MLA programs – Emphasis urban design

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    Paul Best

    Unfortunately, I have decided to pursue an MLA a little late in the year and many programs I’m interested in have application deadlines that are approaching too rapidly for me to realistically apply. I want a program that has an emphasis in urban design or at least has the flexibility so I can emphasize urban coursework.

    So far these are the programs Im looking at

    UC-Denver –
    U of Illinois
    Texas A&M
    Ball State

    Are there any other programs that arent typically listed in the top programs that would be particularly good for an urban design focus…maybe that offer a certificate in urban design or something

    Brett Lezon

    Good question. All of those schools have solid MLA programs. I know that The University of Washington offers a MLA in addition to a certificate in urban design. Ball State has a diverse MLA program. I would also look at a dual degree programs. Some universities offer the ability to work toward dual degrees. For example, MLA and MUD (Masters of Urban Design) or MLA and MUP (Masters of Urban Planning). If you want to go that route look at schools like Penn, Harvard, Georgia Tech. Also, look at schools such as Texas, Arizona State, and Berkeley.

    Hope this helps.

    Paul Best

    I haven’t looked at ASU but unfortunately, UT & Berkeley have app deadlines that are too soon (Jan 5-8th) for me to get an app in. I am considering working for a year if I can find a job in which case I would apply there for sure.

    Does anyone have any knowledge of UC-Denver in terms of quality or what kind of experiences other people had there

    Dominic Esser

    Hey Paul,
    I attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY for a Masters in Urban Design:
    As far as the universities that you have mentioned above, I have heard that Harvard and Denver have really good programs.


    Paul Best

    I’m aware of MUDs but Im not looking for that because I want to stick on a 3-year schedule pretty much. I’m thinking more along the lines of an MLA program with a concentration in something related to urban design (sort of like OSU’s community and urban landscape design concentration)

    Paul Best

    after some review that actually looks like a good program at a very reasonable price. Did you get an MLA from there by any chance? I am wondering what kind of job prospects their grads have. I don’t have any frame of reference on how the industry views degrees from various schools other than the publicized DesignIntelligence rankings

    Paul Best

    I am an undergrad, but I am getting a BA in Urban Planning and Finance, so I would need to do the first professional program. I’ve been to NYC a handful of times and am quite familiar with the city, so culturally I don’t think I would have any problem adjusting. I will probably head out there to visit in which case I’ll let you know. I understand Michael Sorkin is a CCNY faculty member. Does he teach any LA courses or is he just arch?

    Ken Hendrickson


    Have you looked at Penn State? They don’t have an urban design program per se, but might have the flexibility you are looking for. Its worth a look.

    Claudia Chalfa

    Well I just graduated with my MLA from Clemson, and I concentrated on urban design in my terminal project. I think that with most programs you can make of it what you want. Clemson focuses on DESIGN, as opposed to a school like UGA which from what I understand is more technical or environmentally focused. Both great schools though. I know Harvard has a great program, we had a Professor who had gone there and he said the best part of it was the facilities and resources available. Penn State is where a lot of my profs had gone, and they spoke well of it too, so I agree with Paul on that.

    Clemson isn’t on your list but it may be worth considering…the MLA students work very closely with MCRP students (Masters in city and regional planning – they are in the same dept.) and that leads to a more urban-design approach in my opinion.

    Paul Best

    Unfortunately, I missed the boat on Harvard their app deadline is passed (today actually)

    could you elaborate a little further on Penn and A&M as it relates to urban design w/in MLA?

    Jennifer de Graaf

    San Jose State isn’t accepting students for spring 2010 and I don’t know about fall 2010, but they do something I like – their program allows for (emphasizes!!) that they offer their MUP programs on schedules that are designed for working professionals to be able to earn a degree p/t or in evenings.

    I am hoping that I will be able to get into one of their classes this spring through Open University (you can take certain classes without being an admitted student and apply 9 credits max towards a MS later) which is dependent on there being room in the class. I love the idea of being able to start without having met a deadline. They have 4 specializations available.

    I would love to go to Berkeley, but it is SO $$$$$ and they do not make it possible to be anything other than a f/t student in their program (been down that road already when I applied a couple of years ago).

    Dominic Esser

    Thats a really good way to go about it. I couldnt imagine having gone through my graduate program plus having a full time job. I practically lived at my graduate school. I think I will look into taking classes through Open University.


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