Master of Engineering Leadership in Urban Systems (MEL)

Canadian Immigration Updates

Applicants to Master’s and Doctoral degrees are not affected by the recently announced cap on study permits. Review more details

The Master of Engineering Leadership is not administered by the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Please check the UBC Applied Science Professional Programs website for admission requirements, deadlines and application procedure.



Elevate your career to new heights with the Master of Engineering Leadership (MEL) in Urban Systems, an advanced degree crafted for visionary system thinkers eager to tackle complex challenges in infrastructure. This unique interdisciplinary program merges the rigor of graduate-level engineering and urban planning with the business acumen from UBC Sauder’s Robert H. Lee Graduate School. Equip yourself with the multifaceted skills essential for spearheading innovation necessary to build resilient cities.

Organizations across the public and private sectors are on the lookout for urban planners and engineers who not only possess technical and strategic abilities but also understand the intricate balance of social, environmental, and financial aspects in the built environment. They seek leaders with a holistic view and the interpersonal skills to lead teams and catalyze change effectively.


The MEL in Urban Systems stands out with its rare blend of in-depth technical and business courses, preparing you to play a pivotal role in progressive organizations. Delve into a curriculum that covers the entire industry spectrum—from understanding the societal context of infrastructure to mastering engineering design, project delivery, and asset management. The business courses, led by the esteemed UBC Sauder’s Robert H. Lee Graduate School, lay a robust foundation in business strategy, innovation, project management, and leadership.


Tailor your educational journey to fit your lifestyle and career goals with the option to enrol full-time over 12 months or part-time over 24 months. The full-time program allows you to immerse yourself completely in learning, propelling your skills forward within a year. Opting for part-time lets you balance your part-time employment with your studies, applying your newfound knowledge directly to your current role while discussing real-life technical and leadership challenges in class. This format also provides the chance to expand your professional network over two years, with on-campus commitments just two weekdays each week.


Throughout the 12 or 24-month program, you will:

  • Acquire an extensive understanding of the best practices in designing and managing interconnected urban infrastructure systems, contributing to more resilient and sustainable cities.
  • Enhance your sector-specific knowledge with a project-based curriculum that spans all stages of community and infrastructure system life cycles.
  • Learn from esteemed faculty and industry leaders.
  • Collaborate and network with fellow MEL students, broadening your professional connections.
  • Develop crucial business, project management, and interpersonal skills to propel your career and assume higher leadership roles with confidence.

What makes the program unique?

Embark on a transformative journey with UBC’s Master of Engineering Leadership (MEL) in Urban Systems.


Embark on a transformative journey with the MEL degree, designed to propel you into leadership roles and navigate seamlessly across the built environment. This degree serves as a launchpad to a future brimming with elevated responsibilities and exciting new career possibilities. Our statistics speak volumes about the impact of this program: a remarkable 61% of our alumni have ascended to higher positions, while 88% have ventured into new career paths. The MEL degree is not just an educational experience; it’s a catalyst for professional reinvention and advancement.


Delve into the pivotal elements of designing, constructing, managing, and renewing built infrastructure. This program equips you with a comprehensive technical understanding necessary for strategic decision-making, addressing the intricate interdependencies inherent in urban infrastructure systems.


Beyond technical expertise, grasp the essential language of business through courses offered by the esteemed UBC Sauder’s Robert H. Lee Graduate School. Build a solid foundation in broad-based management concepts, preparing you to navigate and lead in the business world effectively.


Leadership skills are woven into every aspect of the MEL degree. As a student, you will find yourself immersed in a variety of leadership-building experiences. This includes leading diverse teams and managing complex projects. You will have the opportunity to attend a series of professional development workshops, each carefully crafted to refine and enhance your leadership abilities and interpersonal skills. These experiences are not just educational, but transformative, equipping you with the confidence and competence to emerge as an influential and effective leader in your field.


UBC is globally recognized as a top 40 university and stands 7th in the world for climate action, celebrated for its exceptional programs and distinguished faculty. Its Faculty of Applied Science is home to Canada’s top engineering school. UBC’s Sauder School of Business is the best business school in Canada and ranks 38th worldwide, offering experiential and rigorous business education.


Joining the MEL in Urban Systems program means expanding your network significantly. You’ll learn from world-renowned faculty and study alongside motivated peers, enriching your educational experience with diverse perspectives. Engage with students from various professional graduate programs, attend workshops and presentations by industry leaders, and immerse yourself in an environment where innovation thrives.

“The multidisciplinary nature of the Urban Systems program reflects how urban infrastructure projects are actually designed and managed, where people with expertise in urban planning and engineering come together to address large and complex issues.” – Dr. Stephanie Chang, Professor & Program Co-Director


Graduates with a blend of technical knowledge and business acumen are highly sought after locally, nationally, and internationally. Our alumni have successfully transitioned into influential roles in municipalities, utility companies, transportation providers, and consulting firms as planners, policy advisors, and innovative thinkers.

“Our graduates are job-ready for work in both the public and private sectors, bringing innovative thinking to enable urban centres to thrive as they grow.” – Dr. Susan Nesbit, Professor Emerita & Former Program Co-Director

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Program Enquiries

If you have reviewed the information on this program page and understand the requirements for this program, you may send an enquiry

Tuition & Financial Support


FeesCanadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / DiplomatInternational
Application Fee$114.00$168.25
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$10,755.80$21,610.24
Program Fee$32,267.40$64,830.72
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) Not applicable
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$1,116.60 (approx.)
Costs of livingEstimate your costs of living with our interactive tool in order to start developing a financial plan for your graduate studies.
Deposit to accept offer (if admitted)
Deposit requirement$5000.00$5000.00
* Regular, full-time tuition. For on-leave, extension, continuing or part time (if applicable) fees see UBC Calendar.
All fees for the year are subject to adjustment and UBC reserves the right to change any fees without notice at any time, including tuition and student fees. Tuition fees are reviewed annually by the UBC Board of Governors. In recent years, tuition increases have been 2% for continuing domestic students and between 2% and 5% for continuing international students. New students may see higher increases in tuition. Admitted students who defer their admission are subject to the potentially higher tuition fees for incoming students effective at the later program start date. In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct.

Financial Support

Applicants to UBC have access to a variety of funding options.

Employer support

Organizations may provide their employees with tuition benefits as part of an employment package to support lifelong learning of their workforce.

Scholarships & awards (merit-based funding)

Professional / course-based programs usually do not provide merit-based funding. Some programs may offer bursaries.

Financial aid (need-based funding)

Canadian and US applicants may qualify for governmental loans to finance their studies. Please review eligibility and types of loans.

All students may be able to access private sector or bank loans.

Foreign government scholarships

Many foreign governments provide support to their citizens in pursuing education abroad. International applicants should check the various governmental resources in their home country, such as the Department of Education, for available scholarships.

Working while studying

The possibility to pursue work to supplement income may depend on the demands the program has on students. It should be carefully weighed if work leads to prolonged program durations or whether work placements can be meaningfully embedded into a program.

International students enrolled as full-time students with a valid study permit can work on campus for unlimited hours and work off-campus for no more than 20 hours a week.

A good starting point to explore student jobs is the UBC Work Learn program or a Co-Op placement.

Tax credits and RRSP withdrawals

Students with taxable income in Canada may be able to claim federal or provincial tax credits.

Canadian residents with RRSP accounts may be able to use the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) which allows students to withdraw amounts from their registered retirement savings plan (RRSPs) to finance full-time training or education for themselves or their partner.

Please review Filing taxes in Canada on the student services website for more information.

Cost Estimator

Applicants have access to the cost estimator to develop a financial plan that takes into account various income sources and expenses.

Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats

These statistics show data for the Master of Engineering Leadership in Urban Systems (MEL). Data are separated for each degree program combination. You may view data for other degree options in the respective program profile.


New Registrations6761210
Total Enrolment71213109

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 97% based on 32 students admitted between 2015 - 2018. Based on 29 graduations between 2020 - 2023 the minimum time to completion is 1.02 years and the maximum time is 2.04 years with an average of 1.22 years of study. All calculations exclude leave times.
Admissions data refer to all UBC Vancouver applications, offers, new registrants for each registration year, May to April, e.g. data for 2022 refers to programs starting in 2022 Summer and 2022 Winter session, i.e. May 1, 2022 to April 30, 2023. Data on total enrolment reflects enrolment in Winter Session Term 1 and are based on snapshots taken on November 1 of each registration year. Program completion data are only provided for datasets comprised of more than 4 individuals. Graduation rates exclude students who transfer out of their programs. Rates and times of completion depend on a number of variables (e.g. curriculum requirements, student funding), some of which may have changed in recent years for some programs.

Further Information


Urban Systems PHD programs draw information on the ULE faculty as well as those in Finance, Strategy and Business Economics, Management Science, Economics, and other fields. 

Faculty Overview

Program Identifier


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January 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
01 January 2024
Canadian Applicant Deadline
25 June 2024
International Applicant Deadline
25 June 2024
Program Enquiries
If you have reviewed the information on this program page and understand the requirements for this program, you may send an enquiry

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