Department of Geography and the Environment

Urban Studies Program


Program Director and Academic Advising


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.

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Program Director and Academic Advising


Program Director

Paul Adams

Academic Advising

Hours*:  8:30-12:00 and 1:00-4:30, Monday through Thursday
Phone*:  (512) 471-5736 (voicemail only; for live discussion, please visit our Virtual Front Desk, linked above)
*Registration (April 2021):
Our Virtual Front Desk service (Zoom, phone, e-mail) is temporarily suspended during registration advising. Please visit our Registration FAQ page for contact info and more information regarding registration for Summer and Fall 2021.
For the latest updates on Liberal Arts course policies, advising, and student notifications, please visit the Liberal Arts Student Affairs home page.

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

Current UT Austin students must be admitted to 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 408C, M 408L, M 408N, M 408R, M 403K or other approved course

Statistics - SDS 301, SDS 302, SDS 304, SDS 305, SDS 306, SDS 328M, M 316, SOC 317L, STA 309, EDP 371, M 358K or other approved course

  • 2016-18 Catalogs and later (16-18, 18-20, 20-22): C+ or better in each 
  • 2014-16 Catalog: B- or better in each

If students have other Calculus or Statistics courses that they would like considered for these Math requirements, they should speak with the URB Advisor about the petition process.

Application Process:

1. Schedule an advising appointment with the URB Advisor.

2. Complete both of the above Math requirements with the approriate grade for your catalog, before the fall semester of the student's junior year.

3. Complete and submit an application to the URB Advisor during an advising appointment.

4. If approved, enroll in URB 301 no later than the fall semester of the student's junior year.

  • Students who have not completed both Calculus and Statistics by the fall semester of their junior year should consider other majors (as they will not have time to complete the Urban Studies core sequence, on this timeline). 

NOTE: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and students can apply at any time, once they have completed the math prerequisites. However, the Urban Studies major has a number of required, sequential courses, including those that are only offered once per year. For planning purposes, it is 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 Urban Studies sequence consists of four required, sequential courses:

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

  • Prerequisites: None.

URB 315 Urban Studies Research Methods (spring only)

  • Prerequisites: URB 301, Calculus, Statistics.

URB 360 Internship and Service Learning (fall only)

  • Prerequisites: URB 301, URB 315.

URB 370 Senior Project

  • Prerequisites: URB 301, URB 315, URB 360 (can be taken simultaneously).

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

Additional URB major requirements include:

Calculus: M 408K, M 408C, M 408L, M 408N, M 408R, M 403K or other approved course

Statistics: SDS 301, SDS 302, SDS 304, SDS 305, SDS 306, SDS 328M, M 316, SOC 317L, STA 309, EDP 371, 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 your advisor for details.


Degree Plans:

2020-22 Catalog

2018-20 Catalog

2016-18 Catalog

2014-16 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, in place of the one-semester senior project. In conjunction with a GPA that meets the cutoffs (at least a 3.0 overall GPA, 3.5 in the URB major) and other requirements (please see the undergraduate catalog or visit with your academic advisor), the completion of an honors thesis allows a student to graduate with Departmental Honors in Urban Studies.

Questions about the honors program may be directed to the Urban Studies undergraduate advisor, or to Dr. Paul Adams, the Director of Urban Studies. While a senior honors thesis can take the place of the URB 370: Senior Project course, departmental honors students will also need to 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