Department of Geography and the Environment

Urban Studies Program


Program Director, Advisor, and Faculty


Degree Requirements



Imagine studying the anatomy of an organism so large that it holds a million people.  As an Urban Studies major, the Austin metropolitan area is not only your home, it is a living specimen that you can examine at any hour of the day or night, using methods recognized by professionals in urban planning and design, real-estate development, and the non-profit sector, as well as by scholars in urban history, urban anthropology, urban sociology, and other related fields.

Urban Studies is an interdisciplinary undergraduate program at UT that combines classroom studies with real-world experience in the Austin metropolitan area.  If you are curious about how cities are physically put together, the history of urbanization, the conflict and creativity that pervades urban life, the economic factors that affect urban growth and development, or the political dynamics shaping urban governance, you will find a home for your interests in Urban Studies.  The Urban Studies major is also a great way to launch a socially and environmentally relevant career; you will be introduced to methods and theories that support constructive solutions to pressing problems such as poverty and homelessness, racial segregation, pollution, and inefficient transportation.

The major is designed to be quite flexible.  Students choose from a list of courses with a variety of different disciplinary perspectives, depending on their interests and goals.  After an introduction to the essential questions and issues in urban studies (URB-301) and a practicum in research methods (URB-315), students pursue their particular interests in cross-listed upper division classes.  These are drawn from 18 different departments spread across 6 different colleges and schools on the UT-Austin campus.  In their senior year, students complete an internship and service learning course (URB-360), acquiring essential skills and experiences that help ease their entry into the job market.  The major also includes a semester-long independent research project (URB-370) which is undertaken in consultation with a UT faculty member of the student’s choosing.  This project allows students to develop in-depth skills and expertise in a way that showcases their interests and achievements for future employers or for applications to graduate school.

Urban Studies banner is based on an original painting by Chris Chappell.

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Program Director, Advisor, and Faculty

Program Director

Paul Adams

Academic Advisor

  • Katie Bland
  • Location: Parlin (PAR) 114
  • Phone: 512-471-5736 
  • Email:
  • Hours: 8:30 to 4:30 Monday through Friday, closed noon to 1
  • Please call to schedule an appointment.

Affiliated Faculty

American Studies   

Steven D Hoelscher


Kamran Asdar Ali
Kathleen C Stewart
John Hartigan



Asian Studies   

J. Thomas


J. Butler
P. Arnold

Civil Engineering

Z. Zhang
C. Bhat


K. Freitas
P. Amaral
J. Cooper
W. Glade


J. Butler


S. Leblanc
J. Morran

Germanic Studies   

S. Hake    
K. Belgum


S. Bow
R. Madrid
D. Leal


J. Walker
M. Seaholm
E. Zamora

Latin American Studies   

H. Dietz
LBJ School   

R. Wilson
W. Spelman

Mexican American Studies   

L. Mena


A. Villareal
W. Kelly
P. Green
C. Collins

Social Work

J. Aguilar
S. Haulotte
S. Whalley
R. Fong
M. Lauderdale

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Incoming students can declare Urban Studies as their major when applying to UT.

Current UT-Austin students must be admitted into the Urban Studies major. In order to apply to the Urban Studies major students must complete the following Math requirements with the appropriate grade based on their catalog:

Calculus - M 408K, M 408L, M 408C, M 408M or other approved course

Statistics - M 316, SDS 301, SDS 302, SDS 304, SDS 305, SDS 306, SOC 317L, STA 309, M 358K or other approved course

2016-18 and 2018-20 Catalog: C+ or better in each 

2014-16 and 2012-14 Catalogs: B- or better in each

If students have other calculus or statistics courses that they would like considered for the math requirements they should speak with the URB Advisor about the petition process.

Application Process:

1. Schedule advising appointment with the URB Advisor.

2. Complete above Math requirements with approriate grade.

3. Complete and submit an application to the URB Advisor.

NOTE: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and students can apply at any time once they have completed the math prerequisites. The Urban Studies major has a number of required sequential courses including those that are only offered once per year. For planning purposes, it's recommended that prospective students meet with the URB advisor as early as possible, even if they have not yet completed the math prerequisites. 

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Degree Requirements

The core of Urban Studies consists of four required sequential courses

URB 301/GRG 307C  Introduction to Urban Studies (fall only)

  • Prerequisite: None

URB 315 Urban Studies Research Methods (spring only)

  • Prerequisite: URB 301, calculus, statistics.

URB 360 Internship and Service Learning (fall only)

  • Prerequisite: URB 301, URB 315

URB 370 Senior Project

  • Prerequisite: URB 301, URB 315, URB 360

Since these courses are only offered once a year, students need to plan to spend two years completing the Urban Studies major.

Additional URB major requirements include:

Calculus: M 408K, M 408L, M 408C, M 408M or other approved course

Statistics: M 316, SDS 302, SDS 304, SDS 305, SDS 306, SOC 317L, STA 309, M 358K or other approved course

12 additional hours of upper-division coursework in Urban Studies

2.0 GPA in URB courses



Minor requirements will vary by degree catalog. Please consult with advisor for details. 

Degree Plans: 

2016-18 Catalog

2014-16 Catalog

2012-14 Catalog

2010-12 Catalog


Students who are highly successful and are interested in continuing to graduate school are encouraged to consider substituting a two-semester senior honors thesis for the senior project.  In conjunction with a GPA that meets the cutoffs (3.0 overall, 3.5 in the major) and other requirements (see the undergraduate catalog), the completion of an honors thesis permits you to graduate with Departmental Honors in Urban Studies. Questions about the honors program may be directed to the Urban Studies Undergraduate advisor or Dr. Paul Adams, the Director of Urban Studies. While an honors thesis can take the place of URB 370 Senior Project, departmental honors students will complete a total of 15 upper-division URB elective hours instead of the standard 12 hours. 

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  • Department of Geography and the Environment

    The University of Texas at Austin
    305 E. 23rd Street, A3100
    RLP 3.306
    Austin, TX 78712