Q&A with the Master of Science in Urban Design Director

Ellen Dunham-Jones, director of the Master of Science in Urban Design (MSUD) program, reviewed and responded to your submitted questions. We invite you to reach out to our academic advisors, Robin Tucker and Nitra Wisdom if you have additional questions about the MSUD program. 

Program Emphasis on Sustainable Design

I am interested in the public realm (specifically public spaces such as parks, plazas, waterfront and recreational areas etc.), green spaces and sustainable/resilient design (especially in relation to climate change and the problems/issues arising from it). How much emphasis is placed on these topics in the program?

A great deal. Of the two studios, one focuses that much more on how natural systems influence urban form and deals extensively with how public spaces are designed as green infrastructure and covers a range of issues from sea level rise to stormwater. The other studio focuses that much more on how human systems impact urban form: real estate development and transportation. This also gets into a lot of emphasis on streets.

Design Software Expectations

Will students in the program learn about and gain experience in design software’s such as AutoCAD, Adobe Creative Suite, Sketchup, Revit, Rhino, etc..?

A portfolio is required upon admission. Students are expected to already know how to draw both by hand and digitally. They do not have to be experts, but we cannot teach you how to draw AND how to do urban design in 3 semesters. Not many students make much use of Revit – and only a few typically use Rhino (although it can be very useful for topographic models.) But, the rest of the list is indeed an important skillset to bring into the program. Inevitably, one’s fluency with all of the programs goes up during the program.

If our evaluation of your portfolio finds you lacking in these skills, we may choose to offer you admission to an expanded 4-5 semester program where you would spend the first semester or two with beginning M.Arch students learning more about drawing and design fundamentals.

Program Skills and Knowledge

What other type of skills/knowledge will students learn/gain from the program in relation to urban design?

The program is studio-centric with an emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration on real projects with real communities. Planners, architects, landscape architects learn from each other and from working with local professionals in different disciplines.

Additional required courses in Urban Design Theory, the History of Urban Form, Urban Ecology, and Intro to Real Estate further expand the approaches that students bring to and integrate into their studio projects.

Elective Courses

What type of elective courses are offered by the program?

Students are allowed to take electives from across the university. Some of the most popular are: Green Infrastructure; Retrofitting Suburbia; Urban Analytics (Space Syntax); GIS; and Complete Streets

Summer Travel Opportunities

Could you provide more information on the summer travel study programs? (length, goals/objectives for students, cost)

The cost and precise schedule of the Modern Architecture Modern City (MAMC) program evolves year to year. It’s worth noting that Georgia Tech only charges in-state tuition for the program because it is not held on campus. This means that even with the additional program fee, for most out-of-state students the cost of doing the MAMC is less than if they stayed on campus.

Connections to Urban Design Professionals

Upon graduation does the university help graduates find work/employment or provide them with any connections in the professional workforce?

Through our Practicum program we offer students the chance to intern without pay for one week in top urban design offices during spring break. Past firms have included those of Peter Calthorpe, David Baker, Dan Solomon, SOM Chicago, Doug Farr, Torti Gallas, Scape, and WXY Studio. The connections forged in these internships often lead to longer-term hires. In addition, the School of Architecture has an annual Career Fair that attracts a large number of firms, mostly, but not exclusively from the Southeastern U.S.

Work Experience Expectations

Is the program more suited to those who already have years of professional work experience or not necessarily?

As a post-professional program, we expect all students to bring knowledge of their discipline into the program to share with others. It’s great if they also have work experience, but it is not a requirement.

Where Do Alumni Work?

Where do the alumni from your program usually end up working upon graduation? Private firms/companies, public sector/government agencies, nonprofits or other?

All of the above – and some go on to pursue a Ph.D.

GRE Expectations

How important are GRE scores in relation to admission requirement? And what are the minimum scores/percentiles you look for in relation to admissions?

For the 2021-2022 application year, we are not requiring the GRE for admission.

Tuition and Fees

What is the tuition cost for students?

Tuition and fee costs range from year to year. The most up-to-date info is on the bursar’s website: http://www.bursar.gatech.edu/content/tuition-fees

Student Accomodations

Does the university provide student accommodation? And what are living expenses/costs?

Students can choose to live in graduate student housing or off-campus in apartments. More info on the on-campus options can be found here: https://housing.gatech.edu/home We strongly recommend choosing housing that is within walking or biking distance from campus.

Graduate Teaching and Research Opportunities

Does the university provide any graduate assistantships/ research positions or scholarships that provide a stipend and or cover the cost of tuition? And if so how does one apply for them and/or what are the qualifications needed to get them?

Both Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs) and Graduate Research Assistantships (GRAs) cover tuition and provide a stipend. These are highly competitive and selections are made by the faculty member teaching the course or overseeing the research. Qualifications vary depending on the type of position. Students interested in either a GTA or GRA position should contact the MSUD Program Director, describe their particular skillsets, and the Director will let them know of any leads they might follow up on.

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