About the MURP Degree Program
  • Degrees offered in Blacksburg and the Washington, D.C., area (Ballston metro station)

  • VT MURP ranked #22 in the US by educators (Planetizen)

  • VT MURP ranked #3 small-city program in the US (Planetizen)

  • 96% of MURPS have passed the AICP exam since 2009

The Masters in Urban and Regional Planning degree has a dual objective of training graduates for their first planning job, and more importantly instilling conceptual and critical thinking necessary for lifelong learning and career development. Graduates are able to assume professional responsibilities in a wide variety of positions in public service or in the private sector.

The mission of the Master of Urban and Regional Planning at Virginia Tech is to prepare students to become professional planners, who can address the economic, environmental and social consequences of growth and change, and to provide leadership in fostering a more just and sustainable world through our teaching, scholarship and service. Upon completion of our program we expect students to:

  • Understand human settlements and their physical, social, economic, and environmental context; the theoretical, historical, and legal foundations of planning and contemporary planning practice; and the range of values associated with diverse communities at all scales and the ethical means of discerning among competing goals.
  • Be at the forefront of envisioning, creating and sustaining communities that are just and economically and environmentally sustainable.
  • Be able to confront complex problems in a systematic and rigorous way by applying the core concepts, skills, and evidence-based techniques and strategies of planning practice, including plan creation; and be competent in generic problem solving, critical thinking, collaborative processes with diverse groups of stakeholders, quantitative and qualitative analysis, and synthesis methods, and computer applications.
  • Be versed in the complexity of global changes and local planning solutions and possess solid knowledge of national and international best planning practices.
  • Have the leadership, collaborative and written, visual and oral communicative skills necessary to function successfully as a planning professional.

Our two locations provide unique opportunities for planning education and research, with dynamic interactions between faculty and students.

  • Blacksburg
  • National Capital Region
  • Full Time/Part Time
MURP Curriculum
Core Requirements (18 credit hours)
UAP 5014: Gateway to Planning (3)
UAP 5084: Collaborative Planning and Community Involvement (3)
UAP 5174: Planning Theory and History (3)
UAP 5224: Planning Methods and Technologies (3)
UAP 5234: Urban Economy, Equity, & Society (3)
UAP 5554: Land Use and Planning Law (3)
Capstone Project (6 credit hours)
UAP 5125 – 5126: Planning Studio: Real World Problems and Solutions (3, 3)
UAP 5994: Master Research and Thesis (6)
Electives (24 credit hours)
Selected in consultation with MURP adviser (see MURP Handbook)

UAP Certificate Programs
Urban and regional planners need to know how they can develop their economies. The challenge for policymakers, economic developers and urban planners nowadays is to design appropriate local and regional economic development policies and programs to respond to challenges resulting from globalization, technological development, demographic changes, urban decline, sprawl, and social inequities. Virginia Tech’s Graduate Certificate in Economic Development is designed for those who are interested in acquiring a basic understanding of urban and regional economic development dynamics and the role of policy in influencing them.
Geospatial Information Technology (GIT) includes collection and analysis of remotely sensed data, digital spatial and attribute data used by geographic information systems (GIS), and the application of related technologies such as the Global Positioning System (GPS). Geographic Information Science is one of the leading careers in the United States today. As depth of knowledge is important to careers in the industry, this certificate requires 12 hours of geospatial coursework. Coursework is taken from three categories, beginning with introductory topics, and continuing through more advanced and specialized topics as best fits the student’s background and future goals.
The Graduate Certificate in Global Planning and International Development Studies builds on Virginia Tech’s internationally recognized, 30-year specialization in international development planning and an innovative partnership between faculty in programs such as Urban Affairs and Planning, Public Health, Geography, and Building Construction. The certificate seeks to prepare graduate students in multiple disciplines to engage in meaningful global professional leadership and academic positions to systematically tackle and resolve these global planning and development issues.
The Graduate Certificate in Metropolitan Studies is designed for those who are interested in acquiring a basic understanding of metropolitan development dynamics and the role of policy in influencing them. The certificate is part of the Urban Affairs and Planning program’s overall mission to teach students how to understand, analyze, and influence the forces that shape the metropolitan built environment.
Virginia Tech’s School certificate in Nonprofit and NGO Management focuses on the most vital and urgent management challenges for nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations. The certificate is ideal for rising professionals across the globe navigating the complex fiscal, managerial and networked environments of nonprofits and NGOs during a time of significant change. Courses in the certificate also include a focus on leadership, complex management, program evaluation with an emphasis on accountability. All courses seamlessly integrate the domestic and international context.
The management of water resources is a critical issue facing governmental agencies, as well as the private/industrial sector and citizens. The Watershed Management Certificate provides an excellent opportunity for future water and land managers to develop the interdisciplinary skills necessary for meeting these challenges in the field of water resources. This certificate integrates existing programs and courses from five colleges and ten departments at Virginia Tech to provide an interdisciplinary and substantive understanding of watershed science, policy, and decision-making.

Special Programs

The Combined B.A. Architecture/Masters in Urban and Regional Planning degree provides students with the option of earning a professionally-accredited Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree along with the professionally accredited Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) degree. Graduates of the combined degree program are at the nexus of planning and architectural design, crafting solutions to community issues that respond to social, political, economic and spatial challenges.
MURP Studio Projects

FALL 2019 Year Long Studio

SUBJECT: Craft Beer and Urban and Regional Planning
PROFESSOR: Theodore Lim

Craft breweries are enjoying a surge of popularity, growing from an estimated eight craft brewery operations in 1981, to over 4,500 microbreweries and almost 2,600 brewpubs as of 2018 (Brewer’s Association, 2019). In 2018, small and independent brewers comprised 13.2% of market share by volume, and 24.1% market share by retail value (ibid). Craft breweries are not just significant symbol of the US’ changing taste in beer. Their presence in local communities are also creating interesting spaces where people can gather, revitalizing downtowns, adapting historic buildings, and creating linkages between outdoor recreation, and the local business and food movements. Regionally, some areas are promoting craft breweries as part of a regional economic development strategy related to tourism and food and beverage processing. The growth in popularity in craft breweries is not without its challenges however. Examples of concerns accompanying brewery establishment include: increased congestion, public drunkenness, cultural changes, resident quality of life vs tourism development, infrastructural constraints, and environmental impacts.

In this studio we will examine the role urban and regional planners play in balancing the goals of community and economic development, infrastructure capacity, quality of life, environmental amenity, historical preservation, and sustainability. We will conduct in-depth site research using interviews, surveys, and photography in the City of Asheville, NC, known for its craft beer culture and tourism industries, and apply lessons learned to deliverables we prepare for our clients: (1) the Town of Blacksburg, VA; (2) the Blacksburg Partnership; (3) Onward New River Valley; and (4) the Brewer’s Association.

SPRING 2019 Year Long Studio

SUBJECT: Preparing Communities for Automated Vehicles
PROFESSORS: Wenwen Zhang and Theodore Lim

Description: Automated vehicles (AVs) are vehicles that require no driver. These vehicles represent the culmination of several rapidly developing technologies, such as remote sensing, machine-learning, and computer vision, and are capable of transporting passengers with little to no human input. In this studio, students explore what local agencies, policy-makers, planners, and residents can do to prepare their communities for local changes associated with the coming of AVs. While no one can predict the timeline of AV implementation with complete certainty, we can expect that AVs will have a profound impact on many aspects of private and personal life over the next decades, including: 1) individual vehicle travel, 2) public transit, 3) parking, 4) the metropolitan footprint, 5) parks and open space, 6) affordable housing and 7) employment. The challenge to planners and policy- makers is that the future of AVs is both uncertain and highly impactful. We will work to identify case studies of what planners can do to plan in the face of such uncertain, impactful change, as well as survey planners’ own perceptions of their communities’ readiness.

SPRING 2017 Transportation Studio

SUBJECT: Capital Bikeshare station expansion, feasibility study in Merrifield, VA
PROFESSOR: Dr. Ralph Buehler
Bikeshare is a convenient mode of neighborhood circulation that can also improve first and last mile access to public transportation. In the Fall of 2016, Fairfax County launched bikeshare in Tysons as well as Reston. In an effort to further expand their bikeshare network, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation has reached out to Virginia Tech to develop a feasibility study for a bikeshare expansion to Merrifield, Virginia. Read more…

SPRING 2016 Transportation Studio

SUBJECT: Foggy Bottom-Farragut Area Bicycle Facilities Assessment: Current Conditions and Perceptions of Bike Infrastructure
PROFESSOR: Dr. Ralph Buehler
The purpose of this project was to evaluate and recommend bicycle infrastructure within the Foggy Bottom Metro Area on the basis of existing field conditions, crash analyses, and survey results. Although the Foggy Bottom Metro Area currently serves residential, commercial and institutional land uses, it has typically received significant criticism in regards to its existing bicycle infrastructure. In order to evaluate these conditions, a field review was conducted within the area… Read more.

UAP Faculty
MURP Contact Information

Leigh Bower (Blacksburg)
Graduate Student Coordinator
(540) 231-5485

Myriam Lechuga (D.C.)
Graduate Student Coordinator
(571) 858-3102

Ralph Buehler (UAP Chair) | (571) 858-3111
Yang Zhang (MURP Coordinator) | (540) 231-1128
Ralph Hall (PUA/EPP Coordinator) | (540) 231-7332

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Apply to the MURP Program
The Master’s program requires applicants to submit an online application form, application fee, official transcripts of previous academic work, personal statement, three letters of recommendation, and resume. In addition, all applicants who did not earn an undergraduate degree from a university in the US must submit GRE scores, and all international applicants whose first language is not English must submit TOEFL scores. Note that the Graduate School requires a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) for admission of 3.0 or better. Applicants with GPAs below this may be qualified depending on professional experience and other accomplishments.
The Master’s program accepts applications on a rolling basis, with the following deadlines:

Fall Admission – August 1
Spring Admission – January 1

However, note that applicants who want to be considered for financial aid MUST have their application completed by March 1 for the Fall admission, or October 1 for the Spring admission.