The Program in Urban Studies

Posted By:

Program Director
Douglas S. Massey

Executive Committee
Sigrid M. Adriaenssens, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Lucia Allais, History and Architecture
Stan Allen, Architecture
Bruno Carvalho, Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures
Maria Garlock, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Douglas S. Massey, Woodrow Wilson School and Sociology
Gyan Prakash, History

The Program in Urban Studies is an interdepartmental plan of study for undergraduates that offers an interdisciplinary framework for the study of cities, metropolitan regions, and urban and suburban landscapes. With courses in diverse departments – including art and archaeology, history, music, civil and environmental engineering, sociology, and politics – along with the School of Architecture and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, the program encourages students to think about metropolitan centers in all their complexity – as physical spaces; social, cultural, political, and economic nexuses; and historical artifacts.

As soon as possible after applying for admission to the program, students meet with the program director or Urban Studies faculty advisor to establish an approved course of study. Every student is encouraged to take the program's core course, URB 201, as soon as possible, although it can be taken at any time. URB 201 is offered both fall and spring semesters each year.

Along with URB 201, which students must pass with a grade of B or above, students must complete three electives: one from social sciences; one from humanities; and one from engineering or the natural sciences. A list of approved electives will be emailed to students in the program each semester prior to the registration period, and will be posted on the website. Each selected course must contain substantial urban content to fulfill the requirements of the certificate program. These courses must be in addition to course work taken to fulfill the requirements of the student's department of concentration, although they may be used to fulfill distribution requirements. To be counted toward the certificate, all courses must be taken for a grade.

While urban studies students' senior theses are written in their home departments, their work must contain an urban component, approved by the program director. A faculty member from the student's home department serves as the primary adviser and first reader. The thesis title and abstract must be sent to the program director for final approval. The program provides additional support for independent student research through offering methods workshops, and through a May thesis colloquium.

Students who fulfill the requirements of the program receive a certificate of proficiency in urban studies upon graduation.