Master of Urban Design

Urban Design at Kent State University graduates knowledgeable specialists who engage the complex challenges of demographic change, sustainability and equity in the development of cities.

The curriculum focuses on research and knowledge applied to the design of layered and mutually reinforcing urban systems of infrastructures and public spaces. In projects ranging from urban spaces to large-scale infrastructural and regional initiatives, students learn to design urban form while innovatively addressing cultural and environmental concerns. Faculty collaborates to integrate studio work with rigorous seminars that provide a thorough grounding in urban history and contemporary theory. Courses in real estate and community development provide a practical grounding in the economic and social realities of the production of urban space. In advanced studios and associated workshops, students apply geographic information system (GIS) and digital modeling techniques to the analysis of urban design and planning problems.

Urban design students work in Cleveland, an industrial city that provides endless opportunities to study the formal and social changes created by economic restructuring. With the Cleveland experience as a base, students also look comparatively at the challenges of very different cities, particularly in emerging and developing economies. In recent years, students have visited Havana, Cuba, and future workshops will travel to Beirut and Medellin.

Two annual events allow students to test their skills in a professional context. In the Community Design Charrette, students join the professional staff of Kent State’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative for an intensive workshop addressing the challenges of a community in the Great Lakes region. In preparing entries for the Urban Land Institute’s Hines Student Competition, students work with faculty, the CUDC staff, and visiting professionals to develop financially, environmentally, and socially sound proposals for a challenge in a North American city. In recent years, several Kent State entries have received honorable mention in the competition.

The last part of the Master of Urban Design curriculum allows students to explore an individualized masters project based on what they have gained from studios, seminars, travel, and community engagement. Elective courses allow for the development of expertise relevant to research interests. Recent projects have explored topics ranging from heritage and public memory in cities with large-scale vacancy, techniques for making sports facilities more engaged with the urban fabric, and the twenty-first-century implications of the 1970s urban projects of Rem Koolhaas and O. M. Ungers.

The Master of Urban Design (M.U.D) is a 32 credit degree program open to those holding a bachelor’s degree in architecture, landscape architecture, architectural studies, planning or other allied disciplines. The Master of Urban design professionally directed coursework with a focus on issues of urban or regional scale. A foundation in studio design is reinforced with the history and theory of urban design, real state and urban development, and planning and urban systems courses. The program focuses on the student’s capacity to engage critically with the future of the discipline. Students in the Master of Urban Design program complete independent research (capstone) project of their own definition.

Cleveland Studio

The Urban Design program is based in the CAED’s Cleveland Studio, which also houses the Master of Landscape Architecture program, select students from the Master of Architecture program, and the award-winning Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC). The facility is located at Playhouse Square in Downtown Cleveland, where students can take advantage of a range of cultural and recreational opportunities. The programs at the Cleveland site benefit from proximity to numerous institutional and educational partners, including Cleveland State University’s Levin College of Urban Affairs. Thanks to the program’s convenient location, it is easy for students to benefit from regular contact with community members, activists, public officials, and design professionals. In many cases, Kent State’s Cleveland site has fostered early speculation and dialogue about design and planning problems in Cleveland, and student work often plays a central role in influencing the civic agenda. 

A variety of graduate assistantships, scholarships, research, and work opportunities are available to both new and returning graduate students.