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Urban Studies Program Overview

This interdisciplinary major focuses on cities and urban communities, with particular emphasis on their environments, peoples and cultures, economies and politics, and urban spaces and places. The program draws upon courses offered by the faculty in the Departments of Anthropology, Chicano and Chicana Studies Economics, Geography, Latin American Studies, Political Science, and Sociology (all in the College of Arts and Letters) and Public Administration in the School of Public Affairs.

Drawing from an interdisciplinary perspective and embracing different theoretical frameworks, students in the urban studies program explore past and present conditions of urban life. The variety of courses in the major allow students to explore topics such as the origins and spread of cities, contemporary patterns of urbanization at local, regional, national and global scales, city forms and models, migration and ethnicity in urban contexts, different types of urban economies and forms of urban governance, power structures of cities, and urban social movements, to name a few.

Looking south on India Street towards 
      downtown San Diego

In addition, specialized training is provided in methods of analytical research in urban studies, from both quantitative and qualitative perspectives. In lectures, class discussions, computer lab exercises and practical field experiences connected with specific courses, students have the opportunity to gain knowledge regarding urban problems and analyze topics such as housing, land use, organization and management of urban governments, transportation, urban decline and gentrification, public space, border issues, and issues of social justice in contemporary cities. Many of these topics are examined in the context of metropolitan San Diego, the San Diego-Tijuana border region, and the state of California.

Overlooking erra cotta rooftops towards 
      a wooded area

Preparation for the urban studies major includes coursework in anthropology, economics, geography, political science, public administration, sociology, and statistical methods. In addition, competency (equivalent to that which is normally attained through three consecutive courses of college study) is required in one foreign language as part of the preparation for the major.

A minimum of 33 upper-division units are required for the major. Besides a set of courses in urban theory and urban methods, students must also select a specialization in one of the following subject areas: Urban Cultures and Societies, Urban Planning, Design and Management, Urban Political Economy and Public Policy, and Urban Sustainability. Courses in each specialization are specifically tailored to urban studies topics, while required courses in urban theory and methods expose students to cross-disciplinary learning.

For more information on what Urban Studies Majors can do with their degrees please download a brochure.

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The statements found on this page/site are for informational purposes only. While every effort is made to ensure that this information is up to date and accurate, official information can be found in the university publications.