Program in Urban Studies


  • Director

    • Mario I. Gandelsonas
  • Executive Committee

    • Sigrid Adriaenssens
    • Joao Biehl
    • M. Christine Boyer
    • Michael A. Celia
    • Mario Gandelsonas
    • Maria Garlock
    • Alison E. Isenberg
    • Douglas S. Massey
    • Gyan Prakash
  • Associated Faculty

    • Roland Benabou
    • Leah Boustan
    • Elie R. Bou-Zeid
    • Marshall Brown
    • Vera S. Candiani
    • Miguel A. Centeno
    • Janet Y. Chen
    • Jill S. Dolan
    • Patricia Fernandez-Kelly
    • Simon E. Gikandi
    • William A. Gleason
    • Joshua B. Guild
    • Judith Hamera
    • Peter R. Jaffe
    • Harold James
    • Jennifer Jennings
    • Michael Koortbojian
    • Kevin M. Kruse 
    • German Labrador Mendez
    • Eduardo Morales
    • Jan-Werner Mueller
    • Guy J. Nordenson
    • Stephen J. Redding
    • Esteban Rossi-Hansberg
    • James A. Smith
    • Janet A. Vertesi

Program Information

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 anthropology, art and archaeology, history, African American Studies, English, Latin American Studies, Spanish and Portuguese languages and cultures, civil and environmental engineering, energy studies, sociology, politics, theater and the Princeton Environmental Institute 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 Program for Community-Engaged Scholarship (ProCES) 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 arranging 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

The requirements for the certificate include two core courses and three electives, as well as engagement with urban studies in the student’s senior thesis research. 

Class of 2021 and beyond:  Students must take either URB 200 or URB 201 along with ARC 205 to satisfy the core course requirement.  (With approval of the program director, students may substitute URB 388 for URB 200 in a fall semester in which URB 200 is not offered.) Students must pass both required courses with a grade of B or above. 

Class of 2020:  ARC 205 is encouraged, but not required.  Consult the appropriate archived Undergraduate Announcement for detailed requirements.

In addition to the two core courses, students must complete three electives: one from social sciences; one from the humanities; and one from engineering or the natural sciences. A list of approved electives is posted on the website ( Courses not on the approved list may be used as electives with the approval of the program director. However, each selected course must contain substantial urban content to fulfill the requirements of the certificate program.

As soon as possible after applying for admission to the Urban Studies undergraduate certificate program, students meet with the program director or Urban Studies faculty adviser to establish an approved course of study. Every student is strongly encouraged to take the two required courses as soon as possible, although the courses can be taken at any time. The core courses are designed to be accessible to all majors.URB 200 is typically offered in the fall, URB 201 is offered in the spring and ARC 205 is offered fall and spring semesters each year.

These courses must be completed 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. Students can double count one of the three electives toward their major and the certificate which is monitored in TigerHub. To be counted toward the certificate, all courses must be taken for a grade. Course overlap with another certificate program is permitted.

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. Students' urban studies advisers selected from the program's associated faculty list provide additional consultation and layer of expertise as they write their thesis and think about potentially urban-related careers. 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 participating in 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.


URB 200 Urbanism and Urban Policy (also
WWS 210
SOC 200
) Fall SA

Introduces students to social scientific thinking on cities and urbanism and then builds on this base to consider and evaluate various approaches to urban policy. Instructed by: D. Massey

URB 201 Introduction to Urban Studies (also
WWS 201
SOC 203
ARC 207
) Spring SA

This course will examine different crises confronting cities in the 21st century. Topics will range from immigration, to terrorism, shrinking population, traffic congestion, pollution, energy crisis, housing needs, water wars, race riots, extreme weather conditions, war and urban operations. The range of cities will include Los Angles, New Orleans, Paris, Logos, Caracas, Havana, New York, Hong Kong, and Baghdad among others. Instructed by: M. Boyer

URB 202 Documentary Film and the City (also
JRN 202
LAO 232
) LA

This seminar uses film to explore the social and political issues facing the post-industrial American city and examines how films employ different documentary methodologies. Students will apply these techniques hands-on, collaborating on short explorations of housing issues in Trenton. They will learn how to establish a relationship with a subject, gather observational footage, conduct interviews, and weave narrative in a visual medium. The goal of the course is to give students not only a greater understanding of urban history and the challenges cities face today but also a foundation in the practical and theoretical issues of documentary. Instructed by: P. Carson

URB 205 Interdisciplinary Design Studio (See ARC 205)

URB 210 Urban Sociology: The City and Social Change in the Americas (See SOC 210)

URB 227 Race and Ethnicity (See SOC 227)

URB 237 Contemporary Issues in Spain (See SPA 227)

URB 239 Rap, Graffiti and Urban Cultures in the Hispanic Worlds (See SPA 239)

URB 262A Structures and the Urban Environment (See CEE 262A)

URB 262B Structures and the Urban Environment (See CEE 262B)

URB 280 The Literature of Fact (See JRN 280)

URB 300 Urban Studies Research Seminar (also
ARC 300
HUM 300
SLA 300
) Fall EC

This interdisciplinary seminar introduces research methods in urban studies. We will focus on some of the ways in which researchers make sense of cities, including various aspects of urban experience, culture, history, theory, form, and policy. Students will use the analytical frameworks covered in the course to develop their own research projects with the goal of developing more dynamic junior papers and senior theses. Instructed by: B. Carvalho, A. Shkuda

URB 301 Nature and Infrastructure in South Asia (See ARC 301)

URB 302 Grassroots Power: Health and Social Change through Collective Action (See GHP 303)

URB 303 Wall Street and Silicon Valley: Place in the American Economy (See ARC 303)

URB 306 Urban Modernism and Its Discontents (See POR 306)

URB 310 The Arts of Urban Transition (See DAN 310)

URB 312 Technology and the City: The Architectural Implications of the Networked Urban Landscape (See ARC 312)

URB 314 The Art of Living (See ART 312)

URB 324 The Urban Revolution in Latin America (See LAS 324)

URB 325 The Port of New Orleans: Culture and Climate Change (See VIS 325)

URB 327 Latino Global Cities (See SPA 327)

URB 385 Mapping Gentrification (also
SOC 385
HUM 385
ARC 385
) SA

This seminar introduces the study of gentrification, with a focus on mapping projects using GIS (Geographic Information Systems) software. Readings, films, and site visits will situate the topic, as the course examines how racial landscapes of gentrification, culture and politics have been influenced by and helped drive urban change. Tutorials in ArcGIS will allow students to convert observations of urban life into fresh data and work with existing datasets. Learn to read maps critically, undertake multifaceted spatial analysis, and master new cartographic practices associated with emerging scholarship in the Digital and Urban Humanities. Instructed by: A. Shkuda

URB 388 Unrest and Renewal in Urban America (See HIS 388)

URB 389 Urban Futures and Scenarios (See ARC 389)

URB 401 Theories of Housing and Urbanism (See ARC 401)

URB 403 Architecture and Democracy (See POL 403)

URB 406 Writing and Urban Life (See POR 406)

URB 418 Imagined Cities (See HIS 418)

URB 448 Las Ciudades del Boom: Economic Growth, Urban Life and Architecture in the Latin American City (See ARC 448)

URB 449 Making Sense of the City (See ARC 449)

URB 451 Writing about Cities (See HIS 451)

URB 453 Digital Histories of Crime in the Americas (See HIS 453)

URB 456 New Orleans at 300: Invention & Reinvention in an American City (See HIS 456)

URB 464 History with Objects and Landscapes (See HIS 464)

URB 471 Introduction to Water Pollution Technology (See CEE 471)

URB 492 Topics in the Formal Analysis of the Urban Structure (See ARC 492)