Major in Urban Studies

The Urban Studies program will be an intensive interdisciplinary BA that focuses on a close study of urban phenomena. Crucial to the program is a multifaceted understanding of the urban experience which includes history and theory; urban design and architecture; urban policy; arts and media (including communication and social media); social, political and economic forces; class, race and gender; and global conceptions of the urban.

Four Program Areas

  • Area A - Urban Sociology and Political Economy
  • Area B - Urban Histories, Theories and Methods
  • Area C - Urban Planning and the Built Environment
  • Area D - Urban Culture and Representation

The term “Program Areas,” suggests specific areas of research that students may choose in their senior year, and also future paths for graduate school or research. For example, students may wish to pursue careers in city planning, which relates to Area C (Urban Planning and the Built Environment), or they may be interested in careers in urban documentary film making, which relates to Area D (Urban Culture and Representation).

Program Learning Outcomes


Students will:

  • demonstrate a critical understanding of the histories, theories and methodologies related to the production of urban space
  • demonstrate a grasp of the political, economic, social and cultural forces that shape the urban experience locally and globally
  • demonstrate and express the importance of urban representations in the arts, literature and media, both locally and globally
  • acquire basic skills related to practices of city planning and urban public affairs
  • demonstrate a critical and interdisciplinary understanding of San Francisco’s urbanism

Apart from required reading material, students will produce written and oral assignments as specified in the syllabi of each of the classes which will rigorously assess the students’ fulfillment of this outcome.


  • By the end of this program, students will experience and understand the complexity of urban issues internationally, both in the developing and developed world. Students will be encouraged to enroll in study abroad programs with an urban studies focus. (If they are not able to travel abroad they can continue to take courses at USF.)
  • By the end of this program, students will take a capstone seminar on specific topics where they will demonstrate the ability to synthesize knowledge from the four core areas, and whose reading material and written work are designed to prepare students to research.


  • Fulfill a practicum requirement in which students engage directly with an urban aspect of the Bay Area that includes but is not exclusive to the history of the area, contested urban issues, the ideology underpinning design, urbanism and landscaping initiatives, the sociology and politics of city planning and urban design.


44 units

Requirements Checklist: Urban Studies Major


  • Intro to Urban Studies
  • 1 course from each of the four Program Areas
  • 4 electives from any of the Urban Studies course offerings
  • 1 Capstone seminar
  • 1 Internship

Required - 4 units

  • URBS 100 Introduction to Urban Studies

Program Areas

Area A - Urban Sociology and Political Economy

  • URBS 210 Urban Politics
  • COMS 195 Landscapes of Communication
  • POLS 195 San Francisco Development Politics
  • SOC 302 Global Inequalities and Social Justice
  • SOC 361 Brazilian Culture and Society
  • POLS 363 Housing and Homelessness Policy
  • POLS 369/ANST369 Asian Politics, Activism & Justice
  • COMS 490 Geographies of Communication

Area B – Urban Histories, Theories and Methods

  • URBS 220 Urban Theory
  • ANTH 250 Urban Anthropology
  • HIST/URBS 200/200 The City in U.S History
  • LAST 300/MS 300 Memory Marks in the Urban Space
  • PHIL 300 Ethics The Good City

Area C – Urban Planning and the Built Environment

  • URBS 230 Urban Planning and Design
  • ARCD 195 FYS San Francisco Urbanism
  • URBS 260 Sacred Cities
  • URBS 300 Colonial Cities
  • MSEM 680 Processes of Urban Planning and Design

Area D – Urban Cultures and Representations

  • URBS 220 Urban Cultures
  • DANC 195 FYS Mapping the City
  • DES 195 FYS San Francisco Signage
  • SPAN 200 Cityscapes of the Post-Movida
  • GERM 320 German Literature and Culture
  • YPSP 323 Filipino Politics and Justice
  • GERM-FREN 350 Paris-Berlin
  • MS 200/300 Contesting Culture, Remaking the City
  • SPAN 491 The City in Latin American Cinema

Double Dipping

Students will be allowed to use no more than two classes to count for both Urban Studies and another major or minor program. We will provide advisors of the program with a form to track courses majors are enrolled and to avoid double dipping.

Contact Info

Urban Studies

Mon–Fri, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Fromm Hall, XARTS 007 (415) 422-5685