looking up at skyscrapers of all windows

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Declaring the major is simple. All you need to do is contact the Urban Studies adviser and she will submit the request electronically on your behalf. 

When you declare Urban Studies as your major, you must select one of four specializations.

  1. Urban Cultures and Societies: is for students interested in understanding the social and cultural aspects of urban life, including issues related to race, gender, income, sexuality, immigration, religion, and other factors that shape the urban experience and the organization of cities.

  2. Urban Political Economy and Public Policy: is for students interested in learning about the political and economic organization of cities, including the role of market forces and public policy in explaining phenomenon such as urban growth, housing development, job creation, poverty, residential segregation, and gentrification.

  3. Urban Planning, Design, and Management: is for students interested in learning about the process of planning, designing, and managing cities to meet specific needs. This specialization prepares students for careers in city planning and focuses on topics such as transportation, infrastructure, housing, land use, etc.

  4. Urban Sustainability: is for students interested in the impacts of urbanization on society and the environment. It focuses on a wide range of environmental issues facing growing urban populations, including land, air, and water pollution, climate change, and explores ways to make cities more sustainable and equitable.
If you are unsure, feel free to discuss these options with your advisor. Also, remember that preparation and core courses are the same across all specializations, that you may be able to substitute courses across specializations with approval of your major adviser, and that, if desired, specializations can easily be changed.
Yes, it is very easy to do! You just need to contact your major adviser who will submit the change request for you.

Most large majors are organized in departments based on established disciplines, like Geography, Economics, Political Science, Engineering, etc. In today’s complex world, there is a need for interdisciplinary programs where students can combine insight from various disciplines to address pressing problems. Cities can best be approach from a variety of angles. Therefore, urban studies is organized as an interdisciplinary program. This means that we do not have our own courses and faculty, but instead we “borrow” courses and faculty from other departments, including Anthropology, Chicana/o Studies, Economics, Geography, Latin American Studies, Political Science, Public Administration, and Sociology.

There are no differences between degrees from departments and programs. The only difference is that you will get to choose courses from a much wider set of options. 

Requirements are outlined in the SDSU Catalog. Urban Studies is a little tricky to find because it is an interdisciplinary program, not a separate department, which means it is listed under interdisciplinary studies. Keep in mind, however, that your requirements are for the year you declared the major. The most recent requirements are also provided on the this site. Your degree audit, which you can access on my.SDSU, will indicate your catalog year and list the requirements that apply to you. If necessary, your major adviser can review these with you.

Because the Urban Studies Program uses courses from a number of different departments, we do not have our own courses listed in the regular course schedule. This means that, you will need to look up each department separately in the course schedule to determine what courses are available.

Students can also see a list of eligible courses on their degree audit on my.SDSU. By clicking on the course links, they should be able to see sections that are offered.

Each semester, the Urban Studies adviser prepares a list of courses offered in the next two semesters and shares it with students.

These requirements are determined by the university as outlined in the graduation requirements section of the general catalog.

All undergraduate students must demonstrate competency in writing skills at the upper division level as a requirement for the baccalaureate degree. The do this by taking the Writing Placement Assessment (WPA). Students who score below 10 need to take an eligible writing course.

A minimum competency in a language other than English is also required. This can be demonstrated through a variety of ways, including successfully completing the third college semester, fifth college quarter, or fourth year level high school course. Other options are described in the catalog.

Your academic adviser (in the Registrar’s office) can help you with questions regarding these requirements. 

Transfer credit depends on comparability of courses, existing “articulation” agreements between institutions, and quarter vs. semester hours.

For coursework taken at other institutions, transferability will be determined by the SDSU transcript evaluators, working in the Registrar’s Office. This is typically determined before or during your first semester at SDSU. If you would like to check on your own, the Assist website can help you find out whether agreements exist for the courses and schools in question.

For SDSU courses, transfer towards your major will be automatically determined by the registrar’s office. However, you may be able to count relevant and related courses towards your Urban Studies degree with approval form your major advisor. Contact your advisor and set up an appointment. If a course is eligible for transfer, you will need to fill out a Request for Adjustment of Academic Requirements form together.

Academic advisers work out of the Registrar’s Office and help students with most general questions related to transfers, graduation requirements, general education requirements, academic plans, etc. They can be reached through the SDSU Advising Office.

The Urban Studies (major) Adviser will help you with questions that are specific to your major, including advice on course selection, course substitutions, capstone requirements, etc. The adviser is Professor Joassart-Marcelli ([email protected]). Students are encouraged to contact their major adviser and make an appointment through SDSU Navigate.  More information about the Urban Studies Adviser can be found on our faculty page.

As a general rule, Freshmen and Sophomores should begin with preparation for the major. Once they have completed these courses and taken care of some general education requirements, they may begin taking upper division courses. This, however, is not recommended until your junior year.

Juniors and Seniors are expected to work on core and specialization requirements. Although there is not set sequence. It is recommended that students begin with core courses, including both theory and methods, before taking specialization courses. It is important to keep in mind that many 400 or 500-level methods courses have pre-requisites, so you may need to take a 300-level course before you can take the next level. For example, if you are interested in sociology courses, you will need to take SOC 301 before you can take SOC 406, 407 or 408. Similarly, for the geography route, you will need to take GEOG 380 or 381 before you can take GEOG 484 and eventually GEOG 584. Of course, you also have the option of mixing courses with limited pre-requisites across disciplines.

We do not recommend that freshmen or sophomores enroll in upper division courses. If, however, you are nearing completion of your lower division requirements and you feel confident enough to take on the challenge of more advanced coursework, you may proceed with 300 or even 400 and 500 level coursework.

Yes, Urban Studies is an interdisciplinary and flexible program and we encourage students to pursue courses that meet their interests and prepare them for future careers. However, before you take a course that is not listed in the curriculum, be sure to get approval from the Urban Studies adviser. Once you are registered for the course, you will need to fill out a RAAR form with your adviser to make sure credits are applied properly. You would follow the same procedure if you wanted to take courses listed in another urban studies specialization. To expedite this process, please fill out the top portion of the form and forward it to your major adviser at [email protected] so she can describe the request and sign it.

SDSU is recognized as one of the premier international institutions in the country. The SDSU Global Education office is an excellent place to start for information. In addition, there are always special programs offered through SDSU World Campus. You may also take advantage of programs offered outside the university, as long as they are approved by your Urban Studies advisor.

Typically, units earned abroad can count towards your major, as long as they are approved through the International Student Center Education Abroad office and your Urban Studies Adviser. If you select a study abroad program that is independent of SDSU then there is a chance the units will not transfer.

After you have gathered information about specific programs and course options to study abroad, you should meet with your Urban Studies adviser to discuss the coursework, review syllabi, and receive approval. Courses do not have to be exact equivalent to Urban Studies courses to be counted; they just need to be relevant and appropriate for your level of study. Eligibility will be determined by the Urban Studies adviser and credit will be allocated once you return to campus and submit an official transcript to the Registrar.

In their senior year, students are expected to complete a capstone project. This consist of a 3-unit high impact learning experience followed by the submission of a report and completion of a self-evaluation survey. The purpose of this requirement is to give students an opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills they have acquired during prior coursework in a professional, service, or research settings and reflect upon their overall educational experience.

There are many ways to meet the 3-credit requirement. The most common options, which are listed in the catalog, are to complete an internship (GEOG 595) or the community-based geographic research course (GEOG 595). Other options include study abroad courses, relevant courses with a service-learning component, independent study, or research experiences. Because these change from one semester to the next and new opportunities constantly emerge, they are not listed in the catalog. Please contact the Urban Studies Adviser to find out whether a course or activity qualifies for capstone credit. “Students should submit their capstone requirements (report, sample work, and self-evaluation survey) on the Urban Studies Homeroom on Canvas

You may find an internship almost anywhere, including abroad. Contact SDSU Career Services’ Internship Central, search online, talk to professors on campus, look at the bulletin boards in departmental offices, talk to your Urban Studies advisor, and read email updates. You should find an internship that matches your interests and career aspirations. Discuss your options with the Urban Studies adviser, who will approve your internship and help you register for GEOG 595. Remember that you are expected to work 150 hours with an organization involved in relevant urban issues and that you will need to write a report at the end of the internship in order to receive 3 units of credit.

Other internships are offered as courses at SDSU. These may also be used for credit towards your major as long as you receive prior approval from the Urban Studies Adviser.

You file for graduation at the Office of Advising and Evaluations. You must file for graduation (and pay the fee) in order to graduate. This allows the Office of Advising and Evaluations to audit your transcript to make sure that you meet all of your University and Program graduation requirements.

We created an “Urban Studies Homeroom” on Canvas in order to store important documents and share regular updates and reminders with students. The adviser regularly post announcement on the homeroom, for which students should get email notifications. The adviser may also email students through the SDSU Navigate platform.If you have any questions or anything you would like to share with other Urban Studies students, feel free to email your adviser. If you have any questions about Urban Studies or have anything you’d like to share with other students, feel free to email the adviser directly at [email protected]

At this point, there is no dedicated Urban Studies student organization. If students are interested in creating one, information is available here from Student Affairs. The website also includes information about many existing organizations that may be of interest to you. Feel free to discuss your ideas with the program adviser (Pascale Joassart-Marcelli, [email protected]) especially if you need faculty approval.

Since Urban Studies is currently housed in the Department of Geography, students are always invited to join undergraduate geography social events and groups.

We do not offer our own scholarship, however you may apply to other SDSU scholarships. External scholarships are regularly made available for students and shared by adviser via email.