning activities and provides a mechanism through which students can interact with professionals, address common concerns, and receive support in their endeavors in the field of planning. APAS also serves as an important liaison between the student body, the faculty and the professional community. APAS’s goals are:
• Bridge the gap between the students of the MURP program at
CU Denver with the state APA chapter (APA Colorado) and
national APA organizations.
• Promote the involvement of student planners in the affairs
and activities of the American Planning Association. Provide
the mechanism whereby student planners can influence the
development of the planning profession.
• Serve as a social network for the Student APA members.
• Voice the concerns and needs of the students of the MURP
program to CU Denver Administration and have better
communication among faculty and students.
• Focus on fundraising to sponsor as many students as possible
to be able to attend the APA conferences, both state and
• Implement a mentorship program.
• Coordinate monthly meetings with students to maintain
communication and to encourage proactive suggestions and
involvement among students.
• Work together as a team and establish criteria for sending
students to all conferences.
APAS holds educational events such as “Breakfast with Professionals” and resume workshops that enable students to engage with professional planners in an informal setting. APAS hosts seasonal picnics—and frequent happy hours—for students to connect with one another outside of the classroom. All MURP students are welcome to participate in APAS; there’s no official “joining” necessary and there are no dues or specific commitments required. All MURP students will receive communications from APAS.
Planners Network is a network of professionals from any industry who are interested in social justice, environmental justice, and progressive urban planning ideas. If you'd like more information on Planners Network, please visit their national website
. For information about participating in the CU Denver chapter, please click here
The College puts on an exciting lecture series each year, bringing ground-breaking practitioners and academics to the campus to talk about their work and the future of our disciplines with a focus on a particular theme. Many of these speakers are from the planning and design fields. Check the CAP website and the bulletin boards around the building for lecture series event information. 4