Master of Urban Design

The Master of Urban Design program at UNC Charlotte has established itself as an important training ground for aspiring leaders in design firms, non-profit organizations, and municipal offices across the region. With its director, Sekou Cooke, the program hopes to dramatically increase its national and international profile while deepening its local impact.


Our City

The reimagined program begins with the city of Charlotte – a city experiencing rapid growth, increased density, and expansion of its public transit system.

As the home to the national headquarters of many companies in the banking, manufacturing, energy, and financial services sectors, the city is also home to deep disparities in wealth, socio-economic mobility, and environmental justice.

Its location in the heart of the American South brings the historical injustices and systems of oppression that shaped the region to the foreground of the city’s list of challenges.

Our Involvement

The urban design program folds each of Charlotte's social, economic, environmental, and ethical design challenges into the core of its pedagogy. It prioritizes the use of tactical insertions within urban ecosystems over high-level master planning solutions.

Program faculty and students actively engage with community stakeholders through our community planning workshop course and other coursework that closely aligns with the school’s City Building Lab.

The curriculum delivered within the one-year (fall-spring-summer) program is primarily studio-based with a solid grounding in design history and theory, mapping and visualization technologies, and electives that round out the student experience. Primary instruction takes place at The Dubois Center at UNC Charlotte Center City in uptown Charlotte, the city’s center of urban activity. The required study-abroad summer course in the final semester introduces a global perspective to the Charlotte-centered curriculum.

uptown campus


Our New Direction

Sekou Cooke comes to UNC Charlotte from Syracuse, New York, where he was an assistant professor in the School of Architecture at Syracuse University. Born in Jamaica, Sekou went on to receive his B. Arch from Cornell University, and his M.Arch from Harvard University.

In his professional practice, sekou cooke STUDIO, he brings thoughtful processes and rigorous experimentation to a vast array of project types – from public, non-profit, and residential works in New York, New Jersey, and North Carolina, to mixed-use projects and tenant improvements in California, to speculative developments locally and internationally. 

Dual Degree Options

Students may also elect to pursue a dual degree with a Master of Architecture. Further dual-degree options with a Master of Art in Geography (Community Planning track) or a Master of Science in Real Estate are also possible. Please check our frequently asked questions section below and visit our Graduate Admissions page for more information about the application requirements and process.


Frequently Asked Questions

The application can be accessed through the UNC Charlotte Graduate School website. If you are considering applying, you should start your application at this link early so that you can request letters of recommendation through the automated system. We cannot review an application that is not complete and those letters are often the final pieces that we receive.
No, we are not able to waive the application fee.

The Master of Urban Design is a highly structured one-year program that requires all students to follow the same schedule of courses in sequence. As such, all students must begin in the Fall semester.

If you have an undergraduate degree in architecture or landscape architecture, you would start our program in the fall semester and should indicate that on your application.

If you do not have an undergraduate degree in architecture or landscape architecture, you will start the program in the summer as you will be required to participate in MUDD 5101 – Design Studio: Basics during the second summer session before the start of the fall semester. That course typically starts immediately after the July 4th holiday and introduces students to the software, vocabulary, and design thinking that will allow them to start the full-time program successfully in the fall. If you do not have a design degree, be sure to indicate a summer start on your application for admission.

The MUD program accepts students into the program on a rolling basis until the program is full. That means an application can be submitted in May or June for a July or August start and if there is space, that applicant would still be considered for admission.

Applicants are encouraged to apply by the January 15 priority application deadline if they want to be considered for research and teaching assistantships or other support. We will distribute those funds early so there is not likely to be anything available for later applicants.

No. The Graduate School at UNC Charlotte is no longer requiring the GRE as part of the admissions process. You do not need to submit test scores.
The Graduate School at UNC Charlotte requires proof of English language proficiency from applicants whose native language is not English. For more information, including tests accepted and minimum scores, see this page about language proficiency on the Graduate School website.  

No. All applicants will be automatically considered for all School of Architecture admissions scholarships, teaching assistantship, and research assistant positions. There is no separate application and no need to reach out to faculty directly about positions. As part of the application review process, applicants will be considered for these support opportunities.

Our assistantships are competitive and we typically only have a small number of tuition awards to offer to our strongest applicants. These only cover the in-state portion of tuition. Students are still responsible for the out of state portion of tuition and the fees. You can find information about tuition and fees at this link. The published numbers are for the current academic year, so these will likely change in future years.

Yes! Every spring semester, the School of Architecture issues a call for scholarship applications. Urban Design students are eligible for some of these opportunities and may apply to receive funding. Most of these awards are around $1,000 and would go to your final summer expenses.
No. The Urban Design program at UNC Charlotte’s School of Architecture is not STEM-designated. Our Master of Architecture program is STEM-designated and we offer a dual degree opportunity for students who are interested in staying longer and completing two master’s degrees.

Please, see the portfolio description under “Admission Requirements” here. We are especially interested in seeing process and exploratory work in addition to renderings of completed design projects.

If you have no visual/graphic skills (sketches, drawings, photography, artwork, mapping, diagrams, visual analysis) your application will not be strong and you should consider taking a drawing course or a photoshop course to help generate material for a portfolio.

Yes. OPT is a work authorization that permits F-1 visa international students to apply for permission to work for one or two years in the United States after completion of their degree program. Students who complete our MUD program are eligible to apply for this employment benefit to extend their visa for one additional year. For more information about OPT, please follow this link.

The UNC Charlotte International Student and Scholars Office (ISSO) is a key contact for all international students and applicants with questions related to visas, I-20s, and financial certification. Please, review the FAQ section on their website.

Yes. All students are required to participate in the 5-week foreign study program in their final summer of the MUD program. This is an integral part of the educational sequence. Students should anticipate costs, passport and visa, and other concerns in advance.

Yes. It is possible to complete the MUD program part-time. Please, review the Part-Time MUD Option in the university’s course catalog. Students have found it difficult to work full time when enrolled in the one-year studio sequence.

Hand drawing or sketching is a key tool for designers, both as a way of recording observations and of really seeing the city. You may or may not have any experience with sketching spaces and buildings and the environment around you. Whether you are a beginner or experienced, this is something you could always work on to hone your skills. Getting into a regular routine of sketching every day will improve your hand and your ability to understand and analyze the built environment.

We strongly recommend becoming familiar with the following software:

  • Adobe Creative Cloud Photoshop
  • Adobe Creative Cloud Illustrator
  • Adobe Creative Cloud InDesign
  • Sketchup Pro
  • Rhinoceros

Have further questions about the MUD program? Contact program director, Sekou Cooke.