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  • Urban Studies Hero

    Urban Studies (BA)

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    Admission Contact
    Office of Undergraduate Admission
    72 Fifth Ave.
    New York, NY 10011
    212.229.5150 or 800.292.3040

    Program Contact
    Lisa Rubin
    80 Fifth Ave., Room 605
    New York, NY 10011
    212.229.5727 x3104

  • Earn a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies in a program open to transfer students, adults, and other nontraditional undergraduates. The urban studies major offers an interdisciplinary curriculum designed to help students examine the 21st century's greatest challenges — globalization, urbanization, social justice, and sustainability — in the quest of making cities more viable, equitable, healthy, and meaningful.

    • Degree Bachelor of Arts
    • Credits 120 (up to 84 transfer credits)
    • Format Full-time or part-time, on campus (some classes available online)
    • Start Term Fall or Spring

    Flexible Curriculum

    Urban Studies majors have the flexibility to explore courses in multiple academic disciplines as you learn to address the myriad ways urbanization affects many facets of life, including politics, social justice, the environment, and the economy. You develop an understanding of the peoples and structures that make up cities both in the United States and internationally. 

    You can design a customized course of study to meet your personal interests and goals, exploring issues such as:

    • The role of the city in the national and global economy
    • How the city shapes and is shaped by cultural life and the natural environment
    • The intersection of municipal agencies and nonprofit organizations in areas such as housing and homelessness, health, and social welfare
    • How neighborhoods are created, destroyed, and revitalized
    • How urban politics reflects these issues and drives change

    Learn more about the curriculum

    Interdisciplinary Excellence

    The New School offers the BA in Urban Studies as part of the university's suite of cross-college, interdisciplinary undergraduate programs, which includes Global Studies, Environmental Studies, and Urban Studies. These interdisciplinary programs are designed to prepare students for the new careers of the 21st century.

    Career Paths

    Students who complete the Urban Studies major are prepared to pursue graduate study or to enter careers in fields such as community organizing, development, public policy, urban planning, public health, philanthropy, advocacy, arts, education, journalism, management, entrepreneurship, real estate, or law both domestically and abroad.


  • Learn from and work with faculty mentors who are academic scholars and professional leaders in urban studies fields.

  • Featured Courses

    • Middle Eastern cities have endured centuries of economic, political, social, religious, and urban design challenges. From Marrakesh to Cairo, Riyadh to Dubai, Baghdad to Beirut, these cities have historically been subjected to foreign invasions, economic development, and the activity of revolutionary forces. To best appreciate the region today — in terms of economics, politics, and urban planning — it is important to understand the history of Arab city design, planning, and economic development. This course begins with a series of lectures that present a theoretical and historical overview of urban design and planning traditions in the Arab world and Middle Eastern cities. During the second half of the course, students work in groups drawing on case studies to create an end-of-semester imaginary urban plan presentable to a hypothetical city council in a neighborhood in a modern Arab city. These presentations will draw on software, mixed media, and modes of data collection introduced in the course. This course will be of interest to students who want to learn more about urban studies, planning, and design; economics and economic development; political science and politics; sociology and culture; and international cities, particularly those in the Arab world.

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    • Latin America is on the move again. After a decade of progressive governments in many countries, such as Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Ecuador, the region has experienced a turn to the center-right in the last few years. In this course, we explore how political and cultural changes through history have shaped and been shaped by the built and natural environment of the city. We focus on expressions of urban inequality and cultural diversity in the public sphere, examining and interpreting cities and city life through the lens of visual culture, architecture, urban planning, art history, and geography, including current examples of literature and film.

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    • In this course, we consider the many ways people build, adapt, and live together in cities. With the majority of the world's population inhabiting urbanized areas, cities have acquired significance as the locus of people's direct engagement with the material realities of the everyday world. At the same time, cities are produced through multiple imaginaries, as people struggle to define, explain, and mediate the complexity of urban life. Thus, cities unfold at the intersection of the material and the ideal, as the productive tensions between reality and imagination drive urban change. And yet people experience cities in incredibly varied ways, bringing their own personal and cultural values to everyday encounters with one another, even as political and economic forces sort them into a hierarchy of social categories.

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    • What does gentrification entail? Who are the players? What are the driving forces? What are the lasting outcomes? Who is displaced? In this course, students answer these questions, using a range of audiovisual media to examine how cultural institutions, places of consumption, recreational spaces, and public infrastructure affect a neighborhood's culture, identity, economy, politics, and cycles of spatial and social change. Throughout the semester, we explore and employ theoretical and practical frameworks to analyze the complex factors that shape neighborhoods in New York and beyond. We investigate the way cycles of neighborhood change manifest differently depending on the interwoven elements of race, ethnicity, history, politics, economics, and space. We pay particular attention to the short-term, long-term, and lasting effects of the displacement of people and local institutions. In the first part of the course, we focus on New York, using local lives and experiences to identify markers and create our own definition of the term gentrification, drawing on definitions proposed in the extant literature. Students make site visits, engage in archival research, and acquire the skills needed for collecting quantitative and qualitative data that captures the ecosystems of changing places and the effects of displacement. By the end of the course, students will have developed and activated a robust tool kit with which to effectively study gentrification in neighborhoods and created multimedia projects that present new findings on this phenomenon.

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    • In this course, we examine the causes and consequences of racial discrimination and segregation as they relate to housing, education, policing, and other dimensions of urban life.

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  • If you are fascinated by cities, their built environment, and the life that unfolds in them and want to make a difference in making cities more just, liveable, and sustainable places, then urban studies is the right academic field for you.

    Jurgen von Mahs, Chair and Associate Professor in Urban Studies
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