Undergraduate Programs

Urban Studies at WashU

Why is the study of urban life, of living in cities an important area of study?  The answer is simple.  Because of increasing urbanization, that is, the dynamics resulting from people moving into densely populated areas, worldwide projections show the increase in urban populations everywhere.  Not only are world cities growing by one million people per week, but demographers suggest that by 2050, more than two thirds of the planet’s population will be urban dwellers.  The issues impacting our densely populated cities and those who inhabit them will be the focus of substantive research and policy debates in the twenty first century. Because we seek to prepare our students to be leaders on the world stage, in-depth study in urbanism and urbanization on both a national and international scale is in keeping with that preparation.

Study Abroad Opportunities

The International Urban Scholars' Program

This program is limited to students with a 3.5 grade point average and above, to study at the London School of Economics and Political Science, the University of Cape Town (South Africa), University College London, the University of Edinburgh (Scotland), the Chinese University of Hong Kong, or the University of Amsterdam. Study at the University of Cape Town is available Fall, Spring and for the full year. The London School option is available for a full academic year only. Grade point average, demonstrated leadership skills, and 3 letters of recommendation from Washington University faculty are required for selection. The International Urban Scholars (Study Abroad) Program will be coordinated by the Office of Overseas Programs.

The Capital Semester in Urban Studies, Washington, D.C.

The Capital Semester in Urban Studies, in Washington, D.C., is an intensive program that combines internships and academics in one semester. The Capital Semester combines professional experience, course credit in Social and Public Policy, exclusive briefings and unparalleled internship placement in the nation's capital. Requirements include a 3.4 grade point average and two letters of recommendation from Washington University faculty. In addition to classes, students will attend exclusive site briefings for dialogue with politicians and policymakers. The program is coordinated by the Office of Overseas Programs in the Office of International and Area Studies. Previous internships have been in the office of congressional leaders as well as policy-making and policy informing research agencies.

Undergraduate Program

Undergraduate Major

There are five (5) subject area concentrations in Urban Studies: neighborhoods and community development; urban education; cities of the world; social policy/public policy; and public health. The degree program draws faculty from various academic units including but not limited to Arts and Sciences, the George Warren Brown School of Social Work, the School of Law, the School of Architecture and the School of Medicine.

Undergraduate Minor

The Minor in Urban Studies facilitates the study of urbanization across the globe, from multiple disciplinary perspectives, and is designed to complement any major field of study. Students are encouraged to pursue course work, in companion with their major field of interest, that is distinctive yet complementary to the study of urbanization, which impacts all fields of inquiry. Courses must be selected in consultation with the program director/adviser in Urban Studies.

Urban Studies Honors and Awards

To receive Latin Honors,  summa cum laude, magna cum laude or cum laude, students must write an Urban Studies honors thesis and achieve an overall 3.65 GPA or higher at the end of six semesters.  To be eligible to write an honors thesis in Urban Studies, you must have maintained an overall 3.65 GPA or higher throughout the sixth semester. To be awarded Outstanding Senior Honors Thesis in Urban Studies, an appointed faculty committee will consider nominations for this award, which carries a small cash prize. The award is noted in the Commencement Program and announced at the Urban Studies graduation reception.

The entrance to a run-down red brick apartment building

I pursue Urban Studies because it helps me understand human values, development, and the interactions we have with our urban environment. Indeed, no other discipline, from a transdisciplinary perspective, seriously addresses issues of urban poverty, inequality, and housing affordability crises, among others, as richly as the field of Urban Studies does.

―H. CheonClass of 2020

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