Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies and Planning

The urban studies and planning major offers an interdisciplinary curriculum in urban planning and policy and reflects a social science education with an applied, problem-solving focus, training in research methods, and practical hands-on experience in a carefully supervised internship and a practicum (senior seminar). Core courses integrate social science, planning, and policy perspectives into the study of cities, develop the research and analytic tools necessary for urban planning and policy analysis, and offer hands-on applied research experience. Elective courses are designed to apply the basic core course content to urban planning and policy areas of interest.

The B.A. in Urban Studies and Planning is recognized as a solid basis for graduate study. Recent program graduates have gone on to M.A. and Ph.D. programs in schools of city and regional planning (Cornell, Harvard, UC Berkeley, UCLA, NYU, the New School for Social Research, and the University of Texas at Austin), schools of public policy and administration (Kennedy School, Georgetown, UC Berkeley, and San Francisco State), and other fields including law, architecture, social work, and public health. We also have a large number of students who seek entry-level urban planning and policy jobs with a B.A. in Urban Studies and Planning.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Subject area student learning objectives o Understanding the basic evolution and development of cities, the fields of urban studies, and planning and the tools and approaches practitioners in these fields uses to address urban issues;
    1. Be familiar with a range of perspectives and methods used to understand and analyze the dynamics of urban life;
    2. Demonstrate the knowledge and skills necessary to analyze and critically evaluate urban issues;
    3. Understand the interactions between cities, metropolitan regions, and global forces;
    4. Be sensitive to and knowledgeable about the importance of equity and ethics in the fields of urban studies and planning.
  2. Research methods/Basic skills student learning objectives
    1. Demonstrate competence in writing about the dynamics of cities informed by urban theory and practice; skills - critical thinking, oral presentation, GWAR;
    2. Demonstrate research and analytic skills used in urban studies and planning fields, including the ability to think critically, design and execute research, collect, analyze and interpret relevant evidence, and formulate reasoned conclusions;
    3. Be familiar with basic spatial and statistical analyses of urban data
  3. Applied professional learning objectives
    1. Apply subject area knowledge and skills in a wide range of professional settings;
    2. Have an ethical and proactive stance towards addressing solving urban challenges;
    3. Demonstrate critical thinking, research, writing, presentation, and teamwork skills.

Urban Studies and Planning (B.A.) — 43-45 units

Many of the urban studies and planning courses included below in the list of program requirements are cross-listed with other departments.

  • All students are required to receive at least a grade of C in all courses in the major or minor.
  • All courses in the major or minor (including electives) must be taken for a letter grade.
  • Students planning to enroll in USP 603 and USP 604 must attend a mandatory informational meeting the semester preceding their enrollment in these courses.

Core (23 units)

Introductory Course
USP 401GWSeminar in Urban Studies and Planning - GWAR3
Research Methods and Data Analysis
Providing the basic tools necessary for effective research and analysis.
USP/PLSI 492Research Methods4
USP/PLSI 493Data Analysis4
Foundation Course in Policy or Planning
Developing the conceptual and analytic approaches necessary for effective action intended to address current urban issues
Select one:4
Introduction to Urban Policy and Analysis
Land-Use Planning
Fieldwork and Practical Applications
Internship and research project providing carefully supervised hands-on experience in both a real-world work setting (the internship) and a practicum (the senior seminar).
USP/PLSI 603Public Service Internships3
USP/PLSI 604Internship Seminar1
USP 680Senior Seminar4
or USP 681 Senior Thesis

Electives (20-22 units)

GEOG 435Geography of Global Transportation4
USP 400Dynamics of the American City3
USP 402Introduction to Planning History and Theory3
USP 432Urban Geography4
USP 433Urban Transportation4
USP 456Urban Community Organizing and Citizen Action3
USP 470City in a Global Society4
USP 480Introduction to Urban Policy and Analysis4
USP 485San Francisco Political Issues4
USP 512Urban Politics and Community Power4
USP 513Politics, Law, and the Urban Environment4
USP 514Sustainable Development in Cities4
USP 515Environmental Justice: Race, Poverty, and the Environment4
USP 530Alternative Urban Futures3
USP 535Urban Economics3
USP 555Urban Anthropology3
USP 560Urban Poverty and Policy4
USP 565Social Policy and Family Systems4
USP 570Urban Health Policy3
USP 580Housing Policy and Planning3
USP 652Environmental Impact Analysis4
USP 658Land-Use Planning4
USP 685Projects in the Teaching of Urban Studies1-4
USP 686Field Work in Urban Studies1-4
USP 699Independent Study1-4

Complementary Studies

Students completing a Bachelors of Arts in Urban Studies and Planning must complete 12 units in Complementary Studies courses bearing a prefix other than USP, and not cross-listed with USP. The units used to satisfy Complementary Studies may be in a minor (or a partial minor if the minor requires more than 12 units), a foreign language, or a coherent group of courses from the following departments/college: Political Science, Geography, History, Sociology, Environmental Studies, Economics, and the departments in the College of Ethnic Studies. All complementary studies units must be approved by an advisor in the major.

Any courses with prefixes other than USP or cross-listed with USP that can be counted toward the major can also count toward the Complementary Studies Requirement.

General Education Requirements

Requirement Course Level Units Area Designation
Oral Communication LD 3 A1
Written English Communication I LD 3 A2
Critical Thinking LD 3 A3
Physical Science LD 3 B1
Life Science LD 3 B2
Lab Science LD 1 B3
Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning LD 3 B4
Arts LD 3 C1
Humanities LD 3 C2
Arts or Humanities LD 3 C1 or C2
Social Sciences LD 3 D1
Social Sciences: US History LD 3 D2
Social Sciences: US & CA Government LD 3 D3
Lifelong Learning and Self-Development (LLD) LD 3 E
Physical and/or Life Science UD 3 UD-B
Arts and/or Humanities UD 3 UD-C
Social Sciences UD 3 UD-D
SF State Studies
Courses certified as meeting the SF State Studies requirements may be upper or lower division in General Education (GE), a major or minor, or an elective.
American Ethnic and Racial Minorities LD or UD 3 AERM
Environmental Sustainability LD or UD 3 ES
Global Perspectives LD or UD 3 GP
Social Justice LD or UD 3 SJ

Note: LD = Lower-Division; UD = Upper-Division.

First-Time Student Roadmap (4 Year)

Find the correct roadmap (A, B, C, or D):

  1. Select the row that matches your English Course choice for A2.*
  2. Select the column that matches your QR Category (found at your student center under Math Alert).
  3. Click the Roadmap that lines up with your row and column.

For example, if you are taking ENG 104 as your first English course and your student center math alert says you are QR Category III, you should choose Roadmap D.

Pathway QR Cat I/II QR Cat III/IV
ENG 114 Roadmap A Roadmap C
ENG 104/ENG 105 Roadmap B Roadmap D

*Composition for Multilingual Students: If taking ENG 209 as your first English course, choose the ENG 114 row. If taking ENG 204 for your first English course, choose the ENG 104/ENG 105 row.

General Advising Information for Transfer Students

  1. Before transfer, complete as many lower-division requirements or electives for this major as possible.
  2. The following courses are not required for admission but are required for graduation. Students are strongly encouraged to complete these units before transfer; doing so will provide more flexibility in course selection after transfer.
    • a course in U.S. History
    • a course in U.S. & California Government

For information about satisfying the requirements described in (1) and (2) above at a California Community College (CCC), please visit Check any geographically accessible CCCs; sometimes options include more than one college. Use ASSIST to determine:

  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy any lower-division major requirements for this major;
  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy CSU GE, US History, and US & CA Government requirements.

Remedial courses are not transferable and do not apply to the minimum 60 semester units/90 quarter units required for admission.

Additional units for courses that are repeated do not apply to the minimum 60 units required for upper-division transfer (for example, if a course was not passed on the first attempt or was taken to earn a better grade).

Before leaving the last California Community College of attendance, obtain a summary of completion of lower-division General Education units (IGETC or CSU GE Breadth). This is often referred to as a GE certification worksheet. SF State does not require delivery of this certification to Admissions, but students should retain this document for verifying degree progress after transfer.

Credit for Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or College-Level Examination Program courses: AP/IB/CLEP credit is not automatically transferred from the previous institution. Units are transferred only when an official score report is delivered to SF State. Credit is based on the academic year during which exams were taken. Refer to the University Bulletin in effect during the year of AP/IB/CLEP examination(s) for details regarding the award of credit for AP/IB/CLEP.

Students pursuing majors in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines often defer 6-9 units of lower-division General Education in Areas C and D until after transfer to focus on preparation courses for the major. This advice does not apply to students pursuing associate degree completion before transfer.

Transferring From Institutions Other Than CCCs or CSUs

Review SF State's lower-division General Education requirements. Note that, as described below, the four basic skills courses required for admission meet A1, A2, A3, and B4 in the SF State GE pattern. Courses that fulfill the remaining areas of SF State’s lower-division GE pattern are available at most two-year and four-year colleges and universities.

Of the four required basic skills courses, a course in critical thinking (A3) may not be widely offered outside the CCC and CSU systems. Students should attempt to identify and take an appropriate course no later than the term of application to the CSU. To review more information about the A3 requirement, please visit

Waiting until after transfer to take a single course at SF State that meets both US and CA/local government requirements may be an appropriate option, particularly if transferring from outside of California.

All Students Must Meet the Transfer Eligibility Requirements Outlined Below for Admission.

For more information, visit the Undergraduate Admissions section.

  • Complete 60 or more transferable semester units or 90 or more quarter units.
  • Earn a college grade point average of 2.0 or better in all transferable courses. Non-local area residents may be held to a higher GPA standard.
  • Be in good standing at the last college or university attended.
  • Complete 30-semester units (45-quarter units) of General Education, including four basic skills courses:
    1. One course in oral communication (same as CSU GE Area A1)
    2. One course in written composition (same as CSU GE Area A2)
    3. One course in critical thinking (same as CSU GE Area A3)
    4. One course in mathematics or quantitative reasoning (same as CSU GE Area B4)
  • The four basic skills courses and a minimum of 60 transferable semester units (90-quarter units) must be completed by the spring semester prior to fall admission, or by the fall semester prior to spring admission. Earn a C- or better grade in each basic skills course.