Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP)

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  • 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 Master of 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.

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)

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. 



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.