Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies and Planning

The urban studies and planning major offers an interdisciplinary curriculum for students interested in creating more just, inclusive, and equitable cities. Through a curriculum grounded in the social sciences, the Urban Studies program offers an applied, problem-solving focus, training in research methods, and practical hands-on experience in a carefully supervised internship and a practicum (senior seminar). Courses integrate social science, planning, and policy perspectives into the study of cities and develop the research and analytic tools necessary for understanding and addressing the most pressing issues facing cities today, including poverty, access to housing, pollution, climate change, poverty, racial segregation, and social exclusion.

The B.A. in Urban Studies and Planning prepares students for a wide range of careers in urban planning, administration, and community development. It is also recognized as a solid basis for graduate study in city and regional planning and other fields, including law, architecture, social work, and public health.

Program Learning Outcomes

Subject area student learning objectives 

  1. Understand the basic evolution and development of cities, the fields of urban studies and planning and the tools and approaches practitioners in these fields use to address urban issues;
  2. Be familiar with a range of perspectives and methods used to understand and analyze the dynamics of urban life;
  3. Demonstrate the knowledge and skills necessary to analyze and critically evaluate urban issues;
  4. Understand the interactions between cities, metropolitan regions, and global forces;
  5. Be sensitive to and knowledgeable about the importance of equity and ethics in the fields of urban studies and planning.

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

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)

USP 401GWSeminar in Urban Studies and Planning - GWAR3
USP/PLSI 492Research Methods4
USP/PLSI 493Data Analysis4
Select one:4
Introduction to Urban Policy and Analysis
Land-Use Planning
USP/PLSI 603Public Service Internships3
USP/PLSI 604Internship Seminar1
Select One:4
Senior Seminar
Senior Thesis

Electives (20-22 units)

GEOG 435Geography of Global Transportation4
USP 400/HIST 489Dynamics of the American City3
USP 402Introduction to Planning History and Theory3
USP/GEOG 432Urban Geography4
USP/GEOG 433Urban Transportation4
USP/S W 456Urban Community Organizing and Citizen Action3
USP 470/SOC 480City in a Global Society4
USP/PLSI 480Introduction to Urban Policy and Analysis4
USP 485/PLSI 475San Francisco Political Issues4
USP/PLSI 512Urban Politics and Community Power4
USP/PLSI 513/GEOG 668Politics, Law, and the Urban Environment4
USP 514Sustainable Development in Cities4
USP 515/GEOG 667Environmental Justice: Race, Poverty, and the Environment4
USP 530Alternative Urban Futures3
USP/ANTH 555Urban Anthropology3
USP/PLSI 560Urban Poverty and Policy4
USP/LABR/PLSI 570Urban Health Policy3
USP/PLSI 580Housing Policy and Planning3
USP/GEOG 652Environmental Impact Analysis4
USP/GEOG 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 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
Lifelong Learning and Self-Development (LLD) LD 3 E
Ethnic Studies LD 3 F
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)

The roadmaps presented in this Bulletin are intended as suggested plans of study and do not replace meeting with an advisor. For a more personalized roadmap, please use the Degree Planner tool found in your Student Center.

First-Time Student Roadmap

SF State Scholars Roadmap

The San Francisco State Scholars program provides undergraduate students with an accelerated pathway to a graduate degree. Students in this program pursue a bachelor’s and master’s degree simultaneously. This program allows students to earn graduate credit while in their junior and/or senior year, reducing the number of semesters required for completion of a master’s degree.

B.A. in Urban Studies and Planning and Master of Public Administration SF State Scholars Roadmap

Transfer Student Roadmap (2 Year)

For students with an AA-T in Social Work and Human Services.
Urban Studies and Planning ADT Roadmap

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.