The Urban Design Program is a three-semester degree in the multidisciplinary study of cities, regions, infrastructures, and ecosystems. The program focuses on the city as an agent of resilient change and on the role of design in redefining the twenty-first century urban landscape, advancing new paradigms of research, practice, and pedagogy to meet the challenges of climate change, rapid urbanization, and social inequality. Students and faculty in the MSAUD program are united in their attempt to integrate and underscore the essential links between public space, social justice, and ecological systems. The program asks the venerable and necessarily shifting question: what is “the good city?”—reframing the city not as a fixed, delimited territory but as a gradient of varied landscapes supported by networks of food, energy, resources, culture, transportation, and capital.
The program encourages students to critically confront planetary urbanization via applied and on-site research that advances the idea of urban design as an inclusive, activist, tools-based project for specific sites and communities and as a critical project examining urban form, knowledge, and research processes. A sign of the program’s success is its strong, catalytic alumni working globally and across disciplines, institutions, and communities to help create robust and equitable places to live.
The Urban Design program’s curriculum balances the need for shared and specialized knowledge with individual student research interests. The core of the program is the three-semester sequence of studios. The Summer Studio I is foundational and addresses the experimental, representational, and constructive aspects of urban design as a process. The studio frames the Five Boroughs of New York City as a learning lab, examining biophysical infrastructures, conflicting public and private interests, and ongoing socio-spatial change. The Fall Studio II expands its scope to consider the city-region, examining large scale interdependencies and interactions.
Studio research addresses the particular conditions of American city-regions (currently, the Hudson Valley) in which shifting ecological, topographical, infrastructural, demographic, and social conditions call for new strategies for systemic action. The final Spring Studio III takes on problems of global urbanization, extending previous work on variously-scaled physical and social infrastructures, programmatic interventions, and community partnerships. The studio typically travels to two cities, working in close cooperation with local partners and organizations.
The studio sequence runs adjacent to a number of required and elective courses that develop skills in spatial analysis, critical thinking, research methods, and visualization techniques—and that enable students to rigorously propose urban change in any number of capacities. Elective courses, encouraged at GSAPP and other schools at the university, address the specific and varied problems, facets, and processes of urbanization—from human rights to agricultural policy to systems of finance. Throughout the interwoven studio-seminars sequence, projects emphasize a multi-scalar approach to site and program, embracing local, regional, and global scales and advancing the role of the urban designer as a thoughtful practitioner entangled with a diverse set of actors and existing conditions, and crucial to the implementation of imagined futures.
The Summer semester consists of four courses that operate intellectually and methodologically as an integrated curriculum focusing on the New York metropolitan region. All work is based on the coordinated learning of concepts, working methods, historical precedents, research protocols, and representational strategies. Faculty and associates overlap, courses and subjects mix, and design agendas are tested in various settings. This teaching model demonstrates how Urban design can weave together varied tasks of storytelling, community engagement, site survey and interpretation, filmmaking, digital visualization, mapping, and 3D modeling, all of which enable students to create urban knowledge and to iterate, represent and communicate design ideas.
The Fall Studio II expands in scope to consider the city-region, examining large scale interdependencies and interactions. Studio research addresses the particular conditions of American city-regions (currently, the Hudson Valley) in which shifting ecological, topographical, infrastructural, demographic and social conditions call for new strategies for systemic action.
The final Spring Studio III takes on problems of global urbanization, extending previous work on variously-scaled physical and social infrastructures, programmatic interventions and community partnerships. The studio typically travels to two cities, working in close cooperation with local partners and organizations.
The M.S. in Architecture and Urban Design degree requires a minimum of 45 points in the curriculum. Students must take one 3-point elective during the Fall OR Spring Semesters, however, it is strongly recommended that students take one 3-point elective during BOTH Fall and Spring Semesters.
Application Deadline: JANUARY 15, 2020
The M.S. AUD program is a second/post-professional degree program for students interested in exploring urban design. All applicants must have a first professional degree, B.Arch, M.Arch, Bachelor of Landscape Architecture, or Master of Landscape Architecture degree (5 years, eligible for licensure) by the time they start the M.S.AUD program.
A fee of $75 (payable by Visa or MasterCard) is due at the time of application submission.
2.- Letters of Recommendation
Three letters of recommendation are required for all degree program applicants. GSAPP does not have a special form for letters of recommendation. Recommenders may scan and upload recommendation letters to the online application. Letters received directly from applicants will not be accepted.
One letter of recommendation is required for New York/Paris program applicants and Visiting Scholars. Non-degree program applicants (including Introduction to Architecture and Special Students) may include recommendations but they are not required.
3.- Personal Statement
A personal statement is required for admission to each program (with the exception of Introduction to Architecture). In approximately 500 words, describe your background, your past work in your intended field of study and your plans for graduate study and a professional career.
Resumes or CVs are required for all degree applicants and CVs are required for Visiting Scholar applicants.
An academic transcript/record from each university attended and credit earned is required for all applicants. All transcripts must be received by the application deadline. Applicants should upload a digital copy or scan of their transcript/s to the online application. We allow digital copies of transcripts for review purposes only.
Please note that the applicant may upload unofficial transcripts at the start of the application process. Once an applicant has been admitted and has indicated acceptance of our offer of admission, certified and secure online official transcripts must be submitted directly to Columbia from the applicant’s prior institution(s)’ Registrar Office. Please note that incoming students for the fall 2019 semester will be contacted with specific instructions on electronic submission from prior institution(s) for receipt of these documents.
Only if a prior academic institution is unable to submit certified and secure online official transcripts, an official transcript in a sealed envelope must be sent directly from that institution’s Registrar Office to Columbia. Columbia will use its verification vendor to verify the applicant’s degree and transcript with the prior academic institutions and/or the relevant country’s Ministry of Education. Applicants will be asked to consent to participate in this verification process by submitting an authorization and release form.
A digital portfolio is required for admission to the M. ARCH, M.S. AAD, M.S. AUD, and M.S. CCCP* programs. The digital portfolio should be in a single PDF document, 20 PDF pages or less (including the cover pages and table of contents, if applicable), and should not exceed 32 MB. The digital portfolio should be optimized for viewing on a standard size computer screen. Digital portfolios must be uploaded at the time the application is submitted. Portfolios should contain reproductions of original drawings, prints, graphic design, or sculpture.
*M.S. CCCP applicants have the option of submitting writing and/or visual material (see M.S. CCCP admissions requirements for more information).
All applicants whose native language is not English must submit TOEFL scores (with the exception of Introduction to Architecture applicants). At this time there is no minimum TOEFL score required for admission.
International students who have successfully completed two years of study in an English-speaking institution may waive the TOEFL exam requirement provided they can submit relevant transcripts.
Applicants should contact ETS to have official test scores sent to the GSAPP Admissions Office via Institution Code 2164, Dept. Code 12. TOEFL scores are valid for two years after the test date.
We do not accept the TOEFL ITP. We do not accept the IELTS in lieu of the TOEFL.
8.- Application Status
Prospective students are strongly encouraged to review application policies and procedures before submitting an online application. The GSAPP only accepts applications online.
Applicants may check the status of their application after submission by logging into their account with their email address and password and reviewing the status page.