We recognize that making a decision about your college education can be a difficult one. You and your parents or partners will have many factors to consider. Here are some of the reasons we may be a good fit for you.

Our urban location in Kansas City allows us to “practice what we preach” through community engagement projects. Our design students find real-life needs and work with neighborhoods to find solutions.

The selective enrollment in our programs makes for small class sizes and plenty of one-on-one attention from faculty. You’ll know your professors and they’ll know you.

A college education is one of the best investments you can make, and UMKC offers a high level of affordability, coupled with a generous scholarship program.

Established in 1987, the unique partnership between our architectural studies program and Kansas State University’s College of Architecture, Planning and Design makes us part of what is consistently ranked as one of the Top 10 design programs in the nation.

Our students succeed. Read on for a few examples of our successful alumni and some of the remarkable placements and achievements they have accomplished. (You’ll find more alumni stories throughout our web page, too.)


Design Discovery Summer Program

Are you in high school or college and interested in one of the design fields . . . but don’t really know which one or what it entails? Here’s your chance to find out!

Kansas City Design Discovery is a four-day program for high school or college students interested in the design professions of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Interior Architecture/Product Design or Urban Planning/Design.

Find out more here!


Student Success

Vanessa Spartan, AICP

UMKC 2006 B.A. Urban Planning + Design,  UPD Alumni Honoree 2014

Senior Planner, Wilson and Company, Kansas City Missouri

I first came to the UPD program as a transfer student after taking coursework in architecture, graphic design and social sciences. What drew me to UMKC UPD specifically was the ability to work in a real city environment using Kansas City as my classroom. The complexity of the coursework and the topics of discussion continuously kept me engaged and expanded my understanding of the built environment. Being located in Kansas City meant I had numerous opportunities to engage with professional architects, engineers and planners regularly.

The UPD program includes academic instructors as well as adjunct faculty that provide real world experience and knowledge that prepared me for my career. The absolute highlight of my time at UMKC UPD was during my senior studio where we worked in post-Katrina New Orleans on an economic recovery plan based on historic and cultural tourism. That project was a huge stepping-stone in kicking off my career as a planning consultant. It was the first time I had been exposed to planning coursework outside of the Midwest which expanded my ability to empathize and tailor solutions for different sociologies as well as governmental and organizational structures. Thus far my experience has spanned 24 states and has touched all levels of government including projects for city, county, metropolitan/regional, tribal, state, and federal government agencies. This, I believe, speaks highly of UMKC UPD’s ability to prepare you for a successful career in planning.

Joey Pruett

UMKC 2009 B.A. Urban Planning + Design

Designer, Studio B, Aspen Colorado

The small classes and attention to detail by all of the instructors (as well as getting to know the instructors on a personal basis) facilitated a unique atmosphere where it was fun to learn. Working side by side with our “clients”, who were members of the community was really enjoyable because we were able to see first-hand the fruits of our work and how much positive impact we were having on our city. Putting together the Washington Wheatley Neighborhood Action Plan was a true team effort from the UPD staff and administration to my studio classmates to the leaders and individuals of the neighborhood itself. Giving a group of people who had been long ignored by the city some empowerment to improve their neighborhood and implementing strategies which have been agents for change for the community which put smiles on hundreds of people’s faces is still the most gratifying work I’ve ever done.