Graduate Certificate Program Urban Design

PSU graduate urban studies students socializing

Urban Design Graduate Certificate Overview

The Graduate Certificate in Urban Design at Portland State University, a joint effort of the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning and the School of Architecture, has been created to offer planners, designers, and architects the opportunity to engage and incorporate in their own work the principles and methods of urban design. It utilizes the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan region as a laboratory, an urban place renowned for its use of urban design and attention to urban design concerns. This certificate is intended for those who are currently seeking an advanced planning or architecture degree, or who are currently employed as a professional planner, architect, or designer.

Degree Details

  • GC
    Graduate Certificate
    Delivery Method
    On campus
    Total Credits
    Start Term

Learn more about PSU’s academic program delivery methods.

Urban Design Graduate Certificate: Why PSU?

Students who participate in the Urban Design Certificate are introduced to a cohort of future professionals dedicated to bridging policy and large-scale urban planning with human-scale design solutions. Building on and complementing the strengths of the planning and architecture degree programs, the UD certificate gives students without design experience training in design representation, interpretation, and storytelling. Meanwhile, it supplements the repertoire of those with a design background with skills in urban and regional mapping, ecological, and economic analysis. Both groups benefit from a robust engagement with urban theory grounded in real-life case studies and scenarios. Most importantly, the certificate cultivates an attitude of exchange and dialogue between future professionals engaged in different aspects of build-environment production.

What can I do with a graduate certificate in Urban Design?

Students who participate in the Urban Design Certificate put their skills and perspectives to work in planning offices, architectural firms, government agencies, and the non-profit sector. Rather than a prescribed career path, the certificate offers the opportunity to explore additional perspectives and approaches that complement other degree programs and career trajectories.

Course of Study

The Graduate Certificate in Urban Design consists of five required core courses, for a total of at least 20-22 SCH (course descriptions can be found in the PSU Bulletin). Note: Required courses for the Graduate Certificate in Urban Design have limited enrollment; courses are offered once per year, so early application and registration is strongly encouraged.

Core Required Courses

  • ARCH 532 History and Theory of Urban Design (Fall)
  • USP 513 Public Space (Fall)
  • ARCH 521 Urban Design Methods (Winter)
  • USP 575 Urban Design Workshop (Spring)
  • ARCH 531 Contemporary Urban Design (Spring)


Portland State University is fully accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).