Master of Science in Urban Studies

Course of Study

Master of Science in Urban Studies

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 Student Internships and Mentoring. Interested students may receive elective credit for internship work.


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