Apr 20, 2024  
2012-2013 CU Denver Catalog 
2012-2013 CU Denver Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Urban and Regional Planning MURP

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Overview of the Curriculum

The requirements for the master of urban and regional planning degree fall into three categories:

  1. core courses required of all students (27 semester hours)
  2. concentration courses (15 semester hours)
  3. planning related elective courses (9 semester hours)

Completion of at least 51 semester hours is required for graduation, less transfers and other waivers approved during the first semester of study. Students are encouraged to focus primarily on core courses during their first year of study, except Studio II, which would normally be taken in the second year. Studio II serves as a capstone experience. It is offered every semester.

Beyond the core, the graduate planning program offers three 15-semester-hour concentrations around which students normally organize course selections: economic and community development planning, land use and environmental planning and urban place making. These have been carefully constructed to cover the broad terrain of the profession. Students may also, with an advisor’s approval, craft their own unique concentrations. The remaining 9 semester hours of the 51-semester-hour MURP requirement are generally used either to deepen expertise within the concentration field or to enable lateral coverage of allied or distinct fields. Those in the MURP-MPA, MURP-MBA, MURP-JD, MURP-MLA and MURP-MArch dual degree programs will find that the core of each serves as the elective base of the other, leaving few free electives. In no instances may remedial study needed to secure course or program prerequisites apply to the basic degree requirement.

The concentration is meant to insure synergy among courses elected and to lay the foundation for a satisfying and productive career and extended learning on the job. Students should bear in mind that planning is a diverse and evolving profession and that personal interests and career options often change after graduation. Moreover, the mix of courses elected normally allows some breadth in the subsequent definition of one’s expertise as new graduates attempt to match their qualifications with employer requirements. Highly focused studies sometimes elevate the marketability of expertise in certain niches in the market for entry level planners, but may limit access to others. Excessive breadth may limit claims of specialized expertise; however, many positions do indeed require competent generalists. 


Students are expected to have achieved a basic level of computer literacy prior to enrollment, and should be familiar with PC or Apple operating systems. Acquiring some prior familiarity with digital visualization techniques is recommended for students who do not have a background in graphic communication. A higher level of proficiency is desirable for those seeking to emphasize the design elements of professional practice, most in evidence in our urban place-making concentration. Some assistance in attaining these skills may be provided in advance of the fall semester. Applicants are annually welcomed from virtually every field of prior study.

Advanced Standing

  • Entering students who earned the college’s bachelor of environmental design (BEnvd) degree offered on the CU Boulder campus, within five years prior to enrollment, and who have maintained a GPA of at least 3.0, will be admitted to the MURP with advanced standing.  Those who graduated still earlier may receive advanced standing at the discretion of the department chair, in consultation with the program faculty.
  • These students can earn the MURP degree after completing a minimum of 42 semester hours, which will include the core courses (less any waived due to prior study), an approved concentration and additional electives required to meet the overall credit requirement of 42.
  • Students holding the college’s BEnvd degree who also have completed, in this study, the undergraduate planning option with a GPA of at least 3.0 (and with a grade of at least 3.0 in ENVD 4320, Planning Studio III) will, in addition, receive a waiver with credit for URPL 6630, Planning Studio I. These students will earn the MURP degree upon completion of a minimum of 36 semester hours, including 21 semester hours of core courses and an additional 15 semester hours in an approved concentration.

Program Requirements

The master of urban and regional planning is the college’s accredited degree for students intending to pursue careers in planning and in related fields across a wide spectrum of employment niches both within and outside government.

  • With no advanced standing, candidates for the MURP degree must complete a minimum of 51 semester hours of graduate work, including all core courses (27 semester hours), a concentration (15 semester hours minimum) and additional electives (9 semester hours).Concentrations currently include: land use and environmental planning, economic and community development planning and urban place making. Students may also devise their own individual concentrations with an advisor’s approval.
  • Entering students who have engaged in the study or practice of planning elsewhere may petition the faculty prior or during their initial semester to determine whether any credit will be awarded or degree requirements relaxed as a result of these prior activities. A maximum of 9 semester hours of course work can be applied for advanced standing when such work was pursued at other institutions and meets prescribed level, content and quality thresholds.  Graduates of the college’s own BEnvd program are eligible for up to 15 semester hours of advanced standing. 


Students should, early in their course of study, secure a program advisor. When that advisor also happens to serve as the concentration coordinator for the specific official concentration that the student wishes to pursue, then the faculty member should continue in both capacities. If the student wishes to pursue an official or self-devised concentration that is outside the program advisor’s prime field of expertise, the student may either consult with the concentration coordinator while retaining the original program advisor, or switch all advising duties to the concentration coordinator. It will be important for the concentration coordinator to know of and approve course work in the context of the concentration itself. Monitoring student involvement in each concentration will also help the faculty to gauge demand, adjust offerings and facilitate activities outside the classroom such as visiting speakers and field trips, and to provide related services such as data bases, software libraries and job placement information. Maintaining an active roster of interested students will also help to sustain contacts among students and with graduates in order to build career networks and engage area professionals. 


Internships are encouraged though they are generally not accepted in meeting concentration requirements. Exceptions must be approved in writing by the concentration coordinator prior to commencement of the internship. No more than three credits of internship work may be applied to the 51-semester-hour degree requirement. Any student wishing to undertake an internship must comply with the procedures established in the internship materials available in the program office. 

Independent Study, Thesis and Special Topic Courses 

To engage in an independent study course, the student must provide the instructor with an outline of the topic, and a time schedule for its completion. The instructor may require additional supporting materials before agreeing to work with the student. Independent study courses (URPL 6840) and thesis work (URPL 6950 and URPL 6951) may meet concentration requirements, depending on the topic, upon the program advisor’s approval. Special topics courses (URPL 6686) will be acceptable in at least one of the categories in the three official concentrations. A completed thesis may substitute for Studio II. Students considering thesis work must secure a thesis advisor drawn from our regular faculty, assemble a committee, secure approval of the thesis proposal before work commences, comply with the official campus form guidelines, make a final presentation, win the approval of the committee and file a bound copy in the Auraria Library. 

MURP Program Planning Form 

Each student should have a copy of the Program Planning Form and use it to keep an up-to-date record of his/her program plan and progress. In addition, a copy of this form should be submitted to the program office and retained in the student’s file. If you have any questions about how to use the form, contact your program advisor.  No student will be certified for graduation by the department chair until a fully updated Program Planning Form is placed in the student’s official file.


Core Curriculum

The core curriculum is composed of the courses listed below. Students are encouraged to focus primarily on core courses during the first year of study, except Studio II, which would normally be taken in the second year. Studio II serves as a capstone experience and is offered every semester. We aspire to offer a diversity of Studio II options befitting the three official concentrations.

Areas of Concentration

The concentration is meant to insure synergy among courses elected, and to lay the foundation for a satisfying and productive career and extended learning on the job. Students should bear in mind that planning is a diverse and evolving profession and that personal interests and career options often change after graduation. Moreover, the mix of courses elected normally allows some breadth in the subsequent definition of one’s expertise as students attempt to match qualifications with employer requirements.

Highly focused studies will sometimes elevate marketability in certain niches for an entry level planner, but may limit access to others. Excessive breadth may limit claims of specialized expertise, however, many positions do indeed require competent generalists.

The program supports three official concentrations:

Economic and Community Development Planning

This concentration focuses on:

  • The marriage of community development and urban economic development. Communities, regions and nations suffering economic insufficiency, stagnation or decline—evidenced in under or unemployment, poverty, diminished opportunity, environmental decline or fiscal decay—often seek remedies for these shortcomings through strategic economic development planning.
  • In this concentration, considerable attention will be given to means for assessing economic impact and apportioning growth’s gains across people, places and sectors.

Land Use and Environmental Planning    

This concentration focuses on:

  • Practices and innovations in land use regulation and public investment
  • Analytical methods including transportation modeling, land market evaluation, environmental impact analysis and use of decision support systems
  • Administration of policies and plans
  • Management of collaborative processes across diverse interest groups
  • Planning politics and governance

Urban Place Making      

This concentration focuses on responding effectively to the following recent trends and demands on the profession:

  • Stronger residential real estate markets in urban centers, especially in the Front Range communities
  • Planning for mixed-use and high density neighborhoods
  • Necessity for understanding of urban form and the interactions between uses, facilities and services within complex urban contexts
  • Higher levels of public participation
  • Wider scope of in design review and increased level of discretion that necessitates design creativity in review processes.

A set of foundation courses is identified in each concentration, plus additional supporting electives.

Course Sequence

Applicants may be admitted for both the fall and spring semesters.  The schedule below posits a fall onset.  If study is commenced in the spring the student may not encounter Planning Methods I until the following fall, so Planning Methods would be deferred to the third semester of study since we now encourage students to take these in the numeric sequence.  Planning Issues and Processes is currently offered only in the fall and is the usual “door of entry” to the program.  It is possible however that we will move to offer sections of this course during both semesters. Students may take more than 12 semester hours of study and so may progress faster than the template below would indicate. Generally taking more than 15 hours is ill-advised.  Under some circumstances—and on a space-available basis—Studio I may be taken during the first semester of study.  Both Studio I and II are offered every semester, and additional sections will be added as demand warrants to preserve an acceptable class size.  We offer numerous courses beyond the core, and also designate additional options in other departments, elsewhere within our college and across the campus.

First Year


Total: 12 Hours

Total: 12 Hours

Second Year


Concentration Courses (9 semester hours)
Electives (6 semester hours)

Total: 12 Hours


Total: 12 Hours

* Both studios are offered in the fall and spring semesters.

Dual Degree Options

Students may enroll in dual degree programs with public administration (MURP+MPA), law (MURP+JD), business (MURP+MBA) and public health (MURP+MPH). In addition, dual degree options are also available combining the MURP with landscape architecture (MLA) and architecture (MArch). The dual degree with law combines study on the Denver campus with the CU Boulder Law School, and the dual degree with public health with the CU Denver Anschutz Medical Campus.  Interested students should consult the college website for additional information regarding these options.  Overall, applicants to any dual option must apply to and gain separate admission to each degree program.  Once admitted the student can graduate from neither until the work is completed for both degrees.  Synergies enable a significant reduction in both the time and credit required to complete these pairings than would be needed if each were separately pursued.  If the student should opt to drop either member of the dual set, he/she must then fulfill the stand-alone requirements of the remaining degree.

Certificate Programs

The college offers official certificate programs in design-build and geospatial information science. Consult our website for details on each of these. The first is more attuned to the requirements of architectural students, whereas the latter could suffice—with the approval of the department chair—as a basis for a concentration satisfying the MURP concentration requirement. Some students may wish to augment their 51-semester-hour MURP with additional course work in order to complete any one of these certificate programs.

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