Graduate Programs

Master of Science in Urban Studies (MSUS)

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"Our Town", Submitted by Malkiese Paythress, Envisioning Cleveland Photo Contest

On this page:
About the Program | Course of Study | Career Opportunities

Important Information:
Admissions | Student Resources | Student Handbook (pdf) | Curriculum Sheet | Contact

Welcome to the Master of Science in Urban Studies graduate program at the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. Levin College is ranked among the top ten urban programs in the United States and is the only college of its kind in the state of Ohio. The college has been voted #2 in the nation by U.S. News & World Reports as one of America's best graduate schools for its "city management/urban policy" specialty.

Our graduate programs feature a nationally recognized faculty with outstanding reputations in teaching, research, and public service. Our students are a diverse and interesting group, representing greater Cleveland and northeast Ohio, as well as other parts of the United States and the world.

Courses are scheduled to meet the needs of both full-time and part-time students, many of whom are also employed throughout the area. Our graduate programs offer a wide array of learning opportunities beyond the classroom, especially through graduate assistantships and internships where students gain practical experience, build professional networks, and enhance their opportunities for job placement and career advancement.

The Levin College offers courses in our state capital and in the nation's capital. Additionally graduate students have the opportunity to present their research not only in the classroom but also at professional and academic conferences, while working with faculty and staff in the research centers.

About the M.S. in Urban Studies Program

The Master of Science in Urban Studies program at Cleveland State University offers advanced training in urban studies to recent graduates, in-service professional and others wishing to pursue or advance careers in fields such as economic development, environmental affairs, and community organization management. The program prepares individuals to assume leadership roles in organizations, to analyze urban systems, and to develop creative and effective strategies for urban revitalization.

No single discipline adequately covers the broad spectrum of knowledge that the modern urban problem solver needs. Thus, the M.S. in Urban Studies draws on many disciplines to broaden and extend the student's knowledge and expertise through a combination of specially developed urban courses. Internships and other experiential training that add depth and scope to the program augment classroom knowledge.

The objective of the M.S. in Urban Studies is to educate students concerning theoretical perspectives and applied research methods useful for effective problem definition and problem solving. These skills enhance organizational capacity in attempting to define and solve complex urban problems. Special emphasis is placed on economic development, organizational leadership, law and public policy, urban ecology, and policy analysis.

Graduates of the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs are working to make our cities a better place to live. They are employed in diverse areas such as government, economic development, investment banking, civil rights protection, regional planning, environmental policy, and community development.

Course of Study

The curriculum for the Master of Science in Urban Studies program consists of 40 credit hours of study. The program is divided into core courses, an area of specialization and electives if needed.

Core Courses:
The core of the M.S. curriculum (20 credit hours) is required of all students and consists of the following:

  • UST 601: Applied Quantitative Reasoning I
  • UST 603: Public Finance and Economics
  • UST 605: Urban Spatial Structures
  • UST 606: Evolution of Human Settlements
  • UST 689: Capstone, or UST 698 Exit Project, or UST 699 Thesis, or UST 611 Planning Studio

Areas of Specialization:
Students may select courses in the areas of economic development, organizational leadership, policy analysis, urban ecology, or law and public policy. Those students whose needs are not met with one of the five areas of specialization listed below may design an individual program of study in consultation with their advisor and with the approval of the Program Director. Examples of individually designed programs of study include Housing, Neighborhood Development, and Comparative Urban Studies. The following areas are offered:

  • Economic Development
    The specialization in Economic Development prepares individuals for careers in the development field in government or in the private sector.
  • Public Finance
    The specialization in Public Finance prepares students for careers in public policy and finance through coursework in budgetary policy, finance, and economic development.
  • Urban and Public Policy
    This specialization trains students to analyze the process of policy development and the effects of policy on urban problems. Students learn to systematically apply social theory, methodology, and research findings to specific problems.
  • Urban Real Estate Development
    The Urban Real Estate Development specialization provides hands-on and practical experience in project-level real estate and real estate finance, investment and valuation.
  • Community and Neighborhood Development
    This specialization provides the necessary background for those interested in working for nonprofit community development corporations and housing providers, public agencies that engage in housing and neighborhood development activities, and for-profit development and planning organizations.

Elective Credit:
The remainder of the program is composed of electives (up to two courses or 8 credit hours). Internships, independent research projects, and readings courses may be completed for elective credit.

Exit Requirements
Depending on specialization area students may be required to complete a capstone, thesis, or alternative exit project. Generally, students may not register for this coursework until they have completed the core courses and the required courses in the area of specialization.

Exit Project
Before registering for exit project credit, a student must select a faculty advisor, who will approve the student's proposed project and read the completed report. Students must complete the Exit Project Approval Form and obtain the required signature prior to registering for the project. Students selecting the exit project option must successfully complete an applied research report, an original project design, a policy analysis and evaluation paper, or a similar project as approved by the faculty advisor. The exit project must place the work in an academic context, including a comprehensive literature review and appropriate consideration of the theoretical roots of the particular professional application.

Before registering for thesis credit, a student must select a thesis advisor from the Urban Studies faculty. In conjunction with the advisor, the student then selects a thesis committee. The committee consists of at least three members, all of whom must be members of the Graduate Faculty. The committee's function is to advise and assist the student in writing and research and to formally approve the thesis once it has been successfully completed. Students selecting the thesis option should familiarize themselves with the regulations and procedures of the College of Graduate Studies.

An internship is not required; however, students without related work experience are encouraged to seek an internship placement. Paid and unpaid internships are arranged through the Office of Student Services. Interested students may receive elective credit for internship work.

Career Opportunities

Levin College graduates are employed in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Many of our graduates pursue careers in:

  • Local, State, and Federal Government
  • Economic Development
  • Health Care Management
  • Program Evaluation and Policy Analysis
  • Housing, Community and Neighborhood Revitalization
  • Environmental Advocacy/Management
  • Public Safety Management
  • Historic Preservation
  • Human Services and Resource Management
  • Urban Planning
  • Research
M.S. in Urban Studies / Master of Urban and Regional Planning
Cleveland State / Chung-Ang University Dual Degree Program

The Levin College of Urban Affairs and the Department of Regional Development, Chung-Ang University, Korea, offer a unique dual degree. Students can simultaneously earn the Master of Science in Urban Studies from Cleveland State University and the Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) from Chung-Ang University. Both degrees can be earned in two-plus years of study, rather than three-plus years of study if earned separately. Students must be accepted by both universities under their individual admissions requirements. Credits toward the MURP are earned during residence in Korea. Visit the Chung-Ang dual degree webpage for more information. Interested students should consult with the Graduate Advisor (216) 523-7522.

Contact Information

Prospective students please contact:
Lindsey Hobson, Levin College Admission Recruiter
Telephone: (216) 687-4506 / E-mail:

Current students please contact:
Dave Arrighi, Levin College Graduate Advisor
Telephone: (216) 523-7522 / E-mail: