Urban Studies

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
Dean: Joel Kassiola

Urban Studies Program
HSS 261
Fax: 415-338-2391
Web Site: bss.sfsu.edu/urbs/
Director: Raquel Pinderhughes


Professors—LeGates, LeVeen, Pinderhughes

Associate Professor—Pamuk

Assistant Professor—Nguyen

Lecturers—Binger, Silverman


B.A. in Urban Studies
Minor in Urban Studies

Program Scope

The urban studies major offers an interdisciplinary curriculum in two tracks: land use planning and policy analysis. The program is designed to prepare students for a wide variety of professional careers.

The program is founded upon the conviction that urban universities have unique opportunities as well as responsibilities to help shape the future of city life.

The curriculum combines a social science education with an applied, problem-solving focus, training in research methods, and practical hands-on experience in a carefully supervised internship and a senior practicum. Course requirements consist of two parts: core courses designed to present appropriate social science perspectives, develop the research and analytic tools necessary for planning and policy analysis, and offer hands-on experience; and electives designed to apply the basic core courses to a policy or professional focus of interest.

A copy of the Urban Studies Advising Handbook and further information about the program can be found at the web page or contact the Urban Studies Program.

The Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies is recognized as a solid basis for graduate study. Recent program graduates have gone on to graduate work in schools of city and regional planning (Harvard, UC Berkeley, UCLA, NYU, the New School for Social Research, University of Texas at Austin), schools of public policy and administration (Kennedy School, Georgetown, UC Berkeley, San Francisco State), and other fields including law, architecture, social work, public health.

The Minor in Urban Studies is designed to complement a wide range of majors by offering students an opportunity to develop competence in urban planning or policy analysis. The minor consists of a three course core and three specialized courses in urban planning or policy analysis.

Career Outlook

The Urban Studies Program has been fortunate in attracting talented and motivated students whose central concern is the effort to make our cities more livable, humane, and sustainable. These students have made important contributions as interns and researchers and as alumni; they have gone on to work as planners, analysts, and managers in private, non-profit, and public organizations throughout the area. Urban studies alumni are employed in local planning departments, housing and community development corporations, transportation planning agencies, health and social service organizations, private consulting firms, environmental organizations, real estate firms, general public management positions, and political organizations. The network of contacts maintained by the department with alumni provides solid evidence of the job opportunities available to urban studies graduates and their continuing contributions to the larger community and offers an invaluable resource to new graduates as they begin their employment search.


Courses within the urban studies program are included in the course description section, which is organized alphabetically by discipline. Many of the urban studies courses included below in the list of program requirements are cross-listed with other departments; information on cross-listings is included in the course description section. On-line course descriptions are available.

Core Courses (required of all majors) Units
Historical and Cross-disciplinary Perspectives
URBS 400 Dynamics of the American City 3
Units selected from the following: 11-12
  URBS 535 Urban Economics  
  URBS 432 Urban Geography (4)
  URBS 512 Urban Politics and Community Power (4)
  URBS 470 City in a Global Society (4)
  URBS 555   Urban Anthropology (4)
Research Methods Sequence
URBS 492 Research Methods 4
URBS 493 Data Analysis 4
Foundation Course in Policy or Planning
Units chosen from the following: 4
  URBS 480 Policy Analysis (4)  
  URBS 658 Land Use Planning (4)
Fieldwork and Practical Applications
URBS 603 Public Service Internships 3
URBS 604 Internship Seminar 1
URBS 680 Senior Seminar 4
Total for core 34-35
Electives/Focus of Interest
Upper division electives chosen by each student with the approval of a faculty adviser, designed to develop competence in policy or professional areas of interest. See the Urban Studies Advising Handbook for a description of possible foci of interest. 9-12
Total for major 43-47

Possible foci

Environmental Planning
Policy Analysis
Housing and Community Development
Health Policy
Land Use Planning
Computer Applications in Urban Analysis
Urban Law
Community Organizing
Social Services


Core Courses (required of all students) Units
URBS 400 Dynamics of the American City 3
URBS 492 Research Methods 4
Emphasis (select one of the emphases listed below) 13-16
Total units 20-23


Urban Policy Emphasis Units
URBS 480 Policy Analysis 4
Units selected from the following: 9-11
  URBS 560 Urban Poverty and Policy (4)  
  URBS 565 Social Policy and the Family (4)
  URBS 570 Urban Health Policy
  URBS 580 Urban Housing Policy
  URBS 582 Homelessness and Public Policy
  URBS 660 Nonprofit Organizations in Urban Life
  Approved substitute(s) with consent of adviser (3-4)
Total for emphasis 13-15


Urban Planning Emphasis Units
URBS 658 Land Use Planning 4
Units selected from the following: 11-12
  URBS 433 Urban Transportation (4)  
  URBS 513 Politics, Law, and the Urban Environment (4)
  URBS 514 Sustainable Development in Cities (4)
  URBS 515 Race, Poverty, and the Urban Environment (4)
  URBS 580 Urban Housing
  URBS 652 Environmental Impact Analysis (4)
  Approved substitute(s) with consent of adviser (3-4)
Total for emphasis 15-16

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