What Can You Do With an Urban Studies Degree?

Our students are prepared for for graduate study or careers across a variety of public and private, for-profit and nonprofit organizations.

City Planning

As urban populations continue to swell, city planners play an increasingly vital role in finding sustainable ways to develop urban land and infrastructure. City planners collaborate with local municipalities on zoning, land use, public health, transportation, and housing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of city and regional planners is expected to grow 16 percent from 2010 to 2020.

Urban Design & Architecture

Urban design incorporates city planning, architecture and landscape architecture to create a more livable, scenic and sustainable environment. It’s about improving how residents navigate their city by leveraging and highlighting a city’s physical qualities. A BA in Urban Studies can provide a solid grounding for 2-3 graduate degrees in Architecture and Urban Design.

Property Development

Property developers take on a broad range of roles in the development of cities, in particular the provision of market rate and affordable housing. The roles include renovating existing buildings, purchasing undeveloped land for new construction, real estate management, financing building projects and working with local municipalities to gain project approvals. Consider double majoring or minoring in business to take on a more specialized professional role. Or investigate Master of Real Estate Development (MRED) programs, an increasingly popular option for professionals in the field.

Nonprofit Organizations

Urban community service agencies, advocacy groups and hospital, retirement and rehabilitation centers (to name a few) are always looking for skilled grant writers, researchers, fundraisers, managers and counselors. Consider double majoring or minoring in an area that you could specialize in.


Land use law is a significant component in the development of urban land. Lawyers specializing in land use law help developers navigate issues of property rights and local developmental controls. A bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies can be an excellent stepping-stone to a first graduate degree in law—JD (Juris Doctor).

Local Government

An Urban Studies degree is well suited to jobs in local politics and governance. Graduates could well serve in mayors’ offices, for city council members and city managers, as well as public policy think tanks. Students can look into the possibilities of a Masters in Public and Urban Affairs, offered at USF, for careers in urban politics, city governance and public policy.

More Info

For a more comprehensive list of potential career paths, check out What Can I Do With This Major? or schedule an appointment with a counselor from the University of San Francisco’s Career Services Center to chat about your options.