Urban Studies

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
Dean: Joel Kassiola

Urban Studies Program
HSS 263
Fax: 415-338-2391
Web Site: bss.sfsu.edu/urbs/
Director: Ayse Pamuk


Professors—Pinderhughes, LeGates

Associate Professor—Pamuk

Assistant Professor—Das, Rubin

Lecturers—Silverman, Day, McGovern


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 M.A. and Ph.D. programs 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. We also have a large number of students who seek employment with a B.A. in Urban Studies.

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 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 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. Courses are 3 units unless indicated otherwise.

Core Courses (required of all majors) Units
Introductory Course
URBS 400 Dynamics of the American City 3
Cross-disciplinary Perspectives: drawing upon the basic social science disciplines to provide a broad-based understanding of urban growth and change.
Units selected from the following: 11-12
SOC 480/URBS 470 City in a Global Society (4)  
URBS 432 Urban Geography (4)
URBS 512 Urban Politics and Community Power (4)
URBS 535 Urban Economics
URBS 555   Urban Anthropology
Research Methods and Data Analysis: providing the basic tools necessary for effective research and analysis.
URBS 492 Research Methods (4) 4
URBS 493 Data Analysis (4) 4
Foundation Course in Policy or Planning: developing the conceptual and analytic approaches necessary for effective action intended to address current urban issues.
Units chosen from the following: 4
URBS 480 Policy Analysis (4)  
URBS 658 Land Use Planning (4)
Fieldwork and Practical Applications: internship and research project providing carefully supervised hands-on experience in both a real-world work setting (the internship) and an independent research project (the senior seminar).
URBS 603 Public Service Internships 3
URBS 604 Internship Seminar (1) 1
URBS 680 Senior Seminar (4) 4
Total for core 34-35
Electives: Focus of Interest
Upper division electives chosen by each student with the approval of a faculty adviser. The electives are courses focusing on particular issue areas in which the theoretical and analytic approaches developed in the core courses are applied to critical contemporary issues. This allows students to develop familiarity and some expertise in a professional policy area. Major policy areas include housing, health care, transportation, environmental and land-use planning, sustainable development, and social policy. See the Urban Studies Advising Handbook for descriptions of possible foci of interest. 9-12
Total for major 43-47

Possible foci

Environmental Justice/Equity
Housing and Community Development
Land Use Planning
Policy Analysis
Sustainable Urban Development
Urban Health Policy
Urban Transportation
Urban Poverty


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) 4
Units selected from the following: 9-11
URBS 514 Sustainable Development in Cities (4)  
URBS 560 Urban Poverty and Policy (4)
URBS 565 Social Policy and Family Systems (4)
URBS 570 Urban Health Policy
URBS 580 Urban Housing
URBS 582 Homelessness and Public Policy
URBS 660 The Roles of 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) 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 Environmental Justice: Race, Poverty, and the 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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