This is an archive of the 2019-2020 University Catalog.
To access the most recent version, Please visit

This is an archive of the 2019-2020 University Catalog.
To access the most recent version, please visit


Program: B.A., Urban Studies and Planning

Program Description

Urban Studies and Planning is an interdisciplinary program providing an undergraduate course of study that focuses on solutions to the major problems stemming from the complexities of contemporary urban life. The Urban Studies and Planning curriculum is designed for students who:

  1. Wish to enter professional graduate schools in such fields as urban planning, urban design, environmental planning, social welfare, law and public administration, and international development;
  2. Intend to begin their professional careers at the end of their baccalaureate education through employment in various governmental agencies, private firms or nonprofit organizations concerned with urban issues, regional planning, real estate development and community development; or
  3. Desire a social science degree that emphasizes the study of the historical and modern city.

The major in Urban Studies and Planning requires all students to complete a set of lower division introductory courses and upper division core courses. This part of the curriculum is designed to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the urban environment and training in the appropriate principles and methods of planning and urban analysis. In addition to the lower division and core course requirements, students must complete a set of elective courses within one of four designated specializations.

As a complement to the coursework, students are required to complete supervised field research and an internship with a public agency, a nonprofit organization or a private-sector organization conducting planning-related work. These experiences help to provide students with professional experience to begin careers in planning and with the skills to find solutions to urban problems and situations.

Program Requirements

A. Core Course Requirements

All Urban Studies and Planning majors are required to complete the lower division required courses and the upper division core courses. Students must then choose from one of four specializations. The first three specializations provide students the opportunity to develop a level of expertise within a subfield of urban studies and planning. These three specializations are: (1) urban and regional planning; (2) housing, community and economic development; and (3) environmental planning and sustainability. The fourth specialization provides students the opportunity to customize their own area of specialization in consultation with an advisor. Within each specialization, 9 units must consist of URBS courses and 6 units must be taken outside the department.

1. Lower Division Required Courses (6 units)

URBS 206 Introduction to Graphic Communication Tools Used by Urban Studies and Planning Professionals (3)
URBS 250 Planning the Multiethnic City (3)

2. Upper Division Required Courses (22 units)

URBS 300 Planning Theory (3)
URBS 310 Growth and Sustainable Development of Cities (3)
URBS 340A Quantitative Urban Research Methods (3)
URBS 340B Qualitative Urban Research Methods (3)
URBS 440 Community-Based Urban Design (3)
URBS 450 Urban Problems Seminar (4)
URBS 460 Legal Foundations of Planning (3)

3. Fieldwork and Internship (6 units)

URBS 490C Fieldwork (3)
URBS 494C Internship (3)

B. Specialization Requirements

Choose one of the following specializations.

1. Urban and Regional Planning (15 units)

The objective of this specialization is to train students to effectively design and implement plans and public policies in urban, regional and international settings. Students will study the linkages between the social, economic and political factors of urban society. Urban and regional planning career opportunities exist in city, county, regional, state and national government, private consulting firms, nonprofit organizations, and research and academic institutions. This specialization prepares graduates for positions in transportation planning, zoning administration, economic development planning and neighborhood planning.

Choose 15 units from the following:

2. Housing, Community and Economic Development (15 units)

This specialization focuses on how planners and policy leaders influence the social and economic factors that shape metropolitan economies and urban neighborhoods. Housing covers the general issues of providing decent, safe and affordable housing for all members of the community. Community and economic development is concerned with the creation, preservation and revitalization of neighborhoods. This specialization prepares graduates for positions in housing, community development, neighborhood revitalization, workforce development and center city redevelopment.

Choose 15 units from the following:

3. Environmental Planning and Sustainability (15 units)

This is an interdisciplinary specialization designed to train planners to make decisions about the interactions between nature and society in a way that balances resources used in the present with the resource needs of the future. Environmental planning rests centrally on the notion of sustainable development. This field covers a broad range of planning issues that includes urban ecology, habitat conservation, environmental justice, land use planning, transportation planning, resource and waste management, environmental health, water, energy and air quality planning, green building, smart growth and ecosystem management.

Choose 15 units from the following:

4. Custom Specialization (15 units)

This specialization is intended to give students the flexibility to synthesize across the very diverse aspects of urban studies, as well as urban and regional planning, community and economic development, urban design, and environmental planning and sustainability. In close consultation with faculty advisors, students may customize a program that meets their specific interests and needs. It is particularly suited to individuals who have very broad interests and understand the value of a generalist approach to planning.

AAS 340 Asian American Women (3)

AAS 345 Contemporary Issues in Asian American Studies (3)

AFRS 300 Contemporary Issues in the African-American Community (3)

ANTH 308 Gender and Culture (3)

ANTH 345 Diversity in the United States (3)

ANTH 346 Urban Anthropology (3)

BIOL 322 Evolutionary Biology (3)

BIOL 323 Plants and Animals of Southern California (3)

CHS 361 Urbanization and the Chicana/o (3)

ECON 160 Principles of Microeconomics (3)
or ECON 161 Principles of Macroeconomics (3)

ECON 350 Urban Economics (3)

ECON 360 Environmental Economics (3)

FCS 315 Issues in Housing (3)

FCS 424 Resource Management for the Elderly (3)

GEOG 305/L Maps and Graphics and Lab (2/1)

GEOG 306/L Intermediate GIS and Lab (3)

GEOG 311/L The Atmosphere and Lab (3/1)

GEOG 351 Urban Geography (3)

GEOG 452 Urban Land-Use Planning (3)

GEOG 459 Environmental Impact Studies (3)

HIST 350 History of Women (3)

HSCI 314 Organization and Delivery of Health Services (3)

POLS 360 Public Administration (3)

POLS 403 State and Local Government (3)

POLS 405 The Process of Public Policy Formation (3)

POLS 461 Environmental Policy (3)

POLS 466 The Politics of Public Spending (3)

POLS 467 Urban Administration (3)

POLS 469/L City Planning and Lab (3)

SOC 307 Ethnic Diversity in America (3)

SOC 390 Race Relations (3)

SOC 400 Organizational Theory (3)

SOC 401 Class, Status and Power (3)

SOC 410 Urban Sociology (3)

SOC 426 Social Legislation and Social Policy (4)

URBS 345 The General Plan and Zoning (3)

URBS 350 Cities of the Developing World (3)

URBS 380 Los Angeles: Past, Present, Future (3)

URBS 400 Planning for the Built and Natural Environment (3)

URBS 405 Advanced Research Methods for Planning (3)

URBS 408 Policy Making for Urban Planners (3)

URBS 412 Grant Writing (3)

URBS 415 The California Environmental Quality Act for Urban Planners (3)

URBS 416 Urban Housing (3)

URBS 420 Communities, Neighborhoods and Planning (3)

URBS 425 Social Policy, Environmental Justice and the City (3)

URBS 430 Planning in the Public Sector (3)

URBS 435 Planning for Community Development (3)

URBS 440 Community-Based Urban Design (3)

URBS 441 Advanced Urban Design (3)

URBS 452 Urban Land-Use Planning (3)

URBS 480 Urban Transportation Planning (3)

URBS 495 Selected Topics in Urban Planning (3)

C. Exceptions and Restrictions

Students may count ECON 160 or ECON 161 as an upper division elective course.

D. General Education (48 units)

Undergraduate students must complete 48 units of General Education as described in this Catalog.
6 units are satisfied by the following courses in the major: URBS 340A satisfies B5 Scientific Inquiry and Quantitative Reasoning; and URBS 310 satisfies 3 units of upper division D1 Social Sciences.

If taken, CHS 361, ECON 160, ECON 161, ECON 360, GEOG 351, HIST 350 or URBS 380 satisfies D1 Social Sciences; FCS 315 satisfies E Lifelong Learning; and AAS 340, AAS 345, AFRS 300, ANTH 308, ANTH 345, SOC 307 and/or URBS 350 satisfies 3-6 units of F Comparative Cultural Studies.

Total Units in the Major: 49

General Education Units: 42

Additional Units: 29

Total Units Required for the B.A. Degree: 120

More information

For more information about this program, please contact


Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Chair: Robert B. Kent
Sierra Hall (SH) 220
(818) 677-2904

Student Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  1. Know the key forces responsible for urban development in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of current principles and practices of urban planning relevant at multiple levels of government from local to global.
  3. Demonstrate the ability to work with diverse communities to advance social justice.
  4. Demonstrate knowledge of appropriate methods and techniques to accomplish urban-related research.
  5. Demonstrate an ability to apply principles of sustainable development using a participatory approach to decision making.
  6. Participate in various forms of civic engagement.