Graduate Certificate in Urban Innovation

Moises Gonzales and Michaele Pride, Directors 

Cities and towns are among humanity's largest and most complex achievements. The buildings, public works, plazas and parks of even a small community embody substantial amounts of capital, energy, natural resources, history and aspirations. Cities are among our greatest creations, yet typically no single individual creates them.

The graduate certificate in Urban Innovation examines settlements from village to megalopolis and from street to planet-wide patterns to provide a foundation for students to engage one of humanity’s greatest needs and challenges - how to create sustainable and vibrant 21st-century cities.

The program aims to give students the foundations to explore critical questions about, study examples of, and propose approaches to creating specific sites, neighborhoods, districts, towns, cities and regions within a globalized world.

  • How can vibrant cities, towns and regions be created —places that are sustainable, convivial, and even poetic—while dismantling structures that produce and reproduce inequality?
  • How to respond to contested and conflicted histories and cultures?
  • What are the goals, aspirations, and tools when there are multiple independent stakeholders?
  • What design, policy and environmental interventions support the creation of vital public spaces and urban landscapes?
  • How does a city’s or town’s infrastructure work to configure the character of the place?
  • How does the relationship between professionals and other key stakeholders shape, constrain and inform a place?
  • How can emergent technology affect existing and emergent settlements?

Students in the Urban Innovation graduate certificate program will develop:

  • knowledge of the theory, history and praxis of urban design with particular emphasis on sustainability and policy;
  • ability in multi-player design, development and regulation methods;
  • knowledge of concepts of urban ecology; and 
  • ability in analysis and prediction of urban design outcomes.

Admission Requirements

Students must either:

  • be currently enrolled in one of the graduate programs in the University of New Mexico with a minimum GPA of 3.0., or
  • already possess an undergraduate degree from an accredited university

Students must apply to and be accepted by the Urban Innovation graduate certificate program, but students are welcome to enroll in the Urban Innovation courses without formal admission to the certificate.


Application Submission Requirements

  • Resume.
  • Statement of intent outlining the applicant's goals in pursuing the graduate certificate, proposed track/program of study, and schedule for completion.
  • Current academic transcript. 

The certificate director and the certificate curriculum committee may waive or substitute other course work for any of the above requirements if the application as a whole demonstrates that the student has the skills, background, and ability to successfully complete the graduate certificate. 

Students who have strong applications but whose skills in a particular area need development may be asked in the admission letter to add another course to their studies depending on their previous background.

Applications to the Urban Innovation graduate certificate are rolling throughout the year.  Applications may be emailed to the attention of the Urban Innovation graduate certificate Director, John Quale



The certificate requires the completion of 18 credit hours.

The introductory core course, Introduction to Urban Innovation, is 3 credit hours. This interdisciplinary course addresses the core concepts of the certificate. The course focuses on theories and methods of policy, ecology and design in urban environments. The course emphasizes leadership in all of these realms, and will require case studies on relevant topics. 

Although it is ideal to complete the Introduction to Urban Innovation course at the beginning of the certificate, it is a prerequisite before the last six credit hours of the individual track are completed.

In addition to the Introduction to Urban Innovation course, students pursue nine credit hours in courses from their current graduate program. These should correspond to the topics addressed in the Urban Innovation Certificate, including urban research, economics, sociology, community development, public policy, planning, housing, infrastructure, urban ecologies, history, geography, water resources, and design (such as urban design, architecture and landscape architecture). The student should propose what courses they believe are relevant, and submit them to the Urban Innovation Director for approval by the Urban Innovation Curriculum Committee.  In general, we seek students from a wide variety of degrees to ensure a truly interdisciplinary experience.

Required course work:

  • Introduction to Urban Innovation, 3 credit hours (it is ideal to take this course first)
  • Urban Innovation Research Studio, 6 credit hours (this is the last course, design work is not expected from non-design students)


Required elective course work:

  • 9 credit hours in approved elective coursework (these could be required courses in a graduate degree, but elective in the certificate)