Urban Studies

Cities around the globe are facing complex issues in need of creative solutions. At Fordham, our solutions-oriented interdisciplinary program will prepare you to tackle the challenges confronting urban society in a range of areas:

  • Economic development
  • Inequality and social justice
  • Public health
  • Environment and sustainability
  • Urban arts and creative industries
  • Historic preservation and gentrification
  • Technology and the development of “smart” cities.

With New York City as our main laboratory, you’ll design a unique course of study tailored to your own interests. You’ll engage in fieldwork with real-world implications and emerge with a nuanced understanding of the powerful forces that are shaping our cities, as well as the problem-solving skills required to improve the quality of life for their citizens.

Admission Requirements

Candidates for the M.A. in Urban Studies are expected to have a minimum GPA of 3.0 from an accredited college or university. Completed applications will include each of the following items:

  • Resume/CV
  • Statement of intent: up to 500 words
  • Three letters of recommendation: from professors or employers, submitted directly by referees
  • Writing sample: 5 - 7 pages maximum
  • Official degree transcripts: confirming prior degree conferral are required for all applicants, regardless of matriculation status. These should be ordered at least one month prior to the application deadline for your program of interest. You may upload unofficial copies of your transcripts to your application while the Office of Admissions awaits receipt of your official transcripts.
  • English Proficiency: International applicants whose native language is not English are required to complete and submit to GSAS prior to matriculation their official scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). GSAS will also consider a student’s International English Language Testing System (IELTS)—Cambridge English Proficiency Level language testing results.

The GREs are not required, unless you are interested in applying for financial aid. 

  • MA in Urban Studies
    • The City and Globalization Concentration
    • Race, Class, Gender, and Ethnicity Concentration
    • Urban Society and Culture Concentration

URST 5000. ISSUES IN URBAN STUDIES. (3 or 4 Credits)

Required foundation course for MA in Urban Studies. Introduces students to current debates in urban studies and to modern urban theory. Themes covered include: immigration, race and ethnicity, urban culture and history, urban sociology, urban planning, city and globalization.

Attributes: HULI, PMMA.


Examines urban political systems concentrating on the primary institutions and processes that comprise the urban milieu. Focuses on the major theories and approaches that attempt to explain urban politics and urban political systems.

Attributes: INST, ISIN, PMMA.


Examination of 19th Century origins of suburb as counterpoint to the city and the role of nature in shaping the design of this new form of country living. The twentieth century transformation of the suburb into the American dream will be evaluated in light of the reultant sprawl and the policy critiques of this pattern of growth. The class project will involve the design of a sustainable suburb for the 21st century.

Attribute: HIST.

URST 5040. URBANISM. (3 Credits)

Overview of urban philosophy and urban planning theory in the modern period with emphasis on contemporary scholarship as well as planning methods and techniques. Course scope is international.

Attributes: INST, ISIN.

URST 5045. INFORMAL CITIES. (3 Credits)

This course will examine informal organization as it takes place under the impact of political crisis, natural and manmade disasters, and the ongoing crisis of poverty. A variety of sources will be used including written records, films, and imagery.


This course will examine the intersection of urban life, the urban environment, individual and community health, and public policy. In doing so, it will examine the evolution of urban public health problems, the urban environment, and the role and responsibility of the political system to respond to individual and communtiy health issues in urban settings. A variety of approaches to the study of urban public policy as well as selected issues from the study of urban public and environmental health will be highlighted.

Attributes: CEED, CETH, ENST.

URST 5070. Environmental History of the American City. (3 Credits)

A survey of New York City's history that emphasizes its changing ecomony, ecology, geography, and society over 400 years. Subjects include the political economy of poverty, the global outreach of New York, its capacity to change the enviroment of other places, and urban redevelopment. Students will conduct preliminary research and prepare a prospectus for a research project.

Attributes: ENST, ESHC, HULI.

URST 5080. On the Waterfront: Maritime New York History and Policy. (3 Credits)

This course will explore the rich exchange of goods and people which made New York a "river city," the problematic legacy of that long maritime history, and the complex array of public policy questions that are redifing our relationship to the edge.

URST 5081. Brooklyn Waterfront: The Social Production of Space. (3 Credits)

This course examines the social, economic, ideological, and technological forces that produced the new Brooklyn waterfont. Brooklyn Bridge Park is the case study and focuses on its historic transformation from a ferry landing and the largest private freight terminal in the world into a public waterfront park at the beginning of the 21st century. The course explores the role of public policy, community debates, as well as the historical memory, visual images, and local uses that shaped the new vision of this space. Field work and research at the Brooklyn Historical Society required.


Considers the performing and visual arts and how they are mediated by the stature of the Lincoln Center complex. Topics include John D. Rockefeller 3rd's dream, the politics and design of the complex, Robert Moses and Lincoln Square, history of the arts in NYC, politics and economics of the arts.


This course will introduce students to the main issues and current debates on immigrants in large urban areas in the U.S. Due to their density, cities represent microcosms of interaction and identity formation among and between different groups. This often manifests itself spatially, as certain neighborhodds become cares of residence and teorritorial concentration for immigrants. In the process of settling, immigrants also start identifying strongly with their space of settlement. This course will focus on the contemporary manifestiations of immgirant settlement in cities, while also paying attention to new settlement patterns in reconfigured metropolitan spaces.

URST 5140. Themes in Urban Public Policy and Power. (3 Credits)

This course surveys a series of issues and ideas in urban public policy in order to understand why urban actors compete, what power means to them, and what sorts of dynamic policy issues they confront.


Provides an overview of key theory themes of the 20th/21st American city and explores the modern city at the crossroads of socio political study and interdisciplinary urban research. Themes include city and society, class and urban space, urban poverty, race and culture, diversity in the global city, crisis and conflict, gender and sexuality, sovereignty, just cities, sanctuary cities, and more.

URST 5900. GLOBAL CITIES. (3 Credits)

URST 6080. URBAN STUDIES FIELDWORK. (1 to 6 Credits)

Required internship or field research in New York City or another large scale US or foreign city, depending on student interest. Prerequisite: 12 completed credits and program approval. The field study may be related to the required research project. Maintance- open enrollment.


Introduces students to urban research methods, setting up research design including derving hypotheses and conclusions and the application of qualitative and quantitative approaches.

URST 6999. URBAN STUDIES RESEARCH. (1 to 6 Credits)

Required research project for Master's Thesis or project. Prerequisites: 12 completed units, URST 6080, and program approval. Leads to completed thesis or project.

URST 7999. URBAN LAB. (4 Credits)

Graduate course with field study component on specific urban topics. Co-taught by faculty across the university and open to all graduate students. Focuses on applied urban research and community engagement. Four-credit courses that meet for 150 minutes per week require three additional hours of class preparation per week on the part of the student in lieu of an additional hour of formal instruction.

URST 8100. URBAN STUDIES INTERNSHIP. (0.5 to 6 Credits)

This is an internship course for graduate students working on internships, and for international students working on their Curricular Practical Training (CPT). .5-6 credits.

URST 8999. INDEPENDENT STUDY. (1 to 4 Credits)