Urban Studies

Why Urban Studies?

Wide shot of Downtown LA

What is Urban Studies?

For the first time in human history, the majority of the world’s population now lives in cities. As a consequence, the problems and possibilities of cities and urban life will be dominate themes in the 21st Century. No matter what your interests are—in politics, in business, in the arts and culture, in economics, in the law, in education, in social problems and issues, in the environment, in criminal justice, in real estate, or in planning—the context will inevitably be urban. A major in urban studies will provide you with an understanding of cities, the processes of urbanization, and urban life and society that will serve you well no matter what your career or educational goals.

The interdisciplinary urban studies major develops skills that will prove useful in many careers or graduate school programs: written and verbal communication skills, critical thinking skills, research skills, GIS expertise, problem-solving strategies, planning strategies, and the ability to work effectively in diverse groups. Additionally, internship and research opportunities enable urban studies majors to acquire practical experience that are directly transferable to many career paths and graduate education programs.

What Do Urban Studies Majors Do?

Urban Studies majors examine urbanization and its associated social, cultural, economic, and demographic processes. They look at the structures and expressions of urbanization and urban life associated with modern and postmodern cities in the U.S. and around the world.

They learn the common theories, practices, and methodologies employed in contemporary urban planning and policy analysis. Urban Studies majors also explore the basic research questions and agendas associated with urban issues, and the general expressions of urbanization and urban life in Los Angeles.

Is This Major Right for You?

You might be an Urban Studies major if you:

  • Enjoy big-picture issues
  • Are fascinated by cities
  • Want to learn more about urban planning, urban geography, urban policy, and local governance
  • Value community-based participation
  • Are analytical

About Our Faculty

Our faculty members are experts in the wide range of fields and topics related to urban life, including urban geography, urban planning, urban ecology, community redevelopment, historic preservation, economic development, urban sustainability, and urban greenspace in the United States and abroad.

Our faculty travel extensively; do research, planning, and community service work; serve on boards and city commissions; publish in leading peer-reviewed and professional journals such as Urban Geography and Environment and Planning; and provide expert opinion to local and national media outlets including the Los Angeles Times and New York Times. 

About Our Students and Graduates

All of our students serve internships in Los Angeles and beyond. Students have worked with police investigators in one of the world’s largest law enforcement agencies, with planners on the largest urban in-fill project in the United States, with scientists measuring the effects of urban pollution on marine life, and in many other exciting internships.

Students majoring or minoring in Urban Studies receive a strong foundation for careers in urban planning and design, city government and management, public administration, policy analysis, social welfare, criminal justice, law enforcement, human resources management, and community organizing. Urban Studies majors also go on to graduate school in fields such as urban planning, public administrations, and the law.

Representative Courses

Our offered courses have included:

  • The Urban World
  • Urban Analysis
  • Metropolitan Los Angeles
  • Urban Planning
  • Environmental Planning
  • Community Development
  • Sustainable Cities
  • Criminal Law
  • Public Administration
  • Race, Class, Culture, and Public Policy
  • Social Organization
  • Urban Sociology
  • Public Policy Analysis
  • Urban Ethnography
  • Urban Internship
  • Independent Studies

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