Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies and Planning

This is an archived copy of the 2016-2017 bulletin. To access the most recent version of the bulletin, please visit Any changes will appear on our errata page.

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, University of Texas at Austin), schools of public policy and administration (Kennedy School, Georgetown, UC Berkeley, San Francisco State), and other fields including law, architecture, social work, 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.

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

  • All students who begin their studies as majors or minors in Fall 2009 or later 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.

USP majors who successfully complete USP 401GW in fall 2009 or thereafter will have satisfied the University Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR).

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

Core (30 - 31 units)

Introductory Course
USP 401GWSeminar in Urban Studies and Planning - GWAR3
Cross-disciplinary Perspectives
drawing upon the basic social science disciplines to provide a broad-based understanding of urban growth and change.
Select 7-8 units of the following:7-8
City in a Global Society
Urban Geography
Urban Politics and Community Power
Urban Economics
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 of the following: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 (13 - 14 units)

Focus of Interest
Upper division electives chosen by each student with the approval of a faculty advisor. The electives are courses focusing on particular urban planning and policy issue areas in which the theoretical and analytic approaches developed in the core courses are applied to critical contemporary issues. This allows students to develop familiarity and some expertise in a public policy area. Major urban planning and policy areas include housing and community development, land-use planning, transportation, sustainable development, and social policy. See the Department of Urban Studies and Planning Advising Handbook for descriptions of possible foci of interest.

Complementary Studies

Students completing a Bachelors of Arts in Urban Studies and Planning must complete twelve units in complementary 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
Written English Communication II LD 3 A4
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
Arts or Humanities LD 3 C1 or C2
Humanities: Literature LD 3 C3
Social Sciences LD 3 D1
Social Sciences: US History LD 3 D2
Social Sciences: US & CA Governement LD 3 D3
Lifelong Learning and Self-Development (LLD) LD or UD 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), in a major or minor, or may be an elective.
American Ethnic and Racial Minorities (AERM) LD or UD 3
Environmental Sustainability (ES) LD or UD 3
Global Perspectives (GP) LD or UD 3
Social Justice (SJ) LD or UD 3

Note: LD = lower division; UD = upper division.

First Time Student (4 year)

This 2016 - 2017 roadmap opens in a new tab.

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
    • a 2nd-semester course in written English composition

For information about satisfying the requirements described in (1) and (2) above at a California Community College (CCC), go to 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

Remedial courses are not transferable and do not apply to the minimum 60 units/90 quarters 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 course was not passed on 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 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 in order 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. As described above, 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 (GE 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. Review more information about the A3 requirement here.

Identify and complete a 2nd-semester written English composition course before transfer. This is usually the next course after the typical “freshman comp” course, with a focus on writing, reading and critical analytical skills for academic purposes, and developing skills in composing, revising, and the use of rhetorical strategies.

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 outlines 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 2.00 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, with intermediate algebra as a prerequisite (same as CSU GE area B4)
  • The four basic skills courses and 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.