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Program in Urban Studies


M. Christine Boyer, Co-Director

Alison E. Isenberg, Co-Director

Executive Committee

Sigrid Adriaenssens, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Lucia Allais, Architecture

Stanley T. Allen, Architecture

M. Christine Boyer, Architecture

Bruno M. Carvalho, Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures

Maria E. Garlock, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Alison E. Isenberg, History

Douglas S. Massey, Woodrow Wilson School, Sociology

Gyan Prakash, History

Associated Faculty

Roland Benabou, Economics, Woodrow Wilson School 

John W. Borneman, Anthropology 

Miguel A. Centeno, Sociology, Woodrow Wilson School 

Mitchell Duneier, Sociology 

Mario I. Gandelsonas, Architecture 

Peter R. Jaffé, Civil and Environmental Engineering 

Harold James, History, Woodrow Wilson School 

Kevin M. Kruse, History 

Sara S. McLanahan, Woodrow Wilson School, Sociology 

Alejandro Portes, Sociology 

Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, Woodrow Wilson School, Economics 

James A. Smith, Civil and Environmental Engineering 

Marta Tienda, Woodrow Wilson School, Sociology 

The Program in Urban Studies is an interdepartmental plan of study for undergraduates that offers an interdisciplinary framework for the study of cities, metropolitan regions, and urban and suburban landscapes. With courses in diverse departments – including art and archaeology, history, African American Studies, English, civil and environmental engineering, sociology, and politics – along with the School of Architecture and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, the program encourages students to think about metropolitan centers in all their complexity – as physical spaces; social, cultural, political, and economic nexuses; and historical artifacts.

In addition, students are advised about opportunities to acquire field experience in urban settings through the Community-Based Learning Initiative (CBLI) and other programs. Those students with appropriate background and training are also encouraged to study and conceptualize cities via a comparative, international perspective, using the resources of Princeton's area studies and international programs.

Admission to the Program

The Program in Urban Studies is open to all undergraduate students, regardless of discipline. Students apply for admission by filling out the application on the Urban Studies website and having an interview with the director of the program. Students are accepted into the program on the basis of interest and a coherent academic plan. Students are asked to propose a tentative course of study in their application.

Program of Study

As soon as possible after applying for admission to the program, students should meet with the program director or with an Urban Studies faculty advisor to establish an approved course of study. Every student is encouraged to take the program's core course, URB 201, as soon as possible, although it can be taken at any time. URB 201 is offered both fall and spring terms each year. Please refer to the Registrar's Course Offerings website for the detailed course descriptions of the fall version (offered by Professor Douglas Massey), and the spring version (offered by Professor Christine Boyer).

Along with URB 201, which students must pass with a grade of "B" or above, students must complete three electives: one from social sciences; one from humanities; and one from engineering or the natural sciences. A list of approved electives will be emailed to students in the program each term prior to the enrollment period, and will be posted on the website. The electives are drawn from departments and programs across the University. Each selected course must contain substantial urban content to fulfill the requirements of the certificate program. These courses must be in addition to course work taken to fulfill the requirements of the student's department of concentration, although they may be used to fulfill distribution requirements. In the fall 2014 the program will again offer URB 202, Documentary Film and the City, taught by documentarian Purcell Carson. To be counted toward the certificate, all courses must be taken for a letter grade.

While urban studies students' senior theses are written in their home departments, their work must contain an urban component, approved by the program director. A faculty member from the student's home department serves as the primary adviser and first reader. The thesis title and abstract must be sent to the program director for final approval. The program provides additional support for independent student research through offering methods workshops, and through a May thesis colloquium.

Certificate of Proficiency

Students who fulfill the requirements of the program receive a certificate of proficiency in urban studies upon graduation.