Pursuing MURP at VT: Students’ Perspectives

Learn about the program from the first-hand experience of our Master in Urban and Regional Planning students.

Program Flexibility

Andrew DeLuca: I work 32 hours a week and take 9 credit hours of classes. This program has accommodated my schedule and the flexibility to take some online classes has allowed me to make the most of the program.

Lynda Ramirez-Blust: I am a full-time student pursuing a degree in landscape architecture and urban planning. Because my landscape architecture classes are during the day and the MURP classes are late afternoon and evening classes, I can fit them into my schedule easily. It makes for a couple of long days but its workable.

Ariel GoldringI work full time outside of school and am a part-time student. The evening schedules make it possible for me to enroll in the program while continuing to work.

Emma Martin: I am a full-time student and graduate assistant. The program has enough flexibility for me to have a job outside of school, it’s just not something that I need to do at this point.

Job Placement and Professional Networking

Randy Cole: The staff and school have access to many real-world and local opportunities to participate in Urban Planning – affordable housing, economic development, active transportation, parks & open space, historic preservation, mass transit and urban analytics. There are not many schools nationwide that have access to this variety of learning opportunities.

Madeline Youngren: The program has many connected professors who have provided individuals to speak to regarding my interests. The program also sends out many internship and job opportunities.

Emma Martin: The program has revealed the many specialty fields there are within planning. Since we have so many elective hours, I can take courses that fit my interests, including urban design, creative placemaking and public art, sustainable transportation, and site planning.


Randy Cole: I like the economics courses and the mapping courses. The economics courses gave me an insight into the fundamental reasons and theories why cities exist and how they can sustain themselves. The mapping courses taught me about the tools, data and analytical processes needed to make a map tell a story.

James Mill: Topics in Transport Policy class was my favorite class. Not only did it help reinforce my interests in transportation planning, but we learned a lot about new and developing trends in transportation

Owain James: The best classes in the MURP program are the studios where we get to apply our knowledge to real problems facing communities today. Instead of just writing a paper about safer streets, this semester I am studying real intersections in Alexandria and looking at ways the city can make them safer.

Ariel Goldring: I particularly enjoy the modules, in which professionals who work “in the field” provide us special insight into complex planning issues.

Interest in Urban Planning

Andrew DeLuca: My undergraduate program was Geography and it mainly focused on describing the world as it is and some of the (mostly natural) processes that shape it. I wanted to know how and why the man-made processes come about, and i want to be a part of those projects.

Lynda Ramirez-Blust: I’m transitioning from a career working with nonprofit organizations. Through that work my awareness of inequities of the city has become more acute and so too my desire to do something about it. I see planning as an opportunity to level the playing field for the have nots.

Ariel Goldring: I was attracted to urban planning to better understand the strategies available to tackle housing issues plaguing rural and urban communities alike.

Jose Delcid: My interest in urban planning ties in to my background with architecture. I’m really fascinated with urban design and placemaking, something that shows the creativity behind the planner.

Madeline Youngren: I am interested in housing planning as well as sustainable and environmental planning. I come from an environmental policy background, so I was exposed to the planning realm early in my education. 

Zach Johnson: Since dropping out of the architecture program to pursue planning, I have grown to especially love economic and rural development. I hope to increase and bolster the sustainability and resiliency of rural communities facing economic and demographic challenges

Engaging and Supportive Faculty

Jose Delcid: All the professors and adjunct faculty are well-respected. One thing about the NCR campus is that professors are willing to chat with all students. 

Emma Martin: Each one of my professors is intelligent and passionate about their work and teaching. We are lucky to have such an engaged, supportive, and genuine group of professors in our program. They are always accessible and always willing to go out of their way to offer help.

Zach Johnson: All my professors have been engaging, approachable, and accessible. Additionally, each of them is well-respected in their respective fields. 

Application Process

Randy Cole: I was considering several schools in the DC area. Virginia Tech was close, but when I learned that Dr Buehler – a national and global authority in urban biking – taught here, I stopped looking elsewhere.

Owain James: I decided to apply to Tech after attending an open house and sitting in on a class. The environment was so much fun and everyone was extremely welcoming. It really gave me a good sense of not just the curriculum, but also the academic culture.

Madeline Youngren: I applied to VA tech because I went to undergrad there and knew the planning program was strong. I was most attracted to the satellite campus in Alexandria, VA, because I thought it would prove to provide more connections and better applicable study in the Northern Capital Region. Staff was very supportive in the process and I liked that I was notified of my acceptance in a timely manner.