The School of Urban Studies has created the first undergraduate urban design degree on the west coast. While architecture focuses on the design of individual buildings, urban design operates on a larger scale – envisioning new ways of designing public spaces like parks, streets, groups of buildings, whole neighborhoods, and entire cities. Urban designers work to make these spaces functional, attractive, and sustainable. Our Urban Design major will prepare students to become proficient in the latest in design software, including SketchUp and Lumion as they create 2D and 3D plans and designs.
Additionally, the BS in Urban Design helps students turn their passions for social change and equity into meaningful urban design solutions producing livable cities and neighborhoods. This degree is designed to incorporate community questions and challenges into studio projects, preparing students for a life-time of commitment to public engagement.
Through a sequence of studio courses, students apply skills including:
Computer modeling Design thinking
Visual communication Public presentation
Data gathering Visualization
Community-engaged design processes
Urban designers focus on place-making
These skills are applied in design studios dedicated to engaging with local and regional urban issues. Courses draw on the teaching resources of UW Tacoma faculty and experienced regional practitioners.
Advantages of our program
Small class sizes
Dedicated studio classrooms
Close interaction with faculty and staff
Collaboration with communities and institutions
Opportunity to work and be trained by practitioners
Career and graduate school workshops
Innovative course of study
Study abroad opportunities
If you have completed the prerequisites listed below with a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher, and have earned at least 40 credits, you can be considered for admission to the Bachelor of Science in Urban Design.
A cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 in all college course work. Applicants with a completed application and a minimum GPA of 2.7 will be given priority consideration for admission.
Three years of high school math through intermediate (second year) algebra or a course in intermediate algebra at the college level
5 credits of English composition
The School of Urban Studies admits students into the Urban Design degree for the autumn quarter, due to the highly sequenced nature of the courses. However, in special circumstances, there is an option to be admitted during the winter or spring quarter.
How to Declare Your Major
If you are a current UW Tacoma Student
Step 1: Schedule an appointment with the Urban Studies Academic Advisor to discuss your academic plan and completion timeline.
Step 2: Submit the Urban Design Application. For admitted students, a formal change of major request will be submitted on their behalf to the Registrar's Office.
Note: Freshman must have at least 40 college-level credits to declare Urban Design as a major. Students interested in this major are encouraged to meet with an Urban Design Academic Advisor to discuss their academic plan.
If you are not a current UW Tacoma Student
Please visit the UW Tacoma Admissions website to submit the appropriate application or to connect with them. You will need to be admitted to UW Tacoma prior to declaring your major.
Introductory courses (18 credits)
Urban Design core courses (60 credits)
Major electives (10 credits)
General electives. The additional credits needed to meet University credit requirements are general electives. Students may focus on an in-depth area of study (e.g., a minor or a certificate) or explore the liberal arts, social sciences, business, social work or health-related fields.
Introductory Courses (18 credits) T UDE 101 Introduction to Computer-Aided Design* (5) T URB 101 Exploring Cities (5) T URB 102 Cities in World Development (5) T URB 103 Urban Studies in Practice (3)
Urban Design Core Courses (60 credits) T UDE 210 Introduction to Urban Design History and Theory* (5) T UDE 260 Urban Design Studio I - Introduction to Urban Design* (5)
T UDE 310 Social Production of Space (5) or T URB 340 – Urban Social Change (5) T URB 220 Introduction to Urban Planning (5) T UDE 340 Urban Design Studio II (5) T UDE 350 Urban Design Studio III (5) T UDE 360 Urban Design Studio IV – Tactical Urbanism (5) T UDE 440 Urban Design Studio V (5) T UDE 450 Urban Design Studio VI (Senior Project – Part I) (5) T UDE 460 Urban Design Studio VII (Senior Project – Part II) (5) T URB 480 Housing in the United States (5)
One of the following two classes (5): T URB 250 Immigration, Race, and American Cities T URB 312 Race & Poverty in Urban America
*Students transferring to UW Tacoma from other colleges or universities can satisfy course requirements (listed above and marked with an asterisk) by taking an equivalent course in any of the following areas. 300-400 level studio courses cannot be transferred in.
One Urban Design, Planning, or Architectural History Course,
One Introduction to Computer Graphics or Computer-Aided Design (knowledge of Sketch UpTM is required), and
One introductory course in design, using computer graphics
The additional credits needed to meet University credit requirements are general electives. Students may focus on an in-depth area of study (e.g., a minor or a certificate) or explore the liberal arts, social sciences, business, social work or health-related fields.
In order to graduate, in addition to degree requirements, you will also be expected to meet the following general university requirements, many of which can be fulfilled with lower-division coursework:
Two years in high school of the same foreign language or 10 credits of one language at the college level
5 credits in Quantitative/Symbolic Reasoning (QSR) coursework*
10 credits of writing-intensive coursework (not including the 5 credits of English composition required for admission)**
10 credits in Visual, Literary or Performing Arts (VLPA) coursework
10 credits of Individuals and Societies (I&S) coursework
10 credits of Natural World (NW) coursework
10 additional credits in any of the above areas of knowledge (VLPA, I&S, and NW)
* Students who first enrolled in college prior to Autumn 1985 are exempt from this requirement.
** Writing-intensive coursework may also count toward the Humanities, Social Science or Natural Science requirements.
Overall GPA: minimum 2.0 cumulative
Major GPA: minimum 2.0 in each course required for the major
T UDE GPA for studio courses: Effective Winter 2020, the minimum GPA in each studio course is 2.7.
Residency: At least 45 of the final 60 credits must be earned in residence at UW Tacoma
Graduation Application: completed with advisor by 2nd Friday of final quarter