Careers in the Design Professions

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The college offers its undergraduate students access to unique professional opportunities through its combination of undergraduate and graduate curricula. The Boulder BEnvd degree, when combined with the Denver MArch, MURP, or MLA degrees, offers students access to an accredited professional education in architecture, urban and regional planning, or landscape architecture. ENVD graduates receive advanced standing in those graduate programs as an outcome of the work they have done in the ENVD program, and this allows them to complete the graduate degree in a shorter time—normally three to four semesters in graduate planning programs, and four to five in graduate architecture and landscape architecture programs.


The National Architectural Accrediting Board, which is responsible for the accreditation of all professional architecture programs in the United States, requires that accredited architecture programs publish the following statement: 

"In the United States, most state registration boards require a degree from an accredited professional degree program as a prerequisite for licensure. The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), which is the sole agency authorized to accredit U.S. professional degree programs in architecture, recognizes three types of degrees: the Bachelor of Architecture, the Master of Architecture, and the Doctor of Architecture. A program may be granted a 6-year, 3-year, or 2-year term of accreditation, depending on the extent of its conformance with established educational standards. Master’s degree programs may consist of a pre-professional undergraduate degree and a professional graduate degree that, when earned sequentially, constitute an accredited professional education. However, the pre-professional degree is not, by itself, recognized as an accredited degree.” 

The BEnvd degree awarded by the college at the end of four years of study is not accredited by the NAAB as a professional degree. However, the BEnvd degree may be combined sequentially with a NAAB accredited master of architecture degree program to become an accredited professional education in architecture as defined by the NAAB.  In this sequential program of study, students completing the BEnvd  will normally be asked to complete a minimum of four semesters of additional course work (60 hours of credit) after admission into an accredited  MArch program, either on the college’s Downtown Denver Campus, or in one of the other NAAB accredited graduate programs nationally. 


The practice of planning is currently not licensed in most states. Professional membership and certification is overseen by the American Planning Association (APA) and the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). Degrees in the field are accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB) of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning.

Although students interested in entry-level positions in planning may find the BEnvd degree adequate, an advanced degree (master’s or PhD) is highly desirable and advisable. Students primarily interested in professional practice should obtain a master’s degree in urban planning, in urban and regional planning, in urban planning and community development, or in urban design. Students interested in teaching or research in planning should complete a PhD.

Students from the undergraduate program who continue their studies in the graduate professional planning program in Denver are given advanced standing when accepted into the program. Copies of the policies relating to advanced standing are available in the college office. Though the amount of advanced standing received is directly related to the specific course work completed in the undergraduate program, undergraduate planning emphasis students who continue in the graduate planning program typically receive between 9 and 15 semester hours of credit, and complete master’s-level graduate studies in two or three semesters.

Landscape Design

To obtain a license, landscape architects should have an advanced education and work experience, as well as pass the national examination. In the United States, licensing is overseen both at the state level and nationally by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB). Accreditation is voluntary. The Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB) accreditation process evaluates each program and provides an assessment. The landscape architecture program offers a graduate professional degree (the Master of Landscape Architecture or MLA) on the downtown campus of UC Denver. Advanced Standing status is evaluated on a case-by-case basis and will be determined in accordance with prior academic accomplishments as demonstrated in the application portfolio and transcript.

Design Studies

There is an increasing demand in the design, construction, and development industries for people who combine an understanding of design with a specialized understanding of related fields like computing, management, finance, or marketing. Some students may use the design studies major as general preparation for graduate study in any number of academic fields that are also concerned with the design and planning of the built environment, including anthropology, geography, sociology, psychology, historic preservation, and architectural, urban, and environmental history. Other students may use this emphasis to prepare for further graduate study in a professional field related to architecture, landscape architecture and planning, including business, law, journalism, public administration, product design, and digital design. Design thinking is increasingly recognized in the business world as a valuable expertise in the analysis of the design of corporate structures and business plans.

As the design studies curriculum is individually tailored to each student, students in this emphasis must outline and receive approval of their individual course plan by a faculty sponsor and the college dean’s office before entering the design studies emphasis. Participants in this emphasis are expected to attain a competent level of understanding and skill in architecture, landscape design, or planning. They are expected to demonstrate proficiency in design thinking and design practice as these relate to architecture, landscape design, or planning/urban design by completing the requirements of the five-semester, 75-credit core. Once admitted to the design studies emphasis, students are expected to develop and demonstrate a high level of understanding and proficiency in one specialized aspect of these fields, or in one of the cognate fields. A minimum of 30 hours of course work must be completed after approval of entry into the design studies emphasis.